Student government elections experience delays, questions
The 2020 presidential election is in full swing, with last week’s Iowa caucuses and this past Tuesday’s primary election in New Hampshire. Candidates are criss-crossing the nation and managing their last-minute get-out-the-vote operations in order to get that last burst of momentum before polling day.
Here at Notre Dame, a similar political process is underway: campaigning for next year’s student government president and vice president. Six tickets met the signature threshold and were approved to appear on this past Tuesday’s ballot. The tickets are as follows: Noble Patidar and Connor Patrick, Connor Whittle and Jack Rotolo, Zachary Mercugliano and Gavriella Lund, Henry Bates and Thomas Henry, Michael Dugan and Ricardo Pozas Garza, and Rachel Ingal and Sarah Galbenski.
Due to the recent death of Notre Dame senior Annrose Jerry, the election and related campaign period was pushed back a week. This delay, along with the desire to prevent the campaign period from spilling over into Junior Parents Weekend, has caused this election season to be much shorter than in previous years. Despite the constraint, candidates have been moving forward with presenting their policies and platforms in order to convince the electorate that they are the best person for the job.
The election comes in the middle of a tumultuous academic year, in which events regarding the Catholic identity of the university and the many related issues have been under intense scrutiny.
Only two tickets responded to the Rover’s request for comment: Mercugliano-Lund provided a statement, and Ingal-Galbenski also responded but declined to comment. However, similar issues were addressed in the presidential debate hosted by Knights of Columbus on Sunday night, and thus all tickets (minus Bates-Henry) have been on the record on some of these very important issues. A selection of the responses of the candidates is given below.
One question in the Knights of Columbus debate focused on the Catholic identity of the university. Ingal focused on the university’s application of Catholic social teaching, saying that it is what makes Notre Dame stand out from other institutions around the country. Patidar emphasized that the Catholic identity of the school is not limited to the Church, but rather the small-c “catholic,” meaning “universal.” Dugan emphasized the “foundational” aspect of Catholicism and the university, but also expressed support for ecumenical and interfaith activities, recognizing the diversity of religious beliefs that exist here on campus. Mercugliano’s ticket, in their statement to the Rover, said that “Notre Dame’s Catholicity held it strong against secular forces over the past century and a half.” They referenced Notre Dame’s conflict with the Ku Klux Klan in 1924 as well as former university President Fr. Ted Hesburgh’s work in the civil rights movement.
With regards to parietals, the candidates took a more nuanced approach, reflecting the recent controversy over the issues. Patidar’s stance focused intensely on the little known “parietal amnesty” clause, which provides that in unsafe situations, such as those involving sexual assault, students will not be penalized for violating parietals. Two other candidates, namely, Ingal and Whittle, also endorsed the idea of parietal amnesty awareness by name, while the other candidates expressed similar views with an emphasis on student safety.
All of these issues are, of course, important for any student to consider when making their choice. While the power of student government to enact meaningful change is limited, it is an important representation of the student body and can help guide conversations around these issues, which are central to the Rover’s mission of promoting the Catholic identity and values of the university.
Luke Koenigsknecht is a freshman electrical engineering major from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the sub-editor of the Rover’s politics section. He solely drinks water and milk. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.