Last year, A.S. Legislative Council voted to put campus parties on the ballot and the election results showed that without a party, victory was virtually impossible.
And although candidates have criticized the parties for making elections more exclusive, the parties do provide a way to learn what candidates stand for and then hold them accountable.
The two major campus parties are Student Action Coalition (SAC) and Gauchoholics, with both parties currently holding two of the four executive offices. A third campus party, People of Action, had no candidates elected last year, and disappeared completely after the election. A new party emerged this year, the Campus Engagement Group, which has candidates for three of the executive offices.
Last year, 18 of the 19 Gauchoholic candidates were elected, including President Brian Hampton. They were elected on a 12-point plan and with a two-thirds majority on Leg Council, the percentage needed to pass most legislation, accomplishing their goals should have been easy. Instead, several points of the plan were not addressed at all.
Perhaps the largest of the issues the Gauchoholics campaigned on but did not change, was creating more parking, a topic not addressed by this year’s Gauchoholic platform. To date, there is no new parking either on or off campus, and the issue of night and weekend parking fees on-campus remains “unresolved.”
The fourth point of their plan promised desks for left-handed students, but no new left-handed desks have been added this year because “no one got around to it,” Hampton said. Another campaign promise to make sure dead weak is indeed dead was also forgotten after the elections.
The Gauchoholics have worked hard on their campaign promise to create the Broida Expressway. Although they were not able to convince the university to pay for construction, there is a measure on the ballot that would charge students a total of $18 over the course of one year, and if the initiative passes the bikepath will be built.
Off-Campus Representative Jonathan Kalinski said the Gauchoholics were also successful in accomplishing their goal of listening to student voices.
“People have their opinions,” he said, “but for the most part they are able to be swayed by students voicing their ideas as well.”
While the Gauchoholics have remained consistent in their support of the athletic fee initiatives, they have reversed their position on the A.S. Initiative that would raise student fees to combat A.S.’s current budget crunch. After promising to “cut student fees,” Gauchoholics are now supporting the initiative.
“We didn’t cut student fees. We learned of the necessity, and with the recession it’s much needed, and so we changed our opinion [about the initiative],” Hampton said. “We attempted to improve efficiency within A.S. The Leggies cut a couple of programs, such as S.P.I.R.I.T. and Media Relations, which saved money.”
Hampton said Gauchoholics were responsible for the sidewalks recently put in on Del Playa Drive, even though the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors set aside money for the sidewalks in April 2000, one year before Hampton was elected.
SAC currently occupies two executive positions and a few seats on Leg Council, and suffered heavy defeats in last year’s election. The party started planning for this election in Fall Quarter.
“We got very pissed about how thing were going in student government, “Off-Campus Representative Adam Kaiserman said.
SAC, which has run in the past on the vague slogan of “taking action, attaining access,” added a 10-point plan of its own this year.
Included in the plan are the goals of lobbying the administration to “enact fiscally and environmentally sustainable policies,” and creating a “working relationship” between the Isla Vista Foot Patrol and the local community.
Campus parties make signs, print campaign materials, and wear shirts as well, all of which cost money. Sometimes “sympathizers” contribute to the campaign effort, allowing a group like SAC to have 4,000 brochures printed for free. Otherwise, party members contribute their own money.
“Spending has increased a lot this year with both parties,” Kalinski said. “I think last year SAC felt like they didn’t have the resources to compete with us. Still, at the end of the day I don’t think money wins the election.”
Members from both parties continue to have mixed feelings about whether or not parties are beneficial.
“There’s more division, and people vote along party lines,” Hampton said. “If these same people had run individually, there would have been more discussion. It’s definitely hurt Leg Council.”