It was almost impossible to miss all the T-shirts, water bottles, hats, barbecues, root beer floats and giant chalkboards during elections this month.
And it left some students wondering if there is a limit on how much Associated Students Inc. candidates can spend.
The Mustang Daily decided to find out and we were a little shocked at what we found.
Between all three candidates, $14,600 was spent in 18 days of campaigning.
This money came from businesses, organizations, friends, family and their own wallets.
Of course, the candidates need to campaign to inform students about their platform and why they would make the best president for Cal Poly. But couldn’t it be done at a much more manageable level?
The Mustang Daily thinks the answer is yes.
ASI representatives said that they cannot impose any spending caps on the candidates because it would violate their free speech rights.
But they could ask candidates to volunteer to stay under a certain spending limit.
California State University Long Beach currently asks candidates running for ASI president to agree to stay under a voluntary spending cap. This way, candidates who are already living on a tight budget wouldn’t have to break the bank to run.
Students may wonder how this voluntary cap would be monitored. The good news is: ASI already has a policy in place. The bad news is: They don’t use it.
Currently, presidential candidates give ASI a $100 check prior to the start of campaigning. After elections are over, they can fill out a financial statement detailing where their money came from and what they spent it on to get their $100 back.
However, ASI doesn’t check any part of that report.
The financial statements are submitted to Stephan Lamb, the associate director of Student Life & Leadership, and then he sends the report to the Business Office which then issues the reimbursement.
Neither Lamb nor Michelle Broom, the public relations coordinator for ASI, were able to provide past financial summaries, citing that they were probably thrown out.
In fact, both said they don’t really even see a reason to have the candidates report their financial records since there is no spending cap.
We all hope that our ASI presidential candidates are honest people who just want to serve Cal Poly students. But what happens when a student runs and doesn’t use all the money they receive?
Hypothetically, candidates could pocket thousands of dollars while unsuspecting businesses, community members and students think they are helping with a campaign. Think about it: Someone could actually make a profit running for ASI president.
ASI should take the time to check up on the self-reported financial summaries and compare those records to what was actually collected and spent.
Voluntary spending caps and legitimate financial checks would make ASI elections better for candidates and the students they may represent.
We’re excited to see Brandon Souza step into the presidency next year and we encourage him to make sure future ASI candidates become more accountable for their hopefully lower spending.
Editorials reflect the opinions of the Mustang Daily editorial staff.