Keep Calm and Campaign On
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 01:02
Yesterday’s midnight launch of the GUSA executive campaigns went as smoothly as such a start could go. It was a welcome departure from the tense and cutthroat — albeit exciting — kickoff to campaigns in recent years.
Campaign supporters staked out spots on the walls of Red Square before midnight and stuck to them. There was little bickering over wall space, and no signs were torn down or tampered with. Candidates elected, for the most part, to confine their initial electioneering to Lauinger Library, and the Cannon Warren (SFS ’14) and Andrew Logerfo (COL ’14) team started a friendly pick-up kickball game near Intercultural Center.
We hope, perhaps with a bit of naivete, that the tempered emotions of this campaign launch will foreshadow a change in tone from the heated election of 2012. Such civil conduct would be a relief for students still weary from the fiercely competitive nature of last year’s election, which included excessive door-to-door campaigning and mean-spirited attacks on other candidates, both subversive and explicit. And although the bombardment of flyers, campaign videos and Facebook solicitations will likely return for this year’s campaigns over the next few weeks, they are at least preferable to the over-the-top arms race for voter support seen in past years.
Tickets for the leadership of our student association should seize the opportunity to state their views and promote their platforms, thus making this year’s election about the issues, not the amount of attention they can grab on social media outlets. This year, perhaps candidates will proceed with an understanding that the two-week election season does not consume the lives of most students the way it does for the candidates. Student voters, in turn, can reward candidates for both good proposals and civil campaigning.
The 2012 campaign’s record turnout demonstrated that the candidates’ efforts were at least partially responsible for significant student interest in GUSA. But while students were indeed drawn in record numbers to the polls, it is unclear to what degree, if at all, excessive campaigning is rewarded with votes.
It is time for a toned-down GUSA executive election. That is not to say that the office being pursued isn’t important, but the way one gets there is important, too.