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STUDENT GOV’T INSIDER: Members weigh in on ticket exchanges, voter turnout

John Tierney | Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Members of the Council of Representatives (COR), an advisory board to student body president Liz Brown, have thought outside-the-box in football ticket discussions and have shown a willingness to stand up against ideas put forth by Brown and vice president Maris Braun.

The Council has advised Brown throughout the semester, pushing for the creation of a new ticket-exchange system for home football games. Members unanimously suggested student-run lottery systems, similar to the USC lottery earlier this year, as a potential solution. They have been, however, more hesitant to agree on how to distribute the exchanged tickets in a way that would prevent, or at least limit, the students’ ability to scalp their tickets.

The excessive scalping of unused football tickets was precisely the cause for the discontinuation of the Ticket Office’s ticket exchange program earlier this year. A single exception was made for the USC game, as many students would be leaving campus for fall break.

Some Council members suggested printing the name of the person to whom the ticket is sold on the ticket itself and placing age limits on ticket buyers as ways to prevent scalping.

COR members kept the relationship between the student body and the ticket office in perspective, as most of them acknowledged that the Notre Dame ticket office does a lot more for students than ticket offices at other major universities.

Another football-related item that made its way to the COR agenda this semester is The Shirt.

The Shirt Solidarity Day, originally scheduled for Sept. 20, became the center of a small controversy after Brown and Braun sent an e-mail to the student body encouraging students to wear the green T-shirt in support of the football team.

After many people told them their request conflicted with a previously scheduled national solidarity day with the “Jena 6,” Brown and Braun sent out a second e-mail encouraging students to wear black instead in support of six Louisiana African-American teenagers in the middle of a racially charged trial.

Brown and Braun said they were aware of the trial but not that Sept. 20 was designated as a Jena 6 solidarity day.

“It was not the intention of Student Government to plan a day in support of ND Football on the same day as a national movement to support the Jena 6,” the second e-mail said.

While the oversight was corrected, and The Shirt Solidarity Day was rescheduled for the following day, the error made Brown, her advisors and Brad LeNoir – president of The Shirt Project – seem out-of-touch and unaware of current events.

The Council again talked about The Shirt in November when it had to approve Jason Gott as the new president of the project and discuss the potential national expansion of the The Shirt.

During its most recent meeting, COR members discussed a campaign to increase voter turnout at the next student body president elections on Feb. 10. The Council cited a lack of awareness of voting procedures as a possible cause for low voter turnouts in previous years but failed to consider the possibility that the minimal student participation in the elections may be attributed to the students’ lack of faith in the elected officials’ efficiency in improving student life.

The Council’s continued oversight of this growing sentiment will only further the perception that student government is not only useless but also out-of-touch with the student body.

Some members, however, did combat the latter perspective by asserting that student government should consult with students before officially supporting the DREAM Act on behalf of the student body. The DREAM Act is a U.S. Senate bill that would grant the qualifying children of illegal immigrants temporary legal status to allow them to attend college or serve in the military.

While many members argued that national political issues are not the domain of student government, Brown and Braun insisted it is the duty of student government to support projects that stand for what is right, even if they are not directly related to the University and without regard to the opinion of the student body.

Some members pointed to clubs on campus that could support the DREAM Act and said those organizations exist at Notre Dame as a resource for students who wish to support those specific causes.

But Brown and Braun remained steadfast in their belief that supporting the DREAM Act is the right thing to do. They cited the example of University President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh and his support of the civil rights movement as precedent at Notre Dame for taking action in a similar context.

In other meetings, COR members also approved parliamentarian Tyler “T.J.” Smith Oct. 2 and held closed-door budget discussions on Oct. 17 and Dec. 4. Besides its role as Brown’s sounding board, COR is also responsible for approving student government appointments and any changes to the Student Union budget.

Grade Awarded to the Council of Representatives: A

The Council of Representatives is an advisory body, not a legislative body; therefore, it did not produce many tangible results this semester. However, many council members showed a willingness to think creatively in working with the ticket office and to stand up to their administration in its attempt to support the DREAM Act. COR members took advantage of their platform to get their opinions heard by Brown and Braun.