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Student body presidential candidates: Mario Markho and Charlie Ortega Guifarro

| Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Who they are:

Presidential candidate Mario Markho is a junior neuroscience major in Keough Hall from Toledo, Ohio. His running mate, Charlie Ortega Guifarro, is a Film, Television and Theatre major with minors in photography and the Journalism, Ethics and Democracy program. Ortega is a junior hailing from Miami currently living in Stanford Hall. They are joined by campaign manager and junior Tiffany Rojas, an off-campus economics major. All three are members of the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program.

Top Priority: Reducing dorm inequality

While neither Markho nor Ortega have experience working in student government, their respective experiences at Notre Dame prompted in them a desire to give back to the student body and help those with similar backgrounds feel more welcomed, especially in light of the recently implemented three-years-on-campus policy. The two created a comprehensive and practical platform based on improving student life, building on already-existing programs and providing clarity in dealings with the administration.

One of the largest areas the two hope to tackle is the longstanding issue of dorm inequality, both within and across residential life. Infrastructure-wise, this includes plans to give fans to dorms without AC and to establish more sound pipelines for repairs and maintenance issues. Socially, the two hope to curb a negative drinking culture and the ever-present danger of sexual assault by establishing clear guidelines for registering parties, adjusting parietal times and implementing a first-time forgiveness policy for all parietals offenses. Holistically, the ticket also hopes to establish an art initiative within residence halls and establish regular opportunities for Confession within dorms.

Best Idea: Online registration and scheduling for St. Liam’s and UCC

The Markho-Ortega ticket has a number of insightful suggestions for improving student life, but perhaps none are more practical and feasible than online scheduling for St. Liam’s. While the University already has online scheduling software in place for things as simple as booking a haircut appointment, attempting to schedule an appointment with a psychologist, psychiatrist or physician requires calling or going in person. Adopting this technology for University Health Services would not only be a welcome upgrade, it would also streamline its service and allow for scheduling beyond business hours.

Worst Idea: Move parietals to 2 a.m. on Thursdays 

On one hand, the ticket’s rationale for parietal reform is well-intended; it was created in response to the University’s recent Campus Climate survey, which found that many individuals will choose to not leave situations that put them at risk for sexual assault for fear of punishment. However, the solution Markho and Ortega offer lacks prudence. On their platform, the two justify the time extension with the fact that “countless students have complained that [the parietals] extension does not apply to Thursdays, a night when most students still go out,” but disregard the glaring correlation between party culture and sexual assault. Rather than help the problem, the situation could potentially grow worse with such a change.

Most Feasible: Promote a State of the Union / Town Hall to the student body

Another key facet of the ticket’s platform is promoting clarity within student government, a part of the organization that has struggled to remain consistent in recent years. The simple yet effective tool of organizing a bi-semester “State of the Union” would force the team to be transparent on its dealings with the University, as well as hold it accountable for implementing its campaign promises.

Least Feasible: Establish an extra reading day

While not a bad idea in theory, the campaign’s hope to establish not one, but two extra reading days — one per semester — would require putting an incredible amount of pressure on the University and the provost’s office to even consider such a change. It’s extremely doubtful the administration would consider rewriting the academic calendar.

Bottom Line: Well-intentioned, but lacking experience

Markho-Ortega have clearly put work in to building what may be the most concrete platform in the election, and the ticket has many ideas which reflect a practical and insightful lens into where the University falls short. But running through many of their proposals is a common theme of naivete — the two may say they are running on the strength of their platform and not their clout with administrators, but a number of their policies realistically require a tremendous amount of influence that past administrations with much more experience have not even attempted. With just a one-year term, it would frankly be shocking if Markho and Ortega were able to move the University to forgive parietal offenses, publish CIFs or a complete breakdown of tuition. Additionally, several of the campaign’s ideas — such as section funds for resident assistants — are already standard University policy. While the ticket’s best ideas reflect an refreshing outside approach, their inexperience overshadows such proposals.

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