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The GW Hatchet

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Poster campaigns ignite election race

Student Association election campaigning intensified Wednesday afternoon as candidates jostled for prime positions to hang posters starting at 5:30 p.m. The strategies began early in the morning, ending in one injury and at least one physical confrontation over wall space.

The Joint Elections Committee will investigate one alleged campaign violation for a car covered with posters for candidates represented by the group Change for Students parked on H Street before 5:30 p.m., JEC Chair Joshua Hiscock said.

At 5:30 p.m. campaigners for two presidential candidates fought for wall space on the 22nd Street side of Funger Hall. Volunteers for Bob Simon rushed an area occupied by SA Sen. Bill Eldridge (U-ESIA) and others postering for Dan Loren and attempted to place Simon’s signs on the wall first.

A JEC official intervened and allowed Dan Loren campaigners to place their posters first because they had manned the spot first, a JEC official on the scene said. Campaigners showed up at Funger as early as 7 a.m. to reserve poster space.

A student hanging campaign posters for SA Senate candidate Matt Hargarten fell about 10 feet from a ledge into a concrete opening next to a Monroe Hall entrance shortly after 5:30 p.m. University Police, the D.C. Fire Department and paramedics climbed into the opening, broke a window in a basement classroom and carried female student inside on a stretcher.

Witnesses said paramedics told the conscious student to remain motionless as they assisted her. The student appeared to sustain minor injuries as paramedics wheeled her out of the building, witnesses said.

Junior Nicholas Udu-Gama said he saw the student fall while she attempted to tape a poster to the building.

“She said she got dizzy and fell,” he said.

JEC officials who were patrolling other areas at the time said an initial rush by campaigners to claim prime locations caused the accident.

“A lot of people choose to do it in the first few minutes,” JEC Chair Joshua Hiscock said. “Sometimes they aren’t as careful as they should be.”

Other students campaigning at Monroe Hall said they recognized possible hazards of the ledges next to the building’s G Street entrance.

“That (spot) is dangerous in the first place,” sophomore Abisola Ayodeji said, who was postering for presidential candidate Roger Kapoor at the time.

Hiscock advised students to observe extra caution while campaigning.

“(Students) sometimes sacrifice safety for the number-one spot,” he said.

Postering strategies began early Wednesday morning as candidates rounded up supporters to reserve spots throughout campus.

“What we’re planning on doing is having a staff of about five people run around campus at about 6 a.m. to see if anyone is positioning themselves to poster,” Loren said Tuesday. “We’re going to send around this staff every hour and if the other campaigns begin positioning we’re going to call in our full postering staff.”

Loren said he planned to have people in position to poster by about 10 or 11 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Joint Elections Committee rules permit candidates to poster on the Marvin Center, the Academic Center, academic buildings on the Quad, Funger Hall and entrances of Ross, Tompkins and Monroe halls and the Hall of Government.

Students running for SA president or vice president may post 150 posters. At-large senator candidates may display 100 posters, and candidates in all other races may not post any more than 50 posters.

“I think that the system is very fair,” Hiscock said. “The JEC charter provides enough space for all the candidates to advertise and put up posters, and because of the limitation on the number of posters a candidate is allowed to post, it does not give any one student an unfair advantage.”

The JEC issues a penalty to students who break postering rules. Candidates who receive eight penalties are removed from the ballot.

“If a candidate feels that a specific area is advantageous to their campaign, they are free to hold their spot, as there are no rules against it,” Hiscock said. “It’s the candidate’s right to spend all day positioned in front of the Marvin Center if they choose to do so.”

Candidates are subject to a penalty for posters hung up before 5:30 p.m.

Hiscock said a candidate filed a complaint with the JEC about a car parked outside the Marvin Center on H Street Wednesday adorned with campaign advertisements for Change for Students candidates, including Loren.

The JEC will hold a hearing Friday, Hiscock said, because the car was on campus grounds and displayed unapproved posters before 5:30 p.m. Hiscock said parking the car “is most likely going to be a penalty.”

JEC members stood in front of all the major postering areas, such as the Marvin Center and Funger Hall with synchronized watches to ensure that no candidate posted campaign material before 5:30 p.m.

“Postering is the more ridiculous side of SA politics,” SA President Dave Burt said. “The elections are about the people you meet and getting to know them, not seeing who can get the best positions outside of the Marvin Center.”

S.A. Senate candidate Joe Patry, who also campaigned Wednesday for Loren and SA executive vice president candidate Mike Pellegrino, said he camped out at the Marvin Center at 12:15 p.m.

“There’s probably an equal number of people who think we’re foolish and an equal number of people who think we’re dedicated,” he said. “I’m hanging with my friends, it’s not that bad.”

Some candidates said postering is not vital to their campaign.

“We have a lot of dedicated people working to help us out, and the posters are only one aspect of the campaign,” SA presidential candidate Roger Kapoor said. “My philosophy is that it comes down to the issues, and posters are just about getting your name out.”

Patry said he agrees.

“(Postering) alone does not win a campaign,” he said, adding that candidates need to get out and meet people. “It’s all part of a package.”

-Grant Wernick contributed to this report.

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