UA Hopefuls Devise Vote Purchase Plan
Write-in Presidential Ticket Creighton, Brar Promise $10 to Voters if They Win ElectionBy Brian Loux
Rhett Creighton ’02 and Victor W. Brar ’04 announced their candidacy for Undergraduate Association president and vice president via e-mail early Monday morning, promising $10 to each student who writes in a vote for them.
“We are giving people what they want,” Creighton said. “The UA gets lots of money through other things. People really want food, money, and things like LaVerde’s acceptance of the card. But our big thing is giving our supporters $10.”
In an e-mail sent to several MIT “talk” mailing lists at 12:05 a.m. Monday, Creighton and Brar promised that if elected, they would use the $5000 discretionary Vannevar Bush ’16 Fund to pay each voter for their vote as well as for recruiting fellow undergraduates to vote for the ticket. The Bush Fund is allocated to the elected UA president to spend as he or she sees fit. The money for voters is contingent upon the outcome of elections, and if the ticket does not win the presidency, it will not have the funding to pay voters.
The Bush Fund was initially in place to subsidize the UA president’s tuition, and records are not required to be disclosed without UA consent. “It is a multipurpose account ... that helps the president do his or her job, help the student body, or help the UA,” said current UA President Jaime E. Devereaux ’02. “It is meant to cover things that aren’t covered through traditional means of funding.”
Devereaux expressed severe doubts that the Bush Fund could be used in the proposed manner, citing that business regarding the fund is conducted through the Student Activity Finance Office. “It works just like a main account,” she said. “I have to submit a voucher and receipt or proof of service before I am cut a check.”
Historically, there have been scandals and debates over disclosure and use of the fund in the past, but ultimately no change in policy.
The UA Rules Board will announce later in the week whether the proposed use of the Bush Fund violates the spirit of the campaign.
Creighton and Brar optimistic
While write-in tickets are at a disadvantage, the two expressed great hope for their campaign. “I’m really excited about sitting at a booth in Lobby 10 with a stack of $10 bills and handing them out as people pass by,” Creighton said.
Creighton and Brar have an ambiguous platform which is mainly centered around their vote purchase plan. “We were planning many different campaign ideas and giving our voters $10 seemed like a good one,” Creighton said. “I thought I should do it now because it would be good to take everyone by surprise ... I don’t think people wanted to hear ‘Vote for me on Thursday.’”
“The election was close last year,” Brar said. “[Creighton] only lost by about 50 votes.”
Their campaign has run into some snags so far. “I have been hearing people say, ‘I voted [around Midnight on Sunday] and didn’t get your e-mail in time,” Creighton said. “We may have lost around 20 votes right there.”
While Creighton is was supposed to graduate this year with the Class of 2002, he took a term off due to a severe injury and will remain an undergraduate next year.
Creighton said the lack of interest partly prompted him to run. “It just seemed like they were saying the same things,” Creighton said.
“There was only one ticket to begin with. Nobody seemed to want the position,” Brar said.
As of Monday night, the candidates said they had received approximately 160 e-mail replies affirming an undergraduate vote for their ticket.
Opponents criticize money ploy
Other candidates reacted strongly to the addition of Creighton/Brar. “I am all for the change in the UA and I’ve seen how determined [Creighton] can be,” said UAP candidate Josiah D. Seale ’03, “but at the same time, I don’t see what he actually wants to do with the UA.” Seale said the election commission would need to determine whether or not Creighton’s use of the Bush Fund violates the spirit of the election.
Fellow candidate Jennifer S. Yoon ’03 first noticed Creighton’s flyers on Sunday night. She initially “didn’t know if it was serious or not,” but recognized the validity of the claims once she was forwarded the candidates’ e-mail.
“In all honesty, with all the work that the Election Commission has done this year, he is making a mockery of the process,” Yoon said. “I think when it comes down to it, I don’t think it will sway [students] and they will vote based on the merits of the candidates.”
Both candidates Creighton’s tactics would not alter their campaign. “We have things we want to do and we’ll keep telling people about them,” Seale said. Seale has proposed using the Bush Fund to “buy food for the expanded representation” at UA meetings as a “motivator.”
“Our campaign has always been the same, and we keep getting hit with new candidates on Mondays,” Yoon said. While acknowledging that the Bush fund is discretionary, Yoon felt that many students questioned the validity of the ticket’s claims.
The election will continue electronically until Thursday, with paper balloting on Friday. Results will be announced at noon on Saturday.