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Election Workshop Series: Writing a Great Platform Statement
I recently sat down with two-time Haskayne School of Business Faculty Representative Jasmine Chitroda to ask her a few questions and get some insider tips and tricks to writing a great platform for running in the Students’ Union General Election. She really knows her stuff when it comes to writing platforms, so check out what she had to say!
NOLAN: Thanks so much for sitting down with me today. I wanted to start off by getting you to explain, in your words, what is a platform?
JASMINE: Great question! Basically, your platform is a written statement of what you as a candidate plan to do if you’re elected, and a bit about why people should elect you. It’s important that this go beyond the basics such as having a great personality or being a hard worker. I like to use examples and experiences from the past to demonstrate what you can do.
N: Ok, that makes sense. So I was wondering, when do you usually write your platform? Can you write it the day before the election?
J: Well, you have to submit your platform with your nomination package on the Nomination Days. There’s a mandatory short platform statement (no more than 300 words), and an optional extended platform (750 words max). It’s a good idea to think about writing your platform well before Nomination Days, so you have time to edit and revise it as needed.
N: When are the Nomination Days?
J: They are February 9-11, between 10 AM and 3 PM in the SU main office.
N: Cool! Now, some people might be wondering what the point of writing a good platform is anyway. Does anybody actually read them?
J: Definitely! Your platform is made public in a number of ways and has the potential to reach a lot of students. The Gauntlet publishes them in a special Election supplement, they are put on the SU website, and you can post it on your own social media pages. It really helps students decide who to vote for, so make sure you put in the time and effort to writing a good platform.
N: Wow, that is a lot of publicity. You mentioned that it is important to have a good platform. But what makes a platform “good”?
J: My best advice is to start with a list of ideas of changes, or goals you might have. Then take the time to prioritize what is post important, and keep in mind what can realistically be accomplished in one year. Current faculty reps are a great resource to give you an idea of what is realistic or not.
N: What about what other students think? Can you write a platform based on what other students might want to see changed?
J: This can be tricky. You need to be sure that you don’t break any rules or pre-campaign, because you might run into trouble. But I like to ask my close friends or classmates in private conversations what they think. You can also check out past projects that have been done by the U of C or the SU, and see if there’s ways they could be improved or updated.
N: That seems reasonable, it’s important to follow the rules. Do you have any final tips for helping share a platform with potential voters?
J: Absolutely, the internet and social media is an excellent option. I would include your social media handles and account names at the end of your platform so people can go there for more information. You can also leverage your social media to encourage voters to contact you or attend a forum to get more information. Just remember that you can’t use any social media to campaign until the campaign period begins.
N: That is some great advice! Thank you again for being willing to share your insight.
J: You’re very welcome. Best of luck to all of the candidates in this year’s SU General Election!