The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Student elections are comparatively good

Ryan Gagnet and John McCarthy | Monday, March 1, 2004

So you say that student government elections are ineffective. Well, we beg to differ. Who are we, you ask? Well, we are those very same candidates you know and love from last year’s election, the realistic ticket of the Triumvirate. Let’s take a step back, shall we?In order to get one’s name on the ballot, it is required that one get 700 signatures. These signatures are required in order to show that the candidate has popular support from the student body. Before the Triumvirate, 300 signatures were required to prove student support. This is progress from apathy. Go figure. Anyhoo, try and remember that even at 300, though just about anyone and his cat could run for office, it’s required that the students have popular support. This was not always the case. Let us look to this development throughout history.Before Andrew Jackson in 1828, the electoral college in the United States worked poorly at best. The president was really chosen by the elites. In this system, Notre Dame’s student body president would be elected by select administrators and student athletes. Before declaring our independence, we were under the rule of England, and so in comparison, the student body president would be chosen by the board of trustees. Not to mention that then we would be, like England, the root of all that is evil.The Founding Fathers were well aware of the Athenian Democratic phenomenon from the 6th to the 4th century B.C.E. and wanted to make sure that we were as democratic as possible without being psychotic like those crazy Mediterranean lake dwellers. Hence the representative democracy (more of a republic), rather than actual democracy, under which (if we applied the Athenian system) the student body president would be chosen at random from a lottery every day to head the Student Senate, which would have actual control. The senate, by the way, would also be chosen by lottery. This could lead to someone from the hellhole of Zahm leading, again leading us to be the root of all that is evil.So why did those crazy Hellas come up with their system? Well, the whole aristocracy thing wasn’t really working for them, and with the importance of private property (the oikos, or Greek household) a democracy made sense. Before that, the Greek world was in the control of Basileis, these head honcho type guys who had more than everybody else and were supposed to share the wealth. This worked as long as the Basileis didn’t get greedy. The Basileis were the ones getting together making decisions, so again, the student athletes would be the ones calling the shots. However, the problem with that is, when some uppity young stud comes and steals your woman, the rest of the Basileis have to come to your aid and a giant war erupts (see Trojan War). Basically, if an athlete from Indiana University were to come and steal a Notre Dame athlete’s girl, Notre Dame would go to war with IU. In large wooden horses. Of course, this begs the question of why you would try to steal a good Catholic girl as your sex slave when you could have a morally casual one without the expense of war from IU.In conclusion, instead of focusing on how bad the electoral system is at Notre Dame, think of how good it is in comparison, and think about how bad it could be. Granted, we all want to start a war with IU and ride around in wooden horses, but it’s one of those things we should all do willingly and for the right reasons, like IU being the root of all that is evil. So next time you want to talk about the ineffectiveness of student government, think about the little changes that occur because of our marvelous system. Because of the magnificent success of the helper-monkey, chunnel-building ticket of the Triumvirate, you are now guaranteed to have more people run who are truly interested in making a difference, a difference that, thanks to our system, they can actually make.

Ryan GagnetStanford HallJohn McCarthyKeough HallseniorsFeb. 29