COVID-19 changes campaign traditions for Auburn Spring Elections

From the WRBL Internship Assignment Desk

This story was produced as part of the WRBL 2021 Spring Intern program

AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – Every January at Auburn University, students run in the Student Government Association Spring Elections for various major and minor candidate positions. Additionally, five women who have completed at least 60 hours of coursework also run for the Miss Auburn title.

The major candidate positions include SGA president, vice president, and treasurer. Women running for Miss Auburn must be nominated by the university, a fraternity, a sorority, or a residence hall, and go through several rounds of interviews to make it to the top five candidates.

Each Miss Auburn candidate must select a line from the Auburn Creed to base their platform on and when one of the top five candidates is named Miss Auburn, she becomes the official hostess of Auburn University and joins the War Eagle Girls and Plainsmen as a member while she serves.

Mary Collins, a Miss Auburn candidate, spoke about her platform saying, “The line of the creed I chose to encompass my platform is, ‘I believe in honesty and truthfulness without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men.’ It is my hope that through this platform, we will be able to create a more inclusive environment throughout the Auburn family.”

Before anyone can be elected, campaign week is a long-standing tradition that encourages these candidates to plan and execute a campaign to include the Auburn family in these elections. To make this week a success, many students spend time preparing a team designed from their closest friends and organizations they are in. These teams include support from fraternities, sororities, organizations, athletic teams, and more.

Campaign week kicks off on the Wednesday before election day, which is held annually on the first Tuesday in February.

To qualify and run, major SGA candidates are required to submit forms, attend orientation, turn in materials, attend the Major Candidate Debate, and more. Candidates are not allowed to run for more than one position.

This year, since many students were not spending as much time on campus as previous semesters, much of the campaigning took place on social media.

TikTok continues to appeal to college students, and Tyler Ward, an SGA presidential candidate, used this to his advantage by posting on the popular app. One of his videos, where he dances to a trending song while explaining his platform, got over 200,000 views and over 30,000 likes.

Elaine Shankute, a Missa Auburn candidate, posted an IGTV of her own spin on the hot wing challenge and got over 5,000 views.

Mary Collins also spoke on new COVID-19 restrictions that had been implemented this year.

“Due to COVID-19 we have been restricted to two people behind the tables on the Haley Concourse,” Collins said. “But we have seven different locations that we can be at and then we wear gloves and masks at all times just to make sure we are keeping the Auburn family safe.”

To continue keeping the Auburn family safe, callouts looked a little different this year than in the past. The Auburn tradition of callouts is when leaders of any on campus organization stand behind Cater Hall, home to the Honors College, and announce members of their organization or team. This year, callouts were still held at Cater Hall, but live streamed by Eagle Eye TV, for students to hear the results safely from their homes.

You can check out the official results here.

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