Kantaria, Danford win Student Assembly elections
By Marina Shkuratov, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, April 17, 2012
After a close and highly contested election, Suril Kantaria ’13 and Julia Danford ’13 were elected the new Student Assembly president and vice president, respectively. A total of 2,239 people voted in this year’s Assembly election, a 574-vote increase from last year’s election, according to Election Planning and Advisory Committee chair Richard Stephenson ’12.
Kantaria received 716 votes, defeating Erin Klein ’13 with 705 votes, J.T. Tanenbaum ’13 with 701 votes, Rachel Wang ’13 with 335 votes and Max Hunter ’13 with 281 votes. Danford received 774 votes, defeating Sahil Joshi ’13 with 759 votes, Callista Womick ’13 with 389 votes and Troy Dildine ’13 with 368 votes.
Kantaria said he is excited about the victory and is eager to begin his role as president of the Assembly.
“I am thrilled to hear that Julia and I won, and I am really excited to begin implementing our platform on reform,” he said.
Kantaria and Danford ran together on an official ticket in the election, though students voted for presidential and vice-presidential candidates individually.
Danford said she was “humbled” by a victory against so many qualified candidates.
“It really was an honor to be in such a close race with so many very accomplished and worthy running mates,” she said.
Kantaria and Danford said they plan to begin implementing changes to the Assembly as soon as possible.
“Julia and I really want to jump right into some of our promises and platforms and work closely with both [current Student Body President Max Yoeli ’12 and current Student Body Vice President Amrita Sankar ’12] to ensure a seamless transition,” Kantaria said.
Kantaria is not sure of the “details” about when the transfer of power will occur but plans to discuss the “best way to have an effective transition” with Yoeli and Sankar soon, he said.
“We want to change the structure of [the Assembly] and create liaisons from different groups on campus so we actually have a functioning [Assembly] with a revitalized membership,” he said.
In addition to reaching out to campus leaders and bringing them into the Assembly, Danford and Kantaria plan to bring back the Assembly’s Course Guide and begin working on a freshman mentorship program, that will aim to “ease the transition” to Dartmouth by pairing them with an upperclassman with similar interests, Danford said.
“The goal of that program is really to have freshmen paired up with a peer, an upperclassman peer, who would ideally be able to help them and guide them through their first year and beyond,” she said.
The marked increase in voter turnout in this year’s election is likely the result of the larger number of candidates and “active participants” in almost all of the races, Stephenson said.
“I think all the races were very competitive,” he said.
Because more people ran in the election, it “hit a more diverse pool” of people on campus, encouraging many to vote, Stephenson said.
Although this year’s election included more candidates and inspired more students to vote, it was less controversial than last year’s Assembly elections.
“This year was more docile but more contested,” EPAC advisor Eric Ramsey said.
Stephenson said that the close results of this year’s election are not unusual. Because the approval voting system allows voters to vote for multiple candidates, people are not “forced to choose” between their friends, and candidates can glean votes from the same constituency, he said.
Student body presidential candidate Tanenbaum said that Kantaria deserved his victory and commended all of the candidates on their work throughout the campaigning process.
“It’s obvious that all the candidates ran a very solid campaign,” he said. “I think Suril worked very hard, and he deserves every success that he has achieved.”
Klein said she hopes Kantaria and Danford will consider the comments made by all the candidates at the four debates held during the week of campaigning.
“I think we’ve seen a lot of passion over the past week, and I hope that it doesn’t go to waste,” she said.
Wang also said she hopes the positive ideas brought out during the campaigning process will be enacted.
“I personally felt very inspired while running, and I hope we can accomplish some of what we’ve said during the past week,” she said.
Vice-presidential candidate Joshi said that all of the candidates expressed similar visions of improving the College during the campaigning process and should continue to work to bring their visions to fruition.
“We’re all on the same team in terms of all wanting to improve Dartmouth,” he said. “I’m just hoping that that kind of mentality continues, that we all work toward that whether or not we have a position.”
Dildine said that “whoever is elected is elected for a reason,” noting that he will continue to be actively involved in the Assembly over the coming year. Womick also said she will continue to work on addressing “the problems that I want to tackle during my last year here.”
“I will still be doing all the things that I promised I would do during my campaigning, and I hope that Suril and Julia can honestly say the same,” she said.
Georgia Travers ’13 was elected 2013 Class Council president and Ben Newton ’13 was elected 2013 Class Council vice president in the elections. Chisom Obi-Okoye ’14 and Gina Greenwalt ’14 will serve as 2014 Class Council president and vice president, respectively, and Emmanuel Kim ’15 and Justin Sha ’15 will serve as 2015 Class Council president and vice president, respectively.
Yoeli declined to comment on the results of the election. Hunter could not be reached by press time.
The election was held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday.
Kantaria and Greenwalt are members of The Dartmouth Staff. Obi-Okoye is a member of The Dartmouth Business Staff.