Campaign Ethics


Olivia is the Community Relations Executive Coordinator for her university’s Associated Students Inc. She recently made the decision to run for next year’s ASI president, and has a couple months to prepare for the election process. Because Olivia is already an executive member of ASI, she knows the election timeline at the beginning of the year, far before it is publically advertised. Olivia is passionate about student government, and wants to make a difference at her university. Most students don’t yet know or care when the election is happening, but Olivia has already begun to prepare. From the start of the year, she spends hours at her desk in the ASI office, brainstorming ideas for her campaign platform.

Olivia realizes that many of her ideas fit into the duties in her current role as Community Relations Executive Coordinator, and decides to begin to implement them now. She knows the initiatives would be great examples to use during the campaign season. Olivia has also mapped out the entire year of events for the Community Relations Branch, and saves the best, most popular events for the few weeks before the elections. Despite the fact that the events could take place in the fall, Olivia decided to delay them until the spring, to better boost her public appeal and presence in the days before the election.

As she delves further into the planning process, Olivia begins to feel a little uneasy. No one else is planning for elections yet, because no one else knows the timeline. She wonders if it is fair that she already started the process. She wasn’t intentionally trying to get a leg up on the competition, but starts to question if she’s doing the right thing. Olivia fervently believes that the new initiatives she is planning to implement on Community Relations will positively impact the student body, but she wonders if it is wrong to have the explicit goal of supporting her campaign.

What would you do in Olivia’s position? Would you continue to plan the campaign, or set it aside until later? Is it fair that Olivia uses her inside information to begin planning earlier? Should she plan initiatives with the intention of supporting her future campaign? Is it wrong to delay events to line up with elections? How do you negotiate the balance of campaigning while still in office?

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