Mar 072011
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Student government officials could be penalized for running for higher office arising from what was described as a “very grey area” in campaign election laws.

Associated Students of CSU election laws condemn office-seekers who ask for endorsements of their campaigns before declaring candidacy, which will happen Friday. However, those running can still ask faculty to help craft campaign promises.

Beau Loendorf, ASCSU director of student services, grappled with this potentially confusing policy in carrying out his duties as a member of student government after soliciting opinions from frustrated diversity coordinators on campus after the diversity and outreach department of ASCSU lost four staff members at the start of the spring semester.

To remedy the situation, Loendorf frequented the Asian/Pacific American Culture Center office and asked its coordinators “what’s working, and what’s not with their relationship with student government,” he said.

But Sagarika Sarma, an APACC coordinator and mentor of Loendorf for two years, perceived his efforts as an early declaration of his intent to run for an ASCSU office –– something he denies was his purpose for being there.

“I came in as a diversity liaison –– not as a potential candidate,” he said.

Whether or not a candidate was asking for endorsements or suggestions is up to the ASCSU Elections Committee, which has to power to fine and disqualify candidates, should legitimate complaints reach their desk.

“You have to be very careful because you can never cross that line,” said ASCSU President Cooper Anderson. “From my experience as a potential presidential candidate, you have to do certain meetings with people around campus to CSU to see if platform ideas would work… and what would be needed in the future to improve relations between ASCSU and a certain office.”

Loendorf could not say if he was running for higher office at CSU.

“Building a campaign staff is part of the process. It’s accepted that you’re going to build (one), which logically means you have to tell someone you’re running,” said Sen. Ben Weiner, a senior ASCSU legislator from the College of Natural Sciences.

Weiner explained that if someone let others know of their intent to run in hopes of building a staff, it could be construed as early campaigning and lead to fines imposed by the Elections Committee.

Anderson agreed that one of the toughest parts of navigating through campaign laws is understanding the legal ways to accrue a team.

“What crosses a line between campus solicitation and getting someone to work with you?” he said.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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