New amendment caps funding for ASA elections

The Augustana Student Association (ASA) recently passed an amendment that puts a spending limit on ASA election campaigns.

The amendment, which was created by ASA senator Hunter Lipinski and passed during ASA’s May 11 meeting, creates a $250 spending limit on presidential and vice presidential campaigns. It also adds a $150 limit to secretary and treasurer campaigns, as well as a $100 limit on general senator campaigns.

If a campaign exceeds the spending limit, the candidate will be disqualified.

According to the amendment, expenses will be self-tracked by the candidates. They will submit a “campaign finance form” to the ASA election commissioner with a list of all expenditures and donations, and the commissioner will review it to make sure everything is correct.

In an effort to be transparent, candidates’ finance forms will also be open to the public following elections.

“The idea of this amendment came about due to increased concerns that I had with how campaigns are run on money,” Lipinski said. “It’s sometimes not fair for students that do not come from the best socioeconomic backgrounds.”

As a way of solving that problem, Lipinski said that he hopes to see this amendment make elections fairer going forward.

“I believe that putting a cap on the amount a candidate can spend and get donated to their campaign sets these elections to a more equitable playing field for all students, and not just for students that can afford to run,” Lipinski said.

When the amendment was first introduced to the senate, multiple senators had concerns with the vagueness of what is considered an expense or donation. As a result, Lipinski, and a newly created  campaign finance task force, revised the amendment to include definitions of the initially vague words.

According to the amendment, expenses are “spending incurred by any candidate or ticket for use in the election … or soliciting votes,” monetary contributions are “funds provided to a candidate or ticket for use in the election,” and donations are “goods and/or services utilized by any candidate or ticket for use in the election.”

According to Courtney Chrystal, one of the senators that helped revise the amendment, the definitions were inspired by schools that already have spending limits in place.

“We looked at other universities and their election codes,” Chrystal said. “Some of the language or concepts were simply not applicable to Augie’s campus or our election landscape, but the idea of monetary contributions versus donations was.”

After the amendment passed, current ASA President Luca Amayo voiced his approval of the amendment, saying that “[it’s] likely to make elective posts more equitable.”

Additionally, both Amayo and ASA Vice President Audrey Cope said they believe the amendment will move the focus of campaigning to more in-person, meaningful interactions that get at the true issues.

“The core of every campaign is intentionality and sincerity,” Amayo said. “That’s what always shines through.”

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