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The Dartmouth
February 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Assembly candidates prepare to campaign

This year's unusually competitive Student Assembly elections for student body president and vice president will be held on Monday, April 16 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The six presidential candidates and five vice-presidential candidates will campaign throughout this week to garner student votes in an election year marked by several changes to election procedures.

Given the high number of candidates, there is likely to be more split voting than there has been in the past, according to Vaidehi Mujumdar '13, the Elections Planning and Advisory Committee's Green Key Society representative.

The voting process this year will be similar to that of last year, with online approval voting determining the winners, Mujumdar said. This process means that students can vote for multiple candidates, and those with the greatest number of votes will win, she said. Although there are considerably more candidates this year than last year, in which only four candidates officially ran for president or vice president, there will not be any changes in procedure to account for this increase.

EPAC Chair Richard Stephenson '12 said he is "excited" to see the larger candidate pool, which will enable more sectors of campus to be involved in the election and will increase discussion and voter participation.

In addition to the previously announced candidates, Callista Womick '13 is running for the vice-presidential position. Womick, a studio art major from North Carolina, said she hopes to make the Assembly more effective at bringing campus together to "discuss issues that are important to our community."

If elected, Womick said she will reach out to student groups across campus by attending meetings herself, and she said she hopes to create a fund for "social events" that bring these groups together.

Womick has no formal experience with the Assembly, but she has worked as a student coordinator of the Diversity Peer Program through the Office of Pluralism and Leadership.

Winners will be announced sometime before midnight on Monday, Stephenson said.

This year, EPAC considered a shift to an instrumental voting process in which candidates would be eliminated one by one but decided "that wasn't the best way to do it," Mujumdar said.

This election marks a change in the candidacy requirements, as students who have been previously suspended are allowed to run provided that they disclose the issue that resulted in their suspension, Mujumdar said.

This change constituted the "most fair" solution, because it allows students to run while simultaneously holding them accountable for past suspensions, according to Mujumdar.

By making more students eligible and eliminating a "negative stigma," the change in requirements promotes a more positive view of both the elections, Stephenson said.

Mujumdar said she hopes to see an increase in voter turnout and publicity in this year's election. To work toward this goal, computers will be set up in popular student areas with volunteers present to encourage voting.

The short length of the campaign process six days is meant to "minimize stress" on the candidates, who have to deal with strenuous schedules, Mujumdar said.

EPAC members intend for the election to be "something fun" that will not "take over" the lives of candidates in a way that forces them to neglect other responsibilities, Stephenson said.

Although presidential candidate Suril Kantaria '13 and vice-presidential candidate Julia Danford '13 are running together in the election, the ballots will not reflect this partnership, and it is just a strategy to gain support, Mujumdar said.

Presidential and vice-presidential candidates are not placed on the same ballot in order to ensure that no one is chosen simply because of his or her running mate, according to Stephenson.

Now that candidates have been announced, EPAC has taken a "behind-the-scenes" role to ensure that the elections remain fair, Mujumdar said.

EPAC is responsible for fielding concerns about potential violations committed by the candidates, such as starting to campaign too early or "spamming inboxes," she said.

The Assembly debate will be held on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Paganucci Lounge and will be moderated by Ben Ludlow '12 and Rohail Premjee '14. The debate sponsored by the Inter-Community Council and the Afro-American Society will take place on Wednesday. A "tentative" Greek organization debate is scheduled for Thursday but will be replaced by an EPAC debate in the case that it does not occur, Stephenson said. A debate sponsored by The Dartmouth will be held on Friday.