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The Observer endorses Olivia LaMagna and Rohan Andresen

| Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Saturday afternoon, The Observer Editorial Board interviewed the three tickets campaigning for student body president and vice president, and each pair outlined a different approach they planned to take if they were to be elected. After extensive debate, we endorse junior Olivia LaMagna and sophomore Rohan Andresen for student body president and vice president.

Both front-running tickets, Vidal/Devine and LaMagna/Andresen, bring impressive student government experience, but LaMagna and Andresen’s successful track record of programming both in student government and locally better prepares them to launch successful initiatives during their time in office.

LaMagna and Andresen provided a simple, concrete explanation for how they plan to best represent all members of Notre Dame’s student body. Andresen said they hope to find ways “to fulfill every single individual student’s full potential and break down the barriers that hold them back. … When each student is seen as their own unique person and when that uniqueness is recognized, that’s when you have a diverse campus.”

While the two may be unable to personally address each student’s needs during their one-year tenure, we were impressed by the prioritization of the individual student’s needs throughout their platform. They incorporated this value into planned academic projects, like opening up course registration eligibility to help students tailor their classwork to their unique personal and professional goals regardless of their declared major. This idea also came out in their event planning, like their desire to facilitating student interest in the greater South Bend community.

One important point of distinction we saw between the LaMagna/Andresen ticket and their main competitors, Lauren Vidal and Matt Devine, was the two teams’ different views of the relationship between the University and South Bend. Vidal and Devine discussed their “29 for 29” initiative, which would pair each residence hall with an underprivileged South Bend family to extend the network of the Notre Dame family. While this is an admirable, exciting plan, LaMagna and Andresen explicitly said students should not just see South Bend as “a place to do charity.” Their initiatives draw on LaMagna’s extensive programming experience as current junior class president and also focus on ways to help students maximize the opportunities for exploring venues, businesses and other under-appreciated aspects of the surrounding area.

Essentially, we see two distinctly different and viable visions of leadership with these tickets. LaMagna and Andresen talked mostly about ways to use their authority to serve students’ personal needs. Vidal and Devine seemed to focus more on gathering a like-minded executive cabinet and then delegating tasks to department heads to navigate the structure student government.

However, we at The Observer were not satisfied with their plan to install an official press secretary, which would move them one step farther from their constituents and cut down on face-to-face communication between them and the rest of the general student body.

Our decision as a board was somewhat split, though, and we feel each ticket would be able to serve as adequate leaders. The election will come down to whether students prefer LaMagna and Andresen’s potential dynamic leadership or Vidal and Devine’s promised skillful use of the existing bureaucracy system.

When faced with these options, The Observer endorses Olivia LaMagna and Rohan Andresen because of their collaborative, individually focused and experienced leadership strategy.

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