Voting for ASUWT elections for the upcoming 2015/16 academic year opened Friday, April 24 and like politics in the wider world, passionate candidates are campaigning in full force, coming out with creative posters, fliers, handouts, and even a music video.
One position up for grabs is the Director of Outreach, which has only two candidates running: Marae Slater and Nadia Caldwell.
The competition turned sour when campaign posters began to go missing from GWP, BB, BHS and JOY, all buildings previously authorized for campaign literature.
On April 30, Slater filed a Poster Complaint to the Election Administration Committee (EAC), alleging that her campaign posters had been removed without authorization. Five days later, Caldwell filed a similar complaint about poster removal.
Caldwell also stated in the May 5 complaint that she had uploaded her “Outreach is What I Do” music video to the “University of Washington – Tacoma: Class of ’16” Facebook page three times, and each time it had been removed, then she was kicked out of the group entirely. The Facebook page facilitator was Marae Slater.
On May 6, Slater filed a second complaint alleging Caldwell and her affiliates were harassing her on Facebook.
According to the Election Update on the ASUWT Dawg Den website, the EAC initially recommended to the Senate that both parties suspend all campaigning on campus and that all posters be replaced.
In regards to Caldwell’s Facebook complaint, the EAC ruled that since the Facebook page was not officially affiliated with ASUWT and that the page was created before Slater took office, it was not an improper use of her Senatorial position.
The controversy rippled through the campus community with supporters taking sides for Team Nadia or Team Marae, culminating in a May 7 meeting with both candidates. The EAC reached out to Slater and Cladwell to resolve the conflict with representatives Kari Gudgeon and Katie Kenny acting as mediators and ASUWT Advisor Paul Prociv there for support.
“That was the first time we’d talked, ever” said Slater laughing, referring to the May 7 EAC meeting, “we judged each other by our campaign posters!”
Caldwell explained her campaign approach, saying “I’m not here to campaign against Marae, I’m campaigning for the Outreach position.”
Slater said they weren’t even aware of half of the behind-the-scenes conflict that neither candidate was directly involved with, which could explain the disappearing campaign posters and Facebook harassment.
In response to her actions on the “University of Washington – Tacoma: Class of ’16” Facebook page, Slater explained that she was already on high-alert since her posters began disappearing and believed that Caldwell was “coming after [her]” on her personal group page. After active campaigning began, Slater thought removing Caldwell from the page would help things not “get ugly.” Although the issue has since been resolved, Caldwell says, “I won’t attempt to join (the Facebook page) again, not until the elections are over. Just to avoid any further conflict.”
Overall, they agree that this experience has acted like a miniature political science experiment, giving each candidate a glimpse into the down and dirty world of politics and providing an educational opportunity about communication and interpersonal skills.
“That’s the beauty of higher learning institutions,” Caldwell said, “there’s always an opportunity to learn something new.”
Nether candidate has missed the silver lining of a high-profile conflict amidst an outreach campaign. Their joint message is for students to get motivated to participate in the process.
“Get out and vote!” Caldwell said, “Read the election ballot. Read the voter pamphlet on the Dawg Den website.”
“Don’t go by what you hear around campus,” Slater said, “Read the candidate statements. Be informed voters.”
The voter’s pamphlet and electronic ballot are both located on the ASUWT page at the link below. Voting closes on May 13, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.