In any political campaign, like the student government elections, getting your name out is essential. So essential, in fact, that in order to level the playing field, rules exist as part of the student government bylaws to dictate when and how parties can spread the word about their campaign.
Unfortunately one incumbent team vying for office broke these rules with a Facebook-advertised, unsanctioned party at which they disclosed to a group of between 50 and 75 people details about their campaign.
Held at the Provo Beach Resort, the “2012-2013 Student Body Officer Team Election Party” created on Facebook by Daniel Diaz, Adam Price and David Millet offered “free pizza and live music by Moneypenny,” as well as discounted bowling. The event details invited those with access to the event to “come learn about next year’s candidates, team name, and platform.”
A representative from Provo Beach Resort confirmed that the party organizers “definitely did little speeches,” saying that “at least three” people spoke from the stage area to the wrist-banded attendees of the event.
According to sources at the resort and close to the band, costs for the event totaled at least $455, plus the cost of pizza for the estimated 50-75 people who attended. Candidates and donors spending money on campaign events is just fine, according to the bylaws, but there are certain restrictions.
Rule five of the UVUSA campaign rules says that “a limit of $200 personal or donated money per candidate may be used,” but that’s only when the Elections Committee approves the event.
And according to Director of Student Activities Rebekah Grulich and faculty advisor to the committee, no events were approved yet this year.
In addition to rule five, the incumbents broke rule nine, which says to “avoid anything that may appear as campaigning and ensure that no sites are live prior to February 27th,” and rule 11 which prohibits campaign teams or candidates from using the phrase “UVUSA” in “any printed publicity or electronic communication.”
Since the bylaws only ambiguously state the punishment for violations, saying infractions “will result in severe penalties to be determined by the Elections Committee,” Grulich was consulted. After being involved in student elections for about 20 years, she knows better than most anybody the ins and outs of the campaign process.
“It kind of depends on how the Elections Committee feels the severity of the violation is,” Grulich said. “We want to make sure that the Elections Committee isn’t intervening with their potential to run.”
The typical penalty that teams take, Grulich explained, is a “ding” out of their time to campaign in the hallway during the three-day campaign window on campus. A similar infraction about five years ago cost an election team who threw a party two hours of campaign time. Since the campaign time is so short and since voter turnout is typically between two and 14 percent, Grulich said she considers this length of a penalty to be severe.
The length of the penalty, though, is not really up to Grulich. Each of the four students, one staff and two faculty on the committee get to say what they think the penalty should be.
“It’s always intriguing to me to see when you get that many opinions in what comes back,” Grulich said. “It’s usually pretty reasonable.”
Reasonable or not, the campaign rules and what Grulich said indicate that the incumbent team will indeed have to face repercussions from their violation.
(UVUSA campaign bylaws: http://www.uvu.edu/
By Jeff Jacobsen
Online Content Manager
*Additional reporting done by Jarom Moore, Andrea Whatcott, Kelly Cannon, John-Ross Boyce, Gilbert Cisneros, Faith Heaton and Jonathan Boldt.