BY ANGELA DONG
With the onset of the school year, administration announced the introduction of 5 Star Students, a program that assigns points to students who get their student ID cards scanned at certain school-run events. The system offers rewards at certain quotas: a free wristband at 50 points, a lanyard and a raffle entry at 110, and so on, with the “5 Star” highest quota at 130 points and above.
A school wide email sent by Mr. Matthew Pate (Asst. Principal) on August 31st explained that the point system was introduced “to provide the best experience for all students [and] get all students involved on campus.” He added that “points will play a role in ASB and council elections at the end of the year.” Although the program will doubtlessly increase attendance at school-run events, its influence on student government elections will create unnecessary and potentially unjust complications.
5 Star Students’ point totals often fail to accurately reflect students’ attendance at school events. Despite the fact that it was implemented less than a month ago, the system has already demonstrated operational pitfalls. Niam Mohseni (Sr.), whose student ID was scanned at each of the first five point-offering events, reports that the 5 Star Student webpage displayed his point total as eight instead of the expected fifteen. “It’s a great program and a great way [to encourage] students to go to school events, but it can’t work if students are not receiving the points they earned,” Mohseni said.
The list of point-eligible events is disorganized and arbitrary. While five points were offered for attending spirit night, no points were offered at spirit week workhouses, during which attendants spent hours building props and painting murals. By offering incentive for only certain events, 5 Star Students has the potential to not only undermine its own purpose by lowering attendance at point-free events but also misrepresent students’ varying levels of dedication. The event list’s selectivity, combined with the aforementioned technical errors, makes 5 Star Students an unreliable method of determining student involvement, and renders it unfit to influence school elections.
5 Star Students’ power to affect elections belies the fact that neither students’ school spirit nor their capacity for leadership can be accurately evaluated by event attendance. The program’s point system is strictly objective, making no effort to distinguish between passive and active participation. At spirit night itself, for example, students who play an active role in setting up class displays received the same amount of credit as those who avoided involvement but showed up nonetheless. “[While] the point system provides accountability for people who are running [for council], people who want a position enough [should] make themselves heard,” Yuchen Fan (Jr.) said. “We need students who are actually dedicated and excited to participate.”
Although attendance is unquestionably important for members of student government, the current system risks giving an upper hand to those who show up to every event solely to get scanned, as opposed to more passionate and possibly more qualified students whose schedules don’t allow perfect attendance. Further, leadership is arguably the most sought-after quality in candidates for ASB and student council. Allowing simple point totals to influence elections may result in a student government with more free time but less leadership capability, defeating its purpose entirely. Eric Nguyen (Jr.) said, “The election process can be skewed so easily, and attendance has [little] relation to merit… If the point system becomes a determining factor for elections, passion should overrule attendance.”
Due to its potential distortion of involvement and its inability to gauge leadership, the 5 Star Student system should be used at most as a tiebreaker in elections rather than a deciding factor. Football game attendance records should not have the power to deny qualified candidates the opportunity to participate in student government.