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Officials reflect on student campaign strategies

By David Floyd
On April 10, 2014

Student campaigns use a variety of strategies to win votes on election day.
Starting April 7 and ending at 6 p.m. April 16, individuals running SGA executive branch and Senate positions will be campaigning in various locations and on multiple media platforms.
"Typically you'll see candidates using yard signs, chalking, social media and handing out things like flyers, T-shirts, water bottles and buttons; anything to improve their visibility," SGA President Michael Wallace said.
Increasingly, social media is becoming vital for improving name recognition.
"For the past few years, social-networking has been a common tool," said Thomas Klug, secretary of the interior.
"Sometimes campaigns will create websites, campaign Facebook profiles, and sometimes they even post video documentaries on their Facebook profiles."
Despite the creation of online content, it's still difficult for students to gather information about candidates' backgrounds.
"One thing we'd like to do is have candidate profiles posted online. That way knowledge of their platforms and legislative history will be more accessible to students," Klug said.
Currently, the best way to discover a candidate's legislative background and platform is through direct face-to-face interaction.
"Face-to-face interaction is huge," Klug said.
"There are 10,000 undergraduate students on campus and, generally, campaigners only see 2,000 of them. I think that reflects in our voting, because we consistently only have 1,500 or 2,000 students who submit ballots."
Financing a campaign is one of the largest obstacles. Candidates are only permitted to use personal funds, and the university is prevented from financing either side.
This has led to several coping strategies.
"It's easier for candidates to run as tickets because then the advertising costs are lower," Wallace said.
"Having three names on a poster is cheaper per candidate than having one name on a poster."
Though candidates for the executive branch run together, they are elected separately.
This year, both campaigns are advocating a greater focus on student issues.
"There has been a lot of internal [Senate] reform, so candidates are stressing the need to refocus on the students," Klug said. "The reform has been helpful, but candidates are now hoping to use these improvements to give back to the student body."


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