Keeping with a long-held tradition, Hill Hall has once again banned the use of social media in all campaigning. While the administration of the campaigns sees this move as a wise choice in order to keep with the hall’s reputation that “Hill is home,” the rule only moves to slow progress and detract from the value of the election process, as well as the legitimacy of the candidates.
Whether it was the U.S. presidential election in 2012, or simply high school ASB elections, the majority of students at SPU have been able to see the campaigning, voting and election process. With ASSP and Hall Council elections in full swing, it has now become nearly impossible to avoid the stream of Facebook posts, invites to “like” a candidate’s page, or pleas to tweet or Instagram a candidate’s custom-made hashtag. As social media has risen as the defining characteristic of our generation, the use of it as a tool in elections is to be expected and encouraged.
However, unlike outside elections, Hill Hall’s statute asks all candidates to refrain from posting or sharing about the election in any reference to themselves, outside of urging people to simply take part in the general act of voting.
The rule asks that candidates, and even candidates’ supporters, abstain from mentioning their candidacy, advertising their platform, or asking for votes on any form of social media, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
The rule is nothing new, and past and present Hall Council members have cited the reasoning for the rule as an attempt to keep the election away from being a popularity contest. Trisha White, a freshman who is currently running for Hill Hall publicist, agrees with this idea.
“Hill is known for being a community,” she says. “Taking away social media encourages being interactive with other people and creates an even playing field. I agree with what the RLC told us, and I think it makes it more fair.” But the question remains whether or not taking away the advantage of social media really creates an “even” playing ground for all.
After all, the same people you are friends with within your dorm are the people you are friends with on Facebook. I spoke to a current Hill Hall Council member, who commented on condition of anonymity in order to show solidarity with their fellow council members.
“Being a part of a social organization, you want a candidate who is connected socially and can do great things for the Hall. One of the ways people are active is social media, and, if elected, candidates need to be able to show they are, too,” the candidate said. “But they don’t because it’s never tested. They aren’t able to utilize the way people get their information, and some don’t even know how to.”
More important than creating the illusion of a level playing ground, according to the council member, is “easier communication between the candidate and Hill Hall… Social media allows for the formation of a platform that’s more professional and allows anyone access to a candidate’s platform.”
The current process doesn’t factor in that some candidates may have more time with potential voters, be more comfortable with certain floors or the importance of having a candidate that can present information easily through technological means.
Hill Hall also hosts a question-and-answer forum where residents can ask candidates questions on the spot, and this type of event, in conjunction with social media, would make a much more effective process.
It’s highly unlikely that any candidate would completely write off door-to-door campaigning, but allowing social media would allow more residents to be reached in a shorter time period.
Simply dismissing social media, and then expecting the same candidates to be versed enough in the technology to use it effectively, is illogical. Forcing candidates to ignore an entire aspect of communication in order to create the impression that everyone has equal grounds not only fails at providing such grounds, but actually takes away the chances of any candidate who isn’t already connected enough to win over the entire dorm room by room.
It’s time that Hill Hall started focusing on making itself more than just a “homey” reputation and actually started communicating like a home.
Taryn Vis is a sophomore communication major.