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Austin O’Brien | Nick Boggess

| Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Who they are: Student body presidential candidate Austin O’Brien is a freshman resident of O’Neill Hall from Granger, Ind., who plans to study political science and economics. He is currently creating a community service project as part of the First Year Challenge. Vice presidential candidate Nick Boggess, a freshman accounting major and Education, Schooling and Society minor, is a South Bend native living in Zahm House.

First priority: O’Brien and Boggess would take advantage of their full-time residency in the South Bend area to begin working immediately and over the summer to strengthen the relationship between the city and the University to make South Bend a “college town Notre Dame students want to be a part of.”

Top priority: To continue the pair’s first priority of improving South Bend as a college town, Boggess said working with the city to “blur the lines” between campus and the greater community to expand the University’s influence would be a primary goal. 

Best idea: O’Brien and Boggess propose creating a council of local university student body presidents to work directly with Mayor Buttigieg to integrate student needs with the greater South Bend community.

Worst idea: Creating a “learning commons” to house all academic resources in one facility for all students. Attempting to centralize vaguely specified resources for students in five colleges under one roof makes little logistical or practical sense on Notre Dame’s compact campus. 

Most feasible: O’Brien hopes to engage directly with students regularly in meetings modeled after South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s “Mayor’s Night Out” sessions. 

Least feasible: A continually popular yet unsuccessful platform point of prospective student body presidents, O’Brien and Boggess want to expand Flex Point acceptance to include Eddy Street Commons. Nothing in their platform implies they could reverse this trend of rejection. 

Fun fact: O’Brien and Boggess, friends since their time at St. Joseph’s High School, won a local Battle of the Bands competition last summer with their pop-rock cover group The Excellence Stops Here. 

Notable quote: “As local residents, we have the benefit of seeing all the angles that you can possibly take, so that’s what I feel like would give us a big advantage when it comes to working especially with students here as well as those in the community.” – Boggess, on the merits of living in South Bend year-round

Bottom line: The O’Brien-Boggess ticket expresses an admirable desire to integrate Notre Dame with the greater South Bend community, but their ideas are too broad and contain few specific plans of action to achieve the overarching goal of making South Bend a better college town. Though their perspective as local residents is unique, it diverted the pair’s focus too far from on-campus concerns. That said, their initiative in running as freshmen holds promise for future campaigns.