The Observer endorses Soler-LeStrange ticket
Observer Editorial | Friday, February 11, 2011
The Observer Editorial Board narrowed the endorsement discussion to two tickets: one with simple and tangible ideas to enhance student life on and off campus and one with a sweeping vision of change within the Office of the Student Body President.
Current student body president Catherine Soler and vice presidential candidate Emily LeStrange, Off-Campus Council chair in Student Senate, have experience in student government and suggest ideas such as student employment reform.
The ticket of Pat McCormick, chair of the Social Concerns Committee in Student Senate, and running mate Brett Rocheleau, sophomore class president, presents a compelling platform of uniting student government with larger social justice causes.
The majority of the Editorial Board backed Soler and LeStrange for the feasibility of their ideas that will directly affect student life — which, after debate, most board members concluded is the student body president’s primary role.
Soler and LeStrange propose a job fair to showcase the various job opportunities on campus as well as a reform of the current job board detailing campus employment opportunities. The duo emphasizes the difficulty students have finding on-campus employment, and pledge to improve it.
They also promote a plan to improve dorm life by examining the discrepancies among residence halls and working to standardize what is offered, for example, through working with rectors and hall presidents to ensure that each dorm has relatively equal fitness equipment and kitchen supplies.
The pair also suggests smaller ideas for campus improvement, such as installing lights on McGlinn field, expanding tutoring resources and creating a heated bus stop at Library Circle.
Finally, Soler and LeStrange tout community relations as a primary focus of their platform. They hope to build on Soler’s relationships with local law enforcement and community leaders.
These objectives are simple and practical and Soler has shown she can tackle the ideas she has outlined. As student body president, Soler quickly implemented the Rent-a-Text system in the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, one of her main promises when she campaigned to lead the student body last year.
Soler also began to communicate regularly with law enforcement when alcohol-related student arrests soared at the beginning of the school year. Her presence in the meetings with law enforcement and University officials helped to slow the rate of arrests and work toward improving the relationship between the University and the community. Another term for Soler would create continuity in the student body’s relationship with the community.
While Soler’s campaign focuses on student life, McCormick’s stated “to-do item No. 1” is to use student government to make Notre Dame the premier forum for national social justice goals. He has contacts in Washington, D.C., and his accomplishment of spearheading the Stand for Sudan rally and Playing for Peace basketball tournament earlier this school year, he proved he can advance his social justice goals.
But is this the role of the student body president?
Like Soler, McCormick proposes ideas to improve student life. But the majority of the Editorial Board felt the dual mission of achieving large social justice goals and instituting improvements to life on campus was not feasible, especially in an institution known for its inefficiency.
The role of the student body president is first and foremost to speak and work on behalf of the students. McCormick’s first priority, as stated in his campaign platform, is his social justice agenda. His goals are commendable, but are best achieved in a different position.
Soler’s vision for student government focuses on day-to-day student needs. Her platform is standard. Yet her ideas are achievable and would directly benefit the student body.
We, the majority of The Observer Editorial Board, endorse Catherine Soler and Emily LeStrange for Notre Dame’s student body president and vice president.