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Tickets vie for student body votes

Sonia Rao | Thursday, February 8, 2007

The four tickets for Monday’s student body presidential election met at LaFortune Student Center for the traditional presidential debates Wednesday night.

Junior Liz Brown and sophomore Maris Braun, juniors Danny Smith and Ashley Weiss, freshman Cipriano Rivera and sophomore Catherine Kane, and freshmen Garret Coggon and Mike Padberg were given a platform to present their respective proposals to improve student life at Notre Dame and sway a few votes before Monday’s election.

The candidates brought different experiences and perspectives to the table, beginning with Brown and Braun’s extensive involvement in student government. Collectively they have served on seven of the nine student senate committees.

Fellow contenders Rivera and Kane, members of ROTC, offered their military leadership experience, while Smith and Weiss highlighted their across-the-board participation in student government.

Coggon and Padberg used comedy to compensate for their lack of involvement in student councils.

“We’re the only men on the ticket and therefore morally superior to others,” Coggon quipped in his opening statement.

Smith and Weiss emphasized their “technology initiatives” as the heart of their campaign, presenting proposals to make the purchase of football tickers available online and the use of Domer Dollars in the Notre Dame Stadium possible. The pair also proposed an alliance with Ruckus Network, Inc. to “provide a free and safe alternative to downloading music,” Smith said.

Brown, however, had doubts concerning Ruckus’ ability to provide a complete music experience. “Unfortunately we came up with some concerns through OIT. … There’s too many personal security issues going on there [and] incompatibility with Macs and iPods,” she said.

Smith contended there was “absolutely no problem concerning security,” though he admitted iPod compatibility “is an issue.”

Brown and Braun shared several proposals for the enrichment of campus life, including a guest meal exchange plan that would “let you take one of your unused meals and turn it into a voucher allowing your guests to save fifteen dollars,” Braun said. The all-female ticket also proposed a free shuttle to the South Bend Airport, as well as making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a University-recognized holiday.

For Rivera and Kane, having free tutoring available to all grade levels was a main priority, as well as allowing ID cards from other dorms to work on side doors. He also mentioned discussions with Chipotle about opening a restaurant on campus. Though the Rivera-Kane ticket has no student government experience, “we both have experience in leadership positions,” Kane said, noting that ROTC people can “get things done.”

The most unorthodox ideas came from Coggon and Padberg, who proposed a five-year plan to make two separate campuses for men and women. Under this proposal, “women will not be allowed within five hundred yards of men’s dorms [and vice versa]” Coggon said. In addition, Coggon proposed ” a wall on South Quad to block the wind,” separate lanes on sidewalks for slow walkers, fast walkers and bicycles, and “implementing a squirrel season here so that squirrels may be harvested via slingshot.” Padberg had little to say other than the word “havoc,” and provided a musical compliment to Coggon’s proposals with makeshift instruments.

In terms of communication with constituents, each ticket had its own ideas. Rivera and Kane proposed more information in The Observer, Brown and Braun suggested online student government applications and forums, Smith and Weiss wanted to reach out to off-campus students and provide a MAC network, and Coggon and Padberg said that they would communicate via “message in a bottle,” allowing for “divine intervention as to which suggestions we are able to get,” Coggon said.

In their closing statements, each ticket reinforced their commitment and desire to lead the student body next year.

“We think we can bring a lot to the table even though we’re lacking in student government per se experience,” Kane said.

Weiss quoted a Volkswagen commercial.

“In life there are passengers and drivers,” she said. “Danny and I are drivers and we look forward to driving you into the future of Notre Dame.”

Braun emphasized the passion she and Brown share for student government.

“Liz and I love this place,” Braun said. “We want to make it better, we want to leave it better, and we’re doing it for you guys. It’s not for us.”

“Drawing on our experience we know what’s possible and what’s not,” Brown added.

Coggon said that “as candidates, we feel that we are those who are most well qualified.” Padberg changed his one-word answer of “havoc” to “blarg” for his part in the closing statement.