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Observer Editorial: The Observer endorses Nelson-Allen

| Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Observer Editorial Board interviewed the two tickets for Saint Mary’s student body president and vice president — juniors Terra Nelson and Olivia Allen, and juniors Emma Schmidt and Andrea Ruiz-Montoya — on Monday evening. After interviewing the candidates about their qualifications and platforms, The Observer has decided to endorse Nelson and Allen.

While both tickets have similar platforms — which include the implementation of alternative uses for meal swipes and Munch Money, as well as putting printers in residence halls — Nelson and Allen’s experience with student government processes made them stand out.

Though Schmidt and Ruiz-Montoya have several ideas that could benefit the community, such as increasing accessibility to mental health counseling and strengthening the means for communication between Student Government Association (SGA) and other student organizations, the ticket lacked the concrete strategies to achieve these goals.

Nelson and Allen’s knowledge of and involvement in SGA has given the pair the experience to pursue their goals. Nelson and Allen — with three years and one year of SGA experience, respectively — have worked closely with the current SGA president and vice president, seniors Madeleine Corcoran and Kathy Ogden, and have insight on the processes essential to enacting change at Saint Mary’s.

Nelson and Allen showed a commitment to diversity, particularly through their unique perspective as first-generation college students. This important perspective lends itself to some of their ideas, such as introducing a preview day for minority and first-generation college students.

However, their heavy involvement with SGA raises concerns that they may simply continue the previous administration’s policies and fall into the same bad habits that have inhibited the full implementation of Corcoran and Ogden’s platform.

Nelson and Allen’s priorities align with issues of importance to the College community. When asked about which part of the platform they feel is the most important to accomplish, the ticket said it wishes to restructure first year orientation and to create signature dorm Masses for the rest of the residence halls on campus, after Nelson implemented Lemonade and Le Mans Mass this semester. As an RA for the past two years, Nelson has first-hand experience with orientation and has concrete ideas for the restructuring of this essential introductory event. These goals are not only feasible, but they are authentic to the candidates’ passions and to Saint Mary’s values.

If elected, the team will also push for the College to hire a new Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO) director and include more students in this program.

The ticket’s commitment to sexual assault prevention and awareness set it apart from the Schmidt-Ruiz ticket. Schmidt-Ruiz’s official platform did not include any information regarding plans to work against sexual assault, although they both noted their passion for the topic in their interview. In the interview, Schmidt and Ruiz-Montoya said initiatives regarding sexual assault were not included on their platform because they felt as if the College was already doing an adequate job of addressing it.

While Saint Mary’s does have programs to support survivors and prevent sexual violence, The Observer Editorial Board felt the College’s lack of a BAVO director and sexual assault education proved the importance of continuing to address the issue of sexual violence — particularly at an all-women’s institution.

Though The Observer values the outsider perspective the Schmidt-Ruiz ticket represents, we ultimately feel the Nelson-Allen ticket will put its experience to good use and accomplish goals which are valuable to the Saint Mary’s community.

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