Donations pile up for student campaigns

With nine days left until polls close, both campaigns for student body president have raised over $3,000 from donations, according to the latest Student Government (SG) documents. 

One ticket, Andy Rodriguez and Michael Malanga, has raised $3,768.67. The other ticket, Sammy Hamed and Alexis Sacasas, has raised $3,050 so far.

Of the money raised, Rodriguez’s campaign has spent $2,642.69 on expenditures, such as T-shirts, chalk and banners across campus. Hamed’s campaign has spent $3,756.85. 

The discrepancy between the money Hamed raised and the money spent is due using a payment plan to buy T-shirts through a vendor. Hamed said he expects enough pledges to make up the $700 difference.

T-shirts are, by and large, the most costly expenditure for both campaigns. Hamed’s campaign spent $3,608 on 800 navy blue shirts to hand out to students.

“They are the easiest to give away,” Hamed said. “You get name recognition when people see it all the time. I walk around in my T-shirt everyday. I don’t take it off unless I’m in a suit.”

Rodriguez’s campaign spent $1,945 on 500 purple shirts. 

“It is the only advertising you’ll get inside of classrooms, all of the dining halls and all of the residents halls,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not like you can put a flier in every classroom.”

Both candidates also spent money to buy chalk. Rodriguez’s campaign spent $94.60 and Hamed’s campaign spent $24.85 on chalk for campaign staffers to write candidates names on sidewalks throughout campus.

“For students walking by, it leaves a little memory,” Hamed said. “When they do go to the ballot, they remember.”

Chalk has become sort of a SG tradition. After candidates are allowed to campaign, Rodriguez said the nominees and their supporters go out “chalking.”

“It’s always a fun experience,” he said. “Everyone gets together at midnight that night and go chalking around campus … I’ve done it a few years now.”

For the campaign launch at midnight, both candidates bought food for their supporters. Hamed bought 200 chicken tenders from PDQ for $124 and Rodriguez bought three boxes of cookies from Publix for $18.67.

“Food always gets people there, right?” Malanga said.

Other expenses included banners and signs to post throughout campus, as well as fliers for Rodriguez’s campaign to pass out in front of the Marshall Student Center and the Library. 

Both candidates spent around $15 each for their respective websites, in addition to free campaign pages on social media.

Money for these expenditures comes in the form of campaign contributions, such as from friends or businesses. 

Hamed’s campaign received $200 from the owner of Ballyhoo Grill, Carl Hinson, who Hamed said he helped in the past during Hinson’s bid for circuit court judge. The Dream Gown Bridal boutique shop, connected with one of Sacasas’s sorority sisters, also donated $200.

Rodriguez’s campaign received $500 from RSA Consulting Group. Rodriguez said one of his friends convinced a higher up in the firm to donate to the campaign.

Both Rodriguez and Hamed received a $500 from their fraternities, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Sigma Phi, respectively. Additionally, two of Rodriguez’s fraternity brothers donated $500 and $550 to his campaign. 

Both candidates had a number of small contributions, ranging between $50 to $250, which were donated by friends and staffers. 

Hamed also received a promise of food donations from businesses, including Jimmy John’s, Hooters, Einstein Bros Bagels and Westshore Pizza.

All the candidates, including vice presidential candidates, donated to their own campaigns. Rodriguez and Malanga donated $750 each.

“Most of it came from what I got for Christmas,” Rodriguez said. “This year, when anyone asked me what I wanted, I told my family members this is what I’m going to be doing — the rest of it I saved up.”

Hamed spent $500 of his personal money, and Sacasas donated $350 to the ticket.

“It was hard to put that money forth, but (running) has been something I wanted to do for a long time,” Hamed said. “I was saving anyways, these things cost money.” 

Hamed said he wants to do more with the campaign, and might go to friends and family for more donations.

“Ten or twenty bucks makes a difference helping out with fliers,” he said. “I feel like I’m going to throw in another $250 (of my own money), I’m really invested in this.”

Rodriguez, on the other hand, said he is no longer actively seeking donations.

“If you look at all our donations, they’ve been from people who support us and believe in us,” he said. “It’s honestly been a blessing and we’re lucky to have so many people who want to be invested in our campaign.”

Both candidates said they aren’t done spending money yet. Hamed said his team is considering buying buttons. Though he doesn’t want to give away what it is yet, Rodriguez said he will launch a new advertisement on campus next week.

Voting starts the morning of Feb. 16. Students can vote online or at polling stations located across campus, including outside the Campus Recreation Center, the MSC, Juniper-Poplar Hall and the Fresh Food Company dining hall. Voting ends at 8 p.m. Feb. 19.