By Ahmad Nasser, November 5, 2015 —
Every year in February, hopeful Students’ Union candidates try to earn votes by interacting with students, making classroom speeches, attending forums and, of course, putting up posters.
Anyone who has been through an SU election remembers the endless posters littering hallways in the weeks leading up to election day, desperately trying to capture students’ attention. These posters cost an unnecessary amount of money and fail to meet the lofty environmental standards the University of Calgary aims to achieve.
Candidates are given a budget of $150 if they are running as a faculty representative and $300 if they are running to be an executive. Last year alone, these poster budgets cost the SU around $8,000. This money comes from the SU’s pocket, which is partially derived from the student body. This is by no means the largest SU expenditure, but it is possible to bring the cost down.
By eliminating a poster budget and banning other wasteful paper advertisements, the SU could solve several problems with its elections. Environmental waste would be cut down significantly, as candidates wouldn’t be forced to print out hundreds of posters only to tear them down days later. Candidates would need to focus instead on face-to-face engagement and social media — both of which impart more information to students than any poster.
Students would no longer be drawn to vote for a candidate with the coolest posters or who camps out overnight for the best banner-hanging spot. Instead, they would have to vote based on who sold them the best platform ideas and reached out in the most compelling manner.
Additionally, the rules surrounding how and where posters must be hung are arbitrary and costly to enforce. Candidates are given two infraction warnings, with the third resulting in their dismissal from the race. Bringing your posters in a concealed box into the SU office or taping two banner-sized posters on a wall within a certain distance of each other is all it takes. These rules are a waste of time and effort to enforce. Eliminating the posters removes any issues relating to the implementation of ridiculous poster rules.
Eradicating campaign posters may seem like a drastic change for the upcoming election, but it is necessary if we want to move towards more realistic political campaigns while simultaneously being more fiscally and environmentally responsible.