ASB: A Contest


Madiha Haideri (10th), Editor-in-Chief

ASB is the Associated Student Body, where students run for office for their respective grade level classes and after days of advertising and campaigning, their class votes for whoever they think will make a promising President, Vice President, Secretary, Event Coordinator and Social Media Manager. ASB’s goal is to make the school year fun with dress up days, rallies, and other events and to be a representative for Pitman to the outside community. According to the ASB Officers Contract, their main objective is to “make students feel connected to the school and each other through involvement in ASB organized activities and events.”


What is the Problem?

Many – too many – Pitman High students have shown concerns about the integrity of the ASB elections; they complain that they are mere popularity contests where students compete to get on the throne of presidency to flaunt their power and authority as their class’s officers over other students, candidates, and possibly even their friends. Not claiming that is their ONLY motivation to run, however, it most definitely is a common theme among many students running.

I created a survey with the question, “Do you think ASB is a popularity contest?” and had it up for several days where Pitman students and faculty could respond to it. It was a yes or no question, but I left room for the respondents to elaborate on their answer if they so wished. After 6 school days, a few over 200 students responded to the survey and 89% of them answered yes to the question and 11% said no.

However, a mix of respondents manually wrote a response which, in a nutshell, pointed out the bribery that occurs during the elections and how most students end up voting for candidates they know nothing about solely because they get treats in return. Another common theme among those responses were that staff members tend to favor ASB kids and they get special treatment and sometimes said students even end up taking advantage of that. A student in particular mentioned that some ASB officers do nothing but get elected entirely because of their popularity and connections.



Everyone that I interviewed for this article preferred to stay anonymous, but they’re all students and staff from Pitman. My first interviewee was a soon to be junior, who was asked about her opinion on this year’s election.

This is what she said: “I [was] genuinely disappointed by the outcome of the election not only because I felt other candidates were more qualified, but because I know [some of the people] elected on a personal level and I feel as though [ASB] is a joke to them. I feel [like] elections are truly unfair and it’s all just a popularity [contest]. It was extremely disappointing to see [some students] be elected [without] the consideration of if they’d be good leaders.”

Another soon to be junior was asked why he thinks ASB is a popularity contest, and this is what they said: “ASB elections are mostly a popularity contest mixed with who can intimidate or bribe better. Most people will notice that many of those who run for ASB elections have larger connections both in and out of school. Because of this, the officers don’t know what their class wants from them and students from other social classes or from outside their circles also do not have a way to express their disapproval. This brings the integrity of ASB into a deeper question because how can you claim to represent a class or our whole school without having ways to listen to them?”

To get further insight on this matter, I decided to interview an ASB advisor as well. However, when I reached out, she did not wish to get involved and was not willing to share her opinions on this matter. The same was for several faculty members related with Green Team, ASB, and Pride Ambassadors.

However, a teacher that is not related to ASB was asked her opinion on this matter and she responded with, “Unfortunately, I think ASB can be a popularity contest just like everything else can be in high school.  I don’t think there has been any huge shift because I remember it was the same way when I was in high school 20+ years ago.”

Another teacher who is connected with the Pride Ambassadors was interviewed about his opinion and this is what he said, “I don’t [think] it is a popularity contest. I feel the people who are involved in ASB are willing to take risks and put themselves out there. Athletes, cheerleaders, drama students, etc. are used to be out in front of people so it is easier for them to take risks.” After asking him what he means by risks and his opinion on kids who are great leaders just not as well known, the teacher simply said, “What I mean by risks is some kids are not too embarrassed to participate in events in front of their peers. I think they should try new things even if they are not well known (just my opinion). You don’t know if you don’t try.”

A topic of interest that responses from a handful of Pitman students share is the idea of ASB kids being on one side while the rest of the student body on the other side. According to those students, certain staff members not only prove those concerns right, but also insinuates that the loudest wheel gets the most grease. Meaning that the students who are the loudest tend to be recognized the most, however, it is not necessary that those students automatically have the best skill set for leading their grade level, those things are not mutually exclusive.

On another note, a minority of the responses from the survey claim that anyone can run in the election therefore it is not fair to label ASB as a popularity contest. If ASB is not responsible for the evident shift in elections, then who is? In fact, what does ASB consist of if not its members? Are they not the ones representing ASB? And if they are the ones representing ASB, shouldn’t the shift in elections also be something that holds them responsible?

A sophomore was asked about her opinion on ASB and she said, “Yes, I believe that it is a popularity contest. I have been in ASB for 2 years now as a cabinet member, and when it comes down to elections, it doesn’t matter if they are going to actually make a change or not. As a cabinet member, when [it is time to pick students] to help out, it’s going to be the members who are friends with the officers or are popular themselves. If you look at the people that help out with rallies, notice how it’s the same 5 or 6 people every time. It [all] comes down to [being popular]. Officers and some cabinet members will say it’s not a popularity contest because if we address the problem they wouldn’t have the power anymore, so they respond with, ‘No I think it’s fair.’ But it’s not [fair] and they know it.”

Lastly, I interviewed a senior and asked about her opinion on this topic. “I think that in a way, ASB is a popularity contest. I feel like many students run [in] election[s] for the wrong reasons and they end up winning because they are well known. Yes, this is what the school votes for, but it’s those who run that know they are popular and have typically larger friend groups. Personally, as someone who has been in and out of ASB, many people might not be doing it for the right reasons. It becomes more of a problem however, when teachers favor those kids and are more lenient with them on certain things. I have experienced it firsthand in my class, and I don’t find it fair to everyone that some students get time during class to work on ASB stuff.”

This person makes a valid point: If ASB is extracurricular, why are students receiving instruction time to complete ASB related projects? Shouldn’t the students be well aware of the fact that they signed up for a huge club like ASB so it is inevitable for them to have extra work?

It is neither a mystery nor a surprise that elections within the ASB have turned into a contest for popularity. A contest where the students’ popularity gets them votes as opposed to their ability to lead their class. While the term “popularity contest” may seem unfair or even offensive to some people, it does not change the fact that a popularity contest is exactly what ASB has become.

Another common idea circulating among my interviewees is the concept of bribery. All of Pitman knows that candidates use food items to get students to vote for them, even if said students don’t know the candidates. The idea of getting free snacks in return for voting seems harmless to most students hence why bribery works so well. ASB is the politics of Pitman and with the presence of bribery and distrust, it does not set a good example for the students. If the leaders of our school are born out of corruption, how does ASB hope to gain respect from the student body?


ASB Cabinet

On another note, some students think that the ASB cabinet’s selection process is unfair and should change. ASB cabinet members have to fill out an application with teacher signatures confirming their grades, recommendations, and a list of questions about why they are joining, what makes them good candidates, their qualities and what they will be bringing to the table.

One would think those are the kinds of questions officers should be responding to but that is not the case. Granted the cabinet members are just as important, hence such an extensive application, but the fact that the candidates for officers don’t have any such paperwork to do is something that needs to change. Instead of an application, the officers have a contract they must sign. Essentially, the contract informs the candidates about what ASB is while emphasizing the requirements, such as dressing up, attending all the meetings, showing up to events (if excused for them), participating in the dress-up days, having spirit wear on every Friday, and maintaining a grade better than C in all their classes. But at the end of the day, there aren’t any actual questions being asked about WHY students are interested in running for office.

For something as distinguished as ASB Officers, a contract such as this is a good step. However, I wanted to get a student’s opinion on the contract. After speaking with a sophomore who has nothing to do with ASB or its politics, this is what she said, “I don’t think just the contract is enough because teachers will not know what the kids are doing outside of their ‘ASB time and groups.’ They are going to act on their best behavior when with teachers to maintain a good reputation, but that doesn’t mean that’s how they are normally with just their friends around.”

On the other hand, if the officers were to fill out an application and were asked some challenging questions, it would make it easier to filter out the students who are in it for popularity, making elections fair and easy. And the same student from before also agrees with this: “I think that having additional questions about why students want to run is fair because it shows their intentions behind why they are running and their plans for their class and what their goals may be.”

Moreover, a current officer reported that, “The ASB members pick the best options [for cabinet members]. We are given their classes and grades and let that help determine who we pick. The ASB advisor double checks all the students chosen and then submits a [notification] telling them they’ve made it into cabinet. The process is normally really long from what I remember, and we had over 60 students submit an application! I would say 15-20 or more people normally get chosen for the position. Friends do get chosen more often than others. I think unfairness does come into play.”

First and foremost, the fact that applicants’ grades are disclosed to the officers is a concerning point on its own. However high a student’s position is, the fact remains that they are a mere student, hence why the grades of their peers’ shouldn’t be revealed to them. In fact, nor should they be given the power to select students for something as prominent as ASB cabinet members. What’s the guarantee that the officers’ judgment won’t be clouded when forced to pick between a friend’s application versus a student that they may not know as well? Even the officer who has been picking ASB cabinet members since last year points out that unfairness definitely comes into play as they gravitate more towards their friends’ applications.

All of this is not to say that ASB is a negative thing and that it should be “canceled” but rather to show that even something as old and as royal as ASB has flaws that must be looked over and fixed. Too many students and faculty members feel as though a change in the election process of ASB is due and it is about time that Pitman witnesses that change.



Several students suggest that maybe teachers should be the ones voting for positions like the president and vice president, which is a beginning in the aim to fix this problem and rid Pitman students of bribery-filled elections. However, many other students counter that claim because they fear the teachers might be biased and pick favorites as some claim they already do with their ASB students.

After speaking with a student in FFA, they told me about the officer election process there. I was told that the people interested fill out applications and the advisors and teachers pick students based on those applications and therefore everything is fair and no one is biased since no bribery is taking place. Even in elementary schools, when it comes to picking student council members, they are asked to fill out applications and their skills are seen through their responses and the officers and members are selected through those applications, leaving no room for bribery, bias, or unfairness.

The fact that there are successful elections happening out there without bribery and bias, advocates for the possibility of an ASB where officers are being chosen on the basis of their character and skills, not their popularity. And to help bring about a change, the following is a list of possible actions ASB can take to ensure a fair election for the officers and a limited amount of room for complaints from the student body.

  1. Leadership Classes for ASB and Green Team
  2. Better communication between ASB and the student body
  3. Rules against bribery
  4. ASB taking accountability for its officers’ actions
  5. A list of “one-and-done” demerits that calls for immediate removal from office
  6. Application + the contract
  7. Advisors pick cabinet members (or student names are not disclosed to officers when selecting members)
  8. An introduction video that includes:
    1. An intro of the candidates and their promises for the school year
    2. Why the student body should vote for them
    3. What makes them good candidates for the position