In the last few weeks, UVM students were bombarded with campaign material for SGA’s presidential election.
Junior Jillian Scannell and sophomore Owen Doherty put up posters, covered campus in small campaign cards, made their own Snapchat filter and utilized many other campaign strategies.
While I had no issue with the candidates or their platforms, the marketing done by Scannell and Doherty was overly obtrusive and they ultimately lost my vote.
The day the voting portal opened, I received a Blackboard notification from my biology class I took my first year. The notification was a discussion board post urging me to vote for Scannell and Doherty and listed some points from their platform.
In that same day, I received two more Blackboard notifications with the same generic template used from the first one.
Blackboard is supposed to be a resource for academics, not a tool to blast out campaign propaganda to anyone who happened to take a class with you.
Politicians often use the mere-exposure effect, a psychological phenomenon by which people develop a preference for things they are heavily exposed to.
Scannell and Doherty’s campaign prioritized quantity over quality, knowing that the sheer repetition of their names would be enough to gain voters who would not take the time to fully research the candidates.
A good example of this is a poster that read, “Want affordable housing? Vote for Jillian and Owen.” It is unlikely that they can actually have an effect on the housing prices in Burlington. But posters like this put their names in voters’ heads.
Sophomore Harmony Edosomwan, the opposing candidate, had very few posters and a Facebook group, but not much else. Because she had no running mate, she did not have as high of a campaigning budget as Scannell and Doherty. According to Edosomwan’s Facebook page, she was not able to have her platform on the voting portal because it was sent in too late.
I’m not here to argue that one candidate is better than the other. Scannell and Doherty have experience in SGA and their platform addresses many pressing issues on campus.
I do hope that they are able to deliver on their campaign promises and that the people who voted for them made an informed decision based on their platforms, not just their advertisements.