After an exhausting 2 weeks of the campaign, the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) Student Council Election came to an end on Tuesday 25th April. Most people on the campus remark that the 2017-2018 Student Council Election campaign has produced some of the most memorable moments in USG history. There were a significant number of candidates, 14 total, which consisted of students from all 8 institutions on our 1 campus. And most notably, there was a substantial increase in voter turnout. The winners will be announced on May 1st
As most of my readers may know by now, I am a candidate in the election for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s institutional representative position. The careers of some of the country’s leading politicians began at University, however, while student politics is not as serious as “real-life” politics, there are lessons to be learned. So for this blog, I would like to share what I learned, as I believe others may also be able to learn a great deal.
So what can you learn from campaigning?
- Disengagement is a problem- for a variety of reasons many students are disengaged with student affairs. To combat this, passion and enthusiasm need to be applied. As a candidate, I had to use passion and enthusiasm to make the election more interesting and motivate students to vote.
- Accessibility of information- while many efforts were made to make the election more accessible to students, such as the use of social media, tabling in the halls, and posting of flyers on campus, as a candidate one still needed to make their campaign more accessible. I was able to do this by meeting with students in the cafeteria, in their classrooms, and in the courtyard. This allowed me to get my point across in a way that was not only engaging to the students but was enjoyable and done at their convenience.
- Strategy is needed- although the campaign and election process are well thought out, as a candidate you have to be continuously monitoring it and have backup plans to respond to changes if needed. The intended voting process for my institution was not executed, but I was ready to adapt my strategy to achieve my goals. My strategy, aka “Plan B” was to build a strong team that would help by using word of mouth to spread the word and to use communication tools to my advantage. I am somewhat of a power email user for communication and for the USG Student Council Election it was an efficient way to deliver messages.
Overall running a student election campaign I found was an excellent way to build confidence, experience, and skills. So if you are ever looking for a way to challenge yourself, learn new skills and have fun in the process, the 3 lessons I learned are useful to consider. Take any of these lessons to boost your own endeavors, and you will find that it is effective.