During Michigan Student Assembly elections, flyers encouraging students to vote for candidates based on meaningless slogans and fluorescent colors semiannually engulf virtually every inch of wall space in several University buildings. Despite the considerable resources and manpower expended in the feverish race to post the flyers, they are largely ignored by students and trampled upon once they fall to the ground in the following weeks.
Campaigns for the next MSA election, however, will be different. Acting at last in direct response to student complaints, MSA Tuesday passed a resolution banning the posting of campaign flyers on all campus walls except those in residence halls. Although the resolution was passed for the benefit of the University community, it will advance the credibility of MSA, as well. Once candidates are not allowed to rely so heavily on superficial flyers to be elected, they will have to turn to other, more substantial methods of campaigning. Without the help of catchphrases plastered floor-to-ceiling at the Modern Languages and Dennison buildings, candidates will be forced to choose their words more carefully; this will perhaps encourage candidates to spend more time thinking about their platforms than generating lists of words that rhyme with their names.
The inability to reach students through flyers will steer candidates toward other avenues of communication. Candidates will only be able to effectively reach their audience through human contact; by coming out into the University and interacting with the students they are supposed to represent. Such alterations in the way MSA presents itself to the student body will make the organization more legitimate.
Most students will react positively to the change. While previously apathetically passing by vapid posters, this campaign will be given a chance to interact with candidates. Students will put faces to candidates’ names, become more informed about the issues and party platforms and consequently make more informed choices in the elections. And perhaps when the intelligence of the students is respected, a greater interest in student government will be fostered, increasing voter turnout. All of this will allow MSA to act as a true representative body for all University students.
If nothing else, the ban on posting campaign flyers will save a considerable amount of resources and manpower. The paper formerly used for flyering can be put to far better use. Candidates will not have to stay up till the wee hours of the morning in the desperate attempt to outdo each other in wallpapering the University. Janitorial staffs will not be forced to clean up the trampled mass of colored paper strewn about the hallways of University buildings.
The ban on posting campaign flyers will beneficially affect both MSA and the University community in many ways; candidates will be forced to focus on issues and interact with students, students will be encouraged to take a more active interest in their student government and effort and resources will be saved. MSA should be applauded for making such a responsible decision.