UGBC Campaigning Needs Better Oversight

The campaign season for the 2014-15 UGBC president and executive vice president wrapped up as polls closed last night at 8 p.m. Shortly afterward, it was announced that the candidate team of Nanci Fiore-Chettiar and Chris Marchese, both A&S ’15, had won with approximately 53 percent of the vote.

This year saw significant changes in elections structure-the actual campaign period was limited to 10 days, there was no primary vote, and the Elections Committee (EC) introduced new sanctioning guidelines. The changes did not entirely eliminate campaigning issues, though.

For one thing, while setting up computers in public places such as McElroy Hall and the Rat so that students can vote between classes is not necessarily a bad idea, allowing candidates and members of their campaign teams to stand right next to those voting locations is highly problematic. There is a distinct difference between campaigning and heckling, and shouting at students from three feet away while they vote undeniably falls in the latter category.

The EC should also be more up front about which teams are being sanctioned, why they are being sanctioned, and how the consequences will play out. A potentially negative outcome of a shortened campaign season is that decisions regarding sanctions must be made quickly, with little time to weigh all reported infractions. Especially since the EC enforced sanctions that subtracted votes from teams for violations-a very serious outcome-it is important that it is clear about what infractions merit what punishments.

The campaign season was successful in other respects, however. Student turnout for voting has been historically low-last year’s final elections only saw 34 percent of the student body casting votes. This year, though, over 4,300 of the 9,100 undergraduates voted, constituting almost 48 percent of the student body-evidence of increased interest and involvement. Hopefully students will maintain that interest throughout 2014-15, engaging the new UGBC government and holding its leadership accountable for their campaign promises.

 

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