MSA candidates must clean up campus, literally

Tracy Ellingson

Triumphant celebrations and gatherings of the defeated officially mark the end of election campaigns. But like any other party, the hosts have to clean up afterward — and for this year’s MSA campaign teams, the signs of last week’s festivities may take a while to erase.
Posters, sidewalk chalk drawings and loose campaign literature that dedicated volunteers helped plaster across campus must come down, and the campaign teams must now take charge of another effort — the clean-up campaign.
“Basically our policy is that … the person who puts (the posters) up should take them down when the event is over,” said Rose Diestler, an office specialist in Facilities Management, the department that is responsible for the upkeep of campus.
But Tom Kidd, facilities support supervisor for the department, said Facilities Management employees typically get stuck with the task of removing the annual slew of campaign paraphernalia.
“It’s litter,” Kidd said. “We try to keep all landscape elements as aesthetically pleasing as possible.”
To make the grounds a little more pleasing for students, Kidd said department employees usually take down signs and other literature hanging on lamp posts and buildings, restricting such advertisements to the kiosks and bulletin boards around campus. Kidd added that his department tends to be a little more lenient with this policy during the election season.
Denise Tolbert, adviser for this year’s All-Campus Election Commission, said postering regulations were placed outside of her commission’s authority just before last year’s election. The commission, which provides and enforces the guidelines for 11 different campus elections — including the Minnesota Student Association presidency and the Student Senate — decided last year to leave the responsibility of campaign cleanup to the candidates themselves because so few students volunteered to help with the effort.
Now, the commission asks candidates to agree to clean up after themselves.
“Somehow it ends up taking care of itself,” Tolbert said. “I never get any complaints.”
This year only three tickets ran for the MSA presidential and vice presidential positions. The presidential campaigns usually make the largest postering and campaigning efforts, and Kidd said that even though five tickets ran last year, the amount of clutter this spring is about the same as in 1996.
Jigar Madia, the MSA president-elect, said he and his running mate, Bridgette Murphy, told their campaign team members to help with cleanup by tearing down posters on their way to class.
“Honestly, we don’t remember where we put them all up,” said Madia, who estimated that their team made and used about 1,500 posters during the month-long campaign season. “It’s more of, as soon as they see any, just rip them all down. We’ve gotten about 300 or 400 so far.”
Madia said his crew hopes to have everything down by the end of the week. He also added that many of his campaign posters were torn down in the course of the campaign. Presidential campaigners often tear down or cover opponents’ posters while hanging their own.
While hanging some of his posters, Madia, who worked on last year’s campaign for MSA president Helen Phin, said he found remnants from some of last year’s posters for Phin and MSA vice president Eric Hanson.
“If you keep an eye out, you’ll see them,” Madia said. “You can see the background, and you can see some of their names.”
Corey Donovan, who ran for MSA president this year with Kiaora Bohlool, said he hoped to make the cleanup a fun event.
“Maybe we could go out to dinner and then clean up the posters after,” Donovan said.
Although they didn’t win the election, the pair did post the most posters, with 4,000 professionally printed signs. Donovan’s uncle donated the posters to the campaign.
Jason Strid, who ran for the vice presidential position with Derek Shemon, said either he, Shemon and a few friends will go out to tear their posters down or they will just take them down as they find them.
The duo made and placed only about 200 posters across the Twin Cities campus.