Candidate Profile: LaMagna/Andresen
Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Who they are: Presidential candidate Olivia LaMagna is a junior from Farley Hall studying political science and business economics. She hails from Carmel, Ind., and currently serves as the junior class president. Her running mate, Rohan Andresen, is a sophomore from Siegfried Hall studying business and political science. The Phoenix, Ariz., native, is the senator from Siegfried Hall and a member of student government’s Department of National Engagement and Outreach.
LaMagna and Andresen said the overarching theme of their campaign is maximizing each student’s experience at Notre Dame, focusing on the question “how do you ND?”
“I feel that there’s one story you’re told as a freshman about what your experience at Notre Dame is going to be, but there’s a huge range of opportunities to explore on this campus,” LaMagna said.
First priority: Review student government procedures and come up with best practices for organizing a cabinet and a planning timeline for initiatives. LaMagna said her experience on Junior Class Council with Anderson’s background as a hall senator will give each a unique but complementary view on how student government operates and how they can maximize its efficiency.
Top priority: Focus on every individual member of the student body and enable each to meet his or her full potential, in whatever way he or she wants. This overarching campaign strategy provides a focal point for their academic, community engagement and programming initiatives.
“We want to get rid of the red tape and barriers that hold students back,” Andresen said. “When each student is seen as their own unique person and when that uniqueness is recognized, that’s when you have a diverse campus.”
Best Idea: LaMagna and Andersen hope to create a more collaborative relationship between Notre Dame and South Bend, and LaMagna said she wants students to understand that South Bend is much more than a convenient location in which to do service work.
“There’s not enough respect for what residents of South Bend can bring to undergraduates at the University of Notre Dame,” LaMagna said. “We want to increase accessibility to the city of South Bend.”
Her experience with planning and executing major events as junior class president has given her insight into how to navigate the “administrative red tape” for project planning and especially approving new vendors and sites, LaMagna said.
Worst Idea: Their plan to organize a group of undergraduate and graduate students who could teach one-credit specialized classes in areas such as computer programming seems impossible. While the goal of helping students broaden their technical skill sets and branch out beyond the classes required for their majors is good, it would be very difficult to get off the ground. Perhaps organizing a set of independent workshops or lectures on such topics would be more doable, instead of orchestrating it within the class registration and DART systems.
Most feasible: Appoint two students, one male and one female, to serve as co-chairs of the Gender Relations Department of student government.
“We want to start bringing a diversity of perspectives into that [conversation] because we don’t want it to be … a one-sided discussion,” LaMagna said. “We want everyone to feel like gender relations is something that matters to them, because if you’re a person on this campus, it affects you.”
Least feasible: The two hope to break barriers between the different colleges and academic departments by allowing students to register for classes outside of their declared majors.
“Right now, students can’t take classes outside of their colleges once they’ve declared,” Andresen said. “We want to be able to open up classes for students outside of their major.”
They propose that a time limit be set on the DART system so that first, students who need a particular class for their majors are guaranteed seats. After official DARTing has ended, LaMagna and Andresen hope to open up registration to students outside the college under which the class is listed.
Although this plan would offer students more academic freedom, it does not seem feasible given the labyrinth of prerequisite and co-requisite courses often listed. While perhaps general elective courses could be opened up, department chairs would likely resist open enrollment in more advanced, major-specific courses.
Notable quote: “This is probably about 10 percent of all the ideas we’ve come up with. That other 90 percent have just been scrapped because of conversations with people, whether that be students or administrators. … These ideas that we have in the platform have had a lot of thought and a lot of discussion.” — Andresen
Fun Fact: LaMagna said she is an extremely organized person with “spreadsheets that terrify people,” but her dorm room is incredibly messy. Andresen, on the other hand, keeps an impeccable room and “can barely leave without dusting something.”
Bottom line: Their platform reflects a comprehensive examination of real student desires, and the two leverage their energy and enthusiasm to come up with new, bold ideas. Their student government experience prepares them for success in future roles, and their focus on programming, as well as on enabling and empowering individual students, suggests they would have a dynamic, visible presence on campus next year.