The University of Cincinnati (UC) Undergraduate Student Government’s (SG) financial disclosure reports are kept private between the committee and candidates during elections, not placed on a public forum like other Ohio universities.
While these reports are eventually made available, it is done “at the conclusion of the election.” Journalists and students can submit a public records request for the reports to the General Counsel. However, the time span between the request being made and documents being submitted is generally “within three business days of receipt.”
Of the five Ohio colleges contacted by The News Record (TNR) – Ohio State University (OSU), Ohio University (OU), Kent State University, Miami University and Bowling Green State University – only one, Bowling Green, had a similar process.
“It is not part of our process to share the budgets,” said Jodi Ernest Webb, associate vice president for student affairs at the college. “But they could be requested through a public records request.”
Since “most USG candidates spend very little on their campaign, their budget has generally not been of great interest to others,” Webb added.
In OSU’s election bylaws, candidates must maintain an “online ledger” of expenses on their campaign’s website, which is expected to be updated “daily beginning on the first day of official candidacy.”
“Each campaign is required to have their ledger available to the student body in some way,” said Daniel Levine, chief of staff for Undergraduate Student Government at OSU.
During student body president and vice president elections at Miami University, the budget cap is $250, and candidates must submit weekly financial disclosures. According to Victoria Villanueva, speaker of Miami’s Student Senate, these reports “are available for the public” and are “regularly sent to our own news beat reporter for our school newspaper, The Miami Student.”
Ohio University’s Student Senate candidates must “report their campaign contributions and expenditures weekly, during the campaign period, to the Judicial Panel for inspection.”
When asked by TNR at a recent SG meeting why these reports couldn’t be placed in a public database or live feed, Vice President Taylor Allgood suggested the SG meeting room itself could be a source of election information for students.
Although she called elections “their [Election Facilitation Committee’s (EFC)] realm,” Allgood explained how their updates on election-related news could be helpful for students. “They’ll come share to our body,” she said. “These meeting minutes are posted in our CampusLink for the public and press to scrutinize.”
“It’s not like we’re hiding these records,” said Tyler Benson, chair of the EFC, later referencing the General Counsel as an adequate source of information on them.
“We don’t want to have candidates comparing their finances to each other,” he said, adding: “It would not make for a fun campaign season.”
Although she said conversations were had regarding this policy, President April Gable reiterated Benson’s sentiment, saying it “let’s candidates do their own thing, without worrying about others.”
Candidates for SG are filling out forms and preparing to run. No candidates have been announced yet, but the EFC’s Instagram page said there was a need for the signature packets of approved slates. Candidates are due by Feb. 18.