Campaign season can be incredibly confusing for voters. Trying to distinguish between seemingly similar campaign platforms can be frustrating. Campaign slates are a fantastic way of simplifying this process, allowing larger groups of students to consolidate their beliefs into one, united package.
Student governance is a collaborative effort, and the formation of slates indicates candidates’ ability to work together effectively through the creation of campaign materials, slogans, and shared positions over major issues. A slate is therefore a way to communicate an entire team’s cohesiveness and their confidence in one another’s abilities even in the face of the competitive nature of elections.
Articulating campaign promises collectively also tends to result in clearer campaign promises. Multiple candidates debate, organize, and construct a platform that encompasses different positions, resulting in ideas and initiatives that hopefully consider each aspect of university life.
Though Compass is the only complete slate running in the 2018 spring UTSU elections, the two-person 🅱️oundless slate has garnered considerable attention, in part due to tapping into student life through meme culture at U of T and seeking to be relatable and funny; this allows 🅱️oundless candidates to communicate their message more effectively.
Slates also help keep the candidates accountable to one another. In 2016, the entire 1UofT slate was disqualified after accumulating more than 35 demerit points per candidate, despite the major offense of non-English language campaigning on WeChat being allegedly committed by only one member of the slate. The threat of collective punishment in the case of student elections is more effective at deterring campaign offenses, ensuring that members of a slate keep one another in check.
As exemplified by the many independent candidates in this year’s election, not joining a slate remains an important alternative. Unfortunately, lacking the kind of collective support from fellow candidates that comes with slates, independents may find themselves at a disadvantage with respect to campaigning. Many independents this year have put forth less cohesive platforms than Compass candidates, and they also do not benefit from the kind of branding that sets 🅱️oundless apart.
Slates represent the collaborative effort that goes into governance, often resulting in better articulated platforms. Running in a slate is not the only option, but it clearly has perks, which will likely become evident in an election with only one complete slate.
Angela Feng is a second-year student at St. Michael’s College studying Anthropology and Cinema Studies. She is The Varsity’s Campus Politics Columnist.