Who has the right to judge?

March 16, 2010 — by Aanchal Mohan and Tiffany Tung

When judging school events, students, teachers, and administrators alike have to be wary of potential bias. For example, every year the junior class holds Saratoga Idol, the event where students are able to display their vocal talents outside of the classroom. Typically, a teacher is asked to help judge the auditions with a few musically inclined students. This helps ensure that each student will be judged directly by his or her vocal ability.

However, this year, all the audition judges were students. When students are judges, they often unconsciously choose those they prefer in terms of friendship rather than those who are truly superior by talent. Though the student judges may have been trying to be unbiased, all human beings tend to be sway in favor of their personal preferences, though they may try not to.

In other situations, like job interviews, even if a person who does not know any of the people that they are judging, the person’s looks, what they wear, their background, all factor into making biased decisions. First impressions matter. Even before hearing someone speak, we judge them based on how we see them. We can’t help it; it’s human nature to act that way.

Although we have no way of determining whether Saratoga Idol’s judging this year was biased in unfair ways, in order to prevent such future prejudices, some new methods should be adopted. For example, along with using teachers as judges, they could try blind auditions, in which the judges are unable to see the students auditioning, therefore lowering the chance of bias. Other ways include having judges that participate in musical activities from all four classes, as well as a teacher, in the event that a blind audition cannot be done.

In the end, the reason we have judges is that they help determine the those with the greatest talent and potential. To do this, perhaps the judging system itself could use some fixing.

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