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Observer Editorial: The Observer endorses Berges-Devitt

| Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Midterms, 60-degree weather and student body elections: the three telltale signs of spring on campus. This year, three tickets will compete for Saint Mary’s student body president and vice president. Belles will be given the choice between six juniors: Tatiana Boehning and Sarah Frick, Eleanor Hanson and Adriana Salgado, and Emma Berges and Maggie Devitt.

Early this week, The Observer Editorial Board sat down and interviewed the tickets. After taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of each, the Board unanimously endorses Berges-Devitt.

Berges currently serves as co-chair of the marketing and social media committee of the Student Government Association (SGA). She is a communication studies major with minors in Public Relations and Advertising from Fairfield, Connecticut. Devitt, a speech language pathology major and gerontology minor, hails from LaGrange, Illinois, and currently serves as co-chair of SGA’s social life committee.

Their platform presents feasible ideas rooted in the needs of Saint Mary’s students. In addition, their passion for the College and experience in SGA — including collaboration with the current president and vice president — makes them stand out from the other tickets.

The Berges-Devitt ticket is defined by its desire to improve mental health resources, to empower diverse student voices and to emphasize social and emotional connectivity. 

The pair was also the only ticket to feature women’s health and wellbeing on their platform — an essential issue at a women’s college. Increased awareness of the services provided at the Health and Counseling Center is crucial, and Berges-Devitt plans to make these resources more accessible and widely known.

Boehning and Frick emphasized the need for increased communication between students, SGA and the administration. Yet their plans for improved sustainability and composting on campus need more definition and specificity. In addition, we were deeply troubled by their thoughts on diversity, especially in regards to international and non-Catholic students. The two did not adequately address how they planned to support historically underrepresented groups on campus during their tenure.

In addition, their proposed plans to create a network connecting students with alumnae lacked knowledge of the existing framework of the Career Crossings Office. This lack of knowledge contrasted with the Berges-Devitt ticket’s familiarity with the current network.

Despite Hanson and Salgado’s experience on SGA committees, their platform lacks any basis in reality. While their campaign pillar of inclusivity seems well-intentioned, their vocabulary when discussing members of the student body is concerning and leans toward othering minority students and campus employees. However, the ticket does have plans for implementing mentorship programs for first-generation students and establishing a student-led business in the basement of Le Mans Hall.

Our endorsement of Berges and Devitt does not come without reservations. The ticket did not have concrete plans to fulfill their campaign promise of forming a working relationship between NDPD and Campus Safety. While we respect their admiration for the work of Campus Safety, their inability to criticize the department’s shortcomings cannot lead to the safety improvements they seek. In addition, Berges and Devitt failed to emphasize the importance of enhancing resources for survivors of sexual assault. Much of their platform seems to be the continuation of line items started by previous administrations — and we would hope to see these goals come to fruition during their term.

Still, we are confident that Berges and Devitt will enact tangible change to the Saint Mary’s community during their term under their three tenets: “Enhance, serve and unite.”

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