Candidate Profile: Vidal/Devine
Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Who are they: Student body presidential candidate Lauren Vidal brings experience to the table from her time in FUEL as a freshman and her service as student body parliamentarian during her sophomore year. A junior Management and Consulting major with a minor in public policy, Vidal hails from Miami, Fla.
Devine, a Cincinnati native, studies pre-medicine and economics with a minor in Peace Studies. He chaired the department of Gender Issues in student government last year.
Both studied abroad last semester — Vidal in Washington, D.C., and Devine in London.
First priority: If elected, their first goal would be to work within the existing structure of student government and seek to foster a close-knit community among members of that group. Vidal said they will look for a broad array of passionate people to lead the departments and then work to get each department on board with their goals from the beginning.
She said the restructured platform they composed, structured around the divisions of each department, reflects and reinforces the underlying importance of each department in student government.
Top priority: The team’s biggest goal is serving their peers and the broader Notre Dame community as best they can, Devine said. He said they will do this by both serving the student body through their leadership and then providing opportunities for them to be of service to the greater South Bend area.
“We really have this idea of service, and although we understand that’s a broad term, we really [prioritize] service to our peers and to our community as a whole,” Vidal said. “For our peers, we work on specific, tangible projects.”
Best Idea: Devine said the two hope to continue many of the current administration’s agenda items, including a push for medical amnesty for students. He said he contacted members of the Office of Student Affairs to discuss whether “du Lac” would be up for revision during the year ahead, and he said he talked extensively with current student body president Alex Coccia about Coccia’s work toward that goal.
Devine clearly did his homework on the matter and gathered the necessary information to make the platform item grounded in real possibility. He said he hopes to change the tone of that conversation to center around keeping students safe and accountable, not enabling them to behave irresponsibly.
Worst Idea: Vidal said while interning in D.C., she worked with a press secretary and hopes to find someone to replicate that role in student government. She said the press secretary would be a channel of communication between the cabinet and the student body and could help coordinate media coverage of initiatives.
While increased communication is generally a positive thing for any administration, in this form, it would likely remove Vidal and Devine from the student body. Face-to-face communication and a visible, personal presence on campus would better serve students’ needs.
Most feasible: Their “29 for 29” initiative would pair each residence hall with an underprivileged South Bend family, linking students to the surrounding area and fostering a deeper understanding of the Notre Dame family. Both Vidal and Devine said they have worked at the South Bend Homeless Shelter and have the contacts to organize and execute this plan.
Least feasible: The platform contained plans for Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol (SNAP) to supplement the existing SafeWalk system. The patrol would essentially consist of teams of two trained students on call to pick up students in distress on golf carts with the goal of providing other options besides walking and protecting students from inclement weather.
Because the service would run only from 8:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., though, its hours overlap directly with SafeWalk’s current availability. A better option would be to run the service from 2:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. in order to provide 24-hour options. However, even this is not necessary because an after-hours call to SafeWalk will connect a student to NDSP, who will provide a ride to their destination.
Notable quote: “One of the main things we’re pushing is continuity. … A lot of our policy initiatives are extensions of what already exists.” — Devine
Fun Fact: Vidal comes from a “loud, proud Cuban family” and said she loves to cook with her parents and grandparents. Devine has a twin sister at Ohio State University.
Bottom line: Vidal and Devine both cited extensive, diverse friend groups at the University that they hope to draw upon for ideas and involvement if elected to office. Their plans to maximize efficiency and collaboration within the student government offices will help them to execute the wide array of initiatives outlined in their platform, but they might do so from a skewed vantage point of the student body’s actual needs if they view campus life mostly through the lenses of their friends and co-workers. Their comprehensive platform speaks to their familiarity with many aspects of student life, and their previous experience in student government makes them well-prepared to lead in the year ahead.