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



Four student gov’t tickets announced

Jenn Metz and Kaitlynn Riely | Monday, February 2, 2009

Notre Dame’s Judicial Council has approved four tickets to run for the position of student body president and vice president for the 2009-10 school year.

The candidates are: junior Grant Schmidt and sophomore Cynthia Weber; juniors Laura Burdick and Derek Sanchez; junior James McCaughan and sophomore Tom Gorski; and freshmen Luke Lennon and Charles Harig.

The candidates will meet Wednesday for a debate in LaFortune. The Notre Dame student body will vote to decide the winning candidates next Monday.

Grant Schmidt and Cynthia Weber

Schmidt, the current student body vice president, is hoping to continue what he deems a “successful” administration into the 2009-10 school year with a bid for student body president with Weber, the current sophomore class president, as his running mate.

Schmidt chose Weber because she “had the experience, we got along really well, and we work well together.”

Weber said she’d be “crazy not to want to run with him.

“It’s a great opportunity to be given; it’s a great opportunity to serve the student body,” she said.

The pair have a long list of platforms they’ve presented under their campaign slogan, “Rounding the Bend.”

“It means continuity,” Weber said. “Turning the corner, building upon success of last year – [the current administration] really has just gotten started.”

Schmidt and Weber listed taxi reform, lower textbook prices, Eddy St. Commons and the Global Water Initiative as their top priorities.

The Schmidt and Weber platform seeks to make students’ cab rides safer and more convenient, initiating, for example, a South Bend policy that all cab drivers must display some form of identification and a phone number to call in case of complaint.

The duo also hopes to implement a system of ticket booklets so students can purchase cab fares ahead of time to reduce the need to carry cash or worry about cab drivers changing the accepted flat rate of two or three dollars.

Schmidt and Weber told The Observer they are already working with the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, and eFollet and a University liaison to negotiate some sort of lowering of textbook prices.

One alternative source for buying course materials and “subverting the textbook monopoly,” Weber said, is a Web site that would list the ISBN numbers of required reading – “the most essential way of finding your book online,” she said.

This idea would require cooperation from Notre Dame professors; Schmidt said many professors have responded positively to the idea.

Student involvement in campus expansion, particularly at the currently under-construction Eddy St. Commons, is another of the main Schmidt-Weber initiatives.

“It would be a shame for a strip on Notre Dame-leased property to not have some sort of availability for students,” Schmidt said.

Weber said she hopes the two can “push the limits of student government” by getting the whole undergraduate population involved in a cause: The Global Water Initiative.

“This would be a year-long initiative,” she said, involving working with existing campus clubs and their fundraisers.

“We can sit here and talk about textbook prices … but we’re the University of Notre Dame, we’re obviously service-oriented. […] We’re taking one specific initiative and getting the entire student body behind it.”

Laura Burdick and Derek Sanchez

Burdick and Sanchez, current Athletic Council co-chairs, said student government has a lot of potential. They want to maximize on that potential by doing more programming activities that “really affect students.”

Burdick, a biology major from Terre Haute, Indiana, lives in Cavanaugh. Sanchez, a political science and Spanish major with a minor in Latino Studies, lived in Carroll for two years and now lives in Duncan.

They met freshman year when they sat together at football games, and got to know each other better on Hall President’s Council, when each represented his respective dorm.

Burdick and Sanchez told The Observer they have several ambitious goals.

“We are students that want to work for the students,” Burdick said. “Not necessarily for the administration, but for the students.”

Their top priority is to create a loan forgiveness program for those who pursue a career in public service.

“We just realized that tuition is getting out of control here, and there’s not much we can do about that,” Sanchez said.

They want to help students pay for college, and promote public service, by establishing a program that forgives the loans of students who commit to a career in public service. They said they would look into the possibility of outside funding for the venture.

Burdick and Sanchez are also interested in developing the Athletic Council as a way to “liaison between coaches and the teams and the student body.” They also want to expand the current “Gold Rush” program, by providing incentives for students to boost attendance at all Notre Dame sporting events.

The candidates want to negotiate with the Notre Dame administration and the Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) to put into place a new disciplinary system for drinking violations, one in which a first offense would lead to educational development, such as an alcohol assessment, rather than harsher consequences.

“On game days, rather than worry about being seen holding a beer, we want NDSP to worry about people that are out of control, starting fights, getting into fights, rather than worry about someone who can’t grow a beard holding a beer,” Sanchez said.

Burdick said she wants student government to come up with activities that can make a profit, to offset costs for students.

“It’s not really fair for a student to pay for the concert that’s coming in the spring if they don’t like the band and don’t want to go,” Burdick said.

The Burdick-Sanchez ticket wants to start a “tailgate row,” an area for all students where they can mingle before football games.

They said they are ready for the time pressures that come with being the leaders of student government.

“This whole process so far has been like a full-time job, and it’s definitely doable,” Burdick said. “If you have an idea and you want to get it done, you make the time to do it. So I think that we feel very strongly about what we want to get done, so we will do it.”

James McCaughan and Tom Gorski

McCaughan and Gorski told The Observer that “the most pressing issue,” for both students at Notre Dame and alumni of the University, is the police presence on and off campus.

“If we are elected, we will do everything we can to make sure students can be comfortable when they are in situations where in the past they have been afraid of very strict and aggressive disciplinary measures,” McCaughan said.

Their top priority is to persuade the University and NDSP to scale back how strictly rules are enforced, especially at and before football games.

McCaughan, a junior, and Gorski, a sophomore, are roommates in Siegfried. McCaughan is a history and economics major from Key Biscayne, Fla and Gorski is an IT Management major from Omaha, Neb.

Both were interviewed on TV last fall about the police presence in the tailgate area. Gorski said he was interviewed as someone beside him was being arrested.

McCaughan and Gorski also want the University to disregard evidence obtained by illegal searches and seizures. They want this to extend to cases in which police “are overly aggressive in shutting down an off-campus party.”

The ticket plans to, should they win, move the student government office from the second floor of LaFortune to the first floor of the building to make it more accessible to students.

They also want to make a Facebook wall application so students can directly voice their concerns and complaints.

Establishing an interhall laser tag league is their No. 4 priority, followed by urging student government to officially support the DormBooks.com used textbook program, so students can save money.

McCaughan said he has not been a part of student government since fifth grade, but said their ticket still has the experience necessary to lead.

” I think we can bring in new perspectives to student government and we can identify very easily with the student government,” he said.

Their unofficial slogan, they said, is “Men of the people, working for students.”

Luke Lennon and Charlie Harig

The freshman duo of Luke Lennon and Charlie Harig told The Observer they would “love to be a part of the political system here.”

“We can make some changes that are important to the University … maybe some changes that people don’t even realize they need,” Lennon, the candidate for student body president said.

The two Zahm roommates list affirmative action for beautiful women, coating bowls in the dining halls with a lubricant to prevent sticking and a value system for North and South Dining halls because of the difference in the quality of meals.

Their affirmative action idea “pretty much consists of checking out girls before they attend the University” and giving out scholarships accordingly, Lennon said.

Harig said girls can both gain scholarships after they are admitted, earning what he called “walk-on status,” and lose their scholarships for various violations.

The pair said they feel no one on campus enjoys eating a salad out of four bowls stuck together, so they are proposing adding a position to dining hall staffs that entails keeping the bowls lubricated, which will create a more convenient dining experience and help in the cleaning process.

The Harig-Lennon ticket is relying on word of mouth to get their campaign energized.

“We talked to everyone who gave us signatures,” Lennon said. “Just to be formal, we’re going to have posters out there.”

“I feel like everyone wants to vote for us, regardless of what we put up,” Harig said.

The two didn’t want to put a limit of how long they’d be in office if elected.

“Not just three years, not until we graduate,” Harig said.

“We’d be willing to fail out of the same theology class many, many times – every semester,” Lennon said.

“So for infinity,” Harig said.

The first thing on the Zahm ticket’s agenda if elected: a parade.