Campaigns need to find their own forums

By Katie Wolf

For good or for bad, the United States recently reformed its election campaign policy.

I think Oakland University’s student body elections can also use some campaign reform, for good.

While attending two events on campus Thursday, I was accosted by campaigners from a student body president and vice president ticket, which I will not name, and I did not like it at all. As a student trying to enjoy some student-run events, I did not appreciate a political team interrupting these events to try to increase support for their campaign. Especially because I rarely get to attend campus events due to my busy schedule, so what events I do manage to attend, I do not want the experience tainted by being hassled by political petitioners.

This is not why I attended these events. If I want to know more about the campaign, I’ll read the paper, go to the facebook group, talk to the candidates or attend an official election campaign forum.

At the Women with Disability Forum, I was approached by a campaign manager who was passing out campaign literature to attendees. I found this distasteful because I don’t think this was the proper avenue for petitioning for a separate cause. If the campaigner was out in the main hallway outside the Fireside Lounge, that would’ve been OK because that’s a public place, but I think being inside the Fireside Lounge where the non-election-related event took place crosses the line.

Then at the Open Mic Night, another campaign manager from the same team interrupted the host in the middle of the show and tried, thankfully unsuccessfully, to speak on their campaign’s behalf. I was appalled at these attempts. Again, if the petitioner was outside the room, this would’ve been OK, but trying to petition inside crosses a line.

This is not the way to run an election campaign: piggybacking off other people’s events. These are not political forums, and nor should they be turned into ones. I don’t know if the two incidents I witnessed on Thursday were isolated ones, or if they’re indicative of this team’s or other teams’ campaigns.

Either way, these incidents make the campaign look, at best, amateur, and at worst, as if the candidates are intentionally hijacking other students’ events — which they worked hard to put together — for their selfish gain.

A couple different candidates told me that this method of campaigning at campus events is not new and that everyone does it to some degree. But I don’t think this justifies it, because it can cause discomfort to event organizers and attendees. And at the very least, the campaigners could ask permission from the event hosts before the event.

I am not mean-spiritedly bashing any campaigns: I have nothing against any candidates or their campaign. But I also don’t care whether this will be embarrassing for the campaigns and may drive people away from the candidates: I am not their PR advisor. I am writing this open letter and airing my grievance because I was annoyed, and I’m sure many other students feel the same way.

I hope the candidates rethink what are appropriate forums and methods for campaigning for student elections. And I hope any future petitioners for any cause — not just student body elections — reading this will rethink their approach too.

Editor’s note: Mas Rahman is a former reporter for

The Oakland Post. He has reported on OUSC events

in the past. Rahman is no longer affiliated with The

Post, and is a freelance writer.