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A Newsfeed Full of Coral and Gold: Student Politicians Harness Social Media

May 13, 2013

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On Friday, April 12th at 12:01 am, my Facebook turned coral and gold. Profile pictures and cover photos were immediately transformed into campaign pictures of candidates and HuskiesNow and OneHusky symbols. In the blink of an eye, that friend from lecture class turned into a Husky emblem, and his or her cover photo was suddenly full of people perfectly dressed in business attire. Status updates proclaimed election bids, and cheesy “throughout my time here at the UW, I’ve learned an incredible amount blah blah blah… it’s my time to step forward and be the face of the student body, I am running…” proclamations occurred. What does this all even mean? The ASUW elections are in full swing! And the annual spring quarter “Social Media Takeover-” had begun in earnest.

The Associated Students of the University of Washington, also known as ASUW (an organization that lives and breathes off of abbreviations), is the undergraduate student government for the school. Every spring, elections are held to elect the President, Vice President, and six at-large members of the Board of Directors. Additionally, constitutional amendments and ballot measures are considered. Information pertaining to the elections and campaigning can be found here. Details about the current Board of Directors and insight on their positions can be found here.  The ASUW is theoretically the representation of the student body and as such should be voted by us. So if you want to be heard by our administrators, our staff, state legislators, and want to see change, taking a stand and voting for the person who best represents you is the first vital step among many to get more involved in the process.

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Since social media is the easiest way to reach a broad body of students, the candidates and their respective tickets are now dominating news feeds. From Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, and Instagram, the two tickets, HuskiesNow and OneHusky have been commanding the internet. The tickets have even gone as far as creating unique and original hashtags for Instagram and Twitter. To experience the social media takeover for yourself, check out the links to their social media sites: HuskiesNow and OneHusky.

Interestingly enough, the candidates’ educational backgrounds are as diverse as their social media platforms. HuskiesNow’s Vice Presidential candidate, Ada Waelder is a Political Science major in the College of Arts & Sciences . She’s running against Finance major,  OneHusky’s Alex Fraser. The College of Arts and Science’s is also represented in the Presidential contest with OneHusky’s Daniel Nguyen majoring in English and HuskyNow’s, Michael Kutz, representing the Computer Science major. It’s nice to see College of Arts & Science’s majors/minors represented in many of the candidates on both sides of the election spectrum.

Traditionally the candidates go head to head on issues of policy and qualifications at public forums, held all over the UW campus.The first of these was hosted by the Young Democrats and College Republicans and it was my first introduction to the individual candidates, their positions, and their plans– I saw many student leaders in their element, as well as those who faltered and couldn’t handle the pressure. As a member of the Young Democrats and the Elections Administrative Committee (EAC), it was paramount that I attend this forum. Not only was I able to finally listen and watch the candidates myself to decide who to vote for, but I witnessed the beginnings of an ensuing candidate drama.

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What’s an election without drama after all? Come on, it’s politics. Like rival armies, volunteers, students, and members from each political club sat divided in their colored T- shirts. A sea of malibu green, coral, and yellow segregated Gowen 301, the hall where the event was held. As a self-proclaimed people watcher, I not only kept a keen eye on the candidates, but the audience as well. Throughout the forum, members in the audience live tweeted and posted on Facebook, sharing their opinions and commentaries on the candidate’s and their answers. Eye rolling and creepily eerie smirks accompanied the clacking keyboards and catchy hashtags. Since then, more forums have been held and the last one was held this past Friday; again, there was plenty of  live tweeting and Facebook posts during these events. The schedule of ASUW forums and events are seen here.

Social media isn’t just an option for campaigns to promote anymore; it is a necessity for their voices to be heard loud and clear. However,  the cyber world is dog eat dog, a place where you can gain or lose voters in a blink of an eye. One wrong move by a candidate to the dirty skeletons in their closets can jeopardize their chances of winning the election. For me, the presence of the ASUW elections is felt with every mouse click and every smart phone tap.

Have your Facebook feeds also been bombarded with catchy (but incredibly cheesy) slogans and/or posed pictures of the candidates at various UW events? Have the colors, coral and gold, grown synonymous with their campaigns? Has a particular candidate or event this season impressed you? Share your experiences with the ASUW elections madness with us!

To find out more about ASUW Elections and browse opportunities to get involved, check out this the Election Administration Committee’s link here. This is an amazing chance to get involved and learn more about the ASUW.

Also, don’t forget to vote at this link on May 11-13! Check out this link to learn more about the candidates and ballot measures before casting your vote. Be an informed husky!

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