Staff Endorsement: Whittle-Rotolo Promise Necessary Change

Author: Scholastic Staff

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The 2020 student body election is set to be one of the most tightly contested in recent years. With a whopping six tickets on the ballot, a run-off election on Thursday seems almost inevitable following the primary election on Tuesday. With so many qualified candidates, Scholastic endorses Connor Whittle and Jack Rotolo for their experience, their clear, feasible platform and most importantly, their understanding of the sentiments of the student body.

Last April, residential life revealed possible measures that would prevent off-campus seniors from participating in their previous dorm community events. In light of the announcement, students organized a large protest outside of the Main Building, calling on the university to reverse its plans. Now, nearly a year after the original announcement, the issue remains a major concern of the student body.

While every ticket expressed frustration with the policy and a commitment to reverse the decision, no ticket has as much experience in residential life as Whittle-Rotolo. Whittle, the co-director of student life in student government, and Rotolo, a student senator whose priority is residential life, have already made strides in working with the administration.

Additionally, Whittle and Rotolo’s proposed policies on transparency, health and well-being, and diversity and inclusion promise thoughtful improvements for the Notre Dame community. They hope to create health and wellness dorm commissioners, helping students access and improve the service of McWell and the UCC. They also propose the creation of multicultural commissioners and “Share Your Story” week, initiatives that could enhance diversity and understanding among students.

Other tickets had strong points in their platforms but failed to match Whittle-Rotolo in balance and feasibility.

Michael Dugan and Ricardo Pozas Garza enter the student government election with an extremely detailed and expansive platform — 46 pages and growing. Their proposal to “support survivors and combat sexual assault” is the single best platform point we see on any of the six tickets. The recognition of a need for a confidential, 24/7 sexual aggression peer advocates program among other suggestions impressed our staff. We hope other tickets, the administration and the student body take note.

We saw weaknesses with Dugan-Pozas Garza, however, regarding the feasibility of their platform. The ticket hopes to restructure voting power within the Financial Management Board and cut the allocation of funding for student government in half to help clubs. They also desire to implement a public comment system for Board of Trustees meetings. While these proposed changes are rooted in legitimate concerns, their high ambitions seem too lofty for a single term.

The Zahm freshmen ticket is always a welcome staple during election season. Henry Bates and Tom Henry’s dedication to banning all crime on campus is certainly admirable. Their platform point of having Notre Dame secede from the United States is also ambitious, though. We appreciate the laughs.

Sarah Galbenski and Rachel Ingal’s platform was to accompany, advocate, and amplify. The two, like many other tickets, hoped to expand resource awareness. For example, they hoped to inform students of support groups for survivors of sexual assault by promoting them in women’s bathrooms and other locations. Additionally, their proposal to increase club funding through a grant program had great promise and would bypass legislative red tape. However, their platform did not have a single focus that was clearly expounded on, a weakness compared to the strength of Dugan’s passion for Title IX and Whittle’s prioritization of Residence Life.

In a similar vein, Noble Patidar and Connor Patrick are two personable candidates with a clear reach among the student body. Their proposed promotion of resources and emphasis on feasibility was refreshing. While Connor’s status as a first year does allow him to provide a new perspective within student government, his relative lack of experience compared to Whittle-Rotolo proved notable. 

Finally, Zach Mercugliano and Aviva Lund, a transfer student and a first year respectively, have a unique view of the university. Their commitment to improving community and conversation is well-intentioned, and they propose solid ideas such as ND United Conferences and blue dot/gold dot. Their platform, however, lacks organization, assembled as mainly a collection of ideas, and they have little experience with Notre Dame’s student government and advocacy organizations.

Scholastic believes that an effective student body president and vice president need to be able to work well with the administration. Sudden changes frustrate students, and the student government needs to be an effective intermediary between school officials and the student body. Elizabeth and Pat have handled this role well, conveying the interests of the student body to university administrators. Whittle and Rotolo would pick up right where Elizabeth and Pat leave off. They have proven their ability in student government so far, and we believe they can continue to make positive strides better than any other ticket.