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Four tickets run for student body leadership

Kaitlynn Riely | Friday, February 2, 2007

With current student body president Lizzi Shappell and vice president Bill Andrichik due to graduate in May, eight new faces have climbed into the ring, their eyes on one prize: becoming the next leaders of Notre Dame’s student government.

In an e-mail sent to The Observer Thursday, the Judicial Council announced the four tickets running this year.

The students running for president and vice president are junior Liz Brown from Cavanaugh and sophomore Maris Braun from Breen-Phillips, junior Danny Smith from Alumni and junior Ashley Weiss from Breen-Phillips, freshman Cipriano Rivera of St. Edward’s and sophomore Catherine Kane of Welsh Family and freshmen Garrett Coggon and Mike Padberg, both from Zahm Hall.

This year’s candidates include an all-female ticket, a ticket with two ROTC members and a transfer student.

Brown and Braun enter their campaign armed with years of experience in Notre Dame’s student government. Brown is the chief executive assistant to Shappell and Braun, Breen-Phillip’s senator, serves on the Senate Community Relations and Academic Affairs committees.

Brown also oversees the Campus Life Council (CLC) task force on Social Concerns and the Senate Multicultural Affairs committee. In her three years serving student government, she said she has served on five out of the nine student senate committees. Braun has served on two of the other four committees.

Their combined experience in student government makes for a strong ticket, Brown said.

“Between the two of us I think we really have a complete view of what student government can do and what it is supposed to do and how it’s done,” she said.

Brown said her close interaction with Shappell and Andrichik has shown her the leadership the job requires.

“I’m with them more than anyone else all week and I see the demands,” Brown said.

Their campaign slogan, “raising the bar, redefining the standards,” sums up the Brown-Braun campaign’s vision to change the way they look at the issues the student government has been addressing, Braun said.

Their campaign will focus on five main areas: rethinking community relations, promoting social concerns, improving the academic environment, “revamping” student government by making it easier for students to get involved and enhancing student life through initiatives like a guest meal exchange program and a shuttle to South Bend Airport.

Brown and Braun want to increase student involvement in government committees through online applications and forums, but their most popular idea may be making Martin Luther King Day an officially recognized University holiday.

The Smith-Weiss ticket also comes packed with experience and overflowing with ideas for next year’s student government.

Among the many proposals the candidates have made part of their platform, Smith said, are a partnership with the Ruckus Network, Inc, a legal video and music downloading site for college students and the use of Domer Dollars in the Joyce Center and the Stadium. Smith also hopes to make football ticket booklets obsolete by encoding ticket information on student IDs. Their platform includes a plan to put the football ticketing system online, create a band away-game endowment so the marching band can travel to more away games and address the high costs of prescription drugs on campus.

Smith is Alumni Hall’s senator and the chair of the CLC task force on Student Concerns. Weiss is the chair of the Senate Gender Issues committee and is the coordinator for the University’s first student-run Eating Disorders Conference.

But Smith said their qualifications go beyond their student government experience. Smith has been a member of the Notre Dame Marching Band for the past three years and sits on the Deus Caritas Est committee to discuss Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical. Weiss served on the Junior Parents’ Weekend committee and has political experience from the University of Rochester, where she was a student for her freshman year and half her sophomore year.

Smith said Weiss’s experience at Rochester can bring a “fresh perspective” into student government. And Weiss agreed that her outside experience, along with their combined involvement in activities during their college careers, strengthens their ticket.

“Danny and I run on the fact that we are two candidates who have experience outside of the student government office,” Weiss said. “When we walk into a room, we know what we are talking about on any aspect of life. Believe me, from transferring I know this.”

Over the next week, Smith and Weiss hope to make it to every dorm. Twice.

“Our goal is to meet as many individuals as possible,” Weiss said.

The candidates also plan to go to Clover Ridge and Turtle Creek to stomp for votes.

Smith said he and Weiss have done their research and are sure they can implement all their ideas

“Danny and I are confident that we can answer any question, address any issue, on several different levels,” Weiss said.

Rivera and Kane also bring a unique perspective. Rivera, a freshman, served in the Marine Corps for the past few years and was stationed with the 11th Marine at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Kane is a sophomore midshipman in the Navy ROTC program.

Neither Rivera nor Kane have experience in Notre Dame’s student government, but said their leadership experience in other activities makes them qualified for the positions.

“I served in high school on student government. I had a lot of experience there, but not here. But school government is the same anywhere …,” Kane said. “I think experience doesn’t have a lot to do with it … anyone can put the pieces together.”

Rivera said his experience in the Marine Corps makes him the best candidate for student body president.

“Leading under stress and leading small units of Marines I think will equate leading in the student body,” Rivera said. “I think there are parallels in that.”

Rivera-Kane’s platform includes allowing meals to roll over from one week to the next, making free tutoring available and free from freshman to senior year and extending the use of Domer Dollars and Flex Points throughout campus.

Coggon and Padberg, both freshman, make up what seems to be the unofficial annual Zahm ticket. The Observer was unable to reach either candidate for comment Thursday.

The election for student body president and vice president will take place Monday, Feb. 12 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. A debate will be held Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Lounge of LaFortune.