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Brown, Smith face off in debate

Sonia Rao | Thursday, February 15, 2007

Presidential candidates Danny Smith and Liz Brown, and their respective running mates Ashley Weiss and Maris Braun, reiterated their platforms and extensive student government experience during a debate in LaFort-une Wednesday night – the tickets’ final opportunity to swing votes before today’s run-off election.

Although both tickets were challenged on the plausibility of their platforms during the previous debate, both candidates argued that their initiatives were well researched and realistic.

“We’ve had numerous meetings with administration to make sure our ideas are feasible,” Smith said. “We don’t want to step on any feet.”

Brown also reiterated the validity of her platform.

“A lot of issues are going to come up throughout the year that will require us to take a different approach,” she said. “Our past experience … shows we can handle that.”

Experience was a focal point of the debate, as both tickets have been involved in the inner workings of student government at Notre Dame. Smith is the only senator to have a resolution, in particular one about Domer Dollars, passed unanimously through both the Senate and Campus Life Council. Brown has spent the last year as current student body president Lizzi Shappell’s chief executive assistant.

“Liz has really been integrated within the system,” Braun said. “She has seen the inner workings of how things are pushed through from start to finish.”

Both Smith and Brown are backed by well-versed vice presidential candidates. Weiss was instrumental in coordinating Notre Dame’s first Eating Disorder Conference, one that she said a visiting doctor called “by far the most recognized and well put together conference that [she had] ever [attended].”

Braun has organized seminars on off-campus housing, educating students on how to go about signing leases and “encouraging students to be aware of their surroundings.”

She is also chair of Major’s Night, which is one of the largest academic night student government hosts.

Both tickets also placed heavy emphasis on community relations. Smith proposed the idea of allowing Domer Dollars to be accepted off-campus at restaurants unique to the South Bend area.

“Good business builds good relations,” he said.

Braun discussed an initiative for a community-based curriculum, which Brown said would “get more students involved in the community on a daily basis.”

In addition to community relations, both candidates stressed improving the relationship between the student body and student government.

“We really want to get more connected with the students to ensure that everything we’re doing is reflective of what the student body really wants,” Brown said.

Smith echoed Brown’s concerns, suggesting an online message board for students to communicate needs to their government officials.

“We want to increase communication between the student body and student government,” he said.

Elections will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and the final results will be announced tonight at 9:00 p.m.