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



Campaign exchange heats up

Megan O'Neil | Friday, January 20, 2006

Midway through their campaigns, Saint Mary’s student body presidential and vice presidential candidates tried to win over voters Thursday by fielding students’ questions on everything from past leadership experience to the College’s relationship with Notre Dame.

The exch-ange between presidential hopeful and current student body vice president Susan McIlduff and running mate Maggie Seifert and opposing candidates Amanda Shropshire and Annie Davis was largely congenial as the tickets outlined intended changes and highlighted personal attributes.

McIlduff emphasized her role as president of the Student Academic Counsel while saying one of her main goals if elected would be to improve students’ selection of and enrollment in courses by making all course requirements available to students prior to registration. McIlduff also hopes to examine adding and dropping classes, a process she called frustrating and cumbersome.

“I feel that the add-drop process is very inefficient,” McIlduff said. “Currently if you want to add or drop a course you have to have not only the professor sign off but also the head of the department.”

Shropshire said her first priority would be to tighten student government and clarify officers’ roles. She said she intends to provide guidance on details such as how to run a formal meeting.

“A lot of people this year had no idea what they were doing,” Shropshire said. “It probably isn’t just a product of this year. It probably has been building for a long time.”

Shropshire also said she would modify Board of Governance (BOG) meetings to increase their efficiency.

“I think some people have a reason they joined BOG, and they have some things they want to get done … One thing [I would change] would be limiting the number of questions that go on during the co-sponsorship [proposals],” Shropshire said. “There have been many times when it has gone over and people are sitting there not really interested.”

When asked about how she would manage any conflict that arose between herself and Siefert, McIlduff said she would address it openly and directly.

“Even if it is going to Dalloway’s and having a cup of coffee and saying what my pet peeve is with Maggie and what her pet peeve is with me,” McIlduff said.

Both McIlduff and Davis highlighted their work with Volunteers in Support of Admission (VISA) – Davis is president and McIlduff is a volunteer – as evidence of their efforts to address the issue of enrollment at the College.

While giving tours to high school seniors, Davis said, she is often asked about the relationship between Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame.

“What I tell them is that Notre Dame is across the street if they want it, but Saint Mary’s is its own family and its own community, and we take care of each other,” Davis said. “Even though Notre Dame is a great school, Saint Mary’s is just as great and it always been just as great. We are just left out sometimes.”

Interaction with Notre Dame has long been important to the College and will continue to be so in the future, Seifert said.

“We are the sister school of Notre Dame whether there are girls at Notre Dame or not,” Seifert said. “We have to remember we are Saint Mary’s and we take pride in that, but we need to stay connected with [Notre Dame].”

If elected president, McIlduff said she hopes to reach out to students and be a visible presence on campus – something she wished she emphasized more as vice president during the past year.

When asked how she would address issues of diversity, such as last year’s Pride Week T-shirt, McIlduff said she would default to the best resources on campus.

“I would look to the Student Diversity Board, the president of SDB is best able to handle it … I would also turn to Terri Johnson [in] the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She is great and she [comes] from both sides of the issue,” McIlduff said.

In one of the more provocative questions posed, the candidates were asked to comment on their opponents’ strengths and critique their weaknesses. McIlduff and Shropshire offered only compliments, however, lauding each other’s dedication to the College.

“Amanda is a very passionate person,” McIlduff said. “She is passionate about student government and constantly puts in long hours.”

Shropshire praised McIlduff’s outgoing nature.

“Susan is very personable … It is probably one of her best qualities,” Shropshire followed. “She doesn’t hold back on getting to know people and people’s issues.”

During the meeting Shropshire and Davis reiterated their determination to address the

“little things” on campus such as laundry prices and lounge furniture. They also pledged to take on a big student complaint, parking.

“We want to get the parking ticket issue handled,” Shropshire said. “A lot of people have been complaining about how many tickets they have been getting for parking somewhere for five minutes.”

When asked how she would determine or define a successful term, McIlduff said such judgment would ultimately have to be made in hindsight.

“I would look back just to see if our main goals were accomplished,” McIlduff said. “If I feel I have tried my hardest, I would feel as though I had done a successful job.”

Voting will take place Monday on Prism from 8 a.m. to midnight. Results will be released Tuesday morning.