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Reish and Schmidt for president and vice president

| Friday, February 8, 2008

Student government can catch a lot of flack. When you take the most polished and ambitious of a fairly polished and ambitious student body and give them a limited arena in which to apply their talents, the results can seem a bit forced.

Bill Ehrlich would indeed bring a breath of fresh air to the stuffy, programmed and oh-so-sincere world of student government. After all, he foreswears power suits. His goal of pressuring the administration into recognizing a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender student group is laudable, though it remains unclear how he plans to enact the negative publicity campaign he says will force the change. His other campaign goals are limited but harmless.

Ehrlich has endeared himself to student government cynics by showing witty disregard for the office he aspires to hold, but his overbearing confidence is likely to turn off administrators and prevent productivity within government and collaboration without.

Bill Reish and Grant Schmidt offer a different skill set. Reish and Schmidt are passionate and prepared – and, yes, polished.

They are also a break from the present student government dynasty, a line of three presidents each elected from within the executive council. Reish and Schmidt, the president of their respective classes, are ready to approach the executive level of student government with an outsider’s perspective but an insider’s knowledge and ability.

The research and networking they’ve used to create their extensive platform is impressive – but not as impressive as their commitment to hearing the student voice through conversation and census.

Reish and Schmidt’s innovative plans, if, enacted, will have real consequences beyond campus borders. Their plans to arrange discounts at off-campus businesses will appeal to students’ frugality while encouraging greater discourse with the South Bend community.

The pair has shown discernment in prioritizing relationships with the South Bend Common Council, even in a time without crisis, by attending multiple Council meetings in preparation for their run for office. After the party permit ordinance debates this fall, these relationships have proven more important than ever.

And on a broader level, the pair’s ideas for a Midwestern Intercollegiate Council could enhance student life at Notre Dame while contributing to the University’s reputation as a leader among institutions of higher learning. In the Northeast, the Ivy Council has allowed Ivy League universities to enact more rapid changes in campus life through an open exchange among peer institutions.

The real key to success for Reish and Schmidt will be their ability to pursue good ideas that are not already found in their extensive platform. They should consider ways to realize Ehrlich’s goal of pressuring the University to recognize a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender student group; Kelly and Poelhuis’s suggestion that SUB screen films during the week and Hollowood and Tomala’s push for inclusion of The Wall Street Journal in the College Readership Program.

After a year marked by a need for real student government leadership, it is essential the student body choose a capable and committed ticket with the drive to make changes and the desire to hear student voices.

For these reasons, a minority of The Observer Editorial Board endorses Bob Reish and Grant Schmidt for student body president and vice president.