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Student body presidential candidates: Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart

| Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Who they are:

Presidential candidate Gates McGavick is a junior from Seattle, Washington, studying English. He has been very involved in dorm life; currently, he is the president of Keough Hall, and he has previously served as the student senator for Keough.

Junior Corey Gayheart is running as McGavick’s vice president. A native of Fairborn, Ohio, Gayheart has served as senator for St. Edward’s Hall, as class council representative and as a student ambassador for the department of development. He is majoring in political science.

Top priority: Improving dorm life

While McGavick’s and Gayheart’s main effort to improve dorm life — repealing the three-year housing requirement — does not seem feasible, their proposed “solutions-based” plan to approach the administration includes some changes to work on “bolstering dorm life.” Their plan to tackle the housing requirement includes working on building a waiver system in the event their attempts to appeal are unsuccessful. The waiver system has the potential to be problematic, as students may feel “other-ized” at the prospect of being fit into a box to gain the waiver, but it does show they are trying to stay realistic with their goals and preparing a back-up plan. They also cited the need for repairs in many of the dorms. “There are literally buckets hanging from pipes,” McGavick said of the state of some dorms. Improving water quality and getting rid of pests, including bats and bugs, in affected dorms are also priorities to make the dorm experience more equal, McGavick said.

Best idea: Improving the blue light system on campus

With the help of Campus Safety and the Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP), McGavick and Gayheart plan to evaluate the current blue-light system, an emergency-call-station system with a few locations on the outskirts of campus, including by the lakes and near Twyckenham Drive. In addition to improving the position of and making repairs to current blue lights, the ticket also wants to look into adding more locations around campus, including in areas that are frequented more often by students.

Worst idea: Hosting student government members from other universities

Working and collaborating with student leaders from other colleges could be a very fruitful idea, but hosting those students on campus and planning tailgates for them hardly seems to be the most productive use of student government resources, especially for a ticket that claims to prioritize “making student government more fiscally responsible” in their platform.

Most feasible: Reforming senate

McGavick and Gayheart brought up several potential changes for student senate: moving the meetings to Monday nights to streamline the flow of information for Tuesday hall council meetings; allotting time for public comments at the end of senate meetings; increasing the training for incoming senators; and ending closed senate meetings. These goals are all extremely feasible. Not all will reap the same amount of benefits, but some — especially ending closed senate meetings and better preparing senators for their positions — could have a big impact on how senate functions as representatives for the student body.

Least feasible: Repeal three-year housing requirement

The three-year housing requirement has already been passed for approval by the Board of Trustees; vice president of student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding has announced the University is in the midst of seeking funding for two new residence halls in preparation for this requirement, which starts for the class of 2022. McGavick and Gayheart have said they would take a “solutions-based” approach, but with the plan already so far in the works, it seems extremely unlikely the administration will backtrack on such an enormous decision.

Bottom Line: A different kind of experience, transparency and realistic goals

Having both served as hall senators — and McGavick currently serving as a hall president — the McGavick-Gayheart ticket brings a slightly different kind of leadership experience than most student government tickets in the past. They said their experience requires a more day-to-day kind of accountability, which is underlined by their advocacy for more transparency in student government, including ending closed senate meetings. While some of their ideas — specifically repealing the new housing requirement and standardizing the Moreau experience — seem lofty and impractical, most of their platform is extremely realistic, which would increase their potential impact on student life.

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