Elections Chair mandates rules for SGB election

By Danielle Fox / Staff Writer

Aaron Gish used a PowerPoint presentation and Internet memes to educate this year’s Student Government Board candidates on how to avoid dirty campaigning.

Gish, chairman of the SGB Elections Committee, hosted the first-ever campaign workshop before seven potential candidates, as well as campaign managers and current Board members, in room 527 of the William Pitt Union. He designed the workshop to inform candidates about the election rules, how to file infractions against other candidates and other tips regarding how to run an effective and fair campaign for the Nov. 21 election. The workshop was a mandatory event in order for candidates to familiarize themselves with the campaigning regulations and the Elections Committee.

The Elections Code, which is available on the Board’s website, is a formal document that contains rules for the candidates’ conduct during their campaigns. In various sections, the rules outline qualifications necessary to run, campaign financing and election day. 

The Elections Committee is responsible for facilitating the election and ensuring that candidates abide by the rules.

According to Gish, the candidates still have to be approved by Kenyon Bonner, the director of Student Life, who serves as SGB’s adviser. 

At the meeting were juniors Brandon Benjamin, Sara Klein, Andrew Abboud and Graeme Meyer, who are still unofficial candidates for Board member with no previous connections to SGB.

Other hopefuls for Board who identified themselves at the workshop include juniors Abby Zurschmit, chair of SGB’s Transportation and Safety Committee, and Mona Kazour, a junior and chair of the Community Outreach Committee.

Juniors Lauren Barney, who unsuccessfully ran for Board last year, and Ronald Reha Jr. also plan to run, but were not at the workshop.. 

Barney said she was unable to attend the meeting because of a previous commitment. She arrived at the conclusion of the meeting, and Gish repeated the information from the workshop to her in his office. 

Reha was not available for comment.

Mike Nites, a Board member, is currently the only candidate running for president. Gish has extended the deadline for applications from Oct. 23 to Nov. 2  to give more students time to apply.

Nites, a senior, said he will remain at Pitt for an additional semester to finish his degree if he is elected. 

Gish told candidates and campaign managers to read the Elections Code and send him some questions. 

“Most infractions are of the nature that you can take some sort of photo. Have some sort of camera or camera phone ready at all times so you can have evidence,” Gish said. 

Candidates were hopeful about the upcoming season.

Kazour said she thinks there is a great group running, and it will be a fun election season.

Abboud said he expects running to be a new experience for him.

Gish reminded candidates to not use infractions as bargaining chips against other candidates, referencing an issue that plagued last year’s election.

“If you are abandoning things like personal integrity, you are kind of losing focus on what the larger goal of the Board is,” Gish said.