Danielle Geathers, a college sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), made history as the school’s first black student body president in its 159-year history.
She won in the school elections for student body president, making her the first black woman ever to lead the undergraduate association in what has been described as the institute’s “first contested UA presidential election since 2017”.
Geathers and her running mate, Yu Jing Chen, won in a closely contested race with 878 votes against their opponent’s 850 votes. According to the UA, 38.5% of the undergraduate population (1743 students) voted in the election, compared to 14.4% (664 students) in last year’s election, 18.3% (833 students) in the 2018 election, and 43.8% (1983 students) in the 2017 election.
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We are beyond excited to be elected as your next Undergraduate Association President and Vice President! A major thank you to all of you who supported us every step of the way of this journey. We could not have gotten this far without the communities that rallied behind us. Thank you for believing in us. We are incredibly grateful and cannot wait for what is to come. @fionayara2020 there are no words to capture how much you have inspired us and together, we achieved the highest voter turnout in recent MIT history (38.5%!!!), we are excited for the future of MIT!
“Someone asked if the UA president was a figurehead role during the debate. I think no, but minimally, a black female in that role will squash every perception that MIT is still mostly white and male.
“Minimally, the immediate image of that will make MIT a more welcoming and inclusive place,” Geathers said.
Before the election, Geathers founded the “Talented Ten”, a program focused on increasing applications and enrollment amongst Black women at MIT by pairing high school juniors with current students.
“I have created the Talented Ten because I understand the value that black females bring to campus while also understanding the tremendous loss the MIT community experiences when a qualified, underrepresented minority student chooses to not enroll,” Geathers stated on the organization’s website.
Geathers and Chen say that their mission gives a platform and voice to minorities within the student body. “Our leadership increased accessibility to student resources on campus and levied student concerns to administration, ranging from the Burton Conner transition to the search for the new Institute Community and Equity Officer,” they said in a statement.
“Our impact spans from creating MIT’s first and only black women recruiting initiative to pioneering MIT representation at America’s largest Asian American student advocacy conference.”