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Student government finalists face off

Ann Marie Jakubowski | Monday, February 11, 2013

The two tickets still in the running for student body president and vice president squared off in a runoff debate Sunday night in LaFortune, reiterating the pillars of their platforms before the final round of voting today.

Juniors Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce form one ticket, competing against fellow juniors Dominic Romeo and Philip Hootsmans. Coccia and Romeo are the candidates for president, while Joyce and Hootsmans are running for vice president.

The debate focused largely on diversity and inclusion on campus, and each ticket’s plans to create more unity and cohesion among members of the student body. Both tickets emphasized their commitment to actively seeking out suggestions and input from the student body, using the position of student body president and vice-president to better serve the Notre Dame community and respond to their immediate concerns.

Coccia discussed his involvement with the 4 to 5 movement on campus and said he hopes to continue to advocate the interests of all students on campus, beyond the “mainstream” concerns.

“What I’ve been able to do with the 4 to 5 movement is really build a team of people to make what was a marginal conversation a mainstream conversation,” Coccia said. “Through that, we were able to make a real, concrete policy change as well as … a more welcoming environment for [all] members of the community.”

Joyce echoed this approach, citing her involvement with smaller, “niche-focused” groups like Arabic Club and a diabetes support club on campus and expressing her appreciation for the work these smaller organizations do.

“We have such a diversity of passions and interests here on campus, so we want to make sure that these smaller groups are really able to use student government,” Joyce said. “You shouldn’t have to be a group that attracts a huge number of people to be able to get the resources you need from student government.”

Romeo said he believes the key to fostering a sense of inclusion campus-wide will be increased awareness of the groups and activities on the margin of campus life, making their concerns and events more publicized.

“We think these issues of diversity and inclusion deal with the issue of equality – how do we get every student at Notre Dame to feel equal?” Romeo said. “In talking to a lot of students … the answer we’ve heard overwhelmingly is awareness. We’ve got to make the student body aware of the issues.”

Romeo hopes to continue the conversation about instances of injustice or inequality across campus, setting a precedent for how the student government will respond and offering an alternative to unproductive, immediate emotional responses.