Increase in competition sparks increase in advertising efforts during Student Council elections

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

With 27 candidates competing for six seats, Swat’s current round of Student Council races features an increased number of candidates and more vigorous campaigning than other elections in recent years. Current Co-President Andrew Gisselquist ’05, who will be joined by either Tom Evnen ’07 or Matt Meltzer ’06 once the results are tallied, commented that he would give credit for “much of the increased interest [to] the recent presidential election and related” activities earlier this semester.

A fall election for Student Council hasn’t had such a large number of candidates since the Fall 2000 semester when 27 candidates declared. Interest hit bottom the following year when only eight candidates ran, six of whom had no opposition. In 2002 nine candidates declared while 14 did so last year.

In step with the increase in competition, candidates have engaged in more significant campaigning efforts with Emily Nolte ’07 going door-to-door in ML to talk with students, and an ad for Alex Ginsberg ’08 appearing on Ginsberg and Rasa Petrauskaite ’08, both candidates for the position of Campus Life Representative, plugged websites specifically designed for the campaign in their platforms. Petrauskaite’s website contains only her platform, while Ginsberg’s contains an expanded version of his platform and photos from the campaign posters he has distributed around campus.

Nolte said that while visiting ML she “had some really good conversations” with residents, many of whom would not otherwise have voted. By visiting ML, she believes a candidate “shows that [s/he] is really interested in being on Student Council” and working for the student body. With so many students so heavily involved in the national election with effects somewhat more removed, Nolte asks “why not [vote for student government] that really…does directly affect us?”

Ginsberg did not respond to a request for comment from the Gazette.

Gisselquist expressed hope that “all the campaigning will get more people to vote,” but warned that “whether the ads and websites will affect the outcome or whether Swatties will be turned off by such actions as much as they raise the profile of any individual is an open question.”

While it remains to be seen how overall turnout will compare with previous elections, it has influenced at least one student. Zach Wolfson ’06 said that the fact “that I voted at all is influenced by the posters.” He estimated that he’s voted in roughly half of previous council elections. While he hadn’t seen either Nolte’s canvassing effort or Ginsberg’s ad, he did mention sophomore Lizzy Vogel’s appropriation of the John Kerry sign hanging from the balcony of Upper Tarble. Future candidates can take at least one lesson from his comments: the ad campaign you run will affect your chances. Wolfson’s vote can be swayed by a good platform, and he is “more likely to vote for a candidate with an interesting poster.”

Voting concludes today in Sharples.

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