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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Election equality, a modest proposal

Published: September 20, 2013
Section: Opinions

Every fall brings the controversial Student Union elections, and this year was no different. Campaigns were out of control. Brandeis needs to clamp down on what candidates can do to promote themselves on campus. Students here at Brandeis come from different backgrounds ethnically, nationally, financially and religiously, but they are all people and should not have to deal with discrimination when running to represent the student body. Although they may be disadvantaged in a certain area, an unrelated disability should not hinder equality and justice in our university. These are two values we should hold quite highly, especially considering the legacy of our school’s namesake, Justice Louis Brandeis.
There are some restrictions here on campus, but they simply are not enough to control these wild campaigns. Students are only allowed 100 sheets of paper printed in black and white ink and one roll of masking tape, both provided by the school, so that students do not have to spend any money. Any personal spending in a campaign is clearly an unfair breach of justice, and it should not be tolerated.
Presidential and congressional candidates should not be allowed to spend any campaign money because it puts those less wealthy at a disadvantage. Even one penny is too much money to spend, because constituents should look only at a candidate’s platform, personal character, work ethic and qualifications. Since Brandeis is such a small school, every student likely knows each candidate, and therefore spending money on a huge campaign to spread one’s name and platform is completely unnecessary. Students should not even be allowed to use friends as a resource to spread their name because this unfairly skews the election. By convincing someone to vote a certain way, one introduces bias toward another by effectively pushing his or her decision onto the other in a way that may differ if left solely to the individual’s discretion about the candidate’s descriptions.
Students should not use any creative abilities to campaign in case one person has an artistic advantage. The school, however, has banned neither posters made on the computer nor campaign videos. There is just as much difference in artistic talent by hand as on the computer. This is the digital age, and we have to account for artistic expression through all media. Also, how can we permit video advertisements when some students clearly have more talent and experience filming and editing? Creativity takes more than one form, and just like someone may not be able to draw proficiently, one equally may not be able to edit videos artistically, as filmmaking is an art as well.
Furthermore, if Brandeis bans artistic resources, it should eliminate any poster with a candidate’s face or at least require candidates to don masks, as one candidate may be more attractive than another. Elections should be based purely on the candidate’s platform, character and qualifications, not their physical characteristics! For instance, what if a male candidate pulled in front of his female opponent with his masculine traits that were able to win over the predominantly female population?
If we equalize physical attractiveness, we have to equalize intelligence, as it simply is not fair for one candidate to have an intellectual advantage. As a result, there should exist pre-formed election campaign committees that regulate the posters and other advertisements present on campus. Therefore, the candidate would not have to exercise any intellectual capacity because his or her campaign committee would already create and distribute the advertisements. An intellectual advantage or academic focus in politics would provide a candidate with campaigning secrets that might unfairly put him ahead of an opponent. Everyone in the world is intelligent in his or her own way, so it would be unjust to favor one form of intelligence to the detriment of another when both types may prove equally effective in the Student Union position.
Although the election has terminated and the student body has chosen their representatives, we can still introduce these new prerogatives to equalize elections for future candidates and preserve justice to promote a fairer future for our children in generations to come.