The Massachusetts Institute of Technology just crossed a major diversity milestone by electing its first black woman student body president in the school’s 159-year history.
Earlier this month, MIT’s Undergraduate Association announced sophomore mechanical engineering major Danielle Geathers as the winner of the institute’s “first contested UA presidential election since 2017,” according to the school’s newspaper The Tech.
“Someone asked if the UA president was a figurehead role [during the debate],” Geathers told The Tech. “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 and her running mate, Yu Jing Chen, launched a website while they were campaigning for the presidency. On its home page, the duo wrote, “For many MIT students, the UA ceases to mean much. For the past 3 years, elections were uncontested and last year, only 15% of the undergraduate population voted in the UA presidential elections. That number is startling— especially with the potential the UA has to make institutional change with administration.” The Tech reports that 38.5 percent of the undergraduate student body voted in the 2020 election.
According to their website, Geathers served as the UA Officer of Diversity. She and Chen said they have both “actively fought for student voices and empowered vulnerable communities.”
“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 wrote. “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.”
Congratulations, Danielle Geathers. We salute you.