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Friday, April 19, 2024
The Observer

Student body presidential candidates: Max Siegel and Zachary Holland

Juniors Max Siegel II and Zachary Holland, the self-described “outsiders” of this years’ student body election, are running a platform for student body president and vice president on three distinct pillars — equity, community and transparency.

The pair are one of three tickets throwing their hats in the ring for the student body presidency for this coming year and have outlined their goals in a four-page platform.

Courtesy of Max Siegel
Max Siegel, right, and Zachary Holland, left, are running for student body president and vice president, respectively.

Siegel, a psychology and global affairs major from Indianapolis, is a walk-on offensive lineman for the Notre Dame football team and sits on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee for the University. He had “opened a line of communication” with University President Fr. John Jenkins over the summer regarding the Black Lives Matter protests, and cited it as a strength in his potential presidential position.

Holland, a former member of First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership and the Junior Class Council, as well as a former co-president of College Democrats from Athens, Georgia, is a political science and economics major with a minor in the Hesburgh Program in Public Service. Both are former Zahm House residents currently living off campus.

After a tumultuous year, Siegel and Holland said they are running for student government president and vice president to ensure Notre Dame moves on in the best way possible from the events of the past year.

“... we don’t want a Notre Dame that heals from this year just to return to a place where we have students who feel marginalized by their peers, by our culture or by those who represent them to administrators,” they wrote.

Siegel said he made the decision to run for student president after his past activism in the community spurred conversations.

“I think what I realized is that you can only go so far in terms of having conversations and talking with people," Siegel said. “There’s a lot of different policies that Zach and I would like to see put in place that we feel can really bring the campus community together and take us in the right steps in terms of equity.”

Siegel named increasing club funding — particularly underfunded minority clubs through using outside grants — as his first priority. 

While Holland said he would love to “shoot for the stars” with goals, he knows the pair would want to get some tangible goals checked off their list first. He specifically mentioned amplifying usage of Speak4ND, an existing video project that allows students to upload live or prerecorded video messages to be watched, into a community building tool to give students a way to voice their concerns and opinions. 

The team’s first pillar emphasized in their platform is equity. The two want to work with administrators to raise wages for student jobs, create a subsidiary fund for secondary costs of attending Notre Dame — such as textbooks and tutors — as well as sponsor and promote events for students of color and minority students.

Additionally, Siegel is trained in the MiNDful program (Microaggression Intervention at Notre Dame) and wants to require leaders across campus — including Welcome Weekend leaders and resident assistants — to undergo the same or similar anti-racist and diversity training. 

Their second pillar is a focus on community. The Siegel-Holland ticket would increase club funding through the student senate and expand GreeNDot training to South Bend bars, football ushers and other members of the community via their executive branch policy.

Ideas that would work through University-made policy and would require teamwork with Notre Dame are included in this pillar as well. These include rescheduling events like Junior Parents Weekend and Domerfest, increasing off-campus referrals from the University Counseling Center, increasing nighttime lighting around the lakes and working with student athletic teams to promote sexual assault reporting and racially-charged incident reporting through information campaigns at home games.

Siegel also emphasized the importance of integrating the tri-campus community with events for everyone, specifically referencing how Holy Cross students are typically only included when they are in the Gateway Program.

The Siegel-Holland ticket’s final pillar is focused on transparency. Through work with the University, they want to increase the amount of data available on the Notre Dame HERE dashboard, advocate for due process in the Campus Compact violation hearings and recommend pass/fail for any semesters affected by COVID-19.

Right now, [student government] is not transparent and there’s no follow up,” Siegel said. “... I think that a lot of the wording and how student government’s been handled in the past can be very discouraging or hard for the average student not involved in government to really digest ...”

He cited the potential creation of a crime report for racially charged incidents as an example of transparency that could provide “safety and comfort” for the student body.

Holland said they would like to continue weekly “office hour” style meetings as the current Ingal-Galbenski administration has done, and would provide “more rationale” regarding decisions made by the new administration, as well as provide a monthly student government newsletter to update the student body. 

Holland and Siegel are both passionate about advocating for off-campus students and working against the off-campus exclusionary policy. Siegel said the policy specifically affects minority and lower income students who move off campus to more affordable housing, even if they enjoyed living in dorms on campus.

“Students of color are moving off campus at a higher rate, and it affects dorm life,” Siegel said. “But first, we need to protect off-campus groups so they can still be engaged with Notre Dame.”

While Siegel and Holland acknowledged they have similar ideas to some of the other tickets running, they said their perspectives as outsiders would be valuable to the job.

We have [similar] platforms but bring a fresh set of eyes … We are obviously not within student government. We thought, ‘we’re outsiders,’ but we’re excited because we feel like we can bring a new perspective to student government,” Siegel said. “I think it’s really important to emphasize that we have been approaching this as being novel, but not novices."