By Susan Matthews
Published April 10th 2008 in The Dartmouth
Molly Bode ‘09 and Nafeesa Remtilla ‘09 were elected president and vice president, respectively, of Student Assembly in landslide victories, the Elections Planning and Advisory Committee reported Wednesday evening.
Bode garnered more than 600 first-choice votes over opponent Lee Cooper ‘09. Bode ultimately claimed the presidency with a 639-vote lead after eight rounds of instant-runoff voting. The instant-runoff voting process allowed students to rank candidates, including write-in candidates, and eliminated the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes after each round of counting.
Remtilla carried a lead of almost 800 votes from the first round of voting, and won by a margin of 954 votes in the ninth round against runner-up Chuck Zodda ‘09.
Two thousand and twenty two students voted in the election, reflecting a declining pattern in voter turnout, down 134 votes from last year and 400 votes from the 2006 election. This year’s election, which ran from 9 a.m. Tuesday and continued through 5 p.m. Wednesday, took place about a month earlier than previous Assembly elections.
“I don’t think the decrease is that significant, but if there were a reason it was probably because the elections were early,” Sara del Nido ‘08, non-voting chair of EPAC, said. Del Nido is a former member of The Dartmouth Staff.
Bode and Remtilla’s victories mark the first female president and vice president pair in Dartmouth’s history. The freshman-year roommates said they were happy for the opportunity to work together.
“I was super excited because now we can actually start doing everything we were talking about,” Remtilla said.
Bode agreed with Remtilla, adding that she was both “excited and relieved.”
As one of their first measures in office, the two plan to increase campus involvement in the Assembly, Remtilla said.
“We encourage the campus to reach out to us, but we’ll do an equal job reaching out to them,” she said.
Because of the early election dates, Bode and Remtilla will have the remainder of Spring term to work with current Assembly President Travis Green ‘08 and current Vice President Ian Tapu ‘08.
“They’re going to teach us a lot,” Bode said.
This collaboration period was one of the main reasons behind moving the elections up, according to del Nido.
Bode and Remtilla ran under similar platforms, which they said will help them work together successfully. Both stressed the similarity of their campaigns, their background working with each other and their friendship in an interview with The Dartmouth. Remtilla said she and Bode have personalities that will complement each other, explaining that she will “micromanage” the Assembly while Bode will “macromanage”.
The past few days of campaigning have helped Bode and Remtilla understand some campus needs they were previously unaware of, such as increasing athletes’ involvment in student government, Bode said.
Bode hopes Cooper stays involved in the Assembly, she said. Cooper is unsure of whether he will participate in the Assembly this year, he said, but would still like to work towards including “a strong student voice in the search for the [new College] president and a student voice on the Board of Trustees.”
Remtilla similarly encouraged the other vice presidential candidates to continue involvement in the Assembly. Remtilla and vice presidential candidate Tay Stevenson ‘10 have already talked about creating a subcommittee focused on getting a student representative on the Board of Trustees, Stevenson said.
“This new Assembly is going to be extremely open-minded,” Remtilla said.
Cooper, however, expressed doubts about the Assembly’s openness in the coming year.
“I am positive that [Bode and Remtilla] will do a fine job in pursuing and completing many projects to improve student life, but I am hesitant to believe there will be any substantive differences in the communication and structural changes that have handicapped the Assembly in the past,” Cooper said.
“I’m glad I decided to run,” he added. “I have no regrets.”
Stevenson was upset that he had lost, he said, but hopes to continue working to change the structure of the Assembly. His proposed changes involve creating a more powerful student government through the combination of many student groups on campus.
“Bring Programming Board, the [Undergraduate Finance Committee], everything together so that we have one voice, one student body,” he said in a previous interview with The Dartmouth.
Zodda will work to increase student involvement in the Assembly, he said, adding that he thought the campaign process could have been shortened.
Bode and Remtilla were optimistic about the upcoming year.
“We want more people to be proud to say, ‘This is my Dartmouth,’” Bode said.