OAC and COS see fewer student candidates

Tiffany Zhai/The Dartmouth Staff
The Organizational Adjudication Committee and Committee on Standards saw eight candidates total.
Tiffany Zhai/The Dartmouth Staff

Fewer students than last year ran on the official ballot to fill seats on the Organizational Adjudication Committee and the Committee on Standards, two bodies that carry out the bulk of student judiciary proceedings at the College.

Four students were official candidates going into election day on Monday, compared to the 12 students who ran on the official ballot last year. Eight students in total — four official candidates and four write-ins — were elected to the committee on Monday.

Shagun Hegur ’16, Jose Rodarte-Canales ’16, Tori Nevel ’16 and Rui Zhang ’16 were elected as official candidates, and Eliza Ezrapour ’18, Alex Liao ’16, Oliver Edelson ’18 and Jack Sullivan ’18 were elected as write-ins.

The student members of the OAC and COS are elected every year through the same process as the rest of Student Assembly leadership, which is run by the Elections Planning and Advisory Committee.

Since there are a shortage of sophomore participants for the upcoming summer, judicial affairs director Leigh Remy said there will likely be special appointments this summer, some of whom can continue into the fall if they enjoy their position.

The number of students who are elected or nominated each year depends on the number of graduating seniors. This year, 17 committee members are graduating.

The judicial affairs office, out of which the OAC and COS committees operate, does not play a large role in the election of committee members.

Each committee should have 12 members, for a total of 24 participating students. Because of the D-plan, there are often more than the needed 24 students are actually on the committees to ensure that there are 24 members present each term.

The judicial affairs office aims to have approximately half of their open membership spots elected by the student body each spring.

The other students are nominated by professors or peers in the fall and go through a written application process, Remy said. For the 2014-2015 school year, there are currently 30 students in total serving on both committees.

After being elected, students are then cross-trained for both committees and can participate on both based on future scheduling.

As of last week, the office of judicial affairs was informed that only four students were officially running for a committee position this year, although the election ultimately produced “hundreds” of write-in candidates, EPAC chair Derek Whang ’17 said.  Remy attributed the dearth of official candidates to a lack of knowledge about the positions rather than student apathy.

Zhang, who appeared on the official ballot and was elected to the committees, said that he would not have known about or run for the position if he were not friends with a current member of one of the committees.

Zhang said that he wanted to run because he is very interested in how the judicial process works.

“I am very interested specifically about how academic honesty cases are processed in COS,” he said.

Zhang said he only started campaigning a few days before because he knew how few students were running this year and did not want people to forget his name. He does not mind, however, that several students wrote in their names late in the process.

“I don’t think they are less qualified because they ran last minute,” he said.

Some of the students may not have heard about the opportunity until a few days before, he added. He believes that a general increase in advertising, both for COS but also for student elections in general, is needed to increase participation.

Ezrapour had a similar experience as Zhang — someone she knew mentioned that they enjoyed being on the committee and that it was an important part of their Dartmouth experience, and she thought that her participation in mock trial would make her more likely to succeed in the position.

Ezrapour won as a write-in, though she originally collected all of the 50 signatures required to be an official candidate. She said she missed the form date because of Passover activities. Ezrapour said she had mixed feelings about the lack of extensive advertising for the committee positions.

“If it flies under the radar, it is a position you really have to seek out and is something you’re more interested in,” Ezrapour said. “But at the same time, maybe because it’s not publicized, people who would do a good job are missing out.”

Remy said that last year, the COS and OAC ballot saw a high number of applicants and unusually high level of competition.

For only eight open slots, 12 candidates ran on the official ballot and 155 write-ins were submitted. Many of the write-ins were later nominated for positions in the fall process.

Remy credits the increased amount of official applicants to the work that EPAC did under former chair Ryan Tibble ’14.

“Last year really spoke to the work EPAC did to promote elections all over,” Remy said, referring their efforts to promote student leadership positions in general.

EPAC also reached out to the judicial affairs office last year, inviting them to information sessions for all Student Assembly candidates.

The judicial affairs office was also able to host an open house to answer questions. Remy thinks that EPAC could be doing more to let students know about positions for which they are eligible to run, she said.

“The Student Assembly envisions students running against each other,” she said. “They should be petitioning the student body for membership.”

She acknowledged, however, that the judicial affairs office could advertise more to students as well.

Whang, who took office on April 13, does not think that the EPAC advertising efforts have changed in the last year.

He noted that EPAC sent emails out to the campus listserv advertising their three open houses, as they have in past years. Regardless, he said he did not think that more publicity is needed.

“If you’re not checking listserv and you want to run, honestly it’s on you,” he said. “I don’t think it’s necessary to go beyond what we’ve done.”

He said that the EPAC could address the question of increased advertising going forward.

Remy said that often, students who are a good fit for the OAC and COS do not always run for the positions, adding that sometimes the best candidates do not consider running and are nominated by others.

Remy said she considers a good candidate to be fair, a good listener and respectful to the stressful situations that students are in at the time of a hearing.

She also believes it is important that they can separate on-campus issues that they are passionate about from individual student cases.

“Some students see it as a service to Dartmouth and fellow students,” she said. “Others see it as a leadership position and an opportunity to forward the College or uphold its standards.”

Ezrapour said that she ran because she wanted to serve her fellow students.

“It’s a chance to hopefully represent and defend and do right by the students,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.”

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