Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Hand count determines firstyear Senate election results

First-year students voted on Tuesday for the four senators that will represent them in the Associated Students of Whitman College Senate.

Stephen Stradley, Matt Dittrich, Duji Tahat and Elisa Jaramillo were elected to represent the Class of 2012 in this year’s ASWC Senate.

Mired by technical difficulties, the finalvote count for the election was hand-counted by Kendra Vandree, Oversight Committee Chair, Andrea Ramirez, Director of Student Activities, and Leann White, Assistant Director of Student Activities, Vandree said.

Then, on Wednesday morning, the count was approved by the ASWC Oversight Committee.

“I was very, very excited,” Jaramillo said. “One of the other people who won actually called me and I didn’t find out until about 1 p.m.”

Though it is difficult to gauge what percentage of the vote each candidate received––ASWC uses a preferential voting system as opposed to the more common all-or-nothing system –– Stradely had the highest percent at 12.3 percent, Dittrich followed with 10.6 percent while Tahat and Jaramillo came in with 9.2 percent of the ‘first preference’ vote, according to voting numbers released on Wednesday.

The election, whose campaign season officially began on Sept. 12, saw one of the largest fields in recent years, said Paul Butler, Oversight Committee member.

“We had 17 candidates running this year, whereas last year we had eight,” Butler said. “That’s a huge increase.”

The field was initially set at 20, however, three candidates retracted their names at the last minute, according to Butler.

Candidates noted the difficulty of such a long list of potential senators. “With 18 people up there, it’s really hard to differentiate yourself,” Tahat said.

The increase in candidates may have also had an impact on voter apathy, which has gone down, Butler said.

“When we did the forums, there were more people there than I’ve seen at any other ASWC event,” Butler said.

Exactly two-thirds, 292 students, of the first year class voted in ASWC’s preferential voting system in which students are able to rank candidates based on their preference as opposed to a winner-take-all system in which voters may only vote for one candidate.

The system is one Whitman has adopted in order to give each vote “more input” and, by extension, the voter more of a say in the election’s outcome, Butler said. “Instead of just having one vote you cast for one candidate, you put your order of preferences down,” Butler said. “So in this election, you can vote one through 17, if you want to, listing all of your preferences in order.”
Butler suspected the voter turnout on Wednesday was higher than that of previous first year elections.

“We usually don’t get the greatest turnout,” Butler said. “If we get above 60 or 70 percent, that’s pretty good.”

Going into Tuesday’s election, many of the candidates felt confident in their qualifications. “All of the other candidates are really experienced, just like I am. We’ve all been a part of a community leadership position in high school,” Lihn Le said. “Personally, I think I have experience because I’ve been involved in student government all four years of high school… I have the motivation and drive to make this a better place.”

“In my junior year of high school, I was one of the first juniors in over a decade to be on the executive board,” Tahat said. “I was on a youth council board where we actually got to give away $50,000 grants to various nonprofit organizations in my community.”

“I was my high school student body president,” Stradley said. “We were very successful, finishing with the highest surplus in school history and also had the school’s first rave and drive-in movie.”

Several of the candidates believed they could bring a new perspective to ASWC by virtue of their diverse heritage.

“I was born in the Philippines and my dad is from Jordan,” Tahat said. “I have a very unique background.”

“I grew up in a different country, an African country called Eritrea,” Yonas Fikak said. “I believe I have a different perspective than most of the students here because I’ve been in the third-world and now, all of a sudden, I’m here in the first-world.”

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