On Wednesday, the Associated Students of CSU Senate will be voting on the elections bylaws that will govern the upcoming student government elections. While we are pleased to see that ASCSU is focusing on making improvements to the way that we elect candidates, we are not so happy with the changes that they are proposing.
If passed, the changes would allow candidates to campaign in the vicinity of alcohol in locations where those 18 and over were allowed. After a bar becomes 21 and over, the campaigning would stop. That’s an attempt to allow students to campaign in places that students congregate (read: bars).
The other big change would be a spending cap for candidates. Presidential tickets would be allowed to spend no more than $3,500, while senator hopefuls would face a cap of $200. The caps are designed to keep election spending from becoming an obstacle for those without access to funds.
Both are noble suggestions, but one is less noble than the other.
ASCSU should not be in the position of telling students how to spend their own money. Dare we invoke the 1st Amendment, but one’s spending habits are a form of speech. Regulating that speech limits student rights, rights that ASCSU is supposed to protect.
Likewise, limiting speech to particular places, as the current bylaws do, is a violation of student rights. The move to allow campaigning in the vicinity of alcohol is a step in the right direction. We wish they would go further. Let students campaign whenever and wherever they wish.
That is free speech.
Limiting election spending, while trying to right one wrong, creates a bigger one. Sure, we don’t want to see bribery for votes (be it with a free pencil, shirt, hat, sticker, snack, or any other object) but we also think that capping spending is not the way to solve that problem.
Students, you’re smart, right? You are in college, at least. We hope that a candidate trying to bribe you with gifts for your vote will not be successful. As the election approaches, we want to see you researching the issues and thinking about who will do the best job for the school, not who has the coolest tent, cardboard cutout or baseball cap. A bribe won’t get your vote. Any candidate who thinks otherwise is demeaning you.
Furthermore, if you’re approached by a candidate in a bar, perhaps you should take the time to discuss the issues over a beer or two (a currently punishable offense), and make an informed decision.
ASCSU, we are genuinely glad to see that you’re trying. We think you’re shooting fifty-fifty with this one. The bylaws that you should pass should be bylaws without a spending cap. They should also be bylaws that contain no silly rules regarding alcohol.
If we want more silly alcohol rules, we can always look to Congress.