Students launch Student Assembly campaigns

by Lucia McGloin | 4/13/15 9:14pm

Campaigning for Student Assembly elections began today at midnight, and voting will take place next Monday. Frank Cunningham ’16 and Jake Gaba ’16 will be vying for the title of student body president.

Julia Dressel ’17 is on the official ballot for student body vice president, while Penelope Williams ’16 will be running as a write-in candidate. Danny Reitsch ’16 is running unopposed for 2016 Class Council president, while Brad Plunkett ’16 will run for 2016 Class Council vice president, both unopposed on the official ballot. Elisabeth Schricker ’17 will run for 2017 Class Council president unopposed.

The 2018 Class Council candidates are Yima Asom '18,Aaron Cheese '18, Julia Cohen '18, Madison DeRose '18, Harrison Perkins '18,Kyle Tarantino '18, David Tramonte '18, Matthew Treiber '18, William Tremml '18 and Robert Wang '18.

Four students — Rui Zhang ’16, Shagun Herur ’16, Tori Nevel ’16 and José Rodarte-Canales ’16 — will run for seats on the Committee on Standards and the Organizational Adjudication Committee.

The 2015 Elections Planning and Advisory Committee met Monday night for two hours to finalize election logistics, chair of EPAC Derek Whang ’17 said.

Petitions to be on the official ballot were due on April 13. The final candidate list was created after being reviewed by the judicial affairs office, Whang said.

Cunningham, the current student body vice president, plans to run for president alongside Dressel. Rallying under the campaign slogan “We Can’t Stop,” Cunningham and Dressel’s platform highlights student rights, ideas for student-initiated social spaces, diversity awareness and the continuance of current mental health initiatives, Dressel said.

“I like the concept of fighting for the school,” Dressel said about their slogan and her decision to run. “With some of the recent changes, I felt a lot of hopelessness on campus. I want to show the students that we can have a voice in the changes that are happening.”

The platform provisions for the first-ever student bill of rights, Cunningham said, with the intention to both involve students in defining their rights and examine areas where administrators may be overreaching. In envisioning new social spaces for students, Cunningham said he and Dressel plan to lobby the College in support of any sorority that wants to localize. Citing BarHop as an example of a successful student-driven social space, he added an idea for a “shark tank” style presentation for students to pitch ideas to and get support from administrators.

An important part of Cunningham’s vision is continuing Student Assembly’s “I’m Here for You” campaign against mental illness, he said. If elected, he wants to work more closely with the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault and facilitate the presence of WISE — an Upper Valley support group for victims of sexual assault — on campus. He also plans to integrate issues and topics of sexuality into discussions and programming centered around mental health through an examination of queer student friendships and relationships.

Gaba and Williams are running-mates for student body president and vice-president. Their platform is centered on promoting Dartmouth and helping to improve the College’s image.

“It is something every student can get behind,” Gaba said.

Williams said that she and Gaba want to engage with the effects of recent negative press about student life on campus. She hopes to enhance an understanding of the ins and outs of campus life — either through a society on campus or viral video to disseminate nationally — by featuring the less politically-charged and more inspiring pockets of campus.

Last year, Gaba grabbed the attention of the student body with a YouTube video, in which he danced and lip-synched to Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy,” (2014) across campus. The video has over 109,000 views. Reflecting on the positive reception of the video, Gaba said he imagined even greater success if the project had institutional support. Instead of featuring 100 students, for example, maybe one thousand students could have gathered on the Green, he said.

The decision to run was solidified this spring, Gaba said, though he has been considering a campaign for longer. Though yet to participate at Dartmouth, student governance is not entirely new for Gaba, who served as student body president of his high school. Williams and Gaba are in the process of finalizing a platform.

“We are okay with non-concrete ideas, with questions and with knowing we won’t be able to solve everything,” Williams said. She said she sees the pair as different from candidates in the past because instead of grounding a platform in promises, they aim to facilitate a critical yet balanced discussion about the environment on campus.

Gaba said they received help from friends in the DALI Lab in designing campaign materials. Today, he plans to hand out stickers and post flyers around campus.

Addendum (April 14, 2014): The candidates for the Class of 2018 Council were not announced by the time this story ran in print. It has been updated to reflect the names of the candidates.