News: Controversy Rises Around Senior Polls

Unhappy seniors took to the "M-A Class of 2013" Facebook pages to express their grievances over the manner in which the senior poll nominations were conducted.

Recently, the yearbook class came under scrutiny for its handling of the senior superlatives. The nominations for the polls were done via an online survey, which the yearbook editors posted on the “M-A Class of 2013″ Facebook page.
The issue arose because, of the approximately 465 seniors, only about 280 were connected to the Facebook page at the time of the original nominations. Of these 280 students, only about 200 completed the online survey, resulting in a final ballot dominated by people of the same social circle and race.

When the final paper ballots were handed out to seniors in their English classes, many students found that they did not recognize any of the names in front of them.

“What upset me about the polls was that I saw very little diversity. I only knew like three people and I didn’t have a clue who anyone else was,” said senior Elvia Mendoza.

Yearbook managing editor Anna Argente explains that “using the ‘Class of 2013!!!!’ page seemed to be the best way to contact fellow classmates, as Leadership had created the page to be able to contact the senior class about fun senior events and deadlines. However, we did, in fact, advertise the poll nominations on the morning announcements in early January for a week. The poll link was also posted on the “yearbookavenue.com,” a website that is used to buy yearbooks at M-A.”

“In a way, I think the polls reflect M-A’s issues with integrating its diverse components because those who got to nominate only nominated people within their own race,”
 said senior Cynthia Yvett Martinez.

Ballots were submitted with refusals to vote or protests about the polls’ lack of diversity. Argente argues that it “is unfair to bring race into the issue” because “M-A prides itself on diversity.”

Argente said that “though it may have seemed that the majority of the people on the ballots were Caucasian, those were the people that had been rightfully nominated through a fair process of which the entire senior class was informed.”

“I do think that this is proof as to how separated everyone in our senior class, as well as the whole school, is” said Martinez. “Honestly I was willing to take this to administration and try to get something done.”

Students did take action by appealing to Leadership, requesting a paper renomination and re-vote. Yearbook advisor Betsy Snow explains, “There was a paper petition that happened at lunch one day… and I said ‘oh great you guys are doing a petition, awesome’. And they go ‘yeah, we’re going to do this petition and we’re going to give it to Leadership to tell them how much we don’t like this.” The issue with this, pointed out Snow, is that “Leadership has nothing to do with this” yearbook class-controlled issue.

The follow up petition used a SurveyMonkey survey distributed through Facebook. “That is exactly what the editors did with the nomination process, which completely validated their original process,” said Snow.

The yearbook class chose not to conduct a re-vote, believing their environmentally friendly method to be more all-encompassing and efficient than last year’s method; “last year, we used paper ballots, distributing them to two or three government/econ classes” explains yearbook editor-in-chief Flint Mitchell.

The yearbook class instead compromised by adding eight new polls, which were voted on in an online survey, again advertised through the Facebook page and the morning announcements. However, fewer students participated in this second poll and the controversy died down.