Sunday, July 21

Slates raise thousands for USAC elections


Daily Bruin / Daily Bruin

The campaigns for 23 candidates and two ballot measures expect to pour about $23,300 into this year’s undergraduate student government elections.

Of the three slates running candidates for office, Bruins United has ran the most expensive campaign this year, spending about $1,160 on each of its eight candidates. LET’S ACT! spent about $780 on each of its 10 candidates. And Bruin Alliance, which is running just two candidates, spent about $600 per candidate.

Supporters of the Bruin Diversity Initiative have spent about $4,900 on their campaign, while the Bruin Bash Referendum campaign has not spent any money. Supporters of the referendum did not see the need for funds to publicize it, said Tamir Sholklapper, a fifth-year neuroscience student and co-chief of staff in the Undergraduate Students Association Council president’s office, who actively supports the referendum.

This year’s spending is not uncharacteristic of contested USAC elections. In 2011, Bruins United spent about $10,400 in total, while Students First! used about $9,600, according to Daily Bruin archives.

A majority of the offices in last year’s election were uncontested, and Bruins United was the only slate to run candidates. The two independent candidates, Lana El-Farra and Taylor Mason, spent about $2,800 each.

There are no formal spending caps to regulate campaign finances in USAC elections, but candidates can volunteer to adhere to a spending limit set by the USAC Election Board, said Dana Pede, USAC Election Board chair. The voluntary caps range from $400 to $600 per candidate, depending on the council office, she added.

Only two candidates – Jessica Kim, the uncontested candidate for campus events commissioner, and Omar Arce, the uncontested candidate for community service commissioner – agreed to adhere to the voluntary spending limit, Pede said.

The Bruin Diversity Initiative campaign raised its nearly $5,000 in campaign funds by reaching out to about 10 student organizations on campus and individual students for donations, said Emilio Hernandez, a fourth-year history student and member of the initiative’s campaign.

Rohit Maharaj, a fourth-year political science student and member of the initiative’s campaign, said the campaign focused on students involved in cultural student groups and groups who support access retention programs – such as the Vietnamese Student Union, Asian Pacific Coalition, Afrikan Student Union and Samahang Pilipino. He added that this is because funds generated by the initiative would affect their programs and it was easier to reach out to those students first with the limited amount of campaign time.

Funding for the Bruins United campaign, which cost about $9,300, stemmed from corporate sponsorship, private donations and contributions of $300 from each of its candidates for office, said Ken Myers, a third-year mathematics and economics student and Bruins United chair.

Bruins United candidates volunteered to contribute $300 each and invested money from work or other personal sources in their campaigns, said Norma Boster, a third-year human biology and society student and internal chair of the slate.

The other two slates, LET’S ACT! and Bruin Alliance, ran their first campaigns this election.

LET’S ACT! funded its more than $7,800 campaign by throwing multiple fundraisers and asking friends, alumni and family members for financial support, said Matt Abularach-Macias, a fifth-year Chicana/o studies and political science student and member of LET’S ACT! About half of the money came from the individual donations and the other half from about five larger fundraisers and multiple smaller events, Abularach-Macias said.

Bruin Alliance, the smallest slate, secured about $1,200 for their campaign through T-shirt sales and private donations from alumni, a leadership institute and other individual campaign supporters, said Scott Shepard, a first-year chemistry student and a Bruin Alliance campaign manager.

The three slates spent most of their campaign money on T-shirts, flyers, stickers and signboards on campus. Some students said they think the disparity in campaign finances between the three slates could affect election results, although money is not the sole factor in determining student votes.

Tim Yu, a second-year cognitive science and economics student, said he thinks money plays an important role in branding slates and candidates during the elections, but multiple factors like affiliation with student groups influence student votes as well.

“A good number of people are not well-versed in or aware of the issues, so publicity affects their choices,” he said. Yu said he thinks Bruins United has had the most presence on campus.

Students can vote in the election on MyUCLA until Thursday at 6 p.m. The USAC Election Board will announce the results of the election on the steps of Kerckhoff Hall at 11 p.m.

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  • all that money

    Bruins United, the Mitt Romney of UCLA.

    • Passion does not equal corrupt

      Really? Unicamp volunteers have to raise $350-$2000 to do something they are passionate about.

      Dance Marathon participants had to raise $250 this year to participate.

      People fundraise for things they are passionate about. More fundraising = more outreach. Campaigns cost money. Congrats to everyone for having people passionate enough about their campaigns to raise enough money!

      • undecided

        The difference between your two examples and elections, is that students fundraise so they could participate in those programs. I don’t have an issue with fundraising, although I don’t know how I feel about private companies/corporations getting involved with student government elections.

        But, if Bruins United has been in power these past few years, why does it need to fundraise the most money from all three slates? They should be running on their “successes.”

        I’ll probably wait for tomorrow to cast my vote, just in case there are any more articles that highlight the campaigns or the slates’ work.

  • BruinBottoms

    BruinBash didn’t need to spend money because BU is campaigning for it. BU is out of touch with the student body. Do we really need a concert?

    • Just some thoughts…

      Yes, some of the money will go to help secure funding for one the most important welcoming festivities for new AND returning Bruins. Bruin Bash entails a concert, a movie screening, dance and an appropriate space for students to celebrate. However, it’s not just about the concert. The Bruin Bash Referendum will also fund the Enormous Activities Fair, an event where every registered student organization on campus can reach out to gain new members. EAF is where a lot of new Bruins become acquainted with the campus atmosphere, and it’s where they find where they may belong. Imagine if we didn’t have that? Everyone complains about outreach and how it’s so difficult, but the Bruin Bash Referendum would help financially secure the most important and effective student group outreach program of the year.

      BU is not campaigning on behalf of the Bruin Bash Referendum. Some of their affiliates may support it, but you don’t see BU candidates directly siding with the referendum. They didn’t spend money on it because it was an important enough student need to garner support via word of mouth. We’ll see if it really was that important tonight at Meyerhoff when they announce whether it passed or not. Then, we can finally answer your question: “Do we really need a concert?”

  • lol @ u all

    So basically it’s a Romney vs. Obama vs. Ron Paul kinda election. Gee, wonder how UCLA is gonna vote. Which one is giving out more free stuff again? Or trying to give the facade of the “cool group?” Oh yeah. lol.