Candidates overspend in SU Elections

With the SU elections over, many questions have been raised over how much each candidate spent on their week-long campaign.

The SU gave each candidate a limit of £100 [of their own money] to spend on their materials for their campaign week. These materials had to include everything they spent, from bed sheets to masking tape, from spray paint to cable ties. Even the price of the somewhat whacky costumes had to be included; every little detail.

But how well did the candidates manage to stick to their budgets?

SU. Photo: Tom Larken

Rumours circulated midweek that some candidates had over spent, yet only two candidates, running for different full-time positions, were found to have spent more than the £100 limit. Both of which, were elected as sabbatical officers for next year.

Hayley Wilkinson broke records as she was elected as the first female ever to win the role of VP Activities at Lincoln SU. Her minion campaign was one of the more memorable of the 21 candidates’ who were running for full time positions.

Yet, Hayley overspent the £100 cap… by a total of 23p. No action was taken by the Returning Officer, Aiden Mersh, and no complaints were received.

However, controversy struck when there was more talk of overspending, this time from VP Academic Affairs candidate Joshua Leafe. ‘Joshi’ as he called himself in his campaign, was later successfully elected to the role, and will be joining Hayley, Olivia and Brian as sabbatical officers next year.

A complaint was made against Josh on Wednesday afternoon (February 26th) after allegations that he had spent more than allowed, and upon investigation by Mr Mersh, he found that Josh had overspent on his campaign, by a total of £10.44.

As a result, Joshua had his green Yoshi costume confiscated from the rest of the campaign, as well as 10 badges, 54 leaflets and 245 business cards. Joshua was also given a three-hour campaign ban which he served on the Thursday. This corrective action, used to make the elections more fair, came as a result of talking to the NUS.

Joshua commented on the situation he was in:

“I had not realised I had overspent until a complaint was made about me and I was asked to breakdown all my expenses and put a monetary value to all my election material.

“My initial response to the sanctions was one of astonishment, as I felt they were harsh and I immediately wanted the appeal the decision.

“However, when I thought about it, it is important that elections are fair and I think the action that was taken did remove any advantage that I had previously gained, through punishing me for the remaining days.

“I also wanted to move on with good spirit for the remainder of the election period, and for those reasons I withdrew my appeal and accepted the decision.”

But many are still asking, was that too little too late? Had the election already become unfair?

I spoke to students at the University of Lincoln about it, and collectively, it seems they came to the same conclusion.

Alex Davies, a media production student commented “I think there should be a small leeway, like 10%, but over that and they should get disqualified.”

Jake Tasker, former student and a candidate for last year’s VP Activities role commented “There are clear rules. If you spend more than the set amount, you should be disqualified.”

Charlotte Boulton, studying English, agreed with Jake, but questioned what should be included in the £100 limit;

“Everyone should have clear cut knowledge of what is counted for ‘spending’. For example, if someone receives donated supplies such as a costume, or banners, does that still count as spending?”

“But based on actual overspending, I think candidates should be immediately disqualified, after an investigation has taken place, and sufficient evidence has been supplied.”

Out of those that The Linc spoke to, none said that overspending was not an issue.

2 Responses to Candidates overspend in SU Elections

  1. I know that some universities have strict campaign ‘packs’ that must be followed from using similar poster designs to the banning of gimmick campaigns. People should be leected on principles and not on popularity in regards of marketing i.e. those who dress like idiots but without real merit to goals e.t.c should be judged deeper.

    There are areas of the SU I feel at times speak down to the students it is meant to represent, treating us like ‘children’ and boasting its presence does not make the actual good work it does seem as correct. Alot of good has been done but some of the systems in place I feel and have for past 3-4 years seem counter productive and too business like for my tastes.

  2. Pingback: Student newspapers are the best thing for universities | John-Paul Dickie