Running for MVHS office

What I’ve learned from campaigning


Justine Ha

Campaign Photo from ASB Election

Collin Qian, Visuals Editor

“F— off,” “I already voted !” or no reply at all. These are just a few of the responses I got when walking around campus during lunch campaigning for MVHS elections. I’ve ran for MV office three times (losing the ASB election my sophomore year and winning the class election my sophomore year and the ASB election my junior year) now and what I’ve realized from my last election at Monta Vista is that the same thing happens every time: the same people vote for me, the same people also don’t vote for me and the same people never vote at all.

So, why do I even bother campaigning every year? If anything, doesn’t bothering my classmates about the same thing year after year just make them want to vote for me less? From being called fake to simply getting told that my campaign doesn’t matter to them, I’ve experienced some negative responses during election week, and I understand where these negative responses come from. All you want to do is just go to school and spend your time with friends, without having to be interrupted by people decked out in purple and gold interrupting your conversation every few minutes. 

I get it, it can get irritating, but I hope you understand where candidates are coming from.

What the students may not realize is that, despite it being our choice, campaigning can be mentally and physically draining for candidates. When we are at school, we have to pretend like we are perfectly fine and put together when inside, all we can think about is the fear of losing. When we are at home, we have to study for tests and do normal school work even though all we can think about is what else we can do to increase votes. During the week of elections, every time I closed my eyes, all I could picture were the results of the election in the same School Loop mail that is sent out every year. But every time my mind wandered to that email, I forced my eyes back open because I could never imagine my name in that email. 

Collin Qian
Campaign Photo from Junior Class Election

The entire process is a constant uphill battle: every time I get a compliment, I’m motivated to continue approaching strangers. But every time I don’t get the response I want, I feel like curling up into a ball and ignoring everyone. Imagine spending a month on a campaign with a memorized speech, a double-sided poster and a colorful outfit, just so that people tell you your hard work doesn’t matter to them. Campaigning is more of a mental battle with myself than anything — it’s about having the mental strength to push through despite being humiliated at times. 

I’ve been asked this question before both anonymously and publicly, “Why do leadership students all of a sudden become nice during election week?” This was something that hit me a lot harder last year because I truly did find myself forcing myself to be somebody I wasn’t by talking to people I don’t normally talk to and being nicer. But without those personality tweaks, I wouldn’t be able to campaign and convince strangers to vote for me. 

With that, I’ve also learned that although the election season was three days long, in reality, it started the moment I stepped on campus. The worst part about the entire process was being accused of being fake and people believing that the only reason I said “hi” to them was to get their vote, and deep down, they knew that my treatment would disappear the next week.

Collin Qian
Instagram Post from @mvhsloveletters a few days after I won my junior class election

After winning my junior class election last year, I got a phone call from my friend, who told me to look at @mvhsloveletters Instagram’s latest post. While I was expecting to see another meme or a secret admirer, I was met with “I thought Collin Qian was really nice but he stopped talking to me after elections,” surrounded in a flowery template with over 100 likes on the post. To whoever you are, I’m sorry I couldn’t talk to you after elections, but I promise I didn’t do it on purpose.

There are about 600 students in our grade, and for me to be able to interact with 120 different people every single day is something I simply cannot do. However, I took this criticism to heart and was determined to be nicer and meet new people throughout the year, because that was the version of me that people voted for right? I wasn’t just going to scam them.

So here is my advice to anyone planning on running for class office or ASB in the future: treat everyone nicely and meet new people throughout the entire year so that when those three days come, you won’t have to change — you can just be yourself.