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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Observer Editorial: The Observer endorses Stinson-Sherman

Student government election season is upon Notre Dame. In a comparatively slow election process, only two tickets received enough petition signatures to campaign and run in the election. Students will have two options on the ballot Wednesday: junior Patrick Lee and sophomore Sofie Stitt; and junior Sierra Stinson and sophomore Dane Sherman. 

[Editor’s Note: Sherman is a former news writer for The Observer.]

The Observer Editorial Board interviewed both tickets Saturday. After weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each ticket and their respective platforms, the Board unanimously endorses Stinson-Sherman.

Stinson is a junior living in Lewis Hall with experience serving as freshman class council president. She currently serves as director of academic affairs within the student government’s executive cabinet. A sophomore in Siegfried Hall, Sherman currently serves as the director of University policy.

With Stinson and Sherman’s current positions in the executive cabinet, we believe they have both the connections with leaders in the campus community and in the administration, as well as the experience to enact concrete change for the student body. Both Stinson and Sherman have substantive experience with the policy-making process, and their aim for transparency through a proposed policy tracker and newsletter communications stuck out to the Editorial Board. 

Both tickets stressed the importance of focusing on improving mental health resources for students — an effort our Editorial Board appreciates. However, Lee and Stitt’s method to set up University Counseling Center “dorm representatives” did not seem as effective as Stinson and Sherman’s tangible plans to transition UCC services to a long-term model and expand the Lilly Endowment grant to all residence halls. Stinson and Sherman recognized the difficulty of pushing for a long-term model, given high demand and small staff numbers at the UCC, but offered the solution of using the Lilly grant to help with staffing issues.

Stinson and Sherman presented an extensive platform to reform residential life policies — including auditing Office of Community Standards outcomes and rates at which students are written up for infractions, and thus exploring any potential disparities between men’s and women’s experiences in residence halls. The ticket’s tangible plan to push for equal and fair disciplinary processes in residence halls and to increase the administration’s awareness of any disparity is an encouraging step in bettering residential life and gender relations on campus.

As a newsroom committed to uplifting marginalized voices in our community, we appreciate Stinson and Sherman’s focus on fostering a campus community that supports a diverse student body from the moment they are accepted through graduation. Specifically, their plans to support first-generation and low-income students as soon as they take office were reassuring to us. This priority aligns with the ticket’s passion for every student to feel a sense of belonging at Notre Dame.

While Lee’s background serving as Stanford Hall president and former senator and Stitt’s background as Pasquerilla West Hall president have given them experience listening to students, we are concerned in regards to how well that practice would translate to the roles of student body president and vice president. In the same vein, the ticket at times seemed unaware of the role of student input in policy creation at the University.

The Editorial Board was impressed with Lee and Stitt’s plans to improve currently insufficient disability-inclusive infrastructure and signage around campus. The pair clearly did their research on this issue and ensured they would be in contact with Access-ABLE on campus to help with these efforts.

Yet, a large majority of Lee and Stitt’s platform centered around their objective to reintroduce the Student Life Council (SLC) — an effort that has been unsuccessfully undertaken by past student government administrations. When asked about it, Lee and Stitt failed to provide a contingency plan in the event that their effort was rejected. While the Editorial Board appreciates their student-oriented, outside-the-box thinking and willingness to butt heads with administration, we found it concerning that the main policy goal of their platform involved reintroducing a policymaking body that was dissolved almost 50 years ago and that has been rejected by the administration numerous times.

While it is clear Lee and Stitt love Notre Dame and run with that love in mind, their plans for enacting positive change on campus lack the effectiveness and forethought of the Stinson-Sherman platform. The Editorial Board appreciates the Stinson-Sherman ticket’s ability to balance a love for the University with an awareness of its pitfalls.

Our endorsement of Stinson and Sherman does not come without reservations. The pair’s 26-page platform is ambitious and will be time-consuming, leading us to concerns of burnout and the feasibility of accomplishing all of their goals in a one-year term. The ticket also plans to ensure that all transfer students have access to on-campus housing, but failed to provide a concrete answer as to what policy steps they would take toward that in their term. In addition, the ticket has plans to focus on national issues such as Medicaid insurance coverage on campus and increasing national lobbying efforts of the student body. While admirable, we are concerned with time, money and energy potentially being dedicated to national issues as opposed to those issues affecting our own student body.

Regardless, Stinson and Sherman exhibit a passion for enacting change and tailoring the Notre Dame experience to be a welcoming one to students of all backgrounds, and we believe they have the experience and proactivity to succeed.

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