By Steven Viera || Senior Editor
Students turned out by the hundreds last Tuesday, Apr. 5, to vote in officer elections for the Diplomatic Congress (DipCon) where representatives of the Elections Committee manned a booth in the Steinman College Center from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for students to come in and cast their ballots. The newly-elected executive board of DipCon consists of Wyatt Behringer ’18, president; Carmen Navia ’18, vice president; Shakeyla Flores ’19, treasurer; and Danielle Sang ’18, secretary.
“I ran because I’m passionate about Franklin & Marshall and its students,” Behringer said. “Since stepping on campus, I’ve been inspired by the students around me who juggle so much and still are so passionate about their educations, their futures, and the world around them. F&M and its student government should continue to cultivate that spirit.”
In his new role as president, Behringer hopes to work with the leaders on DipCon and across campus to develop a more collaborative approach to student government, including efforts to make more intentional and comprehensive decisions regarding event planning. During his candidacy, he announced a platform that emphasized ensuring inclusivity for all students, promoting a dialogue on stress and mental health, and advocating for alternative social spaces in addition to his plans to improve student government and programming.
Navia will join Behringer on DipCon’s executive board, and she would like to proceed working to realize initiatives which began this year, like continuing to transition toward gender neutral bathrooms across campus, as well improving transparency between elected officials and the student body.
“The biggest thing I want to try to achieve this coming year is open communication,” she said. “I feel that if we build the communication between the congress and the students, we will be able to also build communication between students and the administration. All in all, I think that the students should know what decisions are made and understand why.”
According to Molly Cadwell ’16, the current vice president of DipCon, all students need to do to secure a space on the ballot is sign a candidate agreement, submit a candidate statement, and bring a petition bearing 100 signatures from the student body in support of the candidate by a certain deadline. This year, DipCon tried to encourage participation in the elections through a number of mediums, such as the Student Leadership Fair held in late March. In addition, the DipCon Elections Committee, which oversees elections and campaigns, became a standing committee that undertook a series of reforms to improve the transparency and participation rate of elections staffed by herself; Josh Hoffman ’17, chair of Club Council; and Anne Dolan ’16, president of the Senior Class.
Cadwell noted that with 390 votes—374 students voting in-person and 16 students voting from abroad—it was the most robust voter turnout she has seen in her four years at F&M and participating in student government.
“I feel honored to be elected,” Behringer said. “Being president of [the] Diplomatic Congress is a great opportunity to make change and foster community. The students who voted have given me a new platform to give back to F&M. I intend to put the energy and passion into the position to ensure that students made the right choice in electing me.”
Senior Steven Viera is the Senior Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.