One thing that is common to almost every single student organization is that elections are held. No matter what org it is, we need some way to choose leaders for the following year, and letting the members decide usually seems pretty good considering the values we hold as a people. With elections, you always need some way to decide who is running, and parliamentary procedure tells us this should be done through nominations. Through a couple organizations I have been a part of, I’ve seen nominations lose the meaning I think they should have and I would like to comment both on the problems I have seen with them in the past (both with nominations and seconds), and on what I think a nomination should mean.
One of the first times I had a problem with nominations, it was actually from a person seconding a nomination. The person being nominated was someone I had never heard of, and it turned out that was true for just about everyone in the room. I did not know the person who made the nomination, but I did know the seconder, so I asked him about the candidate after the meeting. Surprisingly, he also did not know about the person, and just felt sorry that no one was seconding the nomination. While I understand the desire to feel sorry for someone, you should give more weight to yourself than to offer your support for someone just out of pity. One thing to note is that, in actuality, nominations for office do not even need a second (and unless house rules state otherwise, nominations are not even required if voting is done by ballot).
Another problem is using nominations to encourage people to run. With another org, there is the habit of nominating just about every single person at the nomination meeting, and not even suggesting what position that person would be good for. Now, I completely understand the logic behind this one, holding an officer position is a great way to get more involved with an organization, and you want to make sure as many new members get involved as possible, however, I can’t bring myself to put any weight on your nomination. I understand that you are not making the nomination with the expectation that I will care about what you think, that you are just wanting to help the other person, however, that just takes away the meaning from any genuine nominations that are being made.
So, by this point, you’ve probably figured out what I think a nomination should mean. Nominating someone for an office should show that you believe the person could do a good job in that position. If you are not even sure what position the person would be good for, but you think that person would be good for something, talk to the person. It can be helpful to be encouraging to a person, however, that can be better done through a conversation about why you support the person, and learning more about what he or she could be qualified for, than just nominating the person in the middle of a meeting…right after you just did the same thing for a bunch of other people.
Nominations exist so that we know the field of candidates contains people who have some level of support, and the members time does not get wasted. I should also be able to use the nomination to gauge something about the candidate, so make sure that you think the person would be good for a specific position before you make the nomination. Like just about anything in parliamentary procedure, nominations exist for a reason, and I think everything works better if that reason is kept in mind.
(meta note: this has been typed up sitting here for about a month…I really need to get better at actually posting things)