Monday, May 18, 2015

The Importance of Voting & Representing Your Chapter by Marie Brewer

One of the most important events of every single Phi Theta Kappa International Convention is the election that takes place to elect and install a new International Officer Team. Any member can run - they don’t have to have held an office previously, but many chapter and regional officers have a go at it. Each chapter in attendance chooses a voting delegate. Like any campaign, the candidates are available ahead of time to meet and get to know. They even have campaign teams who wear official “costumes”!

This year, as Chapter President, I was selected as our voting delegate. This meant I was also the voting delegate at the Regional convention, but because I ended up running for the position of Alumni Representative, the duty was transferred to Rachel. This time, I wasn’t running for an international officer position because I am graduating and will be moving on to a four year school in the Fall. Although there is only one voting delegate, the entire team decides who to vote for. It’s an exercise in compromise and lively discussion to decide who to vote for.

This year, the NY Region had a special experience with the election process. Our very own 2014-2015 Regional President, Amie Bernstein, was running for the office of Vice President of our division at the international level! Of course, we know her to already be hard working and capable so we knew ahead of time we’d most likely be voting for her. However, we got to know every single candidate to make the most informed decision.

During one of the rounds of Educational Forums, I attended one specifically for voting delegates. This event was designed to teach us about the voting process - the technical process and the social process. As an active citizen, voting is important way beyond Phi Theta Kappa elections, so this was a very informative session. A lot of college students are very young and may never have voted in an election before (no matter how big), so something like this can offer vital information. Because I’ve voted before, I found it a valuable reminder of the importance of a vote and the specifics for the process for Phi Theta Kappa was helpful. Without it, I would have been confused.

When you’re given a chance to speak, to have your voice heard, it’s important that you take advantage of it. I am sure there are some delegates that either forgot to cast their votes or chose not to, but this is irresponsible. If you care about your community - be it your local community or your country - or an organization like Phi Theta Kappa - it’s important to speak up, take an interest in what’s going on, and when you have the chance to have your voice be heard, to take advantage of it. It was fun and exciting to have our chapters values represented in our vote. We chose candidates that we felt would best lead Phi Theta Kappa members at the international level and even better, most of our picks won.

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