Chalkings like the giant Michigan Party logo currently on the Diag or the barrage of candidates passing out flyers may be hard to find in East Lansing, where student government elections come and go without much fanfare.
Forget the Blue Party, the Michigan Party, the FRAT Party, the U-Dems and DAAP political parties aren”t even allowed in campaigns for the Associated Students of Michigan State University, explained Julia Wimberley, an ASMSU All University Election Commission member.
“In our election code we discourage parties candidates” names cannot even appear together on election materials,” she said.
Wimberley also said a ASMSU candidate”s entire campaign cannot cost more than $50, while at Michigan there is no cap on the amount that can be spent and parties often spend upwards of $1,500.
“It is something that we are particularly proud of and we think sets us apart from other student governments,” she said.
The Michigan State campus atmosphere during elections is pretty tame, Wimberley said. Candidate propaganda is usually limited to residence and lecture halls, without much campaigning across campus.
But Michigan isn”t the only college that allows students government campaigns to dominate the campus.
The University of California at Berkeley has a number of student political parties, including the College Republicans and Cal Dems, which have national party affiliation, said Alex Ding, executive vice president of the Associated Students of the University of California.
Ding said many students oppose the party system. “We have found that parties have brought disinterest in student government,” he said. “A (student) senator has brought an anti-party proposition that will be on the ballot in this election.”
On the other hand, the University of Washington does not have a student government party system, said Jasmin Weaver, president of the Associated Students of the University of Washington.
During election time, Washington”s campus is completely taken over by yard signs endorsing candidates, Weaver said. “Political yard signs are really big here. They”re just stuck all over. It”s pretty weird,” she said.
Unlike Michigan, where candidates are given demerits for being found in violation of the election code, Washington candidates are fined “big money” for their violations, Weaver said.
During last year”s campaign, Weaver and a few other candidates telephoned residence hall rooms to remind students to vote. They were found in violation of their election code”s solicitation policy and were each fined $500.
Ryan Robinson, president of Student Government at Ohio State University, said he opposes his school”s lack of political parties.
Robinson said at first he thought they were “a little too professional for campus” but was ultimately convinced of the value of the party system.
“You get candidates that have gained experience through the party system and can get things done once in office,” Robinson said.