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From the Future: AI – Philosophical, political and practical issues

Artificial intelligence (AI) may seem like a distant technology, confined to Terminator-style sci-fi stories for the foreseeable future. But the rapid advances in AI capabilities, as exhibited recently with tools like DALL-E and ChatGPT, demonstrate that AI is already here and impacting our everyday lives. While AI holds the promise of advancing society and shaping the world for the better, it also has the potential to be harmful or outright destructive. So, ensuring responsible AI deployment is imperative to securing a flourishing future for humanity, or securing a future for humanity at all.

In this inaugural edition of From the Future — a new series highlighting transformative research occurring at Notre Dame — we profile three researchers who are investigating ways to tackle philosophical, political and practical challenges as humans attempt to implement AI into our society.

Novel frameworks for AI philosophy:

Carolina Villegas-Galaviz, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Technology Ethics Center

Carolina Villegas-Galaviz studies the philosophical implications of AI through the framework of ethics of care. | Courtesy of Carolina Villegas-Galaviz

As a philosophy student in her native Spain, Carolina Villegas-Galaviz discovered the 20th-century German philosopher Hans Jonas. Jonas observed that in approaching philosophical issues with technology, people were trying to apply theories from thousands of years ago. These ancient theories, Jonas argued, were no longer applicable. Instead, humanity needs new ethics for the technological age.

“When I heard his idea, I knew it was true,” Villegas-Galaviz said. “Right now what we need to do is to adapt the moral frameworks of the past that Aristotle and others more than 2,000 years ago proposed, and relate those to the new era.”

Among the myriad technologies that permeate modern society, AI presents perhaps the most profound philosophical problems. As a postdoctoral research associate at the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center, Villegas-Galaviz is moving beyond standard approaches like deontology or epistemology and employing novel ethical frameworks to meet the unique demands of AI.

One of Villegas-Galaviz’s main areas of research is the “ethics of care.” She finds four aspects of the ethics of care framework especially useful for thinking about AI.

First, ethics of care is grounded in a view of individuals as existing in a web of interdependent relationships, and these relationships must be considered when designing AI systems.

Second, ethics of care emphasizes the importance of context and circumstances. For Villegas-Galaviz, this means that AI algorithms shouldn’t be applied universally, but should be tailored with the local culture, customs and traditions in mind.

Third, Villegas-Galaviz notes that humans should be aware of the vulnerabilities of certain people or populations and ensure that AI does not exploit these vulnerabilities, purposely or inadvertently.

Lastly, ethics of care holds that giving a voice to everyone is essential. Understanding all perspectives is imperative for AI, a technology that promises to be truly universal.

Beyond the ethics of care, Villegas-Galaviz received a grant from Microsoft to study the intersection of AI and empathy. Her research so far has focused on how empathy relates to the problem of “moral distance,” where concern for others diminishes when people don’t have to directly interact with those affected by their actions. This is a pertinent problem for AI, where developers deploy algorithms in a detached fashion.

“It’s interesting to see how empathy can help to ameliorate this problem of moral distance,” Villegas-Galaviz said. “Just to know there’s a problem with lack of empathy with AI … we’ll be in line to solve it. Those who design, develop and deploy [AI] will know that ‘I need to work on this.’”

Villegas-Galaviz says her research is grounded in a critical approach to AI. However, she noted that this does not mean she is against AI; she believes humans can solve the philosophical issues she is studying.

“I always try to say that AI is here to stay and we need to make the best out of it,” Villegas-Galaviz said. “Having a critical approach does not mean being a pessimist. I am optimistic that we can make this technology better.”

Finding balance with AI regulation:

Yong Suk Lee, Assistant Professor of Technology, Economy and Global Affairs, Keough School of Global Affairs

Yong Suk Lee researches the effects of AI on the business sector. | Courtesy of Yong Suk Lee

While promoting new philosophical frameworks for AI will help ensure responsible use to an extent, humanity will likely need to create concrete legal strategies to regulate AI.

Such is the research focus for Dr. Yong Suk Lee, Assistant Professor of Technology, Economy and Global Affairs in the Keough School. Lee notes that the rapid progress AI has made in recent years is making governance challenging.

“The pace of technological development is way ahead and people, the general public especially, but also people in governance — they’re not aware of what these technologies are and have little understanding,” Lee said. “So with this wide discrepancy between how fast technology is evolving in the applications and the general public not even knowing what this is — with this delay, I think it’s a big issue.”

An economist by training, Lee’s research has primarily focused on the effects of AI on the business sector.

In a 2022 study, Lee and fellow researchers conducted a randomized control trial where they presented business managers with proposed AI regulations. The goal was to determine how regulations influence managers’ views on AI ethics and adoption.

The study concluded that “exposure to information about AI regulation increases how important managers consider various ethical issues when adopting AI, but increases in manager awareness of ethical issues are offset by a decrease in manager intent to adopt AI technologies.”

Lee is currently researching the ramifications of AI adoption on jobs in the banking industry.

To some extent, Lee’s research aligns with the common assumption that “AI is stealing our jobs.” He is finding that as banks adopt AI, demand for “front-end” jobs like tellers decreases. However, demand for analysts and other technical roles is actually increasing. So, while AI isn’t taking all of our jobs just yet, according to Lee, “it is definitely changing the skills demanded of workers.”

In thinking about what successful AI governance might look like, Lee considers two facets to be critical. For one, Lee would like to see more up-front regulation or supervision determining how AI is deployed.

“I think there needs to be some way where regulation or agencies or academia can play a role in thinking about whether it’s good for these types of technologies to be out in the public,” Lee said.

However, Lee doesn’t want regulation to stifle innovation. Lee noted that AI is a geopolitical issue as the US, China and other countries “race” to develop advanced AI faster than others. 

“With this in mind, you think ‘okay, we do want to regulate to some degree, but also we don’t want to stifle innovation,’” Lee said. “So how we balance that I think is going to be a key thing to consider going forward.”

Though the challenges are significant, Lee feels that successful AI regulation can be achieved.

“I think we will find a way,” Lee said. “There’s going to be trial and error. But we won’t let AI destroy humanity.”

Collaborating to create AI for good:

Nitesh Chawla, Frank M. Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, College of Engineering; Director, Lucy Family Institute for Data and Society

Nitesh Chawla runs the Lucy Family Institute for Data and Society and coordinates projects focused on the potential benefits of AI. | Courtesy of Nitesh Chawla

Assuming humans overcome the above philosophical and political issues (and, of course, that AIs and other advancements don’t destroy humanity), what is the potential for AI in helping our society?

Nitesh Chawla, Frank M. Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Director of the Lucy Family Institute for Data and Society, is focused on finding applications where AI can be used for good.

“We are advancing the field [of AI], we are developing new algorithms, we are developing new methods, we are developing new techniques. We’re really pushing the knowledge frontier,” Chawla said. “However, we also ask ourselves the question: how do we take the big leap, the translational leap? Can we imagine these innovations in a way that we can implement them, translate them to the benefit of a single person’s life or to the benefit of a community?”

For Chawla, the quest to find the most impactful AI applications is not, and should not be, an endeavor only for computer scientists. Though a computer scientist himself, Chawla believes that advancing AI for good is an interdisciplinary effort.

“A lot of these societal challenges are at the intersection of domains where different faculties or different expertise have to come together,” Chawla said. “It could be a social science piece of knowledge, it could be a humanist approach … and then the technologist could say, ‘let me take that into account as I’m developing the technology so the end user, the person I’m interested in making an impact for, actually benefits from it.’”

Embracing this interdisciplinary mindset, Chawla’s work at the Lucy Family Institute involves a range of applications in a variety of locations.

Chawla discussed a project here in South Bend, where the Institute is working with community partners and using AI to help address childhood lead poisoning. In another health-related study, AI is being used to analyze and propose solutions for healthcare disparities in Mexico. Further south in Colombia, the Lucy Family Institute and the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies have teamed up to apply AI toward understanding peace accords processes.

“The institute is committed 200 percent to leveraging data, AI [and] machine learning towards the benefit of society and enabling teams of faculty, students and staff on campus to get together to take on some of these wicked problems and address them,” Chawla said.

Like Villegas-Galaviz and Lee, Chawla is optimistic about AI. Chawla envisions a future where humans don’t just passively deploy AI, but where humans and AIs work together to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

“It’s going to be a human-machine collaboration, where the humans would still be necessary for certain higher-order decision-making, but the machine just makes it easier,” Chawla said. “It’s going to be a partnership, in many ways.”

Chawla said that AI will not be a substitute for human work.

“I don’t believe [AI] is going to be displacing mankind,” Chawla added. “I believe that top scholars and practitioners can come together to enable progress in technology while also thinking about how we democratize its use and access in an ethical way.”

Contact Spencer Kelly at skelly25@nd.edu.

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Viewpoint

Footnote nine Chevron: when SCOTUS comes to South Bend

Well, I was the Doof.

Last October, I wrote a piece in which I laid out my thoughts on how recent cases that had come before the Supreme Court had changed how we should understand the impact of the Chevron doctrine. To remind everyone: the Chevron doctrine sees justices follow a two-step program for figuring out who decides what congressional legislation means. Step one: is the statute ambiguous? If so, go to step two: has the relevant administrative agency given the statute a reasonable construction? If so, defer to that agency construction. If step one or two fails, the court interprets the statute. In that October piece, I argued that when the Supreme Court unanimously decided in AHA v. Becerra to stop using the “traditional tools of statutory interpretation” rather than follow the Chevron flowchart explicitly, “the Court adopted a decision that walks like it doesn’t overturn Chevron, talks like it doesn’t overturn Chevron, but yet basically overturns Chevron.” While I still mostly stand by what I wrote then, recent events require me to elaborate, and in a crucial sense change, my view on this legal doctrine.

It is sometimes easy to forget how special an institution Notre Dame is in many respects, but the one that’s germane here is the incredible access we have to various justices of the United States Supreme Court. In my two and a half years at this institution, four sitting Supreme Court justices — Justice Barrett, Justice Thomas, Justice Alito and, most recently, Justice Kavanaugh — have given public speeches to Notre Dame law students, and Chief Justice Roberts is also known to have enjoyed the occasional Notre Dame tailgate as well. These haven’t all been your standard, somewhat ubiquitous “VIP gets ushered in, gives speech, shakes hands, kisses babies and is whisked away” events either. My time at Notre Dame has blessed me with the opportunity to have direct interactions with some of the members of our nation’s highest court. From having lunch with Justice Alito and 10 fellow law students and undergrads in the fall of 2021 to taking Justice Barrett as a professor for statutory interpretation with fourteen of my classmates just last fall, Notre Dame Law School has given me unparalleled access to the most influential jurists in all the land.

Just last week, this track record of unparalleled access continued with Justice Kavanaugh’s visit to campus. Justice Kavanaugh was the keynote speaker at the Notre Dame Law Review’s annual Federal Courts symposium, and this year’s topic was the history and structure of the Administrative Procedure Act. Since the APA provides the scaffolding for the vast majority of administrative agency actions in modern federal government, I realized that if Justice Kavanaugh ended up taking questions, it would potentially be an opportunity to ask him directly to clarify the AHA v. Becerra decision (which he wrote), so I signed up for the lottery for a seat in the Eck Hall Courtroom. And then the email came: I had secured a seat for Justice Kavanaugh’s keynote address! So on Monday the 23rd, I was admitted to the Courtroom, where we were each handed a card with a QR code to submit questions electronically. Questions had a 160-character limit, so I spent the next 15 minutes (before the Justice’s talk began) drafting, revising, and drafting again. Just in time to submit before Justice Kavanaugh began speaking, I had it: “Does your decision in AHA v. Becerra to stop at using the ‘traditional tools of statutory interpretation’ return to the letter of Chevron or reject its spirit?”

My efforts paid off. Justice Kavanaugh decided to structure the event as a Q&A from the get-go, and with Dean G. Marcus Cole moderating, we hit the ground running. My question was the first that Dean Cole selected to ask the Justice. Given that Justice Gorsuch recently called for the project of Chevron to be given “a tombstone that no one can miss,” I half-expected Justice Kavanaugh to decline to answer such a direct question about this important area of administrative law. Instead, though, Justice Kavanaugh took the opportunity to very helpfully clarify his view both of what the Chevron doctrine actually is and what AHA v. Becerra did accordingly. Per the Justice, “you’re either a footnote 9 Chevron person or a non-footnote 9 Chevron person, and I’m a footnote 9 Chevron person.”

Footnote 9 of Chevron insists that the classic “is-the-statute-ambiguous” and “was-the-agency-reasonable” test only applies when a statutory ambiguity exists after a court has used the very same “traditional tools of statutory interpretation” that Justice Kavanaugh discussed (admittedly without citing Chevron) in his unanimous AHA opinion. Generally, if a justice is abiding by footnote 9 of Chevron when deciding a case involving an administrative agency, then Chevron itself doesn’t stand for all that much. This is because when judges use all of the traditional tools of statutory interpretation, they typically arrive at an answer as to what a statute means. If this happens, and judges don’t throw their hands in the air and say “this is too hard, therefore the statute is ambiguous,” then there is no opportunity to look at how an agency interpreted the statute since Chevron itself says courts and judges only do that when they cannot resolve such apparent ambiguities themselves.

This is big news for the future of the administrative state more generally, and whether you prefer wider federal agency discretion or more significant agency constraint, there’s both good and bad news in Justice Kavanaugh’s answer to my question. On the one hand, given that Justice Kavanaugh is now on record as believing that Chevron properly understood (including footnote 9 of Chevron) should be applied in cases involving agencies’ statutory interpretation, those who would prefer overturning Chevron outright have one less vote to work with toward that end, significantly decreasing the likelihood that an overhaul of such a fundamental doctrine of administrative law will succeed. On the other hand, though, since footnote 9 of Chevron significantly restricts the extent to which agencies will see their interpretations deferred to by the federal courts, a more intentional emphasis on footnote 9 might not “basically overturn Chevron” as I had prognosticated in October, but it will make Chevron less relevant to how the Supreme Court decides cases involving administrative agencies in the years to come. 

I have two takeaways from last week’s events: first, while many of the opportunities I’ve had to interact with those on the Supreme Court while at Notre Dame have come through serendipitous right-place-right-time sorts of encounters, this particular instance of Justice Kavanaugh answering my question in a meaningful way seems to have been an instance of Jesus’s “ask, seek, knock” gospel in action. Second: sometimes, the best we can hope for when trying to understand a newly released case is to have accurately identified the point on which future decisions will turn. My October piece wasn’t wrong, but it certainly wasn’t 100% right either, and so it is with much of how we understand case law in general. It’s our job, as members of the legal profession, to do what we can to clarify unclear law, whether as advocates, judges, clerks or professors. This week, it was an incredible honor to play a small part in that ongoing work.

Devin Humphreys is a 3L at Notre Dame Law School. When he isn’t serving as the sacristan at the Law School Chapel, singing with the Liturgical Choir or Chorale or competing at a quiz bowl tournament, he’s sharing his thoughts on the legal developments of the day with anyone who will listen. For advice on law school, hot takes on Mass music and free scholarly publication ideas, reach out to Devin at dhumphr2@nd.edu or @DevinJHumphreys on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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News

Senate nixes elections for SUB representatives, solidifies election reimbursement

The Notre Dame student senate convened Wednesday night to pass resolutions to eliminate Student Union Board (SUB) representatives as elected positions, adjust funding rules for diverse student clubs and clarify the usage of funds for campaign reimbursements. 

Senate approves change in SUB representative elections 

SUB executive director Rachel Dorfner presented SO 2223-21, an order to amend laws in the constitution stating that SUB dorm representatives must be elected by a hall-wide election and may not exceed one representative per residence hall.

Under the new order, an internal application process will replace the elections and allow for potentially more than one representative to serve each dorm community.

Dorfner said the resolution was conceived since SUB has struggled to retain dorm representatives for the full election term. Based on a survey of SUB representatives with a 45% response rate, Dorfner said many elected representatives cited “wanting a hall government position” as the reason they ran for the position. 

In addition, Dorfner said many did not realize the commitments inside of SUB that come with the role, such as joining committees. 

“We see a lot of people wanting to get involved in their own [hall] government and did not realize that that also constitutes a large involvement in SUB,” Dorfner said. “In fact, one person actually said ‘I don’t like the required participation in SUB.’”

Dorfner hopes with the internal application, SUB will attract students interested to do all the work required for the role.

Judicial Council president Madison Nemeth supported the amendment and noted that the ultimate goal of the resolution is to have engaged representatives. 

“We’ve consistently been re-electing somewhere around since the first week on campus because we had people who ran last year and then didn’t respond to our committee requests,” Nemeth said. “From an election perspective, ideally, it would be one of each dorm, but for some dorms, there’s absolutely nobody who wants to do it.”

The number of SUB dorm representatives is not expected to significantly increase or decrease because of this order, Dorfner said. 

After brief debate, the resolution overwhelmingly passed.

Clause on cultural club funding repealed, election funding clarified 

Under the Constitution, ethnic student organizations are eligible for funding from the Club Coordination Council (CCC) given that their programming promotes “greater cultural awareness and understanding within the Notre Dame community.” Resolution SO 2223-18 repeals this clause with the argument that no other category of clubs must adhere to these guidelines to receive funding. 

CCC president Connor Patrick presented the order. With no debate or questioning, the resolution unanimously passed.

The third resolution debated that night clarified how election candidates are reimbursed for campaign expenses. SO 2223-19 is meant to remove confusion that might prevent Judicial Council from constitutionally reimbursing candidates for election campaign funds, executive controller Kevin Wang said. 

No clubs or organizations may use allocated or unallocated funding from the Financial Management Board to support a candidate for an office. With the order, an exception is written that Judicial Council may use funds to exclusively reimburse such candidates without violating the clause. 

Candidates for first-year class council, any class officer position, hall senator, hall president and vice president, Student Union Board (SUB) representatives and off-campus candidates are all guaranteed reimbursements under the Constitution. Spending limits vary depending on the position a candidate is seeking.

The resolution unanimously passed.

A fourth resolution to amend a constitutional clause on regulations and resignations did not pass a motion to move to general orders and was tabled for next week.

To close the meeting, student body vice president Sofie Stitt reminded senators that campaigning for student body president and vice president begins Tuesday.

Perspective tickets are currently petitioning for the roles and must obtain roughly 700 verified and valid signatures to get their names on the ballot. The elections will take place Feb. 8.

Contact Alysa Guffey at aguffey@nd.edu.

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Viewpoint

What’s next?

What’s next?

This immortal question is the catchphrase of Jed Bartlet, fictional U.S. president and Notre Dame graduate in “The West Wing.” After every celebration of a bill passed, nominee confirmed or negotiation reached, Jed would ask the same question.

What’s next?

One month out from the 2022 midterm elections, you might find yourself asking the same thing. The rush to get your absentee ballot mailed on time is over. The blue and red yard signs have dissipated. Instagram story reposts of election coverage have quieted. 

What’s next after an election?

Benjamin Franklin famously described our government as, “A republic, if you can keep it.” The recent elections make us a republic. But what’s next is to keep it. This is done through civic engagement.

Civic engagement is defined by the New York Times as “promoting the quality of life in a community through both political and non-political processes.” This broad definition might seem intimidating, but there are countless ways to make it actionable. Below I will outline four ways you can keep our republic outside of the election cycle.

1. Volunteer

Although most youth don’t typically associate volunteering with civic engagement, it is one of the most direct ways to impact the causes you care about.

If you’re a student on campus, consider joining Mercy Works, a joint initiative between the  Center for Social Concerns and Campus Ministry that connects students with local service providers. I’ve had the privilege of being a Mercy Works volunteer at DePaul Academy for over a year now, and it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done at Notre Dame. Every Friday, a few other students and I go to the St. Joseph Juvenile Detention Center to tutor and mentor youth in the DePaul Academy program. I am not only learning about, but actually making a difference in the incarceration situation in our country. And that is pretty cool. 

If you’re not on campus, check out VolunteerMatch.com, which matches individuals and trusted nonprofits across the country for everything from virtual, in-person or one-time service opportunities.

2. Show your local government some love

There’s a good chance you have a new board of education, town council, or mayor. Whether or not you voted for them, they’re the people on your ballot who are not only the easiest for you to connect with, but the most likely to listen! Attend town halls to voice your concerns. Submit editorials to your local newspaper about current legislation. Send letters to officials to hold them accountable for their campaign promises. Local government has a great impact on you, but you can also have a great impact on local government.

3. Stay informed

The time to learn about the issues for the next election cycle is now. However, it is important to be intentional about how you stay informed so that you avoid becoming consumed by the 24-hour news cycle. NPR has some fantastic podcasts that, in exchange for a few minutes of your walk to class, introduce you to the most pressing issues of our time. A personal favorite of mine is Up First, NPR’s daily podcast that gives you the day’s top three stories in 10 minutes.

4. Talk about it

About one in five U.S. voters shared that discussing politics has strained their relationships. However, as social media exacerbates echo chambers and our confirmation bias, staying silent about politics can also be problematic. Although many good-intentioned people advise against discussing politics, they are missing the crucial difference between talking politics and arguing politics. 

Arguing politics is when we discuss politics to prove ourselves right and the other person wrong. However, since political beliefs tend to be very entrenched, an impasse is often reached. No one learns anything new and relationships might even be damaged.

Talking politics, on the other hand, doesn’t have a specific end goal. It’s about sharing experiences, perspectives and opinions in a non-heated, respectful manner. Empathy is gained as both individuals come to an appreciation of how the other reached their beliefs, even if they hold to their initial views.

For Notre Dame students, BridgeND connects students of opposing political orientations to chat about the experiences that led them to their political standings. Off-campus, consider using Living Room Conversations as a guide on how to discuss politics respectfully with loved ones.

In the coming month, many of you will be considering your 2023 New Year’s resolutions. I challenge you to include civic engagement on your list. Sign up for Mercy Works and commit to serving the South Bend community weekly. Read your local newspaper when you’re home over break and write to your elected official about something you learn. Make a daily podcast part of your routine. Be the type of person who facilitates respectful political discourse. 

This is how we keep the republic. 

This is what’s next.

Audrey Feldman (‘24) is majoring in Economics and Global Affairs and minoring in PPE. She is a member of ND’s Write to Vote chapter.

W2V is the Notre Dame chapter of the national Write to Vote Project, a non-partisan, pro-democracy initiative. Its goal is to support democracy, encourage civic engagement and advance voting rights in the U.S. and around the world. You can contact NDW2V at ndw2v@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Viewpoint

I was the Republican debater at the midterm debate. Here’s what really happened. 

It has now been over a month since the midterm debate, and I regret to inform you that leftists on campus still have not quite recovered.

Just this week, another opinion piece (if a glorified Reddit rant can be categorized as such) appeared in The Observer making laughably insane claims about my debate rhetoric and about the Republican platform in general. Before that, there was the infamous letter to the editor published by the Notre Dame College Democrats that unsuccessfully attempted to smear my reputation on campus. I wanted to take this opportunity to personally respond to both of these unhinged diatribes and set the record straight about the true motivation behind these baseless attacks. 

The first article, published by the College Democrats, accused me of “racist,” “anti-semitic” and “transphobic” rhetoric — doing so while providing no quotes or even a single timestamp of any of the aforementioned transgressions (one wonders why). When pressed directly by me in-person for evidence, the College Democrats, apparently being fully serious, claimed that my concern about record rates of fatherlessness amounted to a “racist dogwhistle” and opposition to sterilizing children construed “transphobia.” Regarding the claim of “anti-semitism,” they falsely accused me of equating “Judaism’s position on abortion to Aztec child sacrifice” during a discussion on the Dobbs decision. This claim was made despite the fact that, verbatim, I said that I “did not know about Judaism,” and “was not making any kind of claim about Judaism,” before explaining that a hypothetical religious exemption to abortion laws would be invalid due to the limitations of moral relativism, which is a position supported by the Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith

Likewise, the most recent Viewpoint piece (which somehow manages to be even more unhinged than the first), oscillates between blatant lies, such as claiming that I said “immigrants are inherently violent,” and legitimately deranged rhetoric, including allegations that Republicans (who the author refers to as “vexed vermin”) “actively seek to advocate for the death of [the author] or [his] friends for the crime of being born.” These allegations do not genuinely merit a serious response, but the parallels between the two articles did beg the question of why the campus left has chosen to respond to this debate in the most psychotic way imaginable. 

And the answer to that question is one word: fear. It is an overbearing trepidation felt by leftists here and across the nation toward a changing Republican Party that is finally willing to stand up to their cultural agenda. For generations, the small-government dogma that dominated the American right meant that progressives never had to answer for their radical distortions of sexual ethics, national identity and even basic ontological concepts like gender. But those days are over. Witnessing firsthand the damage cultural liberalism has inflicted on American society, the Republican Party is growing more reactionary. It’s becoming more open to using the state to promote civic virtue and in many cases, such as through the Dobbs decision, it is winning. This, the Democrats cannot handle. 

When I directly confronted the left’s evil, unconscionable sterilization of children, destruction of national borders and erosion of sexual morality, they short-circuited. They were unable to even fathom, let alone process, the prospect of genuine resistance to their cultural sacraments. The College Democrats alluded to this when they attacked me for not speaking “on a wide range of legitimate policy positions enumerated in the Republican National Committee’s official platform.” What this comment really meant is that they want Republicans to continue to spew right-liberal platitudes about individualism or capital gains taxes while they impose their morally depraved worldview on the rest of society, and that any real opposition will not be tolerated. And this is the real reason the Democrats did what they did. 

But make no mistake: neither I nor the Notre Dame College Republicans will be intimidated, and we will certainly not retreat from fighting this cultural battle. The stakes for the survival of our nation — and the health of our core institutions — are simply too high. The left can write as many hit pieces as they want and smear me with however many buzzwords they please; I apologize for nothing, and for me, America will always be worth it. 

Shri Thakur

first-year

Dec. 6

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News

Ukrainian exchange students discuss their Notre Dame semester

In August, 10 students embarked on a long journey taking them from the Eastern Europe to the middle of Indiana.

Olha Droniak, a junior from Ivano-Frankivsk, a town about two hours away from Lviv, recalled being very excited about arriving at Notre Dame, but very exhausted by the travel. 

“Because of the war, we don’t have flights, and the sky is closed,” Droniak explained. The group took a 10-hour bus ride into Poland, then flew from Poland to Germany, Germany to Chicago and finally Chicago to South Bend.

This semester, the University of Notre Dame hosted 10 exchange students from Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), which is located in Lviv in Western Ukraine. Notre Dame and UCU have an almost 20-year old partnership, and University President Fr. John Jenkins announced the addition of the exchange program last May.

Droniak, like other undergraduate exchange students, lives in a dorm on campus. Droniak lives with Sofiia Kyba, a senior exchange student from Lviv, in Howard Hall. Kyba and Droniak said they love Howard and the dorm community on campus. 

“Although Howard is one of the oldest dorms on campus, as far as I know, I’ve found it very cozy. I like that it’s not so big, so it’s easier to get to know people,” Kyba said.

Olena Tsyhankova, also senior from Lviv, lives in Lewis Hall. Because of a combination of the pandemic and the war, Tsyhankova said that this is her first “normal” semester at university. 

“I never lived in a dorm before, and now I have five roommates,” Tsyhankova said. “But also because of those roommates, the experience is awesome. We are all friends now.”

Though they are all different majors, the undergraduate Ukrainian students are taking classes at Notre Dame suited to their academic interests. Tsyhankova, for example, is a cultural studies major at UCU, and she focuses on art and religious studies. She is currently preparing for finals for classes like Asian Spirituality and Drawing. Tsyhankova is also involved in Archery and Outing Club and conducting research on the new religious movement in the U.S.

Kyba is studying Business Analytics at UCU and taking classes related to both finance and computer science at Notre Dame. Her most notable memory from the semester, though, was the first football game.

“I knew that everyone was looking forward to football games . . . and I was like: ‘Why are you so excited?’ But when the first game happened, that was unforgettable,” Kyba explained.

Droniak said that the semester has flown by, as she has stayed busy with her political science courses and meeting Notre Dame students. 

“I’m very happy that now I’m in this community of good people. I feel that when I communicate with American students and professors, I gain a lot of positive energy from that,” Droniak said.

However, even though they have all enjoyed their time at Notre Dame, the war in Ukraine looms over their head.

“Home doesn’t really feel like home . . . Since [Feb. 24], it’s just been weird to be home,” Tsyhankova said.

On Feb. 24, the day Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, Tsyhankova tried to escape Ukraine on foot with her mother, brother and dog. They got caught in a stampede after a group of students tried to push on the border gate and a frenzy ensued. Tsyhankova said that she knows some people died in the stampede, although her family escaped and started walking back to their home.

“From 3 p.m. to 4 a.m., we were walking in one direction, and from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., we were walking in another direction [until] some men picked us up and brought us to the bus station,” Tsyhankova said. Her family then spent four months with her godmother in Spain, and then Tsyhankova attended summer school in Croatia. She returned to Ukraine for a month before leaving for Notre Dame.

“I wake up every day being really scared that something happened to my family, so that’s the scariest part because you don’t know when or under what conditions you will see them again,” Tsyhankova said.

Kyba said the hardest part of moving away from Ukraine during the war is not having information on what’s happening. She recalled a time in October when she woke up at 5 a.m. to a bunch of texts from her friends asking each other if they were alright. 

“That was a massive attack, and I couldn’t reach my family because the connection was bad. And I was just sitting near my room and trying to call my parents to find out whether they are okay,” Kyba said.

Droniak noted that due to the war, many young adults had to grow up fast.

“War makes all Ukranians adults very soon. Children and young people have to be very responsible for their families, and they have to be proactive citizens.” Droniak said and expressed how she has appreciated the opportunity to just be a student at Notre Dame.

The Ukrainian Society of Notre Dame hosted a panel discussion in September where five UCU students spoke about their experiences in Ukraine. Droniak and Kyba both spoke and were touched by how many people were curious about their lives.

“I was surprised that people were really interested in us, and I just realized, another time, that people here care about that,” Kyba said.

Droniak also urged Notre Dame students to continue caring about the war, even as the invasion enters its ninth month.

“[Don’t] be indifferent to problems that are outside your country,” she added.

Droniak emphasized how thankful she was for the opportunity and her intentions heading back home.

“We all are grateful to the administration of Notre Dame that they gave us this opportunity, and we will use this knowledge to the best of our abilities to rebuild Ukraine after the war,” Droniak said.

Contact Katie Muchnik at kmuchnic@nd.edu.

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Viewpoint

Motivational phrases for finals 

Throughout the years, my voracious appetite for politics and history has led me to come across a wide array of slogans, phrases and soundbites that for one reason or another have stuck with me due to their significance, effectiveness or messaging. To me, they are comforting phrases that provide me with motivation, inspiration and hope to finish off whatever task is at hand. In my mind, if they were good enough to be spoon fed to the masses, they should be able to do the trick and motivate me. As finals week quickly approaches, I hope these help in one way or another. 

  1. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre! – This phrase, belonging to renowned Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, translates to “Until Victory Always!” It was included as part of the sign-off to a private letter sent to Fidel Castro upon Guevara’s departure from Cuba in the mid 1960s, and is easily one of the most identifiable phrases used today by the Latin American left. Although I do not sympathize with either of these men, nor endorse their beliefs in the slightest, I find this particular phrase a source of continual inspiration to keep on working towards the emerging victorious over whatever challenge that lies ahead. A victory against what, you may ask? That’s the magic of the phrase: its sheer universality. It could be a victory against a messy dorm room, the dining hall’s dinner rush, a treacherous job hunt, the search for an SYR date or a grueling Investment Theory exam. 
  2. No hay victoria sin lucha!, or “There is no victory without struggle,” belongs to former first lady of Argentina Eva Peron. Evita, as she is affectionately called, is widely remembered for being a tireless activist on behalf of the interests of the Argentine working class. This phrase, extracted from a letter exhorting Argentine women to fight for their right to vote, reminds you that in order to overcome any challenge one must first put in the necessary effort to make it possible. 
  3. Paciencia, prudencia, perseverancia, or “Patience, Prudence, Perseverance,” has been written on my dorm room’s whiteboard since I began college. I learnt the phrase from my grandfather, who wields an impressive knowledge of Spanish phraseology. This phrase is an invitation on how one should live their life, embracing these three virtues to avoid being caught off guard while always having what it takes to forge the path ahead. 
  4. Que no me retenga el pasado, y no me atormente el futuro or “May the past not retain me, and the future fail to torment me” is another of my grandfather’s phrases that has stuck with me to this day. I see it as a call to live in the present and avoid holding on to grudges of the past or clouding one’s mind with concerns about the future. After all, it is the present that gives us the opportunity to figure things out. 
  5. “Now is the time for guts and guile” is one of Elizabeth Taylor’s most famous sayings. It serves as a good reminder that one should make strides to always work with courage, cunning and smarts at the helm. 
  6. “Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.’” comes from my favorite book “The Count of Monte Cristo.” It is similar in essence to number four, but draws special significance to me because it encapsulates the wonderful story found within the pages of one of Dumas’ masterpieces beautifully. 
  7. No se me raje mi compa comes from a song written during the days of the Nicaraguan Revolution, a clamor for perseverance, commitment and conviction. Although hard to translate, it best does so as “Don’t Give Up, My Brother,” and is yet another good phrase to instill the need to carry on. It also has been on my whiteboard since I started college back in the fall of 2019. 
  8. Obras … no palabras or “Deeds, not Words,” was a slogan used by the Nicaraguan government between 1997 and 2002. It was used to highlight the government’s campaign to develop the country’s infrastructure and rebuild after Hurricane Mitch swept through in 1998. It promotes the value of getting things done over vague promises that amount to nothing. It is a good call to transform one’s ideas into tangible, meaningful activities. 
  9. Soy responsable del timon, pero no de la tormenta, or “I am responsible for the helm, not for the storm” is one of Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo’s most memorable phrases, in the final year of his presidency as Mexico’s economy teetered on the edge of collapse. I have relied on this phrase for several years, and even included it as part of my graduation speech back in high school. Despite belonging to one of Mexico’s most controversial presidents, when put in a vacuum, it becomes a call of reassurance. After all, we are only responsible for the things under our control, and must do our best to weather the storms around us with our resources alone. 
  10. “When the curtain falls it is time to get off the stage and that is what I propose to do” was said by British Prime Minister John Major after having led the Conservative Party to its most devastating loss in over a century. Even in the throes of such stinging defeat, Major acknowledged his fate with dignity and grace. I really like this phrase because it is an invitation to know when it is time to move on to new endeavors, and to not hyper-fixate on adverse outcomes. 

Although this column is quite unconventional for me, dear reader, I hope you find in it a shred of inspiration as finals roll around. Best of luck to everybody!

Pablo Lacayo is a senior at Notre Dame, majoring in finance while minoring in Chinese. He enjoys discussing current affairs, giving out bowl plates at the dining hall, walking around the lakes and karaoke. You can reach him at placayo@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Viewpoint

The machine gun method

When I was in Algebra II my freshman year of high school, we were taught a couple of different ways to solve a quadratic equation. A couple have fallen by the wayside (as we law students do not regularly employ math more complicated than the Hand Formula), but I remember two distinct methods that had almost opposite pros and cons: factoring, which we learned first, and using the quadratic formula, which we learned last. As my math teacher, Mr. Josh Taylor, explained and demonstrated, factoring is the easiest of the ways to solve a quadratic equation, but it doesn’t always work. In contrast, the quadratic formula always works, but it has the uncanny tendency to get unwieldy at the times when it would make the most sense to factor instead. As a result, Mr. Taylor gave the quadratic formula the nickname of “the machine gun method” — it always gets the job done, but sometimes by using more “bullets” than the job required.

While the choices I have made in undergraduate and law school have largely seen me avoid using the stellar mathematic training I received in high school, this underling idea about there being multiple ways to solve a problem with their own disadvantages hasn’t just stayed with me as a back-of-my-mind idea. It’s come up, over and over again, both in other disciplines I’m studying and in other parts of my life. I’ll give three examples to illustrate the point, starting with my time in undergrad as a political theory and constitutional democracy major (think of a PLS-style Great Books program), during which we of course read Aristotle’s “Politics,” in which Aristotle articulates six distinct sorts of regimes of rule by one, the few, or the many, and then divided into three “correct” kinds — “kingship, aristocracy, and polity” respectively — and three “deviations from these — tyranny from kingship, oligarchy from aristocracy and democracy from polity” (IV.2, Becker Stephanus p. 1289a). The spring of my 1L year, I had the opportunity to TA Professor Patrick Deneen’s Political Theory course, where I graded a section of 30 students. They too read this quote from Aristotle’s “Politics,” but Deneen saw fit (in my view rightly) to emphasize a different line from this same general area, at which Aristotle notes that polity is a particularly unstable “mixture of oligarchy and democracy” (IV.8, Becker p. 1293b). So, while Aristotle emphasizes that polity is “the best possible” regime (IV.8, Becker p. 1288b), it’s also the regime least able to be kept, and so most societies settle for something more inferior but more stable. In that sense, then, both oligarchies and democracies (towards one of which every polity bends) are political machine-gun methods.

For a second example, let’s consider a paper I wrote before having taken Administrative Law on the relationship between legislative and executive power. Its central thesis was basically that American separation of powers has a “legislative silence” problem. If our Constitution gives Congress the power to make laws (see generally Article I), the President the responsibility to take care that the laws are enforced (see generally Article II), and the federal courts the responsibility to decide cases and controversies arising under the Constitution or those laws (see generally Article III), does it commit these powers exclusively to each respective branch? In that paper, I answered that it doesn’t but it should. James Madison proposed to spell separation of powers out in a constitutional amendment that was part of the original draft of the Bill of Rights, but the First Congress rejected it, with members voting no both because they disagreed with its substance and because they agreed with its substance so much that they found it unnecessary. That ambiguity in turn led to widespread executive encroachments on executive power, so I argued that we should reconsider whether the amendment was as unnecessary as some First Congress naysayers thought. After having taken Administrative Law, my view on that issue has quite a bit more nuanced, and while I still think the executive branch tends to exercise too much quasi-legislative power too much of the time, I readily acknowledge that the idea, whether put forward by James Madison in a constitutional amendment proposal or advocated by me in an old paper, that there is one right set of actors for every governmental function is a governmental machine-gun method.

And then there is the very nature of our legal system itself. I’ve previously written about the distinction between law and equity, and about the Remedies course I took last fall from Professor Samuel L. Bray, one of our nation’s leading scholars on equity. One of the things I most appreciated about taking his class was the opportunity it gave me to think about how the law courts (and legal remedies) and the equity courts (and equitable remedies) contribute to a well-ordered judicial system. As Prof. Bray would put it, anyone arguing (as he does) that maintaining a distinction between law and equity makes sense needs to have a compelling answer to the question of why we shouldn’t simply commit ourselves to making one of those systems work well all of the time. In response, Prof. Bray essentially ballparked that making either law or equity work well for 90% of cases all of the time is a rather easy task; 99% is harder but still doable. But to have one of these frameworks cover every situation is a practical impossibility. So instead we use two systems (formerly the separate courts of law and equity, now simply different legal and equitable remedies), relying on law to more efficiently handle most cases, then counting on equity to clean up that which law does not handle well. Thus, although I continued asking the question of why we don’t simply resort to equitable relief in more circumstances, Prof. Bray answered my question by essentially saying that a larger equity power would turn equity into a machine-gun method.

My dear friend Caroline Gramm and I were talking about this concept of “machine-gun methods” the other day, and she suggested that sometimes we get complacent in employing machine-gun methods for the problems we solve in our own day-to-day. Why? Because we’re risk-averse. We’re much more comfortable doing something we’ve done a zillion times before, even if it’s inefficient, than to try a new way to handle a life problem because we think it might not work. But think of how much more we’d be able to do if we weren’t so stuck in this risk-aversion! So, the next time an opportunity arises to do something a different way, maybe that’s an opportunity God is giving us to move from a mindset of “we know what works, so let’s keep doing that even if it’s inefficient” to something more like “maybe let’s try this, and if that fails, we’ve got the machine gun method.” We might be pleasantly surprised at what happens next!

Devin Humphreys is a 3L at Notre Dame Law School. When he isn’t serving as the sacristan at the Law School Chapel or competing at a quiz bowl tournament, he’s sharing his thoughts on the legal developments of the day with anyone who will listen. For advice on law school, hot takes on Mass music and free scholarly publication ideas, reach out to Devin at dhumphr2@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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News

‘Know that you are never alone’: Community, family mourns loss of ND sophomore

James “Jake” Blaauboer passed away unexpectedly on Friday, Nov. 11. Blaauboer was a sophomore at Notre Dame, veteran of the U.S. Army and avid runner, but most importantly, he was a brother, a son and a friend.

Born in December 1995, Blaauboer grew up in upstate New York in a small town called Clifton Park. He lived with his loving parents, Mary and James “Jim” Blaauboer, and younger sister Molly Blaauboer. 

Molly Blaauboer, only 20 months younger than Blaauboer, said she was always the “proud younger sister,” following behind Jake throughout their schooling. 

“Molly is very outgoing and social, and Jake was very reserved and would keenly observe,” their mother, Mary Blaauboer, explained. 

Jake and Molly Blaauboer grew up together in Clifton Park, New York with their parents, Mary and Jim Blaauboer. / Courtesy of Molly Blaauboer.

Right out of high school, Blaauboer enlisted in the U.S. Army, and then spent the next few years of his life in active and reserve duty, during most of which he was stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado. 

After his service, Blaauboer started community college and applied to a myriad of other universities and colleges — one of which was the University of Notre Dame. Although his parents said they had no personal connection to Notre Dame, the family grew up watching Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish win football games. 

Blaauboer first transferred into the University in the fall of 2019, where he was a sophomore English major in St. Edward’s Hall. 

His family explained that although Blaauboer loved to read and write, he didn’t know what he wanted to accomplish with an English degree— which was why he took a leave of absence from the University in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

When he left Notre Dame, Blaauboer went directly into technical school where he learned to be a welder. Working with his hands was something that Blaauboer began during his time as the Army when he was randomly selected to be a mechanic, Molly Blaauboer said.  

“We’re getting outreach now about how great he was at being a mechanic and what a great soldier he was, which we totally believe, but it’s interesting to see the ripple,” she noted. 

After he finished technical school, the family said Blaauboer moved to Maine to work as a welder, far away from his hometown in New York. 

While the family was in Maine celebrating Easter 2022, Molly Blaauboer mentioned that Blaauboer announced his intention to return to Notre Dame unexpectedly. 

“This is completely out of the blue,” she said. “[He said,] ‘I have something to tell you guys … I’ve applied to be unparoled from Notre Dame.’”

Jake Blaauboer was only 20 months older than Molly, who said her teachers always liked to have another Blaauboer in their classrooms. / Courtesy of Molly Blaauboer.

Molly Blaauboer noted that this wasn’t unlike Blaauboer and that he often changed his mind about what he wanted to accomplish with his life. 

“I would joke about how I wonder what he wants to do this week,” she laughed. 

Mary Blaauboer explained that Blaauboer wasn’t happy as a welder because he needed something more intellectually stimulating. The family said he loved to debate politics, philosophy and history with anyone who would listen. 

“He’s an intellectual person, you know, he was a deep thinker. He was a reader,” Mary said. 

Blaauboer had to go through an entire re-entry process, Molly said, and finally found out he was retuning in July. So, in August 2022, now 26 year old Blaauboer moved to Notre Dame for the second time but as a history major instead. 

Because adjusting to college life can be hard — especially the second time — Notre Dame’s care and wellness consultants in the Center for Student Support and Care put together a support group filled with re-admitted students, including Blaauboer and fellow sophomore Ua Tom.  

Tom, a theology major and native of the Bronx in New York City, said he was originally a Gateway student, but he took time off from the University because he didn’t want his first semester at Notre Dame to be controlled by the COVID-19 pandemic. While away, Tom returned to NYC and was a teacher in Chinatown. 

“All of us re-admits, we have our mental health issues, for sure, every single one of us. But that’s also what got us close,” Tom noted. 

The support group, colloquially named “we back” by the members, met every Wednesday at 4 p.m., according to Tom. 

“Self-deprecation was the highest form of humor that we have for ourselves in that group. We dropped out but we’re back,” he joked. 

Tom explained that Blaauboer stood out as a natural mentor and leader of the group.

“When Jake spoke, people listened, he was just so earnest and genuine. Jake always checked up on me and was a wonderful influence on myself and the rest of the readmitted students,” Tom said. “He happily and naturally took on the role of an older brother and mentor, and whenever I saw him it would totally make my day. It was clear from the moment that I met him that he had a big heart. His positivity and compassion was contagious.”

Tom said he would never forget one moment when Blaauboer helped Tom during a difficult period of time.

“I’ll never forget when I was really having a tough time [at the beginning of the semester] when I was in the thick of [transitioning] and really struggling to focus on class,” he explained. “Jake gave me a hug. He told me he was there for me, and I wasn’t alone.”

Although he had only known Blaauboer for a short time, Tom noted how much of an impact Blaauboer had on him, saying that he wished they had spent more time together. 

“He really was a light of a human being. He was such an easily likable guy who was really gentle and kind,” he said. “In some ways, he knew us better than we knew ourselves.”

Apart from classes and the support group, Blaauboer was also active in the Notre Dame Running Club. Race coordinator for the club and Stanford Hall junior Jonathan Karr said Blaauboer was an active member of the group and often volunteered to drive the team to and from meets. 

“He was very supportive of the entire team. He took pictures when we ran, he wanted us to succeed, and he cheered for all the runners,” Karr said. 

Karr emphasized how deeply grateful he was for Blaauboer’s positive influence on the team and for him personally. 

“I was a very close friend with Jake, and he really helped the team,” Karr noted. “He really, really embodied what it means to be a Fighting Irish.”

The family also emphasized how important running, particularly the routine of the sport, was to Blaauboer.

“He was strict with himself,” Mary Blaauboer said. “Routine and ritual were important to him in every aspect. So, there was a routine for food and exercise and friendships and then the school and work and everything. For him, overlapping those things was uncomfortable.”

They said he also loved comedy and was a huge fan of movies. Overall, the Blaauboers said the outpouring of love they have received from family, friends, teammates and anyone who knew Blaauboer has meant a lot to them. 

“That’s an amazing blessing and comfort — to know that he’s remembered and prayed for,” Mary Blaauboer said.

The family said Jake Blaauboer loved movies, comedy and running. He would also debate politics or philosophy with anyone who would listen. / Courtesy of Molly Blaauboer.

Tom emphasized that anyone, who knew Blaauboer personally or not, can honor his memory by living fully and not being afraid to reach out to others.

“Live with the same spirit that he did,” Tom said. “Reach out and ask someone how they are doing, like he did for us.”

Fr. Pete McCormick, the inaugural assistant vice president for campus ministry, echoed Tom’s sentiment during Notre Dame’s mass of remembrance on Nov. 16.

“Sometimes words fail and can’t always communicate the depths of sorrow,” he said. “Be unafraid to reach out to a member of hall staff, the University Counseling Center (UCC) or campus ministry. Know that you are never alone.”

Contact Bella Laufenberg at ilaufenb@nd.edu.

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News

Recently elected Gen Z representative excites students

On Nov. 8, at the age of 25, Maxwell Frost became the first Generation Z congressman-elect in the country. Representing Florida’s 10th District, Frost will take his seat in the House of Representatives on Jan. 3, 2023, for the 118th United States Congress.

Students tended to say that a younger representative can offer greater representation.

“Hearing the news of Frost’s election really excited me because I do feel more represented with him being the first Gen Z congressman,” said Notre Dame first-year Mac Johnson.

In addition, the impact of the congressman’s election offers a voice to a different perspective on pressing issues, another student said. 

“It’s so important for Gen Z to gain representation in Congress because our generation offers a fresh perspective on divisive issues,” Saint Mary’s sophomore Mari Prituslky said. 

Tommy Rafacz, a first-year in O’Neill Hall, seconded that the congressman-elect offers a new voice in the House.

“I think it’s good to see fresh voices and perspectives that should come with a new generation,” Rafacz said.  

David Campbell, professor of American democracy at Notre Dame, said that age does not get as much attention as other identity factors.

“But it should, because when you look at public opinion, young people often differ from older people in many of the positions that they take and those views should be represented in the system,” he said. 

Campbell also said that a younger representative is more likely to lean toward the extreme positions of his party. 

“A younger person coming up in either party is more likely to be on the extreme wings of the party,” he said. “And that’s because they have come of age in an era when the parties are highly polarized.”

Although there is a difference in age brackets between younger and older politicians, Campbell does not believe that there will be a significant change in political representation.

“I’m not sure that it does represent any kind of dramatic change, in that it’s still a relatively small number [of younger candidates],” he said.

Nonetheless, certain issues on both parties will become more important as younger candidates become elected.

“We know that this is a group — and this is actually true on the left as well as on the right — that are far more accepting of LGBT people,” Campbell said. “We also know that young people in general are more concerned about the environment than their elders… I would expect both parties actually to take the environment more seriously than they have.”

Mike McKeough, a junior in Alumni Hall, emphasized how Gen Z representatives can better reflect the values of young people.

“We’re getting different viewpoints that reflect a different demographic of the population,” McKeough said.  

Finally, Campbell believes that younger politicians are more inclined to use social media as a means to facilitate communication with their voters.

“We usually think of younger candidates as being very media savvy, much more so than their elders,” he said. “[So] I’d be interested to know whether or not there’s any evidence that Frost was more adept at using social media or communications strategy than either his immediate opponent or other candidates in that same area.”  

Contact Sam Godinez at sgodinez@nd.edu