Editorial: What Associated Students elections are missing

Elections for Associated Students are this week, but what could they do to make students more involved in them?
Editorial: What Associated Students elections are missing

Associated Students represents all FC students on levels ranging from hosting campus events to representing the student voice in district board meetings. However, even with them in a role that affects the well-being of the college community, not many students are involved with A.S. and their elections.

Fullerton College is home to more than 17,000 students. In last year’s spring election, the highest number of votes was for candidate Hannah Hernandez, who got 240 votes.

“The campaigning for elections started last week. The candidates can campaign up until the elections are over,” said Associated Students advisor Ronald Farol.

With the election ending this Friday, April 26, candidates have about two weeks to get their campaign out to the public. In campaigns for national government offices, campaigning starts more than a year before their final election takes place.

It is not just that students are apathetic towards student government; A.S. needs to do more work in publicizing themselves and their election to improve voter turnout.

While A.S. doesn’t have as much importance as the United States Senate or the office of the President, they hold enough power to affect student life at Fullerton College.

“In the first week of April, we got the green light to start promoting the A.S. elections for spring 2024,” said Farol. “After this, we had two in-person orientations for anyone wanting to run and also had an online version of the orientation.”

He then explained if a student meets the requirements to run for an elected position, they can become a candidate. However, to advertise themselves to students, they have to follow a set of campaigning rules.

“They need to send their campaigning materials to the elections committee to be approved by me or the committee,” said Farol. “They’ll basically have to make a flier to check and see if it’s appropriate. They then get a stamp of approval in the student center downstairs.”

If candidates don’t follow these procedures, they could be reported to Farol or the elections committee and have a violation put on their campaign.

This set of rules, while necessary, could hinder how much time is allotted for students to campaign if not done in a timely manner. This goes along with how little room they have around campus to promote themselves.

“They can only post fliers on certain designated spots around campus. There are publicity walls by the gym, a couple right behind the pool area, and a couple on the other side of the campus away from the Cadena Cultural Center,” said Farol.

With these publicity walls being unintentionally hidden to the public, it is no wonder the campaigns for candidates of the spring 2024 election have been hindered. The heart of the campus is mostly in the quad of FC, and there are no publicity walls in that area.

However, candidates can also advertise their campaigns on social media. Farol explains that social media gives candidates a bigger space to spread their campaigns to the public.

That being said, many of the candidates have no campaigning materials on their socials.

So, how could the campaigning and election process be improved for future elections to come?

“There is a lot more work to be done with campaigning. I think the orientation process could be improved on so that students know everything they need to not get a violation in their campaigning,” said Farol. “I also think there needs to be more time for campaigning, maybe even an extra week.”

It is clear that something needs to change for the student government and their elections to mean more to students. We have come up with two different ways that could help A.S. publicize themselves more to Fullerton College’s public.

Ask the college to introduce more noticeable publicity walls:

The publicity walls are something that candidates have to work with. It is in their bylines to not physically put campaign materials outside of the walls without permission from department deans. However, the college could introduce more walls in areas regularly inhabited by students, such as the quad, to help A.S. spread the word about their elections.

Extend the time candidates have for campaigning:

Ensuring that there is enough time to plan out elections could help A.S. make more use of the candidate’s time to campaign. We suggest having a month to campaign around campus and on social media.

“The original plan was to start the application process somewhere around the end of March and then the first week of April would be when they would start campaigning,” said Farol. “The timing didn’t work out with how much we had going on; but preparing for the elections at least in March would help us greatly.”

A.S. is a necessary entity at Fullerton College. Making sure that their campaigns are advertised more publicly and personally can ensure that students are taking the time to elect their ideal candidates and keep the organization running at maximum efficiency.

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    Dana Rose CrystalMay 13, 2024 at 12:08 pm

    I waited until after the conclusion of the elections to answer since I was a candidate this year. I have participated in A.S. elections since 2007 so can offer my own insight as to efficacy of publicity. This year, they forgot to put the application info on the webpage nor to even post it onto the A.S. bulletin board, so they had to extend the application period.
    For sure there ought to be an extended campaign period — that has fluctuated throughout the years. It was a 3-week period at one time. At another time, they cut down the period to ONE WEEK, which was ridiculous; that was around 2017-18, when the period-through deadline to apply was just a week prior to voting.
    candidates used to be able to post banners between trees on the quad, until they cut down so many of the trees it can’t be done.
    Candidates used to be able to post on lawn stakes and sandwich boards — much of the reason they do not utilize such boards are that the expense takes up too much of $100 limit.
    Sometime in the 1990s, I think they used to allow banners to be placed on railings; then they removed that ability, although that used to still be in the brochures detailing publicity posting.
    The A.S. is supposed to post its own publicity prior to and during the voting period but doesn’t really do it anymore. I think I saw a few signs up, but most would just bypass it. The Canvas postings work for those of us who take online classes or who have a Canvas element in our classes, but what for those who don’t have either? — not that they paid attention when voting was in-person-only. How frustrating it was to be a candidate to talk to potential voters, who either/or don’t know there is an election, nor that there is a student government, nor what its purpose/importance is, nor even use their eyes to see the voting table with all the balloons and signs announcing the election!

    Last year, A.S. Vice President of Public Relations Fiza Valiulla was tasked with updating the various publicity posting areas (I don’t know if she managed to complete that before she graduated): many of the signs are in need to be updated and maybe there was an expansion of areas — for instance, I noticed quite a few candidates posted on the brick pillars within the outdoor patio near the Starbucks cafe. That didn’t use to be an official posting area, but I think it is a good area, since potential voters circulate and look at such publicity.
    I also noticed that quite a few candidates failed to remove their posters, with some posters still up a week after the election conclusion, yet my guess is that the election committee failed to cite them for violation, which was the case last year.
    Still, if the A.S. wants to match violations with real-life elections, late removal is not a factor in “real” elections. But “real” candidates are allowed publicity for years prior to election. It would be helpful for A.S. candidates to have 3-4 weeks or longer, to allow for endorsements, as well as for potential voters to have an understanding of the importance of voting. When I was a candidate some years ago, it was frustrating to have to take 10-15 minutes per person to explain why they should vote, even if they were graduating that year, or that no, the offices were not “just for kids” when I am an adult, or why vote for someone who isn’t cute and young.
    I say that we older students are NOT represented when the plurality of A.S. members are graduating within 2-3 years, so don’t understand the special needs of those who take longer – in some older students’ cases, because we realize that actual employment opportunities are few in our current major, so we restart and take up a new one. After finishing my requirements for TV, Radio and Journalism, I feel I will not get a job in any of these, so am in process of programs in Business Management, Paralegal and Marketing.
    I want a voice and a vote, too. I was disenfranchised, prevented from any other office except Student Trustee, when the A.S. changed its eligibility rules in 2018, improperly since all such changes were supposed to be Brown Acted, meaning they were supposed to be posted before any in-house votes, and that one sneaked by. It used to be required that any such changes to the A.S. Constitution or its By-Laws required to be via a special or general election vote – I guess that was altered via an in-house vote, too, that also had not been posted vis-à-vis the Brown Act.