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The Scarlet & Black

DeWitt elected as president, Dann for VPSA, Aaronson for VPAA

Anita DeWitt was elected SGA President. Photo by Jun Taek Lee
Anita DeWitt was elected SGA President. Photo by Jun Taek Lee
Anita DeWitt was elected SGA President. Photo by Jun Taek Lee

The student body has elected Anita DeWitt ’17 as Student Government Association President, Bailey Dann ’17 as Vice President of Student Affairs and Rachel Aaronson ’17 as Vice President of Academic Affairs.

This year’s elections were extremely competitive, according to the SGA Executive Election Results and Fact Sheet. Thirteen candidates ran for three positions, and all three executive positions required run-off elections. In the second round, the run-off election, 62 percent of students voted.

In the election for SGA President, DeWitt received 63.5 percent of the vote. For VPSA, Dann received 37.4 percent, and for VPAA, Aaronson received 43.2 percent.

DeWitt ran for SGA President because she feels she represents many underrepresented

groups on campus. She has lots of goals including cultural competency training for all faculty, staff and student leaders and divesting from private prisons. She felt SGA President was her next logical step to beginning to achieve these goals.

“In order to finally fulfill all the things [my community has] been working on, I need to be in this position,” DeWitt said.

In addition, DeWitt hopes to jump into work breaking down mental health and disabilities stigmas on campus.

“I want to show our sign of support to the neurodivergence community,” she said.

Dann decided to run for VPSA because of her passion for and commitment to two communities: Grinnell’s student body and the Native American community. Dann is committed to “hard work and elbow grease” and “getting down and doing honest work” for Grinnell. In addition, as one of the few Native Americans on campus, she wanted to set a precedent by running for an executive position.

“There isn’t a lot of Native American representation in politics,” she said.

Because there is currently no VPSA, there will be a vote at Campus Council next Wednesday to appoint Dann for the position of Acting-VSPA for the rest of the semester.

“You almost have to jump right in,” Dann said. “I will definitely continue the good work current SGA executives have started. They’ve made some really great conversations and they’ve gotten the ball rolling with administration in terms of mental health and diversity.”

Bailey Dann was elected VPSA. Photo by John Brady
Bailey Dann was elected VPSA. Photo by John Brady

Aaronson ran for VPAA because of her interest in educational policy and her desire to interweave academics and wellness. Academics and wellness are typically thought of as very separate issues but Aaronson feels if they were more interconnected, students would have more opportunities to succeed.

“Mental health impacts academics, but this academic culture of stress also negatively impacts mental health,” Aaronson said. “We all are high-achieving individuals who like to do well in classes, but sometimes professors straight-up assign too much work and students internalize that and feel like it’s a failing on their own part.”

In fact, all three executives emphasize their commitment to achieving stronger mental health support on campus. One of DeWitt’s first actions will be to absorb the mental health working group and Dann is dedicated to continuing conversations about mental health, particularly around hiring a permanent psychiatrist for SHACS.

All three candidates are excited to begin work in their positions but agree that the campaigning process was stressful.

“Finding out who your opponents are is very anxiety-inducing,” DeWitt said.

Both DeWitt and Dann felt they could push through and run strong and successful campaigns, either through support systems or ground-hitting hard work.

“Luckily, I had a whole community of people postering for me, canvassing for [and] sending out individual emails. I had two first-years who I had never met before ask to help me,” DeWitt said. “I can’t let these people down at this point.”

All three executives are excited to serve the student body.

“I’m really passionate about the self-governing community we live in,” Dann said. “I wanted to do it for the people and the student body because I love them, and Grinnell College is my home.”

Rachel Aaronson was elected VPAA. Photo by Jun Taek Lee
Rachel Aaronson was elected VPAA. Photo by Jun Taek Lee
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