On Losing Class Elections

Another year, another elections for class cabinet! As mentioned in my previous post, I ran for class cabinet this year.  Prepare yourself for a mildly emotional post this time around, haha.

“Happy Saturday everyone!!
As many of you know, I am (re-)running for class President this year. Since class cabinet speeches are pretty short, I’m posting my platform below. I would really appreciate it if you could take a quick read before elections 

I have three core initiatives in mind-
1. More informal, inclusive social events: 
Let me start by saying that Andrew and César have been great social chairs. However, some of our classmates have felt excluded from our current social events, and others wish our class was closer because we tend to automatically settle in our social groups. I hear that. Some of my ideas for informal, inclusive events include: (1) Mid-quarterly study break “Brain Break” (something small, like cookies or fruit), (2) Pre-finals week Bagel Breakfast (to fill our tummies and hopefully ease our stress levels), and/or (3) Picnic out on Switzer Plaza (behind Geffen) or another Weyburn BBQ. Some have asked for more interschool mixers, and (4) I’m willing to talk with Law, Anderson, the allied health professions, and anyone else you’d like!

2. More transparency:
Where are our class dues going? What happened to that quarterly $500 clinic fee, and why couldn’t we buy equipment (ex. torch) used? What initiatives have we pushed for, and where have they gone? Why can’t I still access the fishbowl? These are a few of the questions I have fielded from our classmates, and questions I’d like to answer. Let’s increase transparency via (1) meeting minutes, as published by the secretary; (2) an annual report, compiled by the cabinet listing changes pushed for/events coordinated in the past year; (3) optional QUARTERLY feedback forms on the cabinet, since our needs and demands fluctuate with classes, lab, and extracurriculars. If we need to fundraise, I’d like to have a (4) more general logo tee, dentistry MUGS, or something that we could sell to other classes too.

3. Building a stronger community for the future:
(1) by implementing the aforementioned social events, (2) creating a D3 guide about entering clinic (or at least aggregating data, similar to how we’re making a D1 Handbook), and (3) holding a CLASS PHOTOSHOOT, where we can get an official, formal white coat photo that can be distributed to each of us for memories. This could also be an opportunity for anyone who wants to get professional head shots for resumes, applications, LinkedIn profiles, their grandparents, and such.

If you’ve made it down here, THANK YOU for taking the time to read my platform. Again, these are all tentative, new ideas, but ideas that I nevertheless want to pursue. I’m also all ears, so if there’s something you’d like to address, please feel free to message me!

Have a great weekend everyone. See you back on Monday!”

At UCLA SOD, election speeches for class President are only two minutes long, and the speeches for other Cabinet positions are even shorter, so I posted my platform on our class page to publish my ideas for the year. Before we knew it, Monday came around, elections were held, and speeches were given. I choked up a little bit when, near the end of my speech, I said, “I want you all to know, no matter the outcome of this election, I will still try to be a leader and fight for change” because it was true, and yet, I did not want it to be misconstrued that I wanted the position any less than Michael, my classmate who re-ran as incumbent.

After elections, there were a few, clear indications that I probably was not going to be elected.

I was pretty heartbroken.

I gave myself a good cry during lunch before class.

When 1PM rolled around, I cleaned myself up (or tried to), and marched right back into 13-041 because you gotta do what you gotta do!

Sure enough, the official results were sent out in an email during our subsequent lab.

…and I lost.

Again, more tears were shed, this time during lab.

(Let me be the first to tell you that face masks are surprisingly good at hiding a hyper-stimulated lacrimal nerve/runny nose!)

It was a trying day. Dental school can seem pretty impersonal at times, especially when everyone has their own goals in mind, but I want to dispel any notion that crying isn’t allowed because it 100% is. If you need a cathartic outlet, don’t be afraid. Thank you to those of you that gave me a shoulder to cry on and a big hug. You know who you are. Thank you to those of you who were shared with me your insight and showed compassion afterwards. You made me cry even more.

I wanted to allocate part of this post to one questionable notion that arose during elections: the rumor that I, or anyone, wanted to join class cabinet for the sole purpose of resume-building instead of what the position really entailed — that is, an opportunity to bring one’s class closer together by working with the other cabinet members, staff, and faculty. This really bothered me because it was and is not true.

I had no idea how to deal with such claims, but here are the options that went through my head:

  1. Tell those people that you’re NOT running for selfish reasons: this statement may sound self-incriminating.
  2. Demonstrate that you’re NOT running for selfish reasons: the question is how? This may be counterproductive.
  3. Get your friends to tell others that you’re NOT running for selfish reasons: one of the better solutions that I could think of.
  4. Ignore: Allow the rumor to live on.

I ended up pursuing option #2 by being as open as possible and encouraging others to come talk to me about their concerns. I tried re-emphasizing my interest in working towards the aforementioned goals for our class.

Running for class elections was a learning experience. It gave me time to connect with many peers had I not run. It gave me time to reflect on what changes I thought would be good, given their input, for the class. It gave me time to process those thoughts, to put them into words, and to deliver a message. I could have been more systematic in my endeavor, and I am sad that I lost. BUT, I am also looking forward to what the Cabinet does this upcoming year. It’s a privilege to be an elected official, and I hope they make use of their privilege for those of us who aren’t.

Congratulations to the SOD Class of 2020 President, Michael Nedjat-Haiem. 🙂

10 months ago, from left: Victoria Chen, Michael Nedjat-Haiem, Tanya Kavoussi, Armen Agahi




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