OU Students, Administrators Disappointed with Campaign Conduct
Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi said, “The campaigning – I wasn’t too pleased with. I think it got pretty ugly, frankly. I didn’t think that was very positive, and I think that led both parties from straying away from the issues,” said Lombardi who is also the advisor for the Board of Elections.
The Student Senate Board of Elections fined the FACE ticket $225 due to negative campaigning. The contest left some students confused about what the important issues were.
Student Robert Faris said the negative campaigning prohibited students from fully understanding what each party stood for.
“I think in the future they need to be required to be a lot fairer. They need to stop attacking each other continuously,” he said “We should be able to talk a little bit more coolly about issues that affect students.”
Another student, Caleigh Bourgeois, shared concerns about being properly informed by the parties.
“I would like to hear more about the issues because I didn’t feel like I was educated well enough by the campaigners. It was more like, here’s a piece of candy, vote for FACE, here’s a text message, vote for RSVP,” she said.
Kent Smith, Vice President for Student Affairs, expressed concern about the conduct of students during the elections, even from students not running for office. Referring to the second debate between FACE and RSVP candidates. Smith said, “I thought some of the questions asked [from audience members] were petty.”
Questions were also raised about some of the campaign strategies.
“I thought they used tactics that weren’t really ethical or right for a campaign,” Faris said. He described a negative experience when an unknown number texted him telling him to vote RSVP. “I thought it was a little weird and texted the person back asking who it was, but they wouldn’t identify themselves,” he said.
To others, it seemed to be the standard for elections. Student Mitchell Kinnen said, “As much as everybody says, ‘This year is going to be different.’ They all kind of blend together.”
Smith said he hoped the same negativity will not be present in future elections. “Certainly I’ve seen negative campaigning in the past,” said Smith. “I don’t think it’s necessarily indicative of what will come. I just think that sometimes in political campaigns those things happen. It doesn’t make it OK, but I don’t think it’s a matter of fact we will see it next year or in years to come.”
Lombardi urged students in the future to stay focused on issues and not get caught up in the heat of campaigning.
“I recognize it’s often made into a political thing. People say things or do things that don’t reflect their true spirits or their true selves,” he said. “It’s about encouraging students to stick to the issues and stick to the issues that are important to their fellow students… and to be people of integrity.”