In college, the most campaigning students see done is during the spring semester when SGA basically tackles you or throws fruit snacks at you that says vote for their campaign. It is not a bad strategy, but all campaigning does not involve standing on PED walkway and making sure you talk to every student on campus. It happens all year as there are over 300 organizations that have executive boards. With that many organizations, students from all walks of life have a chance of campaigning for something during their years studying at UT.
While becoming an executive is a lot of work, it is something every undergraduate should try for as it is a great experience to improve your leadership and public speaking skills. While PED is one of the most popular places to find voters, there are many dos and don'ts of campaigning at UT that all candidates should know in order to come out a winner.
1. Team up with others who are running.
Team up with other candidates of other positions to get your name out there more! By joining others and campaigning for you all, you are able to get to meet more people as each candidate may be more popular with another group than you. Also teaming up with others gets you to make life long friends and make campaigning more fun because you do not have to stress about it alone!
2. College students love free foodGiphy
While UT does offer good meal plans, students still jump on any offer for free food. It can range from coffee to donuts to pizza to ramen noodles- if its free, we will take. It is always a good incentive for people to vote too! A trick is to wrap the food in your flyers so potential voters have no choice but to look at your campaign, even if it is only for a second. They now have a mental image of your name, and once it's time to vote, there is a possibility they will remember seeing your name and vote for you.
3. Start up a conversation in the elevators.
Sometimes it can get a little awkward in the elevators with the vacant stares and long silence. If you are campaigning, you can end that awkwardness by striking up a conversation! Ask others if they are interested in something that pertains to your organization or policies. Even if they aren't, you can now give them a short summary of what it is about and once they're back in their room, they can look it up for themselves and learn more about it. You are not only showing people that you are confident and easy to talk to, but you are also getting awareness out about your organization's mission.
4. Come up with a catchy motto for your campaign.Giphy
While mottos can be cheesy and you may feel like you are being over the top, having a catchy motto can really increase your votes. It has been proven that catchy mottos stay in people's minds longer which is why we remember catchy phrases like "Just Do It" by Nike or "Koo Koo for Cocoa Puffs." If you come up with a cheesy motto for you campaign, even if it is just something that rhymes, voters will remember yours over others. Just make sure it is appropriate and not offensive!
5. Do not sneak campaign flyers under people's doors.Giphy
If there is one thing that students hate finding when they walk into their room, it is scraps of papers telling them to do something. Most students at this point do not even look at it, they just throw the poster away. Also, it is actually against the rules to slide flyers under people's doors! So you are not only annoying the residents, but you are also breaking the rules and potentially getting in trouble within your organization.
6. Find where your audience hangs out at.Giphy
At UT, there are multiple Living and Learning Communities that could potentially relate to your organization. For example, if you are running for something through the Honors and Scholars Program, it would be a good idea to hit Brown Hall and ask if people are involved in any of the four honors programs that UT has. Also, if you are in a STEM-focused organization, try finding voters on the Hill in front of Ayres Hall. The Hill is home to many math and science classes so a lot of STEM major students will spend their days up there.
7. Do not approach people wearing headphones.Giphy
The biggest complaint I have ever heard from people that kept them from voting was when candidates basically force students in their tracks and out of their zone. It is a huge pet peeve because most of us are just trying to get to class, and they put their headphones in to make their route faster without anybody in their way. They also may just not want to talk to anybody or may not be interested in your campaign at the moment. It is never a good idea to make someone feel as if you are forcing them to talk to you. If you see the same person later without headphones in or more approachable, try approaching them then saying something along the lines of "Hey, I saw you earlier but you seemed busy! Do you have a minute to talk about ___?" The potential voter sees that you are serious but respectful.
8. Go to campus events.
Always make sure to be in the know about events happening on campus where a lot of students will be attending. It is good to get out there because attendees will see that you are a supporter of what they are interested in and now will have more of a reason to vote for you. Also, going to events shows how involved you are on campus, with not only your organization you are running in, but also with other organizations. Candidates that are involved show potential voters that they are serious about being an impact on all of campus.
9. Get advice from previous board members.Giphy
If you feel overwhelmed, you can always get help! Ask for advice from previous executive board members in order to find out what the students want and whats the best way to approach them. They will know better than anybody else since they were able to already win the seat the previous year. Figure out their campaign strategies and what they used to get votes. Also, if people see that you have teamed up with them, they will most likely vote for you in support for the previous members.
10. Be original!Giphy
During campaign seasons, you will see a lot of the same type of giveaways and events, but be creative! Doing something differently from other campaign groups will definitely get you noticed so stray away from the typical buttons and pizza parties. Set up a talent show or game night and give out T-shirts or bracelets! It is always good to be different because more voters will remember you for being the odd one out of the pack!
Overall, remember to have fun. Campaign season is not something to stress over and never let it become a priority over your studies. It is a worthwhile experience that can improve your college career and help you in the future once you begin competing for jobs.