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Observer Editorial: The Observer endorses Boyle-McGuire

| Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Four tickets spent the past week hard at work campaigning for Wednesday’s student body president and vice president elections — freshmen Carlston Chang and Kevin O’Leary, juniors Mario Markho and Charlie Ortega Guifarro, juniors Eduardo Luna and Haley Coleman and junior Elizabeth Boyle and sophomore Patrick McGuire.

As they prepared to launch their campaigns, each ticket proposed platforms outlining how it envisions its future as student government executives and how it plans to meet the needs of the Notre Dame community.

The Observer Editorial Board interviewed all four tickets this weekend and invited each to discuss their platform in greater detail. After weighing a number of different factors such as strength and feasibility of platform and strength of leadership experience, the board votes to endorse Boyle-McGuire.

Both Boyle and McGuire are ably equipped with prior experience in student government, albeit in different ways: Boyle is currently the director of the gender relations in the McGavick-Gayheart administration, and McGuire is the president of Siegfried Hall.

Their platform takes aim at issues that have long been of concern to the tri-campus community, most of which past student government administrations have tried unsuccessfully to reform.

Three of the ticket’s most ambitious initiatives — reforming the parietals amnesty policy; implementing Callisto, a sexual assault reporting system, on campus; and revising the University’s nondiscrimination clause — tackle gender relations issues. Together, Boyle, who led the Stand 4 IX movement at Notre Dame, and McGuire, who has experience in University affairs and University policy, look to be a strong team to engage the administration in this area.

Boyle and McGuire are not only passionate about their goals, but pragmatic in their plans for execution. Additionally, they demonstrate a knowledge of where past student government administrations have fallen short on similar platform points and how they plan to circumvent the roadblocks these other administrations faced, such as resistance from the University administration or a lack of clairty about Callisto.

Though the Markho-Ortega ticket is also committed to addressing similar campus issues — such as parietals reform — its candidates seem to lack the level of understanding Boyle and McGuire have to guide their planning and decision making.

While it’s refreshing to see students run for office without having been entrenched in student government since their freshman years, the reality is that to lead any organization properly, one must first be well-acquainted with its various departments. This is especially true when affecting change requires negotiation with the University’s administration. While the Markho-Ortega ticket may have ideas on concrete steps to take, its goals highlight a lack of experience — the reality is Notre Dame will not overhaul its longstanding parietal policies, especially overnight. Ultimately, we sincerely admire the practical goodwill for the student body it brings to the campaign, as its platform reflects a host of easily identifiable problems, but lacks the nuance necessary to achieve concrete solutions.

The Luna-Coleman ticket, on the other hand, features its own unique strengths, particularly centered around Campus Dining. While its in-depth knowledge of the department makes change a realistic possibility in this area, unfortunately, its focus on Campus Dining makes its platform appear myopic in nature. Luna and Coleman also have a focus on diversity and inclusion, which they intend to promote through residential life, transparency and empowering the clubs themselves and diverting funding their way. However, their platform made no mention of many issues — like sexual assault prevention — that we feel are important to the Notre Dame community.

Though we appreciate the humor the Chang-O’Leary ticket brings to the student body government elections, we understand the team has no interest in serving as president or vice president and that this campaign was created for humorous purposes only.

While Boyle and McGuire’s admirable ideas for campus reform impressed us, we do still have reservations — especially when it comes to their ambitious platform. Although the shortened version of their platform on their website is clear, the full, 13-page-long platform comes across as jumbled. With dozens of campaign promises — some of them admittedly vague, like “fix the puddles” or “increase collaboration between the colleges” — it’s doubtful they will be capable of achieving everything on their register. If elected, the candidates will need to carefully consider which ideas are worth prioritizing to ensure their strongest initiatives do not get lost among their weaker ones.

Their unconventional campaign structure raises some concerns as well. The candidates welcomed a group of around 50 people onto their team, each of whom added their own ideas to the full platform — a fact that causes us to worry just how passionate Boyle and McGuire are about each line on their platform. It also remains unclear how Boyle and McGuire plan to integrate all 50 people into their administration if elected. Incorporating so many voices into their daily decision-making could potentially undermine their authority as executives and blur the line between collaboration and chaos.

Still, the team offers a strong platform that takes a new angle on pressing campus issues. Moreover, the two represent the most cohesive unit, and their professionalism as candidates adds to their strength as a ticket. If elected, their experience — combined with the passion they bring to their platform — will allow them to hit the ground running if elected into office.

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