SGA candidates look to overcome digital campaign hurdles amid pandemic life


Dana Gerber

Emerson candidates have campaigned entirely online for the first time in known SGA history.

By Charlie McKenna

Candidates for the Student Government Association’s spring 2020 elections are facing the challenge of campaigning from afar after the coronavirus forced most students at the college to head home for the remainder of the semester. 

All 19 political hopefuls running for office this spring are campaigning virtually, unable to talk to prospective voters face to face or put up campaign posters around campus amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has radically disrupted life at Emerson.

Freshman Anthony Allocca, who currently serves as SGA’s LGBTQIA+ commissioner, is running for performing arts senator this upcoming semester and told The Beacon that he feels he’s having a difficult time reaching out and connecting with voters due to the inability to hold campaign events.

“A lot of the platforms that I have put myself out there on to kind of share my ideas [and] share my platform [are] Instagram, Facebook, all that stuff, and I can only reach my followers and the followers that my followers might be sharing their content to,” he said in a Zoom interview from New Jersey. “There’s definitely a lot of corners and nooks and crannies in the [performing arts] department that I’m definitely missing.”

Thomas Coughlin is running for a second term as visual media arts senator and said he is encountering difficulties as he transitions to a digital campaign platform. 

“A lot of campaigning is word of mouth from people to people so I’m certainly not doing that because we’re not on campus anymore,” he said in a Zoom interview.

Philip Leary, who is running for a third term as class of 2022 vice president, had previously organized write-in campaigns to get elected. He said he made the purposeful decision to submit his name for the ballot for this semester’s elections because of the struggles of raising awareness virtually.

“Last time I was campaigning as a write-in it was about me talking to people,” he said in a Zoom interview with The Beacon. “This semester I wasn’t able to do that [and] that’s what cemented my decision to … put my name on the ballot.”

SGA has organized Instagram takeovers throughout the campaign period for candidates to answer any questions and get the word out about their campaigns, which Coughlin cited as helpful.

“SGA is having every single candidate take over the Instagram which is really cool,” he said three days before his takeover this past Friday.