Jun 20, 2019

Going online

Photo illustration by Mathew Gomes / The Collegian
Campaign guidelines, costs and large participation push student campaigns to social networking sites

With Associated Students Inc. (ASI) elections less than a week away, candidates are campaigning harder and more frantically than ever.

And with the rise in technology and social networking Web sites, it seems as though more and more students are turning away from traditional methods of campaigning.

“The internet has started to play a huge role in campaigning,” said Alex Andreotti, who is running for a Senator At-Large position. “Since many students today are a part of a social network site and check it regularly, sending a message to a friend advertising a campaign message is an easy way to attract attention.”

Some popular social networking sites include Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and other outlets frequently checked by students.

The best part about these types of advertising media is that they are free for candidates, as anyone running for a political office at the university is forced to pay money out of their own pocket for materials.

Therefore, students can simply update their statuses, post bulletins, send messages and do a variety of things on social networks with no charge.

Any campaign materials that are visibly placed around campus or any physical campaigns props must be approved by the Elections Committee according to Allison Smith, the Elections Commissioner. Thus, social networks are away to avoid any type of restrictions in terms of visual campaigning.

“I would say the most effective way to campaign is the online social networks because students are addicted to these,” said Jessica Sweeten, the current executive vice president. “It grabs attention and gives you a direct connection to the students. You have a way to interact with them and talk about the issues.”

While these networking devices have become popular amongst candidates in recent years, the old fashion flyer and button method is still around.

The visual aides can be placed anywhere on campus as long as they are not within 100 feet of the polling booth on election day.

But once again, the downside to placing posters around campus and handing out flyers is that it costs money.

Smith said that she has also witnessed candidates who campaign together as an effective strategy. Teaming up can either make or break an election, but for some it’s worth a shot.

However, Sweeten and Andreotti both agree that creating a catchy slogan is the best way to draw student’s attention to a particular candidate.

“Although the internet has somewhat taken over the campaigning world, a flyer still catches the attention of students on the way to vote,” said Andreotti. “It still catches the eye of a passerby.”

Campaign strategies are a major concern, but another thing that candidates must consider is which students to target as less than 10 percent of the student population participates in ASI elections.

But most candidates focus their attention on the Greeks and student organizations that will benefit from a candidate getting into office.

And finding out who to persuade for a vote is difficult, but Sweeten said the hardest part of campaigning is simply getting students to turnout to vote.

“I would say the most difficult part is really engaging students to vote and telling them why it matters to vote,” said Sweeten. “It is hard to tell someone to vote when they do not know what ASI is, let alone what it does for them.”

By Megan Poindexter and Erin O’Brien / The Collegian

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