In one of the most competitive races in recent years, Stand Columbia was elected to the Columbia College Student Council executive board on Thursday, beating out ReNew CU and the Naked Party by a fairly wide margin.
Learned Foote, CC ’11, will assume the role of CCSC president for 2010-2011, with Karishma Habbu, CC ’13, as vice president of communications, Brandon Christophe, CC ’12, as vice president of funding, Andrew Nguyen, CC ’12, as vice president of policy, and Andrea Folds, CC ’12, as vice president of campus life.
In the senior class council race, where parties can be split up based on votes, the majority of the After Party nabbed the title of 2011 class council by a narrow margin from contenders the Party Bus Party (Bus). Sean Udell, CC ’11, will be class president, with Alexandra Coromilas, CC ’11, as vice president, both from the After Party.
According to the CCSC elections commission, 1540 voted in the executive board race, which, like all CCSC races, is conducted as a runoff where voters rank their preferences instead of selecting one ticket. 726 ranked Stand Columbia as their first choice. ReNew CU, led by Isaac Lara, garnered 596 first choice preferences and Eugenio Suarez’s Naked Party received 213 first choice preferences. Because the Naked party was then in last place, in accordance with the instant runoff system, they were eliminated and the second choice preferences of the people who ranked them first were redistributed to ReNew CU and Stand Columbia.
“I feel like all the students that were running took the time to consider what issues affect the college, and how to improve the college,” Foote said in an interview after the results were announced. “Students are really engaging with the problems that affect the school.”
Foote’s party, Stand Columbia, was unique in that the majority of his ticket was comprised of underclassmen—VP Communication Habbu is a freshman. Foote said this is important for his board’s vision. “We’re going to be able to see not just how people who have been in the college for the past two years see it, but how the newer students experience college as they’re just getting integrated.”
Students expressed varying degrees of confidence in Foote after results were announced.
Aastha Mehta, CC’11, said, “I guess because he’s already been president for our year, people feel comfortable voting for him again.”
Chris Yim, CC ’10 who cast his vote for ReNew CU said he was still optimistic about Stand Columbia. “I’ve heard good things about Learned. I hope there are good reforms with student life next year.”
Lara said that though he did not expect to lose, he remains very supportive of the winning ticket. “I was really surprised that we lost ... because we had tremendous enthusiasm generated,” he said in an email. “Win or lose we were still able to raise awareness about some of the key issues affecting Columbia today,” he added.
According to James Bogner, CC ’10 and chair of the Elections Board of CCSC, voter turnout this year, at around 37 percent of the College undergraduate population, was pretty standard. “That number is pretty solid ... but it’s definitely not exceptional. It’s more than last year, but that’s because we had a competitive year,” Bogner said. Last year’s executive board race was uncontested.
The 2011 class council race was close, and not all of the After Party secured CCSC spots.
Udell and Coromilas won 278 votes, while opponent Nuriel Moghavem, CC ’11 and current vice president for funding, and his vice presidential candidate Zack Susel won 211. Tom Amegadzie, CC ’11, Sonya Chandra, CC ’11, and Roxanne Unger, CC ‘11—who had been running on Moghavem’s ticket—will be serving as class representatives.
According to Bogner, Unger’s election from outside of the winning party was somewhat unique, but still in line with the characteristic results of an instant runoff voting system.
As soon as Udell heard the news, he didn’t skip a beat—he said he went to meet with Student Affairs about programming for next year. “I’m really excited for senior year and I hope that we do event planning and policy work that the class of 2011 can be proud of,” he said.
He also said he had no qualms about the election of Unger, from the opposing party. “Roxanne is a great friend—I’m really looking forward to working with her and I think she’ll do a great job,” he said.
In the closest race of the election, Kenneth Durell, CC ’12, won the University Senate seat, narrowly beating Keianna Dixon, CC ’11. He received 470 first choice votes to Dixon’s 476, but 594 second choice votes to Dixon’s 571. Opponent Scott Maxfield came in third with 332 first choice votes.
Bogner said this is where the instant runoff system really paid off. The first round had Dixon in the lead, but when Maxfield was dropped because he had the lowest amount of votes, his votes were redistributed to Dixon and Durrell. More student who voted for Maxfield picked Durrell as their second choice than Dixon. “This is how it’s supposed to work,” Bogner explained. “We elected the people that have the highest preference over the broadest number of people.”
Class councils for 2012 and 2013 were both uncontested. Aki Terasaki and Sarah Chai won president and vice president seats for 2012, respectively, and Alex Jasiulek and Michelle Vallejo were elected 2013 president and vice president in another uncontested race.