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The Observer endorses Ehrlich-Roscitt ticket

| Friday, February 8, 2008

During its endorsement discussion, the editorial board of The Observer found itself engaged in a debate not over the merits of the candidates but a discussion over the very nature of student government.

Supporters of the traditional profile of student government candidates argued against others who have grown dissatisfied with the state of student government today.

Student government has grown distant from the wants and needs of its constituents. Students’ opinion of their government ranges from apathy to outright mockery. Now, more than ever, typical students have little idea that student government actually does, why it does it, and how its actions help the student body in any way.

Some actions, like student body president Liz Brown’s work with the South Bend Common Council to reach a compromise on the proposed party ordinance, have had positive outcomes for the student body. But when many students look at student government, they see an elitist club focused more on résumés than results.

When some of the biggest headlines Student Senate has produced in the past year have been a senator’s impeachment for using the wrong copier and another senator’s “master plan” for “puppet rule,” something is wrong.

Current student body vice president Maris Braun and running mate George Chamberlain are practiced and professional. They know how to work student government, and they would do a competent job while steering the student body clear of danger. Their ideas for quality of life issues are commendable, but their potential contributions do not match the confidence with which they’ve approached this campaign.

Rick Hollowood and Alex Tomala assert that student government should either “step it up” or disappear. When asked which route they intend to pursue if elected, they didn’t know. Their suggestion that College Readership should include The Wall Street Journal is perhaps their most compelling stance -much more so than their willingness to using student government funds to provide high-quality toilet paper.

Cooper Howes and Daniel Rimkus, the traditional Zahm Hall freshman ticket, boast the most outrageous plans, including a TV-show-inspired guard force to prevent parietals and the acquisition of Club 23 through Flex Points. Their participation has lightened a campaign against contestants who can take themselves quite seriously.

Peter Kelly and Jon Poelhuis are smart and sincere, but their main issue – providing a shuttle to transport students home from off campus parties and bars – fell flat three years ago. There is little to suggest they’ve found a way to convince the Board of Trustees of the plan’s efficacy.

Bob Reish and Grant Schmidt are prepared and invested, but their most emphasized idea is to enact free DVD rentals. They are student government lifers who will shake hands and make connections without cease. They have good ideas, but they will not bring new life to the office.

Into this void steps presidential candidate Bill Ehrlich, who has laid out a platform featuring a series of concrete, tangible goals which are both realistic and feasible – and which, most importantly, will make every day life at Notre Dame more enjoyable.

Rather than remaining tethered to the archaic rules and regulations of student government, Ehrlich proposes putting tetherball poles on the quads.

Rather than skating around issues, Ehrlich says he’ll turn the reflection pool into an ice skating rink.

There are few reasons why student government would not be able to achieve those objectives. And the proposals would have a direct impact on student life at Notre Dame.

Ehrlich’s platform isn’t all fun and games. He also proposes to push for long-overdue University recognition of an official gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and questioning student organization. Vice presidential candidate Mike Roscitt recently returned from Uganda and hopes to continue University and student government efforts to aid developing nations.

To better ascertain the voice of the student body, Ehrlich says he’ll use old-fashioned retail politics: the lost art of talking to students and asking what they’d like to see student government do. In person, he’s intelligent, articulate and personable – the right mix of personality traits for the job.

The 2008 elections represent a watershed moment for both our national government and our student government. Students can avoid furthering their own alienation from student government by choosing wisely.

Student government is not about lofty and slogans, complex procedural details and high-minded resolutions that carry no force and impact nothing. Student government is about improving life at Notre Dame, whether that be through tetherball poles or recognition of a long-marginalized group.

We, the majority of The Observer Editorial Board, endorse Bill Ehrlich and Mike Roscitt for Notre Dame’s 2008 student body president and vice president.