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Tara Bansal elected DSG President

<p>Junior Tara Bansal was elected DSG president Wednesday.&nbsp;</p>

Junior Tara Bansal was elected DSG president Wednesday. 

Junior Tara Bansal was elected president of Duke Student Government in an election held from noon Tuesday until noon Wednesday.

In addition to Bansal, junior Ilana Weisman was elected executive vice president. Gwen Geng, a sophomore, won the Student Organization Finance Committee chair race. In this election, 2,416 undergraduate students voted—which represents 36 percent of the student body, a slight increase from last year, when 30 percent of students voted. 

"The biggest thing I'm looking forward to is that I want to see dynamic and progressive vision," Bansal said. "My belief that DSG can impact this University has only increased after this election."

Bansal, who currently serves as the DSG vice president of academic affairs, defeated juniors Annie Adair and John Guarco—who serve as chief of staff and executive vice president, respectively.

She complimented her fellow candidates on a fair and platform-driven campaign.

"I'm really proud of the campaign everyone ran," Bansal said. "This campaign challenged all of us on what we've done during our time in DSG."

The presidential election went to an instant run-off format because none of the three candidates won a majority of the vote. After the recalculation, Guarco's votes were reallocated to the candidate voters ranked second. Bansal finished with 1,200 votes—or 51 percent of the vote—compared to Adair's 1,149. This number does not add up to 2,416 votes because not all voters ranked second options.

Adair noted how pleased she was with the close finish.

"For me to get such a close margin as an independent and a transfer is amazing, and it shows that Duke students are ready for results and a change of pace," Adair said.

Guarco congratulated all candidates on a clean race.

"I'm proud to say we were able to spread our message, and congratulations to Tara," he said.

Weisman—current vice president of equity and outreach—defeated junior John Turanchik.

"I'm thrilled for next year and am very excited to make DSG work as it should and make things happen for students," Weisman said. "Being able to give back a senior is something I'm looking forward to."

Geng, the current DSG treasurer, won the SOFC chair race over junior Alexa Soren, a current SOFC member. Geng received 54 percent of the vote, but may be facing a lawsuit in the DSG Judiciary about the inappropriate use of her position to campaign.

Finally a constitutional amendment allowing Senate size to be determined by bylaw rather than constitutional amendment passed. According to the ballot, "The amendment would allow DSG to become more flexible regarding internal structure, facilitating legislative focus and campus representation."

The amendment passed with 80 percent of the vote.

The election, on a noon-to-noon schedule, was the second election held this year on that schedule. Elections in past years have been held from midnight to midnight.

DSG Attorney General Robin Zhang, a senior, explained that the system works and should be a permanent change made to the election process.

"The noon-to-noon election should stay," he said. "Having [Office of Information Technology] service overnight is a blessing."

Issues in the middle of the night when no one is voting can be easily taken care of as opposed to past elections, when issues during the day limited the amount of time students have to vote, Zhang explained.

Correction: This article was updated to remove an incorrect statement that seniors only recently were granted voting rights in the DSG presidential elections and clarify that Geng could be facing the lawsuit. The Chronicle regrets the error.


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