Campaign limit makes ASUU fair

In past years, campaigning for leadership of the Associated Students of the University of Utah has cost aspiring students $10,000 and a sizable number of posters, banners and hot dogs. If ASUU President Tayler Clough has anything to say about it, some campaigning practices are about to change.

Campaigning parties are currently allowed to spend $10,000 during ASUU elections. In an effort that would curb out-of-control spending and make elections more accessible, Clough has proposed cutting the spending cap to $6,500.

With the current spending cap so high, most students who end up campaigning are those who already have access to large amounts of money. The high cost of campaigning ultimately discourages less affluent students from even trying, impeding the diversity and quantity of parties. Last year, just three parties competed for the executive spot.

Although parties can choose to spend less than the maximum amount, doing so puts them at a major disadvantage. Presidential hopefuls end up spending enough money on one campaign during approximately two months to pay for one U student’s tuition for two years. Meanwhile, despite the tens of thousands of dollars spent, only 5 to 9 percent of U students voted during recent ASUU elections.

In addition to lowering the amount of money that parties can spend on a campaign, Clough has suggested restricting the number of posters and banners one party can place. Although we would like to see the cap drop even lower in the future, Clough’s proposal is a good first step toward reasonable campaign spending. According to Clough, the U’s $10,000 campaign limit is on average 10 times the amount of other Utah universities. Utah State University limits campaign spending to around $400, 25 times less than the U.

Although we support Clough’s effort to decrease the spending limit, limiting the number of posters and banners that parties can place on campus limits free speech. Limiting campaign funds should naturally decrease the amount of campaign materials, but each party should be able to determine how to campaign most effectively with the funds allowed to them.

Lowering the spending cap on ASUU campaigns would encourage a broader scope of U students to get involved and give student voters more options. Kudos to Clough for seeking to level the economic playing field and eliminate an area of unnecessary spending. ASUU legislators should throw their support behind the proposal.

[email protected]