Election season is always highly anticipated at Florida A&M University. However, this year campaigning was a little bit different. Due to COVID-19 students were forced to do all of their campaigning online.
Campaigning virtually means using social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter to get people to vote for you.
Being that students were pushed off campus due to safety precautions, some believed that student elections wouldn’t be possible.
“In the beginning for a brief moment, I did believe that elections weren’t going to be held,” said Aaricka Freeman, the electoral commissioner.
Before elections, the electoral commissions didn’t release an official announcement about student elections. However, many students were hopeful that it would happen.
“[But] after looking at the situation in a holistic view, I figured that actually could not be possible and I believe the student body wouldn’t allow that to happen,” Freeman added.
For some of the candidates, campaigning through social media was an easy adjustment. But for others, it wasn’t as easy as they expected. Yet, many of the participants in this election relied heavily on previous relationships with the student body to help their campaigns.
“The student body would’ve felt a more personal connection if we were on campus, but I don’t believe anything would’ve happened any differently,” junior journalism student Michael Moore said.
Moore was a candidate for the 2020-2021 King of Orange and Green, and he won with almost no opposition. Throughout his campaign, Moore created virtual activities including an Instagram cooking challenge that resembled the hit TV show “Chopped” and a virtual trivia night to engage with the student body.
Another candidate, third-year general health science major, Ar’monie Mack, felt somewhat differently about having to use social media to campaign.
“Personally, I am a very personal person. So I just knew if I was on campus, the campaign would’ve been a whole different ball game,” she said.
The personal element of a campaign is what makes candidates memorable to voters. But when that option was taken away, it made it harder for some. However, in the end, Mack won the position as the 2020-2021 Miss Senior Attendant.
Unlike most conventional on-campus elections, some students were able to enlist the help of celebrities to boost their campaigns. Candidates for president and vice president, Xzavier McClinton and Carrington Whigham, were able partake in a live question and answer session with legendary basketball player Dwyane Wade. They also participated in a live conversation with television show host Keke Palmer, discussing topics around strength, humility and motivation.
Their opponents, Christopher Miller and Zoe Mitchell, engaged in a live conversation with FAMU alumna and mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms. McClinton and Whigham won their race for president and vice president.
Every candidate reached for this story said they missed not being able to physically interact with the students.
“The student body couldn’t experience the genuine connection of an on-campus campaign,” Moore said.
Erika Johnson, elected Miss FAMU, said it was good to see how students engaged via online during this unprecedented time.
The 2020 student elections concluded Wednesday after the results came in for run-offs.