The Daily Gamecock

What to watch for in this year’s SG elections

Spending limits, positive campaigning, voter turnout key aspects in 2011 race



It means one thing: Student Government elections are underway. Candidates filed for office Tuesday in the Campus Life Center. Registration ends today at 4 p.m, and campaign websites and official campaigning will get started next week.

Here are a few topics to watch:

 What will dominate the debate?

It’s kind of cloudy. Candidate platforms are not available until next week, but some issues like textbooks and parking issues always seem to arise in elections. There is a lot of chatter about advisement reform inside the Student Government office and with recent tuition increases and budget cuts, the state of higher education in South Carolina will likely be discussed. Will candidates promise more lobbying? Will campaign promises reflect a challenging economy? Overcrowding in the student section during home football games could become an issue as well.  And progress is mounting on taking the CarolinaCard off campus and implementing a free taxicab service to replace Cocky’s Caravan, almost guaranteeing candidates will promise progress on those two issues.

“I don’t know what they’re going to talk about,” said Student Body Vice President Taylor Cain. “Last year it was pretty predictable. This year, who really knows?”

Will the spending limits work?

For the first time, candidates this year will face set spending limits, with only $1,000 allotted for each candidate in the general election. Should a candidate make the run-off election, an extra $500 is allowed. It’s a move SG says will level the playing field and give all students an equal chance at victory. Candidates must submit expense reports every week to the Elections Commission, and all donations of campaign materials will count toward the limit. But will candidates actually follow the rules? Can the Elections Commission effectively enforce a policy? Stay tuned.


Can the race stay positive?

Last year’s elections were marred with testy disqualification hearings that left Kate Allison on the sidelines. Two years ago, a candidate’s face was plastered with the word “Weiner.” Another candidate was maligned for a run-in with USC’s Department of Law Enforcement and Safety. Will the election turn dirty or will candidates be able to keep campaigning positive this year?

Do students actually care?

Student Government elections are notorious for poor voter turnout with less than 25 percent of the student body typically voting. How will candidates attempt to attract a wider voting base? Will an increased social media presence help to spike vote counts? Will the Greek Village widely support a candidate? Will one issue or particular candidate energize the student body?


Is a Constitution change in order?

Students will have a chance to revise SG’s constitution in this election. The organization has proposed a bicameral legislature, separating the undergraduate and graduate students into two separate legislative bodies and giving equal power to both. Graduate students have long clamored for more of a say in Student Government, but at least two-thirds of the student body must approve the change.