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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

Meet the Notre Dame student body election tickets: Derick Williams and Hunter Brooke

Derick Williams and Hunter Brooke, two sophomore students campaigning to be Notre Dame’s next student body president and vice president, respectively, plan to “get sh*t done.”

Currently, the pair are both student senators for their dorms; Williams for Keough Hall and Brooke for Carroll Hall. Additionally, Williams is a chemical engineering major and French minor, and Brooke studies marketing and political science. In addition to being a senator, Brooke also serves on the committee on the constitution.

Both Williams and Brooke hold leadership positions outside of student government — Williams is on the engineering leadership council and Brooke is a part of the French club and works for South Dining Hall as a student manager for safety and sustainability.

Their campaign slogan, “Real ideas, real change,” embodies the pair’s platform of bold goals and complete transparency. The two also emphasized their connections with administration and their previous student government experience in an interview with The Observer.

“I think one thing that Hunter and I really bring to the table is experience and being able to work with student senators,” Williams noted. “[Campaigning] is really exciting and it's really grown my passion, the more that I've gotten able to talk to people.”

In their platform — which is 18 pages long and contains 98 “key points” in their ABC’s: advancing the student experience, boost campus groups and activities and change the course of student government — Williams and Brooke outline their extensive plans for how they would lead Notre Dame’s student body.

“Notre Dame is great. Now, let's roll up our sleeves and make it even better,” the platform says. “Key indicators continue to show that much work must be undertaken to make us all happier, safer and healthier. The trick in these cases is to present (and, importantly, to sincerely implement) real, feasible solutions that will genuinely alleviate issues, rather than leave us worse off.”

Some ideas in the “student experience” portion include increasing flex points/changing meal plans, opening St. Joe’s beach in warm months, guaranteeing Gateway/transfer housing, lowering/subsidizing textbook costs, offering cheaper summer classes, supporting student demonstrations, offering free self-defense courses, sustainability efforts around campus, working with Access-ABLE to solve accessibility issues and advocating for sign language interpreters at masses.

Williams-Brooke's plan to “bolster campus groups and activities” starts with providing aid to improving residence hall gyms, building solid infrastructure for better club finances (including SAO updates) and helping to provide student organizers with easier logistics and funding to put on events. Overall, the ticket aims to “work with our fellow students to understand the things you care about and would like to see fixed — so that we’re pursuing problems that actually plague the student body, rather than things a small group of people think ought to change,” the platform says. Title IX issues and initiatives  In an interview with The Observer, Williams commented on how their team would hope to push the University to publish sexual assault data and noted the need for more conversations with survivors. Brooke also spoke about a personal connection to Title IX and how he worries for his friends at Notre Dame.
Courtesy of Williams-Brooke campaign.
Sophomore student senators Derick Williams (left) and Hunter Brooke (right) are running for Notre Dame student body president and vice president, respectively.

“[The University] is an uncomfortable environment, at times, for the survivors of sexual assault. And so, we do want to find ways to support them,” Williams said. “In a perfect world, what we'd like to see is having the conversation gets something going, gets the wheels turning on a wide range of issues.”

The ticket also outlined plans to develop a "sexual assault peer advocates" program where they hope to match students with others who have been through the Title IX process previously.  “Our goal is to find the best people we can, and I think that this is something that a lot of people who are familiar with the process would want to be involved in, because we think a lot of people who have unfortunately had to go through [Title IX] have found that it's not transparent, very confusing, unreliable, can take ages and there are times where you're just left kind of wondering what is going on,” Brooke said. Fiscal responsibility

Williams-Brooke told The Observer about their plan to establish fiscal responsibility in their cabinet by being transparent and specific on what their budget will look like.

“We want to initiate changes, and we think the status [of club funding] is poor," Brooke said. "I think Derick would agree that student money should be used in ways students care about and from what we've seen, and from our experiences, students care mostly about dorms and clubs."

They outlined specific goals such as shrinking executive cabinet “pleasantry” budgets, getting rid of unnecessary student government collaboration funds and rolling over leftover money directly to student groups. Inclusion, diversity and tri-campus goals As two male students, The Observer asked how Williams and Brooke planned to represent the entire student body. In response, they explained that they want to start with building an “incredible executive cabinet of diverse people.” “One commitment to that we want to make is that when we go and meet with administration is bringing along students with us,” they added. Another goal they highlighted was  including more diverse voices in the Campus Life Council (CLC), saying, “We think that's a great way to really push those voices and elevate them so that they are heard by admin.” Williams also noted that he was a part of the first-generation, low-income (FGLI) community, while Brooke is an international student from Paris, France. When asked about their plans for the tri-campus community, Williams-Brooke said they planned to sit down with administrators and students at Saint Mary's and Holy Cross to find ways to collaborate. They noted goals of shared programming such as brother and sister dorms across campuses and creating a “cultural shift” with an integrated, common community. Student media relationship In an interview with The Observer, Williams and Brooke stated that they hope their relationship with student media is “strong and positive.” “I would like to see a very strong relationship with student media. That’s why we’d like to try and establish or re-establish the role of the press secretary to really streamline the communication process with student media and make sure that there is one person who you all can go to if you have any question on anything at all,” Brooke said. He continued by saying that their administration will still be “completely receptive” to communications and talking about both positive and negative outcomes of their proposed goals. “There’s a disconnect between students in the student body, and I think that student media like [The Observer] is a great way to bridge that gap,” the pair noted. “We have to be willing to share the good and the bad, as well. And I think that's the unfortunate nature of student government is that [they] loves to talk to student media when they have really good things, but when they meet roadblocks, they shut off from student media, they don't want to talk about it.” Brooke’s senate acquittal

A bill of impeachment was brought against Brooke at the end of the fall 2022 semester for allegedly violating the Constitution for advertising a “senatorial aide” position at the beginning of the 2023-24 academic year. It was alleged he did not receive permission from FUEL’s co-leaders before offering the position.

Ultimately, the student senate chose not vote to impeach Brooke. Addressing Brooke’s previous public acquittal, the pair stated that they are committed to full transparency, communication with the student body and growing from their shortcomings.

“Firstly, the whole impeachment thing was absolutely not one of my proudest moments, and it was definitely a difficult time for me and something that I want to avoid in future. I think it taught me a lot about being as proactive as possible and communication,” Brooke told The Observer. “My intentions throughout were genuine, but you know, I think execution definitely could have been better.”

Williams showed support for his running mate. "I'm glad that I've supported Hunter through this process, mostly because I think it's an amazing growth opportunity for him... At the end of the day, the buck stops at us to keep each other accountable,” he said. “What I really enjoy about working with Hunter is that every step of this way, we've been able to help make ourselves a little bit better because we've helped each other through it all.”