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TCU Presidential candidates work to get their message out

Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 08:04


Danai Macridi/Tufts Daily

Lauren Levine’s supporters have made sure that those walking around campus do not forget her name.


Dilys Ong/Tufts Daily

Sam Wallis’ supporters have been wearing their support.

Since the candidates for the Tufts Community Union (TCU) presidency have been officially nominated, their campaigns are working around the clock until election day on April 28. Both candidates, juniors Lauren Levine and Sam Wallis, are relying on traditional campaign fixtures, but have one key difference in how they are going after votes.

Levine is focusing on personal, face-to-face contact with students around campus.

"I'm going to go with all the standard forms of advertising on today's campus — chalking, flyering, a website, YouTube[.com] videos, Facebook[.com] and all those sort of things," Levine said.

"For me, the most important thing that I'm doing to get my word out there is to meet as many people as possible, and I think that today with technology and the impersonalization of our society, we are just completely losing touch with actual contact with people … I'm just trying to get out there and talk to people and listen to them," she said."

Sophomore Cory Faragon, Levine's campaign manager, emphasized the personal aspect of her campaign. "She's going to be a huge presence in the … campaign season," he said. "On campus, our goal is to have her interact with as many students as she can." However, face-to-face meetings with voters around campus will not be an option for Wallis, who is campaigning while studying abroad in Israel.

Wallis said he did not plan on running for TCU president when he applied to his abroad program last year, but said he got a different perspective of Tufts while studying abroad.

"Being abroad actually has really been great, because my whole thing is about [changing] the Senate," Wallis said. "We're starting by having to change the campaign and do it totally differently. It really is making me think outside the box, and that's what I want to do as president, so it's a great set-up for that."

According to Wallis, no one has run a successful TCU presidential campaign from abroad in at least the last six years.

Wallis said his campaign staff will be working to keep his name visible around campus. He also credited technology with allowing him to campaign from thousands of miles away. "I've been Skyping with people and getting student ideas and hearing what they say and talking to people, and I think we've made up whatever that conceived deficit was," he said. "The fact that we've had Skype and such a solid team has made up for that."

Wallis said he felt that his lack of an on-campus personal presence has helped his campaign focus on the issues, rather than the candidate. "I'd like to emphasize that … because I'm not there, it's forced me to make the campaign all about students and student ideas, and that's exactly what we've done and that's what the campaign strategy is built around," he said.

Levine also emphasized that she aims to put students' ideas first. "A huge part of what I stand for as a candidate is communication," she said. "Communication is one of the biggest things I'm trying to promote as a change on Senate and on our campus, and so I hope my campaign is symbolic of that."

Levine said she had been planning on running for the TCU presidency for some time. She added that she believes that having both her majors and her minor completed after this semester will allow her to focus on fulfilling her duties if elected as TCU president.

"I planned that on purpose so that if I did make this commitment, I would have the full time and energy to be able to make it what it should be. I've been leaving this open as a possibly for more than a year," Levine said. She added that she studied abroad in the fall in order to be on campus for a potential campaign.

Wallis was not planning a presidential run until relatively recently, according to his campaign manager, senior Adam Weldai. "He definitely didn't decide that he was running for president until second semester had already begun. Sam's definitely not the type who has always known he's wanted to run for president," Weldai said.

Weldai said it hasn't been a challenge working to get someone elected when that person can't be on campus. "Being [Sam Wallis'] campaign manager is an easy job, because he is a really easy candidate to deal with," Weldai said.

Both campaigns hinted they had events planned that they weren't willing to discuss quite yet. "We're using all the traditional routes to reach out to students, but also some new ones which will become apparent," Faragon said.

Even if they have ambitious plans for their campaigns, the candidates will have to work on a slightly smaller budget than in the past.

Each campaign was allotted $750 by the Elections Commission (ECOM) to campaign. This is the same amount allotted to candidates last year, but candidates in the previous election were allowed to fundraise up to an additional $250.

"This is an experimental year," ECOM Chair Sharon Chen, a sophomore, said. "It's an idea that we've been talking about for a while. This year, since there are only two candidates we thought that if we lowered [the spending limit] to $750 we could also skip the fundraising and allow the candidates to focus just on the campaign.

"It should allow them to get started on what they're doing," Chen added.

Those interested in seeing what the candidates have to say in person can watch their first debate tonight at 8 p.m. in the Sophia Gordon Multipurpose Room. Levine will be at the debate in person, while Wallis will be debating via Skype.

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