ASUNM prohibits the use of campus listservs to solicit votes

Originally published by the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney

After passing the Steering and Rules Committee on April 19, ASUNM senators unanimously passed Bill 20S on Wednesday evening. The bill prohibits candidates running for any ASUNM position from using University-sanctioned LISTSERVs for the purpose of campaigning.

As candidates campaigned for this year’s presidential elections, President-elect Noah Brooks and Vice President-elect Sally Midani sent two emails to all or almost all UNM students, reminding them to vote in the presidential elections and promoting their platform.

Some students took issue with their emails being used without permission, prompting the new legislation.

“During all election cycles this year, the use of University LISTSERVs has come up as a question from candidates,” said ASUNM Attorney General Sara Collins.

Midani denied using any LISTSERV when sending their mass email, and said she and Brooks compiled a list of student emails through “friends, (our) campaign team and information publicly present on UNM websites.”

Bill 20S does not prohibit candidates from using public information, such as the UNM online directory, to compile their own email lists.

In an effort to promote a greater voter turnout, Midani “hoped to achieve greater outreach to individuals on campus that may not have been able to speak with us in person on Election Day,” she said. “Considering the nature of our commuter campus and the importance of technology for undergraduates, we found that emails led to greater accessibility, allowing students more opportunities to ask us questions or provide feedback.”

Students running for a Senate seat on ASUNM have also used UNM-sanctioned LISTSERVs to solicit votes.

During senator campaigns, Senator-Elect Anand Macherla sent an email to all UNM Honors students through the UHON LISTSERV.

Macherla was not available to comment before this publication.

“I cannot speculate how Senator-Elect Macherla obtained access to this LISTSERV,” Collins said. “There are two relevant UNM Policies – C150 in the faculty handbook, and UAP 2016 in the University Administrative Policies. ASUNM has no jurisdiction to interpret or enforce University policies, but we believe that these policies already prevent the use of University sanctioned LISTSERVs.”

Section C150 of the UNM Faculty Handbook states that employees are not allowed to use campus mail services for political or campaign reasons unless it has been received by a federal post office and is properly postmarked. The section, which was last reviewed and approved by faculty and the Board of Regents in 1970, does not mention using emails for campaigning.

The use of LISTSERVs by UNM employees for political promotion is prohibited under the Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual ㅡ Policy 2060: Political Activity, originally issued in 1994 and revised in March of 2016.

Until Wednesday, the ASUNM governing documents did not prevent the use of UNM sanctioned LISTSERVs for campaigning, according to Collins.

Though ASUNM senators are not UNM employees, she believes the policies outlined in Policy 2060 should be reflected in the ASUNM law book.

“By putting this in ASUNM policy, the Elections Commission will have the authority to enforce this existing policy in future elections,” Collins said. “The bill specifically excludes personal UNM email addresses, and personal email addresses are public information in the UNM directory.”

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