Some eyebrows on campus were raised last week when Jennifer Piro ’04 put up campaign posters before the Yale College Council’s official election campaign kick-off Saturday morning .
Piro is simultaneously campaigning for Association of Yale Alumni representative for the Class of 2004 and YCC secretary. While Piro has not technically broken any AYA or YCC campaign rules, some students said they think her dual campaigns are a suspicious coincidence.
“I obviously wish that the campaigns were not happening at the same time, but I have attempted to work with Jen to make sure that it’s very clear when she has publicity with AYA versus YCC,” YCC Vice President Leah Zimmerman ’02 said. “So I understand why people might have questions or reservations about it, but as far as I can tell she has followed my requests to make [her advertising] very explicit whether it’s AYA or YCC.”
The YCC officer elections begin Monday, and the AYA representative elections run from April 18th to the 20th.
Zimmerman said Piro approached the YCC when she declared her candidacy for AYA representative, and AYA Associate Director for Yale College Classes Karen Jahn said Piro informed the AYA that she would be running for both offices.
“I kind of approached them because I didn’t want to do anything to get in trouble; it’s been very delicate to keep the campaigns separate,” Piro said.
Piro’s YCC campaign posters are vertical and colored red, yellow and orange. Her AYA campaign posters are horizontal, solid black with multicolored letters. Both posters use the same font.
“I didn’t realize that the posters would appear so similar, and that’s unfortunate, but at this point there’s nothing to be done about it; it seems legit,” Zimmerman said.
AYA campaign regulations stipulate that candidates may not spend more than $150 or hang more than 300 posters and must comply to all Yale College postering regulations. While YCC candidates could not campaign with sidewalk chalk drawings, Piro made an AYA chalk drawing on Old Campus.
AYA candidates could begin campaigning as soon as they signed their candidacy statements. YCC candidates were not allowed to put up any posters or send out e-mails before Saturday. Piro signed her AYA candidacy statement on April 5 and immediately updated her Web site with campaign information. She said she began hanging AYA campaign posters the next day.
It appears that no other AYA class representative candidates have put up posters for this week’s election so far. Candidate Bola Olupona ’04 said she plans to begin campaigning today.
AYA representative candidate Marc Freed-Finnegan ’04 both said that while he has not hung any posters, that “doesn’t mean I’m not taking the campaign seriously.”
Piro maintains that if other YCC candidates felt that her coinciding campaigns were unfair, they too could have mounted AYA campaigns.
“If they really thought it was that much of an advantage, they could have run too,” Piro said. “I don’t find it to be an advantage, I find it to be more of a pain than I bargained for.”
YCC secretary candidate Naved Sheikh ’03 doesn’t seem threatened by Piro’s coincidental advantage.
“It’s pretty clever on her part if in fact that was her intention,” Sheikh said. “I don’t know I think it might be a little unfair because all of us candidates were told to be on guard with our advertisements and make sure we didn’t break any rules. If she is running for AYA, that is a coincidence. Either way, I give her props for it.”
Zimmerman said that Piro sent out a mass e-mail in her role as Freshman Class Council communications chair to freshman with a link to Piro’s Web site.
“The web site said ‘Vote Piro, more to come,'” Zimmerman said. “As soon as I was notified, I let her know she needed to change her Web site immediately to ‘[vote Piro for] AYA delegate.’ She changed it right away and received a minor warning from YCC.”
Zimmerman said she hopes that next year’s YCC vice president will find a way to regulate this type of situation so no candidates will have unfair advantages.