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Candidates unveil visions for office

John Cameron | Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Official campaigning for the election of student body president and vice president began Tuesday, marking the beginning of the week-long race between six student tickets.

These tickets will face off in a debate Monday, Feb. 4, making their case to students, who will cast their ballots Wednesday, Feb. 6. In the event of a runoff, there will be a second debate Thursday, Feb. 7, and a final election Monday, Feb. 11.

Austin O’Brien and Nick Boggess
Freshmen Austin O’Brien and Nick Boggess are looking outward in setting goals for their potential term as head of student government.

“The main aspect of our platform is making Notre Dame students better citizens of South Bend, and at the same time making South Bend into the college town that students want to be a part of,” O’Brien said. “I would like to be able to find a way for students to be able to be more engaged in the community in order to develop our own unique student cultural scene.”

O’Brien, who hails from Granger, Ind., said he believes he has a home-field advantage when it comes to serving students and reaching this goal.

“I feel that being from the area qualifies me to represent the interests of the students of Notre Dame to leaders in the community who can help make our vision a reality,” he said.

Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce
Juniors Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce want to refresh the way student government engages with and serves its student constituents by refocusing the organization on advocacy.

“Student government has the potential to be a great advocacy organization for students,” Coccia said. “It requires being able to engage directly with students and their passions, persevere through the challenges we face by approaching obstacles with new ideas and creativity and promote the voices of all students in the conversations that affect us.”

Coccia said it is important to embrace the range of differing passions, while highlighting the commonality between students.

“We want to be in the best position possible to most effectively advocate for a wide range of student interests,” he said. “At the end of the day, what we all have in common by virtue of our attendance at this school is a passion for the University of Notre Dame.”

The Coccia-Joyce platform is based on enhanced communication through social media and other online resources as well as campus publications; innovation, including the creation of a new position focusing on national outreach; and collaboration, especially with the Leprechaun Legion and the Student Activities Office; inclusion, focused especially on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) and minority students.

Kevin Salat and Paul Mascarenhas
Freshmen Kevin Salat and Paul Mascarenhas hope to avoid some of the vague rhetoric they believe can sometimes impair student government groups.

“Paul and I are trying to get to the real interests of the students,” Salat said. “We’re not trying to win over the student body with vague idioms about hard work and ambiguous reform promises.”

While refusing to offer details at this time, Salat said his ticket hopes to make structural improvements at the University and improve intercollegiate relations.

“We have worked … to develop plans for football stadium renovations,” he said. “We will be going to great lengths to improve our relationship with the fine ladies of Saint Mary’s College as well.”

Dominic Romeo and Philip Hootsmans
Juniors Dominic Romeo and Philip Hootsmans have a three-pronged approach to a potential term in office.

Romeo said his administration would emphasize interaction and integration between groups on campus to improve programming and safety on campus.

“By working with students, community leaders and faculty, we will improve safety, increase relations between dorms and hold more programs, conferences and meetings so all of us can listen and learn from what each other has to say,” he said.

He said he would oversee the development of an online space for organizing and informing students about extracurricular opportunities.

“Phil and I envision an online space where students can come together to find out more about campus activities,” he said. “This mentoring platform will enable all of us to reach our full potential at Notre Dame.”

The ticket’s third focus will be on improving the day-to-day life of members of the Notre Dame community.
“We will work together to encourage more night football games, more and better concerts, cheaper printing and Huddle prices, more reasonable meal plan rules, more trips and finally a café in [Debartolo], he said.

Billy Christy and Patrick Roemer
Sophomores Billy Christy and Patrick Roemer want to use the offices of student body president and vice president to enhance local outreach, student government accountability, equality across the student body and encouragement of student initiatives.

Christy said there could be more funding directed towards local social concerns.

“We want to be able to use [Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement] funding to reach out to the South Bend community,” he said. “We have a unique opportunity to reward those who want to better South Bend.”

Roemer said the institution of regular video recordings of student government meetings and updates on progress will allow students to better assess their leaders’ results.

“We see a problem with student government to be that most students don’t know exactly what it does,” Roemer said. “This is something we want to fix through meetings with hall presidents [and] YouTube videos at the end of every month so that we can be held accountable.”

Christy said his administration would look to carry forward momentum with the push for equal standing across a diverse student body.

“We want to be able to continue fighting for equal rights for all, regardless of gender, race, age or sexual orientation,” he said.

Christy also pledged to increase support of students’ startup projects on campus.

“It can’t hurt to have an ally in the present and [vice president] when the University administration looks over their proposal for funding or to approve a club,” he said.

Michael Masi and Timothy Scanlan
Junior Michael Masi and sophomore Timothy Scanlan are focused on making the Notre Dame community more unified, communicative and connected with the off-campus community.

“The Masi-Scanlan campaign is focusing on uniting the Notre Dame community together as one,” Masi said. “This comprehensive platform aims to foster a community that is welcoming and inclusive, meet the day-to-day needs of the student body and encourage students to reach beyond the University to affect change beyond the boundaries of our campus.”

Some of the tickets’ specific initiatives include a review of campus information technology and an intercollegiate “Social Justice Forum.”

Before such a forum can be effective, Masi said his administration would need to increase student body unity and improve the relationship between campus and student government.

“Before we can successfully reach beyond the walls of our University, we must first unite our student body,” he said. “We believe we can accomplish this by increasing the visibility and accessibility of student government.”