Money makes the world of politics go around.
The same could be said about the University Student Government’s elections. After two years of holding these elections online, the return to face-to-face campaigning in this year’s 2022 Make-Up Elections (MUE) comes with a multitude of expenses. Sparkling banners full of grinning faces encouraging students to vote for them have made a return. Fliers, brochures, and a great deal of plans inch their way into the hands of Lasallians eager to know more about their next set of leaders.
Surely, these campaign paraphernalia must have cost a fortune, but where these funds come from exactly comes as a question from every Lasallian seeing these fliers around campus.
“Our funds were mainly humble donations from our alumni,” Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallita (Tapat) Secretary General Azhley De Quiroz shares. “Given that this year’s Make-Up Elections is the first face-to-face elections after the pandemic, the alumni recognized its importance and gravity, thus were generous.” They also have additional funds that came from the registration fee their members pay when they enter. In total, Tapat’s expenses for this year’s MUE are valued at around P60,000.
De Quiroz furthers that these expenses were used to cover their campaign paraphernalia for students garner materials that are “well-informed regarding our plans for the University.” Said materials include IDs, banners, and brochures that they distribute to students. “We make sure that we exhaust all efforts to reach at least the minimum amounts needed to execute our campaigns, but we’ve always cut the costs through other mediums,” she shares, relying on minimizing the design of their physical handouts and placing the details on their website instead as an example.
Independent candidates are also not exempt to having campaign expenditures. Elisha Quiambao, coalition representative of the School of Economics’ PULSO, divulges that the initial cost of their campaign was set at P5,000. “Since the campaign period just [began], we haven’t tallied the overall anticipated expenses because the collection only happens if there is a need to,” she discloses. Similar to Tapat’s strategy, their expenses go directly to their group’s integrated marketing communications. She continues, “The candidates really went in to pay these people as we also recognize the need to provide people with rightful pay.”
Meanwhile, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business’ ANGAT Lasalyano coalition representative Mika Nuñez did not disclose their campaign’s expenses. She does, however, assure that the coalition uses their expenses for the campaign’s publicity materials as well.
The same could not be said for LEAD, the Gokongwei College of Engineering’s independent coalition. Victoria de Guzman, LEAD’s coalition representative, says their coalition does not have funds to power their marketing campaign for this year’s election. “The coalition has not allocated a budget for this year’s elections but we are not exactly against doing so,” she clarifies. “As of the moment, we do not have concrete plans in spending or allocating a budget.”
Meanwhile, Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon President Marc Lee refused to comment on his party’s past campaign expenses.
Since the MUE this year utilizes both face-to-face and online campaigns, De Quiroz admits that spending has increased. “Online campaigning definitely had lesser costs,” she opines. “We mainly had to shed expenses for sponsored ads and website maintenance.” In the case when there are excess funds, Tapat uses them to fund internal events—such as training programs—or electoral activities.
However, the independent coalitions do not meet the same fate. For one, gathering funds to start with is already difficult for these groups. Former USG President Migi Moreno had faced a similar dilemma, where he financed his campaign with money from his own pocket.
“Difficulty may arise in terms of allocating sufficient funds since the smaller budget is also accompanied by additional costs that we also have to take into account,” Nuñez fears. On top of having less manpower than being in a political party, Quiambao notes how possible lapses in their funding are attributed to how much their candidates are willing to shoulder. She explains, “Running independently could be costly, so we make sure to minimize their expenses in order to also consider the financial capability of each candidate.”
As for de Guzman, she is confident that these expenses will not affect LEAD’s campaign. “This is because we do not rely on monetary funding to produce quality materials for publicity; rather, we give full trust to the coalition members to create the paraphernalia we need,” she explains, citing that distributing flyers and other paraphernalia only serves as “plus points” for gaining traction from the student body.
Pennies for thought
Financial aid is definitely an important factor in bolstering the campaigns of these Lasallian leaders. “It all boils down to proper budget allocation and cost-effective purchasing, though the coalition does make it an important and general rule to never compromise the quality of our campaigning and campaign materials,” Nuñez reiterates.
Each of the independent coalitions’ finances in this year’s MUE vary—both in amount and in expenditure. But for these aspiring Lasallian leaders, having the most campaign funds never equates to one’s capabilities in leadership. “PULSO moves through this dilemma by finding the right balance that would be sufficient for them to run and share their platforms to the student body,” posits Quiambao.