In response to complaints made against Sarah Haar, Ali Cole stated the following:
“The plain white tees with red hearts are what is known as associated campaigning. For example, if MJ [Michael Jordan] was to get people dressed in basketball gear every night, with nothing to do with his campaign written anywhere then this would be the same.
“The crucial part is that the white tees with red hearts don’t have anything written on them about Sarah’s campaign and so cannot be factored into her budget. As you can appreciate, charging for anyone wearing a tshirt with a heart on could get silly.”
To me, this sets a dangerous precedent. Furthermore, have the floodgates been opened?
What is there to now stop Josh Hurrell buying plain orange tshirts for his entire campaign team? Or Michael Jordan buying basketball gear for all of Ashby Rovers FC to wear on campus? Or Georgia Cheyne buying union flags for the entire poledancing society?
As associated campaigning materials, these would clearly not fall under the budget cap that VP Democracy Ali Cole fought so hard to enforce at Union Council and which, on the whole, has been so well received.
Is “associated campaigning” to become the new loophole which candidates need to try and get a larger presence on campus without breaking the £100 budget rule? Personally, if I was a candidate, especially one behind in the polls, I would be looking to take full advantage of this.
To the general student, a colour, logo or symbol such as a heart, tick or moustasche may be all that they can remember of some campaigns, especially on a night out, and I don’t think these small touches should be underestimated.
I would also raise the question, where do you draw the line? Is “campaigning material” simply items which have “anything written on them about” a campaign? Of course not, sweets being the obvious example. Where does campaign materials end and associated campaign materials start?
And finally, what can be done? As Cole rightly points out in his email, you cannot ban a colour of a tshirt nor prevent everyone wearing Nike clothing.
Solutions on a postcard please (or just the comments section below).