By Mallory Sherwood, Managing Editor
Elections for Students’ Association executive officer positions begin after spring break, but a wrinkle in the campaigning process has already appeared.
Last week, several potential candidates created Facebook.com support groups, and more than 150 members have already joined, despite the fact that campaigning on campus has not begun.
This move sparked a debate in SA as officers had to define what campaign violations meant. Melanie Booker, vice president of SA, said campaigning on campus cannot begin until after petitions are filed, a process which doesn’t begin until the end of March.
Technically though, a decision was made that groups online cannot and should not be regulated by SA because they are not affiliated directly with the university, Booker said.
Justin Scott, SA president, said trying to regulate Facebook.com is like trying to regulate Facebook.com is like trying to regulate blogs or e-mails. He said it isn’t specifically addressed in the election rules, and so it would be silly to try to address it after the fact.
“I think people are realizing what a valuable resource Facebook and other Internet mediums are,” Scott said. “They are ahead of the curve this year. We can’t try to punish them for something we never thought about.”
“Campaign rules exist so that there is equity in the campaigning process and so the university is not defaced,” she said. “They aren’t meant to stunt creativity, and frankly, those who had Facebook groups created for them or by them were very clever.”
For those not ahead of the game yet, the official process begins March 29, when petitions are available for all interested candidates. Petitions can be picked up in the SA office, and candidates must have 10 percent of the student population’s signatures collected by April 5. As soon as a petition is complete, the candidate can begin campaigning.
On April 6 debates begin between candidates vying for the same position and April 11 voting begins.
Students interested in running for president, vice president or treasurer of SA must meet a few requirements. To run for SA president, the candidate must have been a student at the university for at least three years and they must have senior hours by fall 2006. To run for vice president or treasurer, the candidate must have been a student for at least two years and have junior hours by fall 2006. All positions require a minimum grade point average of 2.5.