Campaign Chaos

If you’re planning on running for student government, you may as well plan to sacrifice sleep, school work and any downtime.

Incoming Undergraduate Trustee Jennifer Li lived this reality in the weeks leading up to her victory in last week’s election.

Li, ConEd ’17, described the first period of her campaign as particularly chaotic. After deciding to run on Jan. 6, Li had just 10 days to put together her campaign.

One of the first things to lose priority for a candidate in a student election is their studies.

“I think I went to maybe one class during the first 10 days,” Li said.

Things didn’t calm down once campaigning began. On a typical day, Li woke up at 7:30 a.m. for class talks, which were held every half hour between 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. She would also take a shift manning her campaign booth between 12-4 p.m., while updating social media throughout the day.

When time allowed, she would eat.

For Li, it came down to prioritizing what had to be done now over what could be done later.

“I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I would never get again and I knew that academics I can catch up on and ... I can ask for an extension, I can get notes from someone, but it’s not like I can get an extension on this campaign,” she said.

Getting notes from classmates was just the beginning. Li found a strong web of support in her team that kept her going throughout the campaigning period.

“The biggest thing is definitely having that team so that you don’t have to stress about the little things,” Li said.

“Having that campaign team, having somebody that’s reminding you to eat, having somebody that’s calling you at 8 a.m. and making sure you’re awake and having somebody send you funny videos so that you’re not too overwhelmed … I could not have done it without support like that.”

Beyond providing the fuel and reminders necessary to keep going, Li’s team was also integral to keeping her driven and confident.

“You need people around you that wholeheartedly believe that you can do it so that you don’t doubt yourself.”

Carolyn Thompson had the opportunity to provide that support for a candidate team. Thompson, ArtSci ’17, was the campaign manager for the incoming ASUS executive, Brandon Jamieson and Andrew DiCapua.

In addition to logistical concerns, like making sure everyone was awake when they needed to be, Thompson made it her mission to keep the team’s spirits high.

“I have two Bop Its at home. So, I think it was day two that I was like, ‘Okay, if volunteers are coming and helping us out with this, they might as well have something fun to do,’” Thompson said.

“You need things to stay light-hearted and you need things to stay kind of relaxed during it, because it is a stressful time.”

But even a candidate’s volunteers need their own support.

“I’m lucky that I have my housemate in my politics classes so she got my notes for me and everything and really just catching up,” Thompson said.

The support from an enthusiastic team is key to a successful campaign, but also to maintaining everyone’s academic performance and emotional well-being outside of the campaigning period, she added.

“Having a moment to laugh and smile with your volunteers or with your candidates is something that is really important.”

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