by GARRETT KEIDEL & ALEXA SCHMIDT, Asst. Editors
The annual student government campaign ended in late March. The parties’ campaigning took place from March 22 through 26, and the election was held from noon on March 27 through noon on March 28.
There were three parties that campaigned this year: The Jasper Shore: The Lasallian Experience, B.E.S.T of the Bronx and the Jasper Student Union, led by presidential candidates Alex Constantine, Jaycie Cooper, and Liam Moran, respectively.
There are two elections every year, one in the fall, and one in the spring. The fall election’s purpose is primarily to fill any vacancies and get freshmen representatives, while the spring election is the major one where parties run to fill the executive committee of student government.
The process to run for student government is simple. Students interested need to fill out an application and get 50 valid signatures and form a party. The party will create a campaign, and will start publicly campaigning when student engagement says its appropriate to do so.
The campaigns were much different than previous years.The presidents and vice presidents running had full parties behind them. Senior Michaela Bishop, the current president of student government said that in previous years, that wasn’t always the case.
Bishop said, “As far as running for a singular position on the assembly, that’s really an independent campaign where you can choose how to approach. You don’t have the exact same leadership role as somebody on the executive board, so it’s a bit more of a modest campaign strategy.”
“You don’t have to campaign as a group for the executive board, it just seems like that’s been a trend here. There was this year an independent president so it does happen. The president and the vice president run together and everyone else is singularly elected. The whole grouping of people together campaign wise helps those others get votes as well,” she said.
Another change in the campaign stemmed from Bishop herself. She instituted a new committee specifically for the election process and appointed Ryan Quattromani, senior class representative, as chairman.
“In an effort to legitimize the process, we made a committee which reviewed the policies and procedures of the election, the declaration forms that the candidates would fill out, signature papers, and really monitor the campaigning itself,” Quattromani said.
Junior Alex Constantine participated in the campaigning process this year as part of the Jasper Student Union. He recognized what an impact this committee made.
“What was different this year was that there was never an Elections Committee. Their job was to oversee the parties, making sure they followed the code of conduct. There’s a whole list that says you cannot do this, this, this, you can do these things and how to campaign appropriately and fairly. If there is a problem then you email student engagement, and the elections committee tries to do its best to solve the problem” he said.
This year, parties also utilized social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat to promote their campaign. Media such as photos, videos, and Snapchat filters gave them the opportunity to reach a broader audience.
In previous years, Quattromani, Bishop and Constantine witnessed the rise of social media, and how parties used it to their advantage.
Quattromani said, “Junior year, one team got a snapchat filter. Which was new, first one ever at Manhattan College. That spearheaded the influence of social media. This year we obviously had a lot of social media. Everyone seemed to be on social media. Even in the student government itself, we’ve been working on social media a lot.”
“It has a huge impact, which is why we reviewed the policy and procedures. There was even some confusion this year on the number of platforms you were permitted to use, where you were allowed to post, what you were allowed to post, I think there is even more work to be done in clarifying the use of social media in campaigns. I think it definitely impacted this year,” he said.
Constantine said, “Social Media in years prior was barely a thing. Last year social media became a thing when The Jasper Pack ran. They had an Instagram and they used a snapchat filter for their campaign with their bitmojis matching the party members. They made a facebook page and also a snapchat geofilter. This year it was taking from that where both parties were very headstrong on making an instagram, facebook, etc. So social media was huge in this campaign.”
Last year, Bishop ran as part of the party called The Jasper Pack. She said,
“When I first ran for student government, social media was a growing thing. I think that it’s even more beneficial now. Just in two years I see such a big difference in how effective it is. It was first seen that the rules and regulations for voting said that you could have one social media platform.”
“Things have changed drastically as far as social media. I do think it has a positive effect. Here it helps students who may be completely unaware, or maybe are completely bombarded with posters on the walls, that this is a really good way to get in touch with the student body. It can inform others about the elections or even introduce them to student government at all,” she said.
Senior LisaMarie Niraj, who also campaigned last year thought that the teams were very strong.
“Teams seemed to be equally as prepared, equally as strong in the social media aspect and I think that the teams used what Micaela’s party did last year as a perfect example of what you need to do in order to win. I think they followed through with that 100%. It wasn’t a situation where one group obviously had more of their stuff together compared to the other, I think they were very much equal,” she said.
“I think now that a standard has been set, I feel like that until the next app or the next social media blow up comes out, for years to come students have an example to follow,” she said.
“I would say that this year’s campaign season was slightly competitive in a sense. Last year was me and LisaMarie and the teams we assembled just pursuing things that we wanted to. This year was a lot like “we have this and they’re saying that” so it was a more competitive atmosphere,” Bishop said.
“I do think that the teams did an absolutely incredible job getting themselves out there. A lot of the dynamics of pictures and videos and how they were shared was really great, and I think they did an excellent job campaigning wise. So it comes down to who actually votes in this time period,” she said.
Overall, the election was a popular one.
Constantine said, “A lot more kids voted in this one than any other election there has been. I think in 2014, Student Engagement was saying that some 350 students voted, and this year it was like 800 or 900 kids total. And we go to a small school, like 3600 student max I’d say and so to get that percentage of the school to vote is pretty big.”
Quattromani said, “I think going forward campaigns are going to adapt to things like social media aspect, and as we build a south campus it’s going to change the dynamic a lot. The student body at the time is going to mold into what they want.”
Student government holds its next meeting for Wednesday, April 11 at 12 p.m. in Jasper Hall’s first floor lounge.