Unveiling Student Government Campaigning Rules

by NICOLE FITZSIMMONS & NICOLE RODRIGUEZ, Staff Writer & Asst. Production Editor

The Manhattan College campaigning rules prove to be an important asset for student candidates initiating their campaigns during election seasons, yet the components and standards of these rules often remain a mystery to the vast majority of students at the college.

The campaigning rules at the college are comprised of 13 components and were made by Student Government. Following the creation of these rules, Student Engagement issued their approval for the content of the rules. Minor changes have been made since the original creation of the rule set, however nothing has changed drastically since their original establishment. To make changes or alter existing rules, Student Government and Student Engagement work in collaboration to review the rules during each election process.

Executive Director of Student Engagement, John Bennett, explained how changes to the campaigning rules are actually encouraged.

“If students want to change some details of the campaigning rules, whether we agree or not, as long as it’s appropriate, we would be okay with it. Our purpose is to make sure it’s fair, appropriate and realistic,” said Bennett.

The campaigning rules are emailed to all students looking to run in elections along with other general rules and guidelines. Each part has several sub-components, including the use of social media during the set time of campaigning issued by the Election’s Committee. Each component of the rules are monitored by Student Engagement, but are also controlled by candidates and students.

Assistant Director of Student Engagement, Michael Steele, spoke on the role Student Engagement plays in enforcing the campaigning rules.

“Any advertisements (flyers, posters, social media pages, etc.) must be approved by the Office of Student Engagement before distribution. By doing so, we have a good idea of what’s being advertised on campus,” said Steele.

While advertisements must be approved by Student Engagement, student candidates who run can still enjoy a sense of freedom in their campaigns.

“What is brought to our attention is always followed up with and taken seriously, but we don’t actively go out of our way to make sure every student is following each specific rule. I think that would definitely be a huge negative and also portray a ‘Big Brother’ aspect which we don’t want to get into and which we haven’t had to get into,” said Bennett.

Recently, one of the Freshmen Class Vice Presidents, Isabel Frazza, expressed her own creativity and freedom by utilizing The Quadrangle as one of her campaigning methods.

“I wanted to campaign in The Quad because I wanted to reach as many people as I could, tell everyone why I wanted to run and why I thought they should vote for me. I figured it was a good platform to do this,” said Frazza.

While the campaign rules state that clubs may not endorse a party or a candidate, use of The Quadrangle is explicitly allowed in the rule set. As a widespread way to share ideas and cover topics, the student newspaper  provides an efficient way to spread the word. Candidates are able to submit a piece of writing to pitch themselves to the student body.

“I wouldn’t view publishing anything as an endorsement, unless The Quad wrote ‘Vote for so and so’ as the headline. I would view that as endorsing. If a student asked to write something, be included in something or even have an article written about them, that’s okay. I think The Quad has actually done a very good job in years past, especially in the spring semester when it’s the student-wide election process as opposed to just now which is for the freshmen class open positions,” said Bennett.

He continued.

“My only caveat to that would be we also only see what’s published. We only see what gets put in the paper. If four other candidates wanted to be in the paper, but you only put one that would be unfair, but nobody brought that up,” said Bennett.

According to Student Engagement, the most important factor to take into consideration with Student Government elections is ensuring that everyone running is given a fair chance. The campaigning rules ensure and emphasize equal opportunities for every student running for office.

“I felt that the campaigning rules were fair. It was clear that the rules were aimed at making sure every freshman who wanted to run for office had an equal opportunity to reach members of the freshmen class,” said Frazza.