Getting involved early and building relationships are key to landing a seat in office
Do you see yourself as a leader of your peers? Do you hope to be a change maker? If so, you may already be considering running for school President, Vice President, or even Treasurer.
Most students join their SGA to advance their cause, whether it’s healthier lunch options or an informal dress code – some even join to impact their community beyond the classroom.
But no matter what your goals are, to be a member of your student government association takes careful planning and a whole lot of initiative on your part.
Preparation is key
To run a successful student government campaign, you have to be prepared for serious commitment. Campaigning doesn’t just start the week you hand out flyers, and the road to office can be surprisingly long and tedious. But with a little creativity and determination, you can put together a plan that will give the process more clarity.
Try these strategies to help put your best foot forward and ace your election:
1. Lay the groundwork as a freshman
If you’re new to high school, the thought of running for student council might be the last thing on your mind.
However, getting an early start is crucial to transitioning into SGA leadership. Class councils generally make decisions just for their grade level, so it’ll be a good way to explore leadership and determine if it’s the right path for you.
As you’re navigating through your first year, take stock of things that could be improved. Is anything holding your peers back? How can it be improved?
Even something as obvious as a parking problem could be a great platform for you to begin experimenting with. Take this time to start honing in on your mission – it’ll likely change by the time you work your way up to an SGA election, but it will keep you motivated until you get there.
2. Get to know your fellow students, council members and SGA leaders
Choosing to run for class council will give you exposure to some of the issues your peers face, but if you’d rather skip it for now, participating in class and attending council meetings as an observer will also give you some insight into things you can change as an SGA leader.
In the meantime, get to know your fellow students – and I don’t just mean the group of friends you sit with every day. Join cultural groups, participate in sports and after-school programs. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn about your peers and teachers.
3. Learn to market yourself
Once you’re ready to take on the role of a student government officer, take some time to think about your mission and how it’s developed over time or changed.
This is your launchpad to success, so make sure you can clearly and concisely explain it and defend it if necessary.
Next, you’ll want to think up a game plan for marketing yourself. The word “marketing” sounds official, but that’s exactly what hanging up posters and sharing your slogan with others is – except you’ll want to be a bit more tactical.
Expand your reach!
In addition to posters, why not use social media? Plan a Facebook Live discussion of your platform and send out invites via messenger and email, host a Twitter Q&A for curious constituents, and even write a blog for those that need a detailed explanation.
The more materials you put out there with your name on it, the more awareness around your campaign you’ll create. Don’t forget about the most important piece of your marketing campaign: your slogan. We’ve seen a lot of great ones in our time, but the ones that really made an impact were creative, relevant, and respectful.
For a memorable slogan, you might want to:
- Reference trending topics, pop culture, recent news, movies or video games
- Include your mission
- Create a catch-phrase using your name
- Start with an attention-grabbing headline
- Include a relevant character trait
- Add a rhyme
- Keep it short and simple
4. Put work into those posters
Before you slap your slogan on a flyer, come up with a budget.
You want to be smart about how you allocate funds, so start by determining your campaign timeline and how much material you’ll need.
Generally, the budget is split up into campaign materials like posters, flyers, cards, etc. and any giveaways you may be planning. You’ll also want to enlist the help of some willing classmates to spread the word.
5. Give them a way to remember your name
The second half of your budget will usually cover any giveaway items you want to create that have your name or slogan on them.
Stickers, pens, buttons, and pencils are great examples, although some schools have limitations on what you can hand out. If anything, a cleverly designed flyer will do the trick.
Make sure you have twice the amount of giveaway items than students, in case you need campaign for multiple days.
6. Nail your speech
All of the campaigning you’ve done so far has led up to this day.
Whether you’re running against other candidates or unopposed, you should still have a great speech to inspire confidence in both students and faculty.
How you structure your speech is entirely up to you, but the main components of your SGA election speech should include:
- A brief introduction of yourself, including your name and the position you’re running for
- The reason why you’re running for student government and what you’ve accomplished so far (qualifications)
- An explanation of your platform and why it’s important
- An overview of steps you plan on taking to achieve your mission
- A conclusion – generally thanking your audience and reminding them of your slogan
Remember to keep your speech short and direct, and always be respectful of your fellow candidates. Write your speech down on notecards to ensure you say everything you need to, and don’t forget to rehearse!
P.S. If you’re looking for an easy way to tally up student votes, check out our self-administered ballot options for a seamless voting experience.