Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
PROVO Student government elections at Brigham Young University ended Friday with selection of a new president and executive vice president. Fallout over a primary election disqualification and concern over campaign promises, however, is likely to linger.
The rules for running for student government offices seem rather simple on the surface: Campaigns are allowed only 20 workers for the two-week campaign, and spending is limited to $200.
Running mates Sara Stevenson and Bryce Porter found out, however, it is not just the limits spelled out in the student handbook that can create problems. Stevenson and Porter were disqualified during the primary process last week for including a link to the school's voting system on their Web site and for their campaign fliers sticky notes posted all over campus.
Neither offense is listed in the handbook. Stevenson and Porter said the rules only stipulate that campaigns cannot show someone how to vote and campaign workers must remain at least 50 feet away from voting locations.
Anne Rumsey, director of student leadership, refused to provide any specifics when asked why Stevenson and Porter were disqualified. She would only say that she thought the ruling was fair.
Rumsey admitted that some infractions cited against the Stevenson/Porter campaign are not contained in the handbook, but she said the committee warned the campaign about other problems.
Porter says his campaign was never notified about many of the infractions cited by BYUSA's election committee until after he and Stevenson were disqualified.
"There's no consistency," Porter said. "You're ruled by fellow BYUSA workers.
"They're expecting you to get so tired of fighting that you just give up," Porter said after BYUSA rejected his appeal.
Some students have raised concerns over campaign promises, and others question whether those elected have any real impact on the school's administrative decisions.
Student leaders say they make efforts to ensure campaign promises are reasonable. They say BYUSA leaders review campaign platforms each year to make sure they are feasible and practical.
Platforms in recent years have included pledges to organize a student-run radio station (offered by the current student body leaders) and to bring rock concerts to the Marriott Center (promoted by one group this year).
While the radio station has yet to become a reality, Rumsey said student-body president Dave Johnson continues trying to sell the idea to the school's administration.
"Sometimes things take longer than a year," Rumsey said.
In addition to the rock concerts, improving student relationships with off-campus alumni was a campaign promise this year. Rumsey said the committee paid more attention to platforms this year, hoping to fend off past claims of unaccomplished projects.
"If year after year candidates promise things and don't follow through, the students lose interest," said Samuel Glanzer, the current BYUSA executive vice president who lost his bid to move into the president's office on Friday.Vernon Heperi, BYU's dean of student life, said student body presidents do help effect change on the campus. Heperi said presidents help promulgate ideas for consideration by university officials.
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