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Ranking the student presidential platforms by webpage layout

| Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Election season is underway and this column tries to stay apolitical as much as possible. On the other hand, I love ranking things and I know this article is where the majority of my friends will be receiving their student government news. So I decided to rank these platforms based on their overall website layout and their slight content. Here we go:

3. Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart with Mary Ninneman as campaign manager

This trio prides itself on its diversity, and I have to commend them on that. Although they are all white, they are as close to a diverse group as any because one of them is from Washington state. As you come to the website you’re greeted with a faded picture of the Grotto so you know they actually go to the Notre Dame, too. Then you scroll down and simply see their three campaign principles spelling out “ACT” — which is a cool little initialism, though it reminds me too much of a standardized test to rank them high.

But, the reason why this webpage sucks is because their platform is an 11-page PDF. Eleven pages! They severely underestimate the attention span of their average voter. And yes, I get that it allows people to scroll to their most important issues — but that is operating under the assumption that I know what I want. Rest assured, however, there are some goodies embedded in this platform. We’ll start with their first-page letter where they state: “From Carroll to Cavanaugh, Stepan to O’Shaughnessy … we are all Notre Dame,” which is funny since they are referencing a majority of buildings that people actually don’t want to be part of Notre Dame. They get a little boost when their sustainability promise is to have larger recycling bins in diameter, which I foresee as effectively eliminating all waste. They have promises for allowing print quota to be added online, student government tailgates (sounds crazy lit) and student news releases that I, as someone who knows virtually nothing about student government, still know exist already. That’s a slight knock.

Another favorite part of the whole platform that I downloaded (cause it’s a freaking PDF) was when one of their promises read: “March for Life: Right to Life is one of Notre Dame’s premier student groups. Every year they represent us well, defending the sanctity of life at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.” That’s it. That is literally a definition of something that just happens at Notre Dame and not actually a position. Following this though, is the gem of a promise to “aggressively hold SAO accountable.” Not forcefully, not sternly, but aggressively. We might be looking at a hostage situation in the SAO office here soon. What made me the angriest, however, was their idea for basketball sign-ins to reserve the court so everybody gets the chance to play. What is this, socialist Sweden? I play basketball in patriotic America, as does virtually every NBA All-Star, where winner stays, period. Get your communist ideas out of this race and out of my recently downloaded folder.

2. Alex and Julia with Arturo Prestamo as campaign manager

You’ll notice I didn’t use the last names of anyone on this ticket because you literally cannot find them on the website. The website is alexjulia.site, the header reads “Alex + Julia.” But rest assured campaign manager Arturo Prestamo is fully laid out so you feel all his diversity. (Side note: I am harping on their naming specifically because when they responded to my email asking about their platform, they called me David. There is no second “D.”) What I found most enjoyable about this website, though, was that it is clickable (and not 11 pages) to the eight most important issues Notre Dame faces including: decreasing tuition, establishing a national sustainable coalition and bringing a Chick-fil-A to campus.

The highlights from this platform include Alex stating that his studying of the endowment has led to a personal friendship with Scott Malpass, who I assume would be thrilled with less money from tuition to invest. Now student government can get a lot done, but touching our glorious endowment with their dirty undergraduate hands seems like one of the most infeasible things I’ve ever heard. I also like how in regards to the three-year housing plan they will “work collaboratively through our administrative contacts to repeal the mandate.” The sound of ambiguous administrative contacts makes me think they’re meeting with Jenkins in a dark parking lot exchanging waivers for off-campus housing, which frankly sounds hilarious yet necessary.

Really though, why this campaign is not last is because their text layout shows the diversity they are really searching for (besides Arturo, that is). Some words are italicized, some in green, some in column format, some left aligned, some center aligned — all in a seemingly random pattern. I am a huge fan of a ticket that keeps you on your toes with not just their ideas but their website stylistic choices. What’s also beautiful is that if you have other “passions,” you can click for specific department plans, which is where all my passions lie. These lead you to a separate one page tab that continues on their great tradition of graphic design diversity. Sometimes their promises are in bubbles, sometimes it looks like a cover letter, but it always contains their iconic, green AJ symbol. I’m frustrated it couldn’t be JA for a second meaning of “Jenkins Army,” but even if we can’t be Hogwarts I’ll take what I can get.

1. Andrew Gannon and Mark Moran

So these guys actually don’t have a website nor did they respond to my email when I asked them about one. I am not even sure these people have a campaign to be frank, but that’s the beauty of it all. Brevity is the soul of wit, actions speak louder than words, and it’s not about what you say, it’s what you don’t say. Literally nothing in their website annoyed me at all, which is something that the other tickets can’t say. I found out later they are freshman too. For being so young, they are sure wise about this whole campaigning thing. They have my vote, I don’t even care what their platform is. They could want basketball signups, personal friendship meetings with Scott Malpass and have the diversity of my hometown Portland, Oregon, all included in a mega-sized PDF, but I don’t care because I would never see it. They’re playing 4D chess while the rest of the candidates are playing checkers.

I want to emphasize that the Observer does not necessarily share these opinions and frankly nor do I. I don’t know what I want, I’m just a guy who likes to rank things. With that being said, my opinion should definitely directly influence who you vote for because, be honest, this is close to the most student government ideas you’ve read in a while.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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