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McCormick and Rocheleau offer new vision of leadership

Observer Editorial | Friday, February 11, 2011

Presidential candidate Pat McCormick can summarize his platform’s greatest quality and greatest flaw in a few simple, hypothetical questions.

“Are we going to have the student government we have always had, or can we build this bigger?” McCormick asked the audience during Wednesday’s debate, not waiting for a response. “Can we re-imagine what student government is about?”

McCormick’s 32-page platform description embodies the “bigger” student government he and running mate Brett Rocheleau envision. They seek to establish Notre Dame as the premier forum for events advocating social justice using current contacts as well as the influence of the University and its athletic brand, while simultaneously meeting students’ needs on and around campus.

This broad, bold view, combined with McCormick’s contagious enthusiasm about the potential future of such a government, earned the votes of these members of The Observer Editorial Board. Yet this same broad, bold view also drove a majority of the Board away from this endorsement.

In their campaign platform, McCormick and Rocheleau show full awareness of the relatively menial, yet necessary, day-to-day tasks of our student government and, more specifically, of the student body president and vice president.

For example, they hope to return the price of Quarter Dogs at the Huddle Mart to 25 cents rather than the 33 cents one currently costs. According to McCormick, the information he and Rocheleau have gathered says pricing the hot dogs at 25 cents will cost the Huddle Mart somewhere around $2,500 and he hopes student government can supplement those fees.

The junior-sophomore combination also hopes to increase the undergraduate print quota, renew traditional dorm events such as “Wake Week” and the “Fisher Zoo” and make “Whine Week” a yearly venture on behalf of student government.

These jobs cannot be overlooked in properly fulfilling the roles of student body president and vice president. Thus, McCormick’s ticket plans to create a new director of Constituent Services position to “coordinate all constituent service efforts across student government.”

While this director tackles the inefficiencies of the Student Senate in an attempt to meet these goals, McCormick and Rocheleau will spend their time primarily focused on expanding Notre Dame’s role in social justice.

The two dream of a concert following in the footsteps of “Hope for Haiti Now,” uniting actors, entertainers and politicians in an attempt to benefit a worthwhile cause.

This bold thought seems feasible because McCormick has accomplished similar projects before, though on a vastly smaller scale. In October, serving as chair of the Social Concerns Committee, McCormick led the effort which resulted in the University-wide “Stand with Sudan” rally and “Playing for Peace” 3-on-3 basketball tournament. These events raised awareness across campus with the help of the men’s lacrosse and basketball teams, and culminated in a delegation from Notre Dame traveling to Washington, D.C., to spread the goal from the Notre Dame point of view.

Yes, the goals addressing social concerns laid out in McCormick and Rocheleau’s platform are much larger than a basketball tournament accompanied by a rally, but so are the capabilities of the student body president when compared to the capabilities of a Student Senate committee chairman.

McCormick and Rocheleau do not ignore the small things they will need to attend to, but rather plan to fulfill those endeavors with the help of their senators and the director of Constituent Services. McCormick and Rocheleau want to pave the way for Notre Dame students to make a larger difference.

Would it be easier for these two to focus simply on the former set of goals? Of course. Are both sets attainable? Quite possibly.

Can McCormick and Rocheleau succeed in both regards? Their platform says they believe they can, though of course they can’t really know the answer. Neither can the Notre Dame students who may or may not vote for them Monday. This Editorial Board certainly does not have a solid way to prove they can or cannot.

The only way anyone will learn if McCormick and Rocheleau can fulfill their admirable ambition of both helping the students and helping the students to help others is to let them have a chance.

It is for this reason that we, the dissenting members of The Observer Editorial Board, endorse Pat McCormick and Brett Rocheleau for student body president and vice president.