By Olivia Krauth–
SGA voted new election rules into action last month in hopes more students will run for office next semester.
“Our most distinct changes come from an opinion that both the Court and myself hold: not all students feel free to run in elections,” SGA Chief Justice Sarah Pennington said.
One of the largest changes is the nixing of the slate process. Instead of a slate of senators, college leaders and top four, only SGA President and Executive Vice President candidates are allowed to pair up. They will not be allowed to pool funds or endorse other candidates.
“Some may feel that this is a restrictive measure, but truly, this is another accommodation made to even the playing ground for all students. Students will no longer need to be associated with a slate in order to win the votes necessary to win a seat in the SGA,” Pennington said. “They will no longer need to have the right affiliations or connections ‘required’ to find their way onto a slate.
“For a long time, the slate phenomenon has devalued many qualified candidates due to power matching and vote stacking. Now, all candidates will be in even positions where it is not their slate affiliation that earns them votes, but their own personal presence and qualifications.”
The amount candidates are allowed to spend on campaigns “has significantly decreased” from $1,000 to amounts from $150 to $500.
“Candidates had much higher spending caps that we read as grossly expensive for the average college student,” Pennington said. “While the court understands the cost of printing and marketing materials, we also know that most students don’t have large amounts of money to spend on their campaign and therefore some may feel discouraged from running.”
The rules also are clearer on where campaigning cannot take place, allowing voters to have places they can votes away from influence.
“Year after year, there are disputes over how candidates interact with voters and what to do to protect those voters,” Pennington said.
“The official wording prohibits campaigning on Election Day, within twenty-five (25) feet of a University-designated computer lab and in the University Student Activities Center. In that section, campaigning in classrooms, study areas and libraries is also prohibited.”
“By eliminating slates and reducing spending caps, you truly open up candidacy to a broader portion of the student population,” Pennington said. “By doing this, I believe we will bring in other on-campus organizations that have formerly had little representation in SGA – both by way of candidates and voters who want to votes for those newly enabled candidates.”