The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday August 13th

Creating conflicts

Student Body President Matt Calabria should reconsider a decision to allow his subordinates to do campaign work while keeping their jobs.

Student Body President Matt Calabria has decided to allow students serving in the executive branch of student government to engage in campaign activity without resigning their posts.

But it's not a good idea to let prominent executive branch officials, such as officers and Cabinet members, participate in campus campaigns during the spring. It could create major conflicts of interest.

Calabria should be following the lead of his immediate predecessors, who held that executive branch members need to give up their posts before joining the political fracas associated with the general student body elections.

There is a major consideration here. Forcing executive branch officials to quit if they want to take on campaign activity would take talent away from Calabria's administration - talent it would take considerable time and effort to replace.

But this consideration isn't as weighty as the conflicts that easily could come into play this year.

It would make for a sticky situation if prominent executive branch members join particular campaigns, especially if they assume highly visible roles in the election process.

What's to stop students from interpreting links between executive branch officials and specific candidates as some kind of endorsement?

And what method exists to ensure that these executives won't allow their campaign work to overlap with their official duties?

If officials let the line between the two obligations become blurred, it could lead to student government resources being used to support specific political candidates on campus. Obviously, that would be a serious misuse of those resources.

Granted, it's a tough call to make either way. Executive branch officers and Cabinet members are some of the most active and ambitious students on campus. Calabria himself was chairman of the Academic Affairs Committee and co-chairman of the Information Technology Committee of student government.

But a certain degree of separation must exist between the politics of the executive branch and the politics of student officer hopefuls.

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