When considering the success of candidates’ campaigns for student body president, preserving a strong platform is not the only factor at hand.
Though gathering considerable contributions is necessary for insuring the recognition of one’s campaign, disparities in sponsorship and the amount of personal funds candidates can offer demonstrate how campaigning – even at the student level – is not an even playing field.
Those who established relationships with sponsors prior to their campaign may not need to offer as much of their personal funds as those who did not.
By implication, candidates without these networks and relationships are expected to enter the presidential race with more to offer out of pocket.
Though student body presidential candidate Jean Cocco put forth a lofty personal contribution of $1,281.78 for his campaign, he still provided less of his own funds than candidate Danish Hasan and his running mate Harsh Patil, who each contributed around $1,500.
Unlike Cocco – who has the support of former Tampa mayor Dick Greco and former First Lady of Florida Carole Crist, both of whom Cocco worked with previously – Hasan and Patil cover the majority of campaign costs with their own funds.
Candidate Brandi Arnold and running mate Shaheen Nouri contributed $400 and $425, respectively. However, Arnold received contributions from her sorority, Nouri’s fraternity and from C&L Printing, a company Arnold’s parents work at, among other sponsors.
Though acquaintances with sponsors may strengthen the effectiveness of a campaign and networking is a crucial factor in obtaining outside contributions, it is important to consider how this limits who can run for student body president.
Students who have not developed relationships through networking or student involvement may face difficulty in funding their campaigns, which suggest that only students who are well-known on some level can even have the opportunity to run.
Additionally, when receiving contributions from groups affiliated with the university, candidates might also acquire support from these groups at voting time.
Whether to make up for the difference when lacking sponsorship or simply to enhance one’s campaign, personal contributions always benefit candidates.
This indicates that students wishing to run for presidency must provide a substantial amount of personal funds, which is not financially realistic for many students.
Cocco affirms he “saved up” a year in advance for his campaign, but not all students can manage to gather $1,281.78 in the course of a year. While his preparation shows commitment, the financial situation of many college students may not accommodate such budgeting.
Furthermore, as of 2011, candidates are not limited to how much money they can acquire or spend for their campaigns. The elimination of equal allocation emphasizes the imbalance in whose campaign may receive more attention.
Additionally, what a candidate can afford, and thus how recognizable they appear to the student body, is reflected in the material aspect of their campaign.
Cocco spent $3,540 of his total amount raised on items such as wristbands and T-shirts. Last week, Hasan spent $1,200 on T-shirts and Arnold previously spent $2,000.96.
Though costly advertising familiarizes students with candidates’ names, it provides students with little to no information about their platforms. Even though candidates’ goals are not seen with these items, spending more money on them may incite some students to vote for someone based on wider name recognition alone.
While campaigning for student body president is certainly a pricey feat for all candidates, it is imperative to consider how certain advantages affect a campaign’s potential and voting outcomes.
Isabelle Cavazos is sophomore majoring in English.