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Welcome to election season

| Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Freshmen, welcome to Notre Dame’s Student Government election season, where the policies are made up and the votes don’t matter. Now that’s not true, but it definitely got a few people on the second floor of LaFortune very upset for a moment there. For those of you who don’t know what’s coming, campus-wide student government elections are around the corner. In full disclosure, I am the survivor of two campus-wide elections, one for Sophomore Class Council (I won!) and one for Student Body VP (I did not …). I loved both experiences and the people I met during them, but also gained an appreciation for the absurd circumstances you are often put in while engaging in campus elections.

Over the next month or so, ambitious freshmen, sophomores and juniors will craft campaigns and platforms about the events they hope to run and their fresh, new ideas about how student government can positively impact your life at Notre Dame. In honor of this annual tradition, here is a look at the inside of some of those campaigns, and a few fun quirks to look out for while your classmates are more stressed out than they thought possible.

Part of the fun during election season is looking at all the posters that pop up in the dorms. Poster design and distribution is an oddly refined art. Never before have you debated the merits of a vertical orientation versus a horizontal one for 20 minutes, before deciding that the color scheme you’re going to use works best horizontally anyway. Taking into account the budget constraints (more on that in a moment), you might decide to outsource your poster-making to a small printing company out of town to cut down on direct material costs in order to enhance the quality of the paper you plan on plastering to every available space on campus. Remember when I said absurd? Think about that the next time you glance in the general direction of a campaign poster.

Something to look out for over the next few weeks is the sound of someone knocking on your door. While last semester you could guarantee that it was a neighbor looking for an essential item he inexplicably forgot at home (I was once asked for stick deodorant…), now it very well might be a stranger campaigning. Awareness of this possibility is crucial, because although you may shout, “Come in!” when someone knocks on your door, what you really meant was, “I’m in my underwear and need a minute!” It’s a subtle difference, but could save everyone involved from an uncomfortable situation. The more you know.

Lastly, you may be in the unfortunate position of being friends with one of those brave souls running for campus positions. In that case, there are a few buzzwords that you’re going to want to be familiar with. First and foremost, the budget for campaigns is very tight (right around $100) and is a constant source of concern for campaign tickets. Maybe not even their own budgets, but definitely that of their competition. How did they get those posters? How much did they pay for social media ads? Can we spend flex points on strangers? All questions I’ve heard (or asked myself) at some point. If you hear the word “allegations” being thrown around, prepare to have your friend on the edge of a panic attack for the entirety of the process. An allegation means someone, somewhere, has accused a campaign ticket of breaking the rules, and could have repercussions ranging from getting money taken away to having votes not counted. Friends don’t let friends deal with allegations alone. Even if it seems silly to you, your friend has taken few things quite so seriously.

In the end, campus elections do serve an important purpose. For class councils, you pick the people who will design class apparel and plan your official class activities (tailgates, service trips, bonfires, etc.). Student body elections are like picking the head of a union, representing your interest to the parent company (the University of Notre Dame). As students from across campus post on social media, plaster your hallway corkboard and knock on your door, remember that they most likely believe in what they’re doing and actually do want what’s best for the student body. Give them a little of your time, cut them some slack and don’t forget to vote.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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