The "Say 'Hi!' Back" Campaign
Michelle Seu and Lizz Chen's campaign slogan explained
posted about 5 years ago
My name is Lizz Chen and I’m running for VP of SGA this year as Michelle Seu’s running mate.
There is one more voting period left (tonight from 8 PM to midnight), so I figure this is the perfect time to say this--not too soon, but not too early, either.
When Michelle and I decided to run together, we had to think of a slogan. We didn’t want it to be generic, and “Say ‘Hi!’ Back” came out of a conversation we had about how someone Michelle knew passed her by on Ac Row because she thought that, if she had greeted her, Michelle wouldn’t have said “Hi” back. I said to Michelle, “THAT’S our slogan! Say Hi Back!” We thought it was the kind of phrase that could really catch on: the perfect combination of appropriate, fun, and malleable.
What we didn’t know then was that it would become more of a statement than a slogan.
At first, it was just something that worked really well with our emphasis on SGA transparency. After all, we are running for public office; we think that everyone should be comfortable enough to at least wave to us if they feel like it. Such an interaction serves as a nice foot in the door to open up communication between SGA and the general student body by positing that the foremost role of the president and VP is to be a friend to the students.
But over the course of the campaign, it became apparent that “Say ‘Hi!’ Back” lent itself to greater depths than we had anticipated.
On two separate occasions, Michelle and I seriously considered dropping out of this election. We learned from the first occasion that “Say ‘Hi!’ Back” meant we would sacrifice ourselves if it were in the interest of the student body. Then, from the second occasion, we learned that “Say ‘Hi!’ Back” meant trusting the students to vote as they would. Furthermore, we realized that a campaign like the “Say ‘Hi!’ Back” campaign could not drop out because it had come to stand for something more than two students running for office.
We refrained from approaching students to get their votes. We designed it so that we would ignite interest and pique curiosity. We marked our supporters with purple and teal handprints. We weren’t asking the questions; we were being asked questions. Because that’s how we feel any voting process should go: you vote because you care, not because someone approached you and told you it was important and that you should care.
I am proud of the platform and campaign strategy that Michelle and I strategized. We called it the lemonade stand method of campaigning: we sat behind hand-painted signs with some campaign literature and candy spread out in front of us.
Now, here’s the amazing thing: people we didn’t even know started coming up to us. They said things like “I really like your campaign—the color scheme is great” and “I read your platform online and it’s really good.” Those encounters served as real-life glimpses of the SGA we had only before envisioned. Even if we don’t win, we felt it was important for us to stay in this race in order to set an example for future candidates.
A campaign shouldn’t be about attacking your opponents, it should be about promoting your ideas. It shouldn’t be about telling people to vote for you, it should be about connecting with the students.
Yes, we realize that this is all very idealistic, but it doesn’t have to be. If you haven’t voted yet because you are “done" with SGA or you are seriously considering writing in UMBC Squirrels for president, I urge you to consider checking out our “Say ‘Hi!’ Back” campaign if you haven’t done so already.
Much love and many thanks,