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The Observer endorses Baker-Kohler

| Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sunday evening, The Observer Editorial Board interviewed the candidates for Saint Mary’s student body president and vice president: junior Maddie Kohler, juniors Kristen Whalen and Breanna Elger and juniors Shannon Golden and Margaret Faller. Kohler’s running partner Kaitlyn Baker, the presidential candidate on the ticket, was not present for the interview. The candidates outlined their goals for the upcoming school year and explained their relevant experiences with Student Government Association (SGA). After reviewing the feasible plans, abstract goals and qualifications of all the candidates, we endorse Baker and Kohler for student body president and vice president.

We determined that any of the three tickets, if elected, could fulfill its primary job of increasing student participation in SGA events and of improving day-to-day aspects of student life at Saint Mary’s, but we perceived significant weak points in all campaigns. Based on the three platforms, all pairs should work harder to clearly articulate their achievable plans, rather than focusing on broad concepts like “sisterhood” or “diversity” to emphasize their goals.

Though the pairs presented a variety of approaches to their campaigns, the Editorial Board expressed serious reservations about the three parties’ lack of specific, workable, all-school-encompassing plans for the coming year.

All groups seemed aware of issues with campus safety, the student portal OrgSync and transparency, but only Baker’s and Kohler’s platform was able to offer viable options for navigating and effectively improving all of these issues. Kohler’s knowledge and prior experience within SGA allowed her to express the particular changes she knows it will be possible to make, which made her and Baker’s ticket stand out from the others.

Of these changes, Kohler offered both practical fixes and long-term, more abstract goals. For campus safety, Baker-Kohler plan to implement a “Blinky App” to track the van driver and avoid waiting after-hours in parking lots or at the Grotto for pick-up. The duo also plan to fund a second “Blinky” driver to operate only on the Saint Mary’s campus, rather than driving to the Grotto as well.

Kohler also addressed issues with OrgSync and student participation in events by planning to send one weekly newsletter to the entire Saint Mary’s community that will outline all events happening on campus for the week, much like Notre Dame’s “The Week @ ND” e-mail. This, Kohler assured, will effectively eliminate e-mail clutter and offer students an organized schedule to refer to during the week.

Besides these tangible changes, the Baker-Kohler ticket expressed several long-term, idealistic goals that may or may not be achievable in one administrative term. However, because both Baker and Kohler have significant experience within SGA, we believe they are the ticket most likely to make sufficient progress in achieving these goals.

By comparison, the second ticket, Whalen and Elger, offered unique ideas to unite the current community with a clearer understanding of what it means to be a “Belle.” If elected, the pair wish to educate current and prospective students on the true meaning behind the SMC mascot of a “Belle,” as established by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. However, the duo did not have student government experience at Saint Mary’s or detailed ideas regarding present campus concerns.

The third ticket, Golden and Faller, expressed many ideological goals like “endorsing safety initiatives” or “embracing diversity.” Although Golden has significant SGA experience, the pair lacked concrete and feasible plans to set in motion as soon as their term begins, if elected.

Therefore, while all three tickets have potential for success, Baker-Kohler have best expressed both tangible goals and guiding ideals for their administration that will improve the Saint Mary’s community in significant ways.

While the pair may find it difficult to accomplish their broad range of goals during their one-year tenure, we appreciate that Baker-Kohler had detailed, rather than abstract, lists of objectives. Kohler’s practicality and experience in a senatorial and committee position in SGA convinced us the Baker-Kohler ticket plans are workable and will successfully encourage student involvement.



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