The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Campaigns continue before runoffs

Michaels, Amanda | Thursday, February 12, 2004

Wednesday night’s run-off election debates between Ebersol-Leito and Istvan-Bell took place in a shortened format, after a low attendance rate made organizers rethink the event altogether.

“The debates are supposed to benefit the candidates, and with no attendance besides each ticket’s supporters, their time might better be spent campaigning or tying up loose ends,” judicial board president Elliot Poindexter said.

The debates continued in spite of concerns, with each ticket allowed to give an opening statement, answer two questions posed by the other candidates and respond to pre-screened questions from the audience.

“Most of the press surrounding this election has been experience, and incorrectly so. We have the experience we need … and it’s not like they’re going to stick us in the president’s office and say ‘Go.’ Besides, we have more Notre Dame experience, and still live on campus,” said presidential candidate Adam Istvan, opening the evening’s debate.

Presidential candidate Charlie Ebersol countered, defending the value of experience for next year’s student body president.

“This election is essentially all about experience. The restructuring of the student government is something you had to have been involved with to be able to take advantage of,” said Ebersol. “It’s not about being on campus the longest; it’s about being involved with campus government longer.”

Ebersol and Leito fielded questions from Istvan and Bell about their policies of placing a student on the Board of Trustees and creating an endowment for speakers and concerts.

“The votes for [getting a student on the Board of Trustees] exist because of relationships I developed, and they won’t be there for another president … This needs to be the president’s main priority,” said Ebersol of his ability to get a student on the Board of Trustees.

Vice presidential candidate James Leito went on to defend their plan for a speaker endowment.

“The endowment allows student organizations not to worry about losing money when they bring in speakers or concerts … Charlie’s writing the report on this and knows where the money is,” Leito said.

Istvan responded by citing the controversy surrounding the David Spade event last semester, calling it a “mismanagement of funds that showed [Ebersol] missed what student involvement would be.”

Bell spoke on the issue of gender relations on campus, and the lack of diversity involving sexual-orientation.

“We will continue to work on getting a Gender Resource Center, and recognizing the Gay/Straight Alliance on campus,” Bell said.

During the portion of the debate when the candidates took questions from the audience, each ticket was able to speak on a variety of topics, including their plans to reduce student apathy on campus.

“Our greatest asset is being able to use senators and dorm presidents to get opinions from the students who speak up in hall councils, or those that talk to the representatives around the dorms,” Bell said.

Ebersol agreed with the benefits of placing a greater emphasis on residence life representation in student government, but also added his own opinion.

“Apathy is something you want to combat by getting feedback, and we plan on creating as many means of getting feedback as possible,” said Ebersol.

Istvan and Bell also detailed their “pledge system,” which would aim at getting SYRs back in the dorms by having students sign a pledge not to abuse alcohol during the dance, and Ebersol and Leito explained their new TCE policy, which would require that TCEs be taken mid-semester rather than at the end of the course so as to receive more valuable feedback.

“Everything on our platform has been well-researched,” said Leito during the debate’s closing statements. “Not only are we looking to solve short-term problems, but we want to improve upon the University for future generations.”

In his final argument, Istvan said, “We can relate to every student on this campus. … In all of our policy, we’re looking out for the students.”

Online voting for the election will take place today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.