Miss Auburn has been a staple of Auburn University since the position’s creation in 1936. This year’s election will serve to be different from previous elections as candidates will no longer run on a philanthropic platform.
Candidates for Miss Auburn will run based on their favorite line in the Auburn Creed.
“There are a lot of changes,” said Mary Holland, campaign manager for Miss Auburn candidate Bailey Sullivan. “We’re having to get creative with how we look (at) the week and how we look at how we’re going to be on the Concourse and by getting the word out, especially with voting day changes.”
One of the most noticeable changes will be the new restriction on the number of campaign supporters. The modification includes 25 zones throughout campus where supporters may campaign with 10 members or fewer at a given time.
“We received our map of where 10 or less people can be so I’m going to sit down and make a plan of attack of how we’re going to have people scattered throughout campus,” said Maddy Hickman, campaign manager for Miss Auburn candidate Bria Randal.
While the on-campus changes have had a significant impact Hickman said the off-campus changes had little effect on her campaign strategy.
“I always thought that was kind of taking advantage of Auburn students, so I wasn’t really planning on doing that with this campaign,” Hickman said. “Voting day is going to be a little bit different because it is all on campus so I just plan on having as many bodies in as many places as possible.”
The change to how many campaign members are able to campaign at a certain time is meant to limit the number of people on the concourses, a common topic among students.
Many think this change will allow campaigns to reach more students as there are many Auburn students that don’t come near the Haley Concourse on a daily basis.
“I think our main goal is to spread our campaigning to not just the Haley Concourse and to reach more and a wider variety of students,” said Jodee Flurry, campaign manager for Miss Auburn candidate Kathryn Kennedy.
Flurry said in previous years the same students were reached and the 25 zones throughout campus will allow a wider range of students to be reached.
“I think it’s going to be less aggressive on the Concourse and more so informing students about voting,” Flurry said.
It is common for Auburn students to avoid the Concourse, especially during campaign week, and Kathryn Grace Faulk, campaign manager for Miss Auburn candidate Mary Spencer Veazey, said she thinks these new campaign rules will help combat that stigma.
“We’re not going to say too much about it because we want it to be a surprise, but we have some really cool things in store that are just really going to kind of cultivate people more during concourse hours,” Faulk said.
Faulk said she wants it to be an experience people enjoy rather than dread and try to avoid the Concourse.
Marking the first year candidates do not run on philanthropic platforms, candidates chose their favorite line in the first round of Miss Auburn interviews, long before the top five candidates were chosen.
“(Bailey Sullivan chose) a line that’s very special to her and important to her and has shaped her Auburn experience,” Holland said.
The change was made in an effort to re-center Miss Auburn back to Auburn and make the campaigns more about being an Auburn student and living the Creed every day.
Faulk said her strategy is to use it as a way to bond with others in the manner it has impacted them and share stories.
As many students may remember from Camp War Eagle, camp counselors give each camper a Creed card and encourage them to read through it often and always keep it close by. Hickman’s candidate has done just that.
“I was a Camp War Eagle counselor this summer, and I gave her [Bria] a creed card as a gift a few months ago, and she has that line underlined,” Hickman said. “I think it’s just always been very near and dear to her heart.”
The Creed-centered campaigns refocus campaign week on what it means to be an Auburn student and the Auburn student experience.
“Kathryn actually decided before she interviewed on her line in the Creed,” Flurry said. “She was a Camp War Eagle counselor and a COSAM peer advisor, so all the things she really loved about Auburn was that family atmosphere and family environment, and so that’s what she wanted to focus in on.”
Creed-centered campaigns cultivate campaigns that are more candidate-centered rather than focused on the candidate’s chosen philanthropy. Candidates will now showcase during campaign week why they love Auburn.
“The biggest goal of our campaign is to focus in on what makes Kathryn passionate about Auburn and gearing it more towards her qualifications and her experiences at Auburn,” Flurry said. “I think it’s a good shift this year to being a less philanthropic platform and more about her, I feel like that is what the role of Miss Auburn is – to show what you’re passionate about.”
Candidate campaigns will also focus on what qualifications the candidate has based on experiences at Auburn.
“Miss Auburn is running on her passion for the University and her experience and involvement at the University,” Holland said. “I think that it’s going to be a positive change because we’re getting to see her passion for the University through the whole campaign week.”
This change has been well received by campaign managers as most of their feedback toward the change has been positive.
“I think it’s really powerful that women get to run on their own credentials and credibility rather than a platform to back them up,” Hickman said. “I think that it was a really good change, and I think that once SGA was able to communicate this with the general population of Auburn that it was taken very well.”
This is a major revamp of the Miss Auburn campaigns as it has led to the complete restructuring of how Miss Auburn platforms are established.
“It’s really cool the way she’s setting up her platform because she’s just shared all her experiences through Auburn and the opportunities she’s had whether it being on SGA (or) whether it being involved in her sorority,” Faulk said.
Faulk said after Miss Auburn is elected she will be more focused on Auburn and being its hostess rather than her philanthropy. Faulk said she thinks this will be more relatable to students on campus.
Students will notice a significant change from the last election in terms of the number of campaign supporters out campaigning around campus on a daily basis during campaign week.
“It’s going to be less people this go around for campaigning,” said Faulk. “We’re kind of excited that it’s less people because we think we can have more energy and be more intentional with our conversations now that we have less people rather than a larger group.”
As for the ease of creating these new style campaigns, Faulk said the changes made it a lot easier.
“I think it has made it something that a lot more students are going to enjoy,” Faulk said. “I think it’s going to bring a lot less stress to everyone else that is not actually on campaigns during campaign week.”
Campaign week begins Wednesday, Jan. 31 and runs through election day on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
The Auburn Plainsman was not able to reach Zuri Foster for comment.
Editor's note: This article was revised to correct an error. Though the campaigns have been restructured and candidates have run on philanthropic platforms for years, this will not be the first time that candidates have not run on those philanthropic platforms. We regret the error.