ASCMC Executive Board voted yesterday evening to strike the constitutional language that bans the use of social media in ASCMC elections.
The ASCMC Constitution currently reads, in Section IV. B.3.c.v., “Candidates may not use any online social networks (for example, Facebook, or Myspace) to encourage others to vote for themselves or to vote in general.” The constitutional amendment would entail striking this language from the ASCMC Constitution.
Historically, the ban was instituted to avoid a popularity contest as much as possible, contain the bombardment of elections-related material during campaigns, protect the online presence of CMC students running for office, and shift candidate’s focus on personal relationships with the student body rather than the impersonal culture of social media.
Earlier last semester, a Committee on Technology and Elections (CoTE) was formed with various members from ASCMC Executive Board, Senate, and the student body to investigate the use of technology in the ASCMC elections process. CoTE investigated the issue, deliberated, and drafted a 38 page report on their findings.
In the report, CoTE recommends to “[lift] the current constitutional ban on the use of social media by candidates in ASCMC elections, [given] student and candidate feedback, feedback from other colleges, current laws and expectations of free and fair elections, and numerous discussions within the Committee.” Even if the constitutional ban is lifted, the use of social media will not be completely unmonitored. Instead, all candidates using social media will be required to disclose their social media use to the ASCMC Elections Committee, who will review and remove libelous material published on social media outlets.
The Committee also considered the use of other internet sources in elections, such as independent web sites, with the recommendation that candidates be required to disclose to the Elections Committee their use of internet sources to prevent libel and to guard against infringements of ASCMC’s campaign finance regulations.
Regarding campus media, the Forum currently publishes candidate statements. Commenting ability is currently turned off for these statements. CoTE recommends that commenting on the Forum be opened with moderation by the Elections Committee. In the future, candidate statements may be shifted to the ASCMC web site.
CoTE was specifically created to include a sample of students with different perspectives – both those interested in keeping and lifting the ban. However, at the conclusion of the investigation and deliberation process, the Committee unanimously voted in favor of the recommendation to lift the ban.
Campus Organizations Chair Aseem Chipalkatti ’15, for example, first came to the Committee in favor of keeping the ban, but eventually joined the majority opinion. “Through discussions, surveys, and general opinion-seeking, we came to the conclusion that the ban just didn’t make sense anymore,” said Chipalkatti.
Freshman Class Vice President William Su ’16 believes striking the social media ban will add positivity to ASCMC elections, allowing CMC students to exercise creative liberty in their campaigns. Said Su, “CMCers have a great capacity for imagination, and I can not wait to see the creativity in the usage of social media and the internet in their campaigns.”
Tonight, ASCMC Senate will vote on the constitutional change, during the weekly Senate meeting. If the constitutional amendment passes, it will go straight into effect, impacting the upcoming ASCMC election cycle.
Update: ASCMC Senate voted in favor of striking the ban on using social media in ASCMC elections. The new social media policy is effective immediately. Candidates for 2013-2014 ASCMC positions will be permitted to use social media during their campaigns. The full report from the Committee on Technology and Elections, as emailed to the student body, can be read here: CoTE Final Report.