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Election was not in spirit of Notre Dame

Kate Distler | Monday, February 16, 2004

I have been working with Charlie Ebersol and James Leito for the past six weeks on their campaign, and I am writing this for both of them, but particularly for Charlie, in an attempt to express my frustration not with the election, with the electoral system or with the result of the election, but with the numerous personal attacks made against Charlie these past six weeks, and the effect these have had on their campaign. It is a recurrent issue that student government lacks an articulate voice and that it fails to do anything important for students, yet when presented with a presidential ticket this year that addressed both of these concerns and gave the most ground-breaking and realistic solutions to the issues, many students voted against that articulateness and productivity because they heard from someone who had heard from someone else not to vote for Charlie.I am appalled at how many students on this campus so eagerly went to great lengths to explain to anyone willing to listen why they disliked Charlie so much and why he was such a terrible presidential candidate, but when pressed to explain how they came to such conclusions could only reference having heard someone else say something insulting about him. Or when pressed to make a comment about his and James’ platform or their qualifications, agreed that both were worthy of election, but then quickly discounted both (the platform and their qualifications) as non-issues in the campaign that was supposed to be about who had the better ideas and who had the means to get them done. I was shocked by the comments on ndtoday.com that were neither constructive nor productive but instead vicious and malignant. I came to Notre Dame because I believed students here embodied a sort of effective, impressive moral consciousness that made them more deliberate than other college students. Because of that belief, I thought students would be more responsible about making such severe judgments about personal worth and character. But after hearing the girl across the table from me in LaFortune complain for nearly a half an hour about a person she has never met but hates anyway, after having similar situations play out repeatedly during the last six weeks, and after reading the postings on the message boards, I have become disenchanted. Charlie is not a liar, and he is not lazy. He may be arrogant, but I have never known him to be mean or hurtful, and I have never seen him do anything that would warrant the harassment or personal assault he has received in past weeks. In fact, I have never seen him without the best of intentions. And whether or not those intentions are always understood, it does not change or outweigh the fact that he lost last year and ran again this year because he saw the potential for things happening at this University that other people had not even considered. It does not change the fact that Charlie was in dorms every night for the past three weeks meeting people, and it does not outweigh the fact he was far and away the most qualified and capable candidate to handle the presidency next year (not to mention that all of the campus media overwhelmingly endorsed him). At a school that prides itself on creating well-rounded, honorable students, it is upsetting that those same students’ ill-informed, unfounded dislike could cloud that which was so obvious – the decision to vote for the ticket able to finally give students what they so often complain about not having. I guess more than anything, I am upset about how and when all of this became so un-Notre Dame.

Kate DistlersophomorePasquerilla EastFeb. 16