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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    USG Campaign Finance Reform NOW!

    Dear Editor,

    In its last meeting the Senate considered a variety of measures, the most important of which occurred towards the end of the meeting and involves the Senate’s rejection to debate the Campaign Finance Reform Act.

    The Campaign Finance Reform Act was a bill proposed at a prior Senate meeting which called for, inter alia, a ban for the use of Student Activity Fee funds for use in campaigns for the Undergraduate Student Government, with the exception of a flat stipend granted by the Elections Board for that specific purpose. The bill also made it clear that USG candidates could fundraise and that there would be no limits on total spending, so long as student activity fee funds were not involved.

    The bill would eliminate a loophole in the Elections Board By-Laws, which currently gives political clubs and organizations (or more specifically, any USG funded group whose mission statement mentions campaigning on behalf of USG candidates,) the right to purchase campaign materials or otherwise use their budget to advance the interests of similarly minded candidates. As matters stand at the moment, organizations like the College Republicans have a distinct unfair advantage over all other clubs and organizations because of their ability to financially support candidates, giving them a huge advantage in terms of extra funding that can be used to guarantee or make more likely their election in the upcoming polls.

    USG Elections are extremely important and fairness in conducting those elections reflects on both the organization and the quality of officials who are entrusted with USG positions, which in turn has a dramatic effect on the quality of the government and its ability to appropriately fund clubs and organizations, manage special events, and lobby on behalf of students. It is completely inappropriate for any class of organizations to have an unfair advantage in funding candidates and the current situation is a recipe for abuse, favoritism, and corruption, all negative qualities of government that we should fight to keep out of USG.

    I urge students to express their dissatisfaction with the current election rules by directly speaking with their USG Senators and urging them to amend the Elections By-Laws in order to remove this destructive loophole. USG Senators can be found at their office hours in SAC 202, where several Senators are usually available at any one time. Alternatively, students can request to be placed on the USG Senate Agenda by speaking with the USG Executive Vice President, Amy Wisnoski, who is also available in SAC 202 at her office hours. Finally, students can contact me at [email protected] with a brief statement of their support for USG campaign finance reform, and I will be more than happy to present their views on the Senate floor myself.

    Sincerely yours,

    Esam Al-Shareffi

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