The beginning of FAMU’s online spring 2020 election season began with a live viewing of the candidates’speeches hosted by the Electoral Commission on Instagram. Starting at 5 p.m. Sunday, candidates were given 70 seconds to deliver a speech to student viewers. The virtual event was held through Instagram live after the COVID-19 led FAMU administrators to call for a shutdown of the campus as well as campus events, forcing the election season to be held online.
With student voters adjusting to the lack of snacks on The Set, candidates are missing out on traditional campaign strategy options. Without the opportunity to connect with students face-to-face, candidates have resorted to campaigning through social media.
Precinct Supervisor Aliceyn Cudjo believes that candidates will have a chance to showcase the effectiveness of their campaigning tactics.
“Last spring was my first election at FAMU and I definitely questioned the effectiveness of traditional campaigning in this day and age,” Cudjo said. “This election will show us how effective being face to face is.”
With the absence of traditional campaigning on The Set, candidates have been faced with making last minute adjustments to their strategy. Mister FAMU candidate Jiared Crowd believes the change will make it hard to reach students who are not social media savvy.
“It has made the campaign a little bit harder but in regard to making sure that the students who are not on social media are seeing your campaign and platform points,” Crowd said.
Before the pandemic changed life as we know it, students anticipated the themes and unique gifts that come along with face-to-face campaigning. Now, candidates will have to focus less on their budgets and more on their interpersonal skills. Sophomore class president write-in candidate Andrew Chiwara is using the change to his advantage.
“The budget for our campaign benefitted from online elections because we did not have to spend as much money on posters, flyers, and other things,” Chiwara said.
With FAMU at the top of HBCU campaigns, candidates are known to spend thousands of dollars to secure their spots on the royal court or in the Student Government Association. Electoral Commission candidate Ryanne Taylor is no newbie to the game of budgeting money for a campaign.
“During my campaign last year my declaration outfit was around $300 and my photos and graphics totaled near another $300,” Taylor said. “This year I did things differently by keeping the cost of my photos and graphics under $200.”
Keeping costs low and social media presence high will be the universal trick among candidates in their race to see who will win.