Tatiana Kaehler Next ASWC President, Executive Council Elected

Lachlan Johnson

Photo by Anna Von Clemm

Results for the Associated Students of Whitman College 2014-2015 executive council election were released on Monday, April 14.

Junior Tatiana Kaehler will be ASWC president for the 2014-2015 academic year after capturing 66.8 percent of the vote. She will be joined on the executive council by juniors Sayda Morales, Tabor Martinsen and George Felton, who will serve as vice president, finance chair and nominations chair, respectively.

This election had a 58 percent voter turnout and was the first in recent memory to elect a woman as both president and vice president. Turnout for the presidential elections was higher than that of other races––895 students cast their votes. In the first round of voting, Kaehler received 598 votes, or 66.8 percent, securing the presidency, while sophomore Allison Kelly, her opponent in the race, received 263 votes, or 29.5 percent.

Kaehler, who was ASWC finance chair this year, defeated Kelly in a race where both candidates campaigned around the campus. It has been eight years since ASWC has had a woman president, and this year’s election was the first in recent memory to feature two female candidates and no male candidates.

“[Running for president] isn’t something I initially thought I would do when elected to ASWC my [first] year, but over the past three years I’ve realized there’s no better way to finish off [my time] at Whitman than serving as president and trying to improve our college as much as possible,” said Kaehler.

During her term, Kaehler aims to complete the three major goals stated in her platform: the inclusion of student input in the tenure process, the start of a discussion on the continuously rising tuition and the approval of academic credit for relevant student internships.

Photo by Anna Von Clemm

“Many of these goals are going to require a discussion with trustees, with faculty [and] with the student body,” said Kaehler. “There’s probably going to be a need for a lot of logistics and planning. In order to tackle those big goals, I’m going to need to get started right away.”

Morales and Felton ran as vice president and nominations chair, respectively, without any formal opposition. However, their roles will be no less important in the next year of ASWC governance.

“My electoral victory simply means I will continue to work toward making campus a safe and pleasant environment for everyone and addressing the climate of racism is only a part of that,” said Morales, who is currently studying in Morocco, in an e-mail.

In addition to serving as vice president, Morales will chair the Student Development Committee. “I hope to support any and all campus movements that aim to benefit the Whitman experience in a positive way.”

Junior Tabor Martinsen will be the finance chair after winning a competitive three-way race against sophomores Skye Vander Laan and Phuong Le that resulted in a run-off of votes. After the first round of voting, no candidate managed to secure an absolute majority of the 793 votes cast. Martinsen came first with 324 votes, or 40.1 percent. Vander Laan came in second with 292 votes, or 36.8 percent and Le came in third with 168 votes, or 21.2 percent.

Because an absolute majority is needed to win a seat in the executive council, votes were re-counted, and ballots which marked Le as their first choice were reassigned to each voter’s second choice candidate, if the voter chose to mark one. This resulted in Martinsen having 381 votes, or 53 percent, out of the 719 ballots. This marked a secondary preference, which was enough to secure a victory, while Vander Laan finished with 338 votes, or 47.0 percent.

Martinsen aims to bring greater efficiency to the finance committee, as well as to support Kaehler’s effort to engage the trustees in a dialogue about tuition and promote greater awareness among students of how clubs and individuals may request funds from the Travel and Student Development Fund.

“Whitman’s at a crossroads right now, where we can do a lot of interesting things,” said Martinsen. “The campus climate is changing as far as the culture [and] getting a new president [for the college] …. It’s a really cool position, and ASWC’s at the forefront of that.”