AS Publicity Efforts In Light Of Candidates' Forum

On Tuesday morning, March 26, the Santa Monica College (SMC) Bell Tower quad was filled with candidates all preparing for their statements. Most candidates were talking amongst other members of their slate, trying to build each others’ confidence with reassuring words. Some paced back and forth under the trees’ shade, rehearsing to themselves with drafts in hand. A few simply looked to the canopy-covered podium, waiting for the event to start, ambiguous in either confidence or anxiety. 

Nevertheless, all were gathered for one purpose: the Associated Students (A.S.) Candidates’ Forum, an event arranged by The Corsair, and an opportunity to persuade the student body to vote for them.

Despite this, the student turnout was a jarring contrast to the candidates’ preparedness. As candidates gave their statements one by one, some students passed by, looked on with dull faces and continued without pause in their pace. Others stayed in the quad to cheer on their peers, only to leave the moment the candidate said: “thank you.”

Aside from the usual task of designing and creating posters and banners, A.S. Director of Publicity Nikita Shpayer created new approaches to publicizing the elections. Namely, Shpayer coordinated with the rest of the A.S. board in creating “I voted” stickers to further raise awareness within election week. A.S. also utilized QR codes on banners to give students easy access to the voting page on Corsair Connect, and candidate information on the SMC website.

Shpayer summed up the toll of their publicity efforts, “as soon I went to sleep, I could see the banners tattooed on the back of my eyelids.” He also noted an increase in the candidates’ efforts to publicize the elections, which, coupled with their own efforts, culminated in an observable increase in voter turnout. “I’ve definitely noticed a lot more people with stickers on them, I haven’t passed by a voting booth without someone being there,” said Shpayer.

Even with these improvements, Shpayer remains pragmatic about the student turnout and admitted some students will always be too busy to get involved with student life. “It’s not their fault, you can’t force somebody to vote. It’s like in the US government, not everybody votes,” he said with a sigh. “That’s just how it is.”

However, when it comes to the issue of the elections merely being a competition of who can be the most sociable, though, Shpayer was hopeful in publicity efforts making a change. “I think some students do forget that this impacts the students,” he said, noting the issues with students potentially voting for a friend who’s platform did not resonate with them.

Shpayer recognized it was an uphill battle. “It’s hard to break the cycle of that favoritism,” he admitted, but he was also hopeful “better publicity would be able to break that cycle,” especially in the current elections. “We have a lot of strong candidates this year, I think leaving them up to just names familiar to you would be wrong. We should all take into account what they’re running for.”