While some candidates say major expenditures are an unavoidable aspect of any campaign, others fear the necessity of money might skew the results to favor wealthy candidates.
According to the Student Code, student body and Graduate and Professional Student Federation president candidates can spend $500 campaigning and an additional $250 if they reach a runoff.
Board of Elections Chairwoman Emily Margolis said the standards are usually pushed to the limit. "If you're a serious candidate, you're spending every penny you can," she said.
Student Congress Speaker Mark Townsend said candidates who want to run but can't raise the money can petition Congress for funds -- but that no one, to his knowledge, ever has done so.
He said students also can raise funds from student groups but have to report that to Congress in their financial statements. "They have to tell us what they bought and where they got it from," Townsend said.
Several former student government officer candidates said the $500 cost of running an effective campaign can be difficult to swallow. While some students get money from their parents, 1999-2000 GPSF President Lee Conner said his efforts to raise $500 led to some significant lifestyle changes. "I used money from my student loans, so it was eat a little less and drink a little less," he said.
Former Student Body President Nic Heinke said he worked a retail job the summer before his junior year and during Winter Break to save money. Heinke said planning a few months ahead is vital for most candidates, who must raise at least part of their campaign funds themselves. "Most folks at least entertain the idea the summer before their junior year," Heinke said.
Student Body President Jen Daum said she encountered unexpected costs during her campaign, beyond the signs and posters. "I was always having to buy food because I didn't have time to cook," Daum said.
Will McKinney, the second candidate in this year's runoff for student body president, said the $750 he paid out of pocket for his campaign was money well-spent, even thought he lost. "I would like to have won, but I don't have any regrets about running," he said. "I was really proud of the issues that I talked about."