A Fiji Fiasco: Student Election Failures

William Strachan

A few months ago they called for nominees for the positions of “Class Captain” and “Class Co-Captain” of the University of the South Pacific’s 2011 MBA Program. Initially I was not interested, but soon received a number of nominations for “Class Captain”. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. Finally, I said, “OK, let’s do this.”

I went into the administrative office to ask more about the process. I was told that you nominate people for the positions, and that once the nominations close you vote. That did not make much sense to me, so I asked, “On what basis are people voting?” No response. I made a point of the issue, and it was agreed that the nominees should present themselves before the students vote. 

On Monday March 14th at 1:44 pm the MBA students received an email:

“Dear MBA Students,

You are all invited to attend the Student Election night to exercise your voting right.   




That’s right, on a Monday afternoon we received an email indicating that on Tuesday night we would be voting. 

I arrived at the venue to engage in the process. The candidates were asked to sit at the front. We were given three minutes each to present ourselves to our colleagues. I highlighted my ambition to add value to the program by increasing corporate relations so as to provide networking and internship opportunities, organizing knowledge and skill based seminars, creating peer-to-peer tutoring sessions, planning regular and entertaining social events, and ensuring constant lines of communication between the students and the program management by means of regular office hours. 

I even teamed-up with one of the nominees for “Class Co-Captain”, which we thought made sense because the people occupying the two positions should share common values and have similar vision. People do not vote-in the “President” and “Vice-President” of the United States separately. Nominees have running mates. You remember the McCain and Palin bill I’m sure. Back to the story…

After I made my pitch, the other candidates proceeded to take the podium. When we were finished, the students voted. Finally, the votes were counted. 

Now, before I finish the story I must explain one more thing: In what was not the only peculiarity of this “election process”, students were allowed to be nominated for both positions simultaneously and the person I was running against for “Class Captain” found herself on the ballot for “Class Co-Captain” as well.

To the punch-line of this affair..

A part-time student with a full-time job who campaigned on a platform of ensuring that enough milk and coffee were available for students at all times and that the lights and computers would consistently work, won BOTH positions. 


1) Cover the basics.

2) Know your constituency.