UVUSA campaign season officially began February 6 in a press conference revealing the 10 candidates running for 2014-15 student body offices.
Two teams have come forward; team Limitless and team RISE with Ryan Edward Kent and Tyler Brklacich running for the position of student body president.
Each team gave a 10-minute introduction to their candidacy. Team RISE spoke predominately on aligning the goals of the administration with those of the students, while team Limitless focused on expanding “UVU culture.”
Still in the shadow of controversies surrounding the 2011-12 and 2012-13 elections, this year’s UVUSA elections will function differently, aiming to avoid the pitfalls of the past.
Hoping to shift the election’s focus from popularity to voting for a cause, UVUSA has extended the campaign season from two weeks to four, giving the students a chance to look at what each team has to offer as opposed to who is the flashiest.
“Unfortunately the elections have a tendency to be about whose slogan is the catchiest and whose swag is the coolest,” current UVUSA president, Jono Andrews, said.
Andrews explained that they hope the extension of the campaign season will help offset the overwhelming onslaught of stimuli common with rushed campaigning.
“One day you come to school and there are posters and people in matching shirts trying to give you candy and tell you who to vote for,” Vanessa Bybee, senior, said. “Then you’re supposed to vote like two days later. I think people just always vote for whomever said their team’s name the loudest and the most often.”
Andrews noted that a big factor in who takes the presidency has to do with their social media prowess, how well designed their logo is and how much candy they give out.
“When a campaign is short it’s wholly about name recognition,” Andrews said. “You remember who gave you the water bottle or the candy bar. It becomes a ‘what can I get?’ game.”
What UVUSA hopes will change with the extension is the focus on the platforms each team and each member of the team is supporting. When selecting student body officers, UVUSA hopes that students will make an educated decision.
“Look for the message,” Andrews said. “Look to see how organized they are. Can you get ahold of them? It shouldn’t be hard to contact them and it shouldn’t take long for them to get back to you. They should want to talk to you. It’ll be their job.”
Andrews stressed the unseen importance of UVUSA, saying that they hold scholarship positions on campus for a reason.
“It’s about more than activities,” Andrews said, “I sit in 16 meetings a week, talking about students’ futures. We have a significant say in those.”
Andrews sits on the Board of Trustees, a privilege that not even President Holland holds. As a member of the Board of Trustees, the student body president functions as the voice of the student body and has a say in the allocation of funds, university expansion and the creation and development of new majors and programs.
“Students should care about who takes office, not just because they seem like they’d throw a good party, but because they are the people you can go to when you see a need for change on campus,” Andrews said. “If something is bothering you or you think you have a good idea of how to make a change for the better on campus, it’s the UVUSA officers you need to talk to.”
An additional hope of the extended campaign time is to increase and improve voting. In the 2012-13 elections six percent of the student body voted, while last year just fewer than 10 percent of students participated in elections.
To increase the number of voters, this year the university will offer both electronic and paper ballots, whereas for the last two years it’s been exclusively online through UVLink.
“It caused all kinds of problems,” Andrews said. “When everyone on campus is given a specific time to login and vote it crashes the servers and makes it impossible. People don’t want to deal with waiting for their turn, so they don’t vote.”
UVUSA is also hoping to better educate the voting population.
“What happened last year is that they just voted for who was running for president,” Andrews said, “because there was an assumption that you vote for a team by selecting the president.”
Though the 10 candidates run in two teams of five, what many students don’t realize is that each candidate can be voted for independently, giving students the chance to create their perfect team.
“There are positives and negatives to that,” Andrews said. “It’s good to keep a team together because they got into this together, with a common vision for what changes they wanted to make. But, if you really think the president from team one is great, but you prefer the person running for VP of clubs from team two then you can vote for them separately and potentially get what you want.”
The campaign will run from February 6 to March 5, with the public debate held at noon on February 25 on Centre Stage and the voting open March 3 to 5.
Nicole Shepard is an Integrated Studies major at UVU. She is emphasizing in Writing Studies, Journalism and Peace and Justice Studies, and will graduate spring 2014. Nicole is hoping to work in cause journalism and advocate for restorative justice practices. She has lived in Europe three times she is also considering graduate school in the UK. Nicole is the news editor for the UVU Review.