FAMU’s campaign period has officially started and, unfortunately, some students just aren’t that interested.
While a social media campaign can be beneficial to student engagement, there are several potential limitations that can cause remote elections to not be as successful as the traditional campaign season many Rattlers are used to experiencing.
Campaigning on campus is personal and it can give students the opportunity to feel like they know who they’re voting for. Technology can give candidates an advantage with easier access to the student body and a broader audience, but students are wondering if that’s enough to drive the vote home.
Jayda Miller, a freshman, elementary education major at Florida A&M fears that elections might turn into a popularity contest, which in turn could negatively affect who students are voting for.
“I feel like because it’s online now, it can become more about who has the most likes, or the most views, than who’s actually qualified. It’s good for people who have a stronger social media presence, but for those who don’t, they are at a disadvantage,” Miller said.
Social media has been a key factor in elections at FAMU for several years now, but “dorm storming” residence halls and setting up campaign tables on the quad has laid a necessary foundation.
“Unfortunately the campaign season engagement is low when it’s not interactive on campus. Yes, students see flyers and promos, but it’s just not prompting enough to vote online,” said Kaela Moore, a third year public relations major.
Despite this narrative, some candidates remain hopeful in their ability to get the Rattler vote.
Carrington Whigham, one of three aspirants running for SGA vice president, said that a remote campaign season could actually be a good thing.
“I’m honestly bittersweet to the fact that the coronavirus has shut down everything. I am hoping that this election will actually increase the university’s civic engagement because now instead of physically going to the polls, all students have to do is click a link in their FAMU emails. However, the downfall is that everyone running for a position loses that one-on-one engagement that makes campaign season so beautiful,” Whigham said.
Election day takes place Tuesday, April 21, with the run-off election day following on Wednesday, putting an end to this year’s campaign season. Whether or not electoral participation will take a hit is going to be completely up to FAMU’s student body to decide.