2014 Endorsement

Lauren Vidal and Matt Devine

This year, we at Scholastic had the luxury and the challenge of choosing between two passionate and experienced teams of leaders when deciding who to endorse in the 2014 student government election.

Excusing the Zahm ticket from the conversation (sorry guys, but we’re pretty set on encouraging both tradition and progress), both the Vidal-Devine and LaMagna-Andresen tickets propose concrete changes to enhance the lives of Notre Dame students. Both tickets seek to empower all students as individuals within the larger community and to modernize the opportunities made available to them, both on and off campus.

After some lengthy deliberation, however, the Scholastic staff has decided to endorse Vidal-Devine for the positions of 2014-15 student body president and vice president.

Lauren Vidal and Matthew Devine would both bring a great deal of student government experience to the offices of the president and vice president. Vidal recently worked as student government’s parliamentarian, a position that sits on the executive cabinet and ensures that all meetings run according to the student government’s constitutional procedure. This experience has given her an extensive knowledge of how student government functions and the practical responsibilities of the presidential position.

Devine has likewise gained much policy experience through his work implementing the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at Notre Dame. He possesses solid programming experience as well, particularly in his work as the director of the Department of Gender Issues to re-vamp “Love Your Body Week” and in working with the current administration on sexual assault prevention and awareness campaigns.

The intersection of both policy and programming knowledge that the Vidal-Devine ticket offers voters would allow for the pair to implement their realistic ideas for change efficiently and effectively.

A few of these ideas really pique our interest. First, Vidal and Devine propose evaluating and revising the current SafeWalk program and supplementing it with the new Student Night-time Auxilary Patrol (SNAP), which would utilize more golf carts in the safe, quick transportation of students across campus at night. This improvement would help SNAP serve a larger volume of students and would hopefully popularize the program, creating a more recognized environment of student safety on campus.

Other realistically achievable plans put forth in Vidal and Devine’s platform include installing more charging stations for electronic devices around campus, incorporating detailed course syllabi into the DARTing process and establishing an annual campus philanthropy drive they call “29 vs. 29,” in which each dorm would work with the South Bend Center for the Homeless to gather donations for a specific family in need during the holiday season.

These ideas could come to fruition quickly, and under the guidance of Vidal and Devine, would positively impact student life at Notre Dame right away.

Vidal and Devine also propose more broad changes to the Notre Dame experience, such as creating a First Year Student Orientation Committee, which would work directly with SAO and the current student-led programmers of “Frosh-O” to re-evaluate the experience and ensure that it informs new students and helps to foster a sense of community as best as possible.

The ticket also hopes to further the work of Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce in the current administration by promoting the visibility of PrismND and continuing to address and combat incidents of sexual violence and assault within the Notre Dame family. Maintaining a consistent focus on these important issues of student inclusion and safety needs to be a top priority in every administration going forward. Vidal and Devine have significant knowledge of the issues and how student government can best address them, which will help them transition smoothly into becoming leaders of the student body.

It is this combination of specific, everyday ideas for improving student life as well as broad, over-arching goals to enrich the Notre Dame community that sets the Vidal-Devine ticket apart in this year’s race.

They will face some qualified and equally passionate competition in the LaMagna-Andresen ticket, however. We were highly impressed with this ticket’s effervescent passion for working to create a more welcoming campus environment and for celebrating students’ individual identities. We were also struck by LaMagna and Andresen’s obvious team-chemistry and their mutual drive to make Notre Dame a better place.

After spending a long time discussing each ticket, though, we felt that LaMagna and Andresen had promising proposals that weren’t thought through with quite as much sophistication or realistic vision as Vidal and Devine’s.

LaMagna and Andresen’s proposal to open up more classes to non-majors, for example, would broaden students’ learning experiences and provide for more enriched Notre Dame educations. Their plans, however, fail to realistically account for current over-crowding problems within courses in certain majors. We believe it also displaces the priority from helping students gain access to required classes in favor of allowing students to take more electives.

Many of LaMagna and Andresen’s other ideas — including helping dorms to fundraise more effectively and diversifying the campus conversation on gender issues — are no doubt well-intentioned, but lack the specific and impactful plans for support that would be needed to quickly create real change.

It goes without saying that Vidal and Devine will have to prioritize between the many initiatives offered up in their platform and that the work of student government often proves to be more slow-going than candidates anticipate. Yet, because of the combination of their valuable student government experience in both policy and programming formation and a balance of both small and large-scale goals in their agenda, we at Scholastic believe that Vidal and Devine will impact the university with greater efficacy.