A way forward
Devon Chenelle | Monday, February 5, 2018
Like most students at Our Lady’s University, for a long time it was impossible to overstate my apathy for student government. That began to change recently, when I became conscious of the changes the right student government was capable of affecting on campus.
On Wednesday, when Notre Dame elects its next student body president, we finally have the opportunity to install that right student government. Although both slates offer dedicated and well-intentioned candidates, the right choice is clear: only the McGavick-Gayheart ticket presents the copious experience, policy platform and reform mindset necessary to make campus better for all.
Perhaps nothing shines more brilliantly on the resumes of Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart than their years of dedication to the Notre Dame community. Both have served in the Notre Dame student senate as representatives for their halls, Keough and St. Edward’s. Corey has extensive involvement with various departments of student government and time on the junior class council and has always been a potent advocate for his constituents’ interests.
Gates McGavick has a particularly salient piece of experience, for he had an exceptionally successful tenure as the president of Keough Hall, a position which makes him incredibly well-prepared for the responsibilities of student body president. While positions in student government’s executive cabinet are certainly demanding and impressive, there is no comparison with the level of constant engagement and answerability, students demand from a dorm president.
The McGavick-Gayheart ticket is also distinguished by common sense ideas and goals that will broadly improve campus life. For example, they propose to redirect student government funding away from bureaucratic inanities and towards the clubs and residence halls students actually use.
They also vow to end past student governments’ cowed cooperation with the administration and will assume their rightful position as defender of their student constituents’ interests, pledging to do so via the institution of “public spending reports” clarifying the administration’s financial decisions and “dorm maintenance reports” that will finally introduce transparency into the University’s housing system.
Finally, they plan on reforming student government’s own rickety structures, vowing to open student senate meetings to outside observers and student comments.
I did not write this column to heap invective on anyone; I commend any of our peers invested enough in our University to commit so much of their time to a presidential run. However, this piece would rest incomplete and tepid if I did not briefly address the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket, which, though clearly led by a pair of dogged and sincere candidates, ultimately is marred by its unrealistic policy proposals and lack of experience comparable to what Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart have to offer.
For example, two of the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket’s declared policy objectives are lowering student tuition and bringing a Chick-Fil-A to Eddy Street by Fall 2018. Unfortunately, the ticket is making promises it can’t keep. It is difficult to imagine that the incredibly involved process of securing a new restaurant partner in a new building can be completed in a few months.
When it comes to tuition, although I as much as anyone else would love to see a reduction in the usurious rates we are subjected to, it is difficult to believe that they would be able to have any success in changing a decision they have no input into. Successfully lowering tuition seems especially unlikely given that during presidential candidate Alex Kruszewski’s tenure last year as the student government executive controller, tuition yet again ticked upwards.
A few days ago, a friend asked me whether I “actually believed Gates and Corey are actually going to institute any change for the better.” For a second I was silent, and then the answer came to me. When Gates was running for presidency of my former dorm, I was disengaged and skeptical of the importance or value of dorm politics. A year later, I am delighted to have been proven wrong.
During his time as the president of Keough Hall, Gates delivered on his promises to improve dorm community and spirit in a far bigger way than I ever imagined. Through his constant visibility in the section lounges and common areas, his dedication to the cultivation of productive and mutually respectful relationships with the hall’s authority figures and his organization of a slate of new events and activities for the men of Keough, my old dorm has been overtaken by a spirit of community and enthusiasm far greater than any I had ever seen in my four years here.
It is for that reason that I can without reserve release such an enthusiastic endorsement of the McGavick-Gayheart ticket, because I truly believe they can be the ones to deliver us the campus-wide changes in school spirit, sentiment and solutions students want.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.