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Student body presidential candidates: Corey Robinson and Becca Blais

| Tuesday, February 9, 2016

20160207, Alberigi, Bertolotti, Blais, Challenges around the world, elections, Fenton, Robinson-7Zachary Llorens | The Observer

Who they are: Student body presidential candidate Corey Robinson, a junior Program of Liberal Studies major with sustainability and business-economics minors, currently serves as the vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and previously held the role of athletics representative on the Vidal-Devine executive cabinet. The San Antonio native and former Knott Hall resident is a receiver on the football team and the co-founder of the non-profit One Shirt One Body.

Robinson’s running mate, Becca Blais, is a sophomore political science and peace studies major from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Blais served on Judicial Council as an election committee member her freshman year and most recently held the position of director of Internal Affairs on the Ricketts-Ruelas executive cabinet. The Farley Hall resident is also a Dean’s Fellow in the College of Arts and Letters.

Top priority: Strengthening and expanding sexual assault resources on campus

Robinson highlighted the ticket’s plan to train nurses at St. Liam’s to becoming Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), who would be able to administer rape kits on campus and help care for sexual assault victims, while Blais noted a desire to improve the Title IX process that follows sexual assaults, including evaluating the disciplinary and rehabilitation measures for students found guilty of sexual assault.

Best idea: Providing a SANE in St. Liam’s

Robinson noted how, at the moment, sexual assault survivors at Notre Dame must travel off campus via taxicab or personal vehicle to St. Joseph Hospital in order to have a rape kit administered, which can create unsafe or frustrating circumstances that might discourage survivors from taking these steps in a time-sensitive process. They propose to “give students the resources to be safe and comfortable” right on campus by training nurses in St. Liam’s to administer rape kits, and they have researched the steps and funds necessary to follow through on this idea as soon as they take office.

Worst idea: Reform of student senate

While a good idea in theory, their plan to reform student senate needs to be more detailed and efficient. They mentioned bringing in speakers, such as University administrators and faculty members, to gauge and incorporate student thoughts into their decisions, similar to what Robinson experienced within the athletic administration in his role on SAAC. However, senate has already done something similar to this in the past year with negligible results. Blais also recalled how senators tend to get bogged down in parliamentary procedure and become discouraged from sharing their ideas as the year progresses. But procedural reform does not seem to be enough to fully change a group like senate, which has had a minimal impact on student life, so more specifics are needed for how they can accomplish this effectively.

Most feasible: Partnering with the Career Center and local organizations to help students find internships in the South Bend area

Much like their plan to train St. Liam’s nurses to become SANEs, Robinson and Blais have already laid the groundwork for their “Strengthening the BoND” initiative, which would connect students with local internships through groups like enFocus and by posting a greater number of opportunities more clearly on the Career Center website. For students who would like to work but don’t have cars, Blais said they have also looked into the “doable” process of rerouting Transpo lines to help students efficiently travel to their jobs.

Least feasible: Overseeing Notre Dame’s divestment from fossil fuels in the University endowment.

The push to have the University divest from corporations that profit from fossil fuels has been a goal of several past student government officials and groups on campus. And while it is a commendable goal and one Robinson and Blais would certainly be able to promote with University administration, history has shown that the decision is out of the hands of members of student government and not one Robinson and Blais would be able to actively “oversee,” so much as one they could encourage.

Bottom line: Robinson and Blais understand and noted how student government isn’t necessarily the end-all, be-all of student decisions, but rather an organization that has the power to work with other groups with similar ideas in order to achieve their goals. They know how to partner with student groups and University resource centers, such as the Career Center, to efficiently bring about change. Additionally, Robinson’s established relationships with University administrators, including University president Fr. John Jenkins and Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick, would likely help him and Blais accomplish their tasks in a timely manner.

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