Grade level plays role in choosing running mates
By MIKE CONNOLLY
Most people would agree that issues and ideas of a candidate should be the deciding factor in who gets elected in any campaign. In student government elections, oftentimes who you know plays as much of a role as what you want to do. Choosing a president and vice president from different classes can help a ticket spread its appeal to more students.
Ryan Becker, a junior presidential candidate from Zahm Hall, said Nikki McCord's sophomore status played a role in selecting her as his vice president.
"It definitely played a part,"he said. "She can bring in a whole different group of people. I know the juniors better from class and class government and she knows the sophomores better. More people can say, `I know those people.' Having a sophomore is a great benefit."
Current student body vice president and candidate for president Brooke Norton said the appeal of split ticket goes beyond just the election. Norton, who was elected to her post as a junior, said the different experiences of Brian O'Donoghue, a senior, and herself make their administration more effective.
"The ticket is more representative of the student body,"Norton said. "In office this year, it helped us because we were going through different things. I could relate to the younger students because I had just been there while Brian could better relate to the seniors."
O'Donoghue echoed Norton's sentiments.
"My perspective was often very different from Brooke's," he said. "The perspective of a senior is very different from that of a junior. A senior often looks back at his time at Notre Dame and ahead to his future. He is very much in a transition stage. A junior is more grounded in the present at Notre Dame."
Norton chose sophomore Brian Moscona as her running mate. She said she chose him only because he could do a good job but admitted that being a sophomore could help him be a more effective vice president.
"From my experiences this year, I knew it would help us to be in different classes and have different experiences," she said.
Not all the candidates believe that a split ticket is necessary to win the election however. Chris Zimmerman and Andy Nelson, both sophomores from Fisher Hall, believe they have enough personal connections in other classes to win the election.
"We personally have a lot of sophomore friends but we also have a lot of junior friends and freshman friends who are going to help us through word of mouth with their friends," Zimmerman said. "With the Notre Dame dorm situation with all the classes integrated, I don't think it makes much of a difference."
Students say personal connections are important but its more important to be a recognizable person with good ideas rather than a classmate.
"I think that it makes a difference if you know him, you will be more likely to vote for him because you know what he stands for," Catie McCracken, a sophomore from Badin. She added that knowing a candidate can also lead a student to vote against the candidate because she disagrees with what he stands for.
Students also said that being a sophomore — and usually less experience than a junior ócould be a weakness.
"I think experience counts," said Susan Papreck, a sophomore from Badin. "So obviously in you are a junior you will have more experience in student government."Papreck also said she wouldn't decide her vote strictly on class status.
Holt Zeidler and Allison Henisey, both juniors, believe their experience makes them the best ticket.
"I think it offers an extra year of experience ó especially for the vice president. It's important to have an experienced person leading senate," Zeidler said.
McCord, the current senator for Pasquerilla East, said it was more important for a candidate to have student senate experience than just be a year older. She thinks her two years of student government experience make her capable of leading senate next year.
"No matter what year you are, the experience of being a senator makes you more prepared to lead student senate if you are elected," she said.
Nelson stresses that experience isn't everything, however.
"Some people may think that we don't know Notre Dame because we aren't upper classmen but I think that's false. Good ideas are good ideas," he said. "Obviously you grow over your four years here but I think it is hard to see a real difference between sophomores and seniors."
Demetra Smith and Yogeld Andre admit that both being juniors and studying in France last year limits the number of students they know but have made a concerted effort to meet more people this campaign. They also said they have a unique perspective of Notre Dame.
"I understand that people will look for people they know so Yogeld and I have been trying to meet as many people as possible," Smith said. "I think it helps being a senior and knowing the school better but it also helps being abroad. It let's us know about Notre Dame in a larger context."
McCord said being a sophomore gives her one of the best perspectives of student life at Notre Dame.
"You are at the halfway point of your Notre Dame career your sophomore year," she said. "You remember what it was like to be a freshman but you can appeal to the juniors as well."
Sophomore candidates also have a chance to run again in a year. Becker said part of the reason he selected McCord was to give her the experience for a run at the presidency her senior year. Norton already has that advantage heading into this election. If she wins the election, Moscona will be in the same situation next year.
Maureen Gottlieb and Victoria Fetterman, both sophomores, believe the chance to have the same class student body president and vice president is one of their biggest strengths. If elected, they plan to seek re-election next year.
"I think being sophomores is actually an advantage for us because it gives us perhaps two years to work on our plans," Gottlieb said. "We could have the same people working for two years."
All News Stories for Friday, February 9, 2001