Dorm hallway

Columnist Johnson argues that residence halls are private communities where political campaign materials should not be distributed. Johnson refers to the campaigns for Racel Junck, a City Council Ward 4 candidate, and Elizabeth Warren, Democratic presidential candidate, which have distributed flyers in residence halls. 

Elections taking place both this November and next are vessels for campaigns to break Iowa State's Department of Residence (DOR) policy.

I have directly or indirectly observed two instances of the violation of the Department of Residence policy on the distribution of campaign materials on the doors of residents.

The residence halls, contrary to popular conception, are the homes of students and therefore are their private property. Sure, there are many students that live in these residencies, but they are nonetheless communities that should be respected as the private communities that they are.

Before a town hall meeting on campus a few weeks back, I personally saw the distribution of flyers promoting the event being put underneath the doors of residents in the communities I live in. Then, on Sunday night I received a text from a friend including photographs of flyers promoting the 4th Ward of Ames City Council candidate Rachel Junck. This came a mere three days before the election.

This is a wrinkle where things were distributed so close to the City Council election. This creates no ability for her campaign to necessarily be properly penalized for the — again — blatant breaking of DOR policy. It shows ignorance to the guidelines of the DOR and a willingness to bend the rules by these campaigns.

This behavior is very concerning given how cut and dry the policy is on this.

Here is the direct article of concern that these campaigns have violated at Iowa State: “Special interest activities, such as political or religious activities, or recruitment for organizations, which involve petitioning, canvassing, registration, campaigning and/or other similar activities, shall be permitted only upon authorization from the Student Activities Office and the Residence Life Office and only in non-student room/apartment areas of the halls and apartment communities.”  

This is not something that should simply be overlooked.

As a Community Advisor within the Department of Residence, I take issue with the idea of people coming into my community, for any reason, uninvited. I am all for the discussion of politics and especially the involvement in local politics, but coming into a residence hall, where they don’t reside in and theoretically don’t have access to enter, to advocate for a particular candidate is not how to make that happen.

The Junck and Warren campaigns breaking this policy in order to gain politically is something that should not simply go unnoticed and should be involved in the evaluation of these campaigns when voters make their decision.

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