David Millman ’23 and Jessica Chiriboga ’24 speak at first in-person Student Assembly election forum since 2019
Though traditionally a debate, the event was converted to a town hall due to the uncontested election.
On April 24, The Dartmouth hosted a town hall forum for the candidates running for Student Assembly president and vice president. Student body president candidate David Millman ’23 and his running mate Jessica Chiriboga ’24 were the town hall’s only participants, as both are running unopposed. The event was also streamed on The Dartmouth’s Facebook page, where a recording of the event is available.
After the candidates introduced themselves, moderator and editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth Emily Lu ’23 asked them about their thoughts on current SA leadership. Millman said that current SA president Jennifer Qian ’22 and SA vice-president Maggie Johnston ’22 have “done really well trying to encourage” SA representatives to pursue their own projects, like reestablishing the Dick’s House food pantry, but that the current rules do not allow the SA to be as effective as it could be.
“Right now the leadership is constrained by the structure of Student Assembly,” he said. “Right now, there is no attendance requirement, so in order to vote in Student Assembly we need to have a quorum of over half of the members and we typically don’t meet that for any meeting.”
Millman and Chiriboga proposed further changes to the structure of Student Assembly, including renaming the body to “Student Government” and creating a council of various governing bodies on campus. Millman said that this council would be a way for campus organizations such as the Collis Governing Board or the interfraternity council to more easily communicate and better coordinate collaborative initiatives with other organizations and SA. According to Chiriboga, the council would not take over the organizations it would represent.
“The Dartmouth undergraduate leadership council allows each of those organizations to operate independently,” she said. “They will still have their independent budgets. It’s just formalizing a way for us to communicate on a monthly basis.”
Millman said that changing the name of Student Assembly will help clarify what student leaders are doing.
“I think being student body president of Dartmouth Student Government makes it very clear what it is, what our role is, and what students should expect of us,” he said in an interview with The Dartmouth after the event.
Millman and Chiriboga also proposed adding a student representative to the Board of Trustees of the College. Millman said that previous student leaders have been unable to achieve this goal.
“I think I have to question the advocacy in previous years,” he said. “I’m not sure how public [past efforts have] been. It hasn’t really been a focus.”
Millman and Chiriboga also both stressed the importance of improving mental health services on campus. She said an unofficial group composed of members of SA, the Mental Health Student Union and director of the Counseling Center Heather Earl had discussed providing different teletherapy options on campus. According to Chiriboga, the group decided that partnering with UWill, an online health and wellness organization that provides video and message-based counseling, would be the most amenable means of providing free and “unlimited” mental health care to students.
After the town hall event, Millman said that he sees the lack of an opponent for his campaign as an endorsement of his platform.
“We’re uncontested but I don’t think that’s a measure of apathy,” he said. “I read it more as a measure of support for what we want to do and who we are.”
According to Election Planning and Advisory Committee chair Zippy Abraham Paiss ’23, this is the first election “to [her] knowledge” in which there has only been one official student body president and vice president on the ballot, although she noted that there is “always the opportunity for students to put in a write-in candidate.”
Millman said that his administration will be more public than previous ones. Millman also said that while he would try the “negotiating route first,” he would use his platform as SA president to try to apply more forceful pressure on the College to make changes.
“We are going to be more confrontational,” he said. “I think we are going to be more active about being public about disagreements and not try and do everything behind closed doors.”
Voting for SA positions, Class Council, the Committee on Standards and the organizational adjudication committee opened yesterday at 5 p.m. and will close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. All voting will take place online on Engage.
Editor-in-Chief Emily Lu ’23 was not involved in the editing of this article.
Daniel Modesto ’24 contributed to reporting.