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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Observer Editorial: The Observer endorses Jung-Rezner

Notre Dame students have three tickets on the ballot for the student body president and vice president election Wednesday: Daniel Jung and Aidan Rezner; Pablo Oropeza and Griffin McAndrew; and Derick Williams and Hunter Brooke. All six candidates are sophomores. 

This year’s decision was difficult, but after engaging in lengthy conversations about the pros and cons of each ticket, The Observer Editorial Board endorses Jung-Rezner because of their focus on ambitious but achievable goals. 

Jung and Rezner have less student government experience than their two counterparts, but we appreciate their background in communications along with their realistic understanding of what a presidential ticket can achieve in a year. Still, this inexperience is concerning in regard to a lack of contacts with University administration, but we believe once in office, the pair can effectively foster the right relationships to improve the student experience by working with previous student leaders to bridge the gap.

A key priority for Jung-Rezner is enhancing and improving our campus’ understanding of the complexities of Title IX, beginning with the implementation of Title IX information sessions in Welcome Weekend programming. Another specific goal of their platform is instituting a continuation policy for Title IX cases spanning multiple academic years, a process that is currently slow and difficult for students. In addition to their Title IX policies, their ideas for improving social media accessibility and pushing for an ASL program of study are refreshing.

The Jung-Rezner ticket also provided some practical changes that can immediately benefit students, such as a mobile ID option. In addition, they pitched a series of initiatives to improve student health and wellbeing, including improving availability at the UCC through adding the ability to self-schedule appointments. Jung-Rezner’s priority to subsidize ride-share services, like many of Notre Dame’s peer institutions already do, is promising to promote a safer social environment for students.

The ticket of Oropeza, Stanford Hall vice president, and McAndrew, Knott Hall senator, put forth a strong platform with an emphasis on “helping people find a home at Notre Dame.” This works hand-in-hand with many of their platform’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Another main goal of the ticket was to bridge the gap between the Hall President’s Council and student government — a concept we found commendable.

In addition, the two noted they held a “legacy” view of their roles, with the goal of fighting for their values no matter what, even if they couldn’t get everything done in a one-year term. While this shows an awareness of where the University currently stands on more contentious social issues, some drawbacks arose for the Board.  

The Oropreza-McAndrew ticket could best be described as the most ambitious with what they hope to achieve with their inclusion efforts. While we found these values to be laudable, the Board did not feel that this ticket presented satisfactory, concrete plans for these larger goals. When faced with questions regarding their sexual health initiatives, the ticket did not provide a developed response, making their stance seem more like raising awareness than advocating for specific policy. They also did not provide specific answers to questions regarding other platform initiatives such as supporting South Bend charities or how they would enhance relationships within the tri-campus. 

The Williams-Brooke ticket featured the most practical student government experience, with both candidates currently serving as senators. They knew about the finances of student government, particularly how much money goes toward club funding. They provided realistic ideas about SAO reform, and their connections with Campus Dining also helped provide some realism to loftier goals of enhancing the dining experience with smoothie stations at the dining halls and clearly labeling prices at the Huddle. 

That being said, Williams-Brooke’s idea for brother-sister dorms between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s concerned members of our Board who are students at the latter school. While we were pleased that this ticket brought up tri-campus relations in their platform — the only ticket to do so — we believe plans involving Saint Mary’s or Holy Cross student life would best be developed after conversations with students at those two campuses.

Beyond that, an overarching concern with the Williams-Brooke platform was their presentation of themselves as an ambitious ticket willing to take a lot of risks, particularly with their plans to potentially publicize sexual assault data and develop a peer advocate program. Similar to Oropeza-McAndrew, we felt this ticket had not fully thought through the obstacles or consequences that come with a high-reaching platform. We also worried they could be impulsive.

However, our endorsement of Jung-Rezner does not come without reservations. Their response to improving tri-campus relations displayed they had not considered the concept with much depth, and as a tri-campus newspaper, we believe whichever ticket wins the election should prioritize strengthening the tri-campus community. Additionally, out of all three tickets, Jung-Rezner brings the least diverse personal perspective to their platform, and we encourage them to listen to students that often feel underrepresented on our campus.

Our decision to endorse Jung-Rezner was not made lightly, but overarching concerns regarding the realism and follow-through of the other two tickets outweighed our concerns with Jung-Rezner’s inexperience.

While we bring a majority endorsement to the table, we encourage students to weigh the pros and cons of each ticket for themselves and make their own informed decision Wednesday.

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