This year’s roundup of candidates for student government simultaneously draws from the past while looking forward. Many tickets cited frustration at previous administrations as a drive for change; at the same time, fresh perspectives in both age and ideology were a recurring theme.
Considering that Andrew Gannon and Mark Moran’s ticket comes riding on the heels of a tradition that’s anything but serious, we were impressed by how intently both considered their prospective duties. Their eagerness to crowdsource and maintain a close level of intimacy with the student body was sincere and heartening. They also aren’t entirely without experience: Both come to the ticket with years of student leadership in high school under their belts. And while many would see their age as an obvious disadvantage, they see it as a plus. Growing alongside their student body would equip them with a legitimate and flexible understanding of student concerns and realities, they say: a concept we found interesting and promising.
Ultimately, however, as freshmen, they are severely lacking in student government experience at Notre Dame. They do bring a high level of energy with them that we believe could serve them well in future campaigns. While we can’t endorse the Gannon-Moran ticket now, we do endorse them pursuing more minor student government positions, getting some experience and running again in the future.
Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart are led by a promising sincerity, including deferring to GALA-ND/SMC and other groups for expertise on issues they were the first to recognize they have no stake in, including women’s and LGBTQ concerns. Their bipartisanship is an encouraging opportunity for a president and vice president that would have a voice for a broad range of students, and their frustration with the past two student governments expressed a sincere drive for change.
Many of their ideas were backed by good intentions but ultimately remained more idealistic than feasible. For instance, their idea to implement GreeNDot initiatives in South Bend bars, while good in concept, lacked a concrete strategy. A lack of preparation and background knowledge recurred throughout their proposed campaign objectives. Ultimately, they seemed removed from the issues they were focusing on, particularly their emphasis on women’s pregnancy resources and access to feminine hygiene. While that distance isn’t bad in and of itself, they lacked a solid plan on how to minimize that cognitive gap.
Scholastic’s endorsement for student government this year, therefore, is Alex Kruszewski and Julia Dunbar. With five years of student government experience between them, the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket knows the system inside and out. They are well informed and competent in their goals, and form a complementary duo — Alex’s ‘number guy’ persona balances out Julia’s empathy and passion well. The other tickets’ emphasis on crowdsourcing is concretely applied in their use of a living platform, an innovative aspect of their campaign that we appreciate.
Both have agency to grapple with the issues they plan on addressing. We were impressed in particular by Julia’s mental health initiative, and the passion and experience she backed it with. Their approaches to tackling issues that could easily become lofty and abstract were focused and manageable: for instance, addressing sexual assault on campus through expanding the university’s definition of “consent.” Their platform highlights aren’t just talk, either: Their First Week Plan displays a level of initiative and proactive competency that the other two tickets simply did not match.
Our reservations with the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket remain more suggestions than flaws. For instance, their plan for a “National Sustainability Coalition” could use more concrete steps. Their attempt at decreasing tuition is a bit idealistic. (Although Alex is perhaps the most qualified student on campus to tackle the challenge.) If they move forward with tangible plans — which they have certainly demonstrated themselves capable of — we believe they’ll see success with their platform. While all tickets have valuable ideas and perspectives to offer, we place our trust in Kruszewski and Dunbar.
Andrea Vale contributed reporting to this story.