Updated 10/20, 7 p.m.
The results are in: Marc Heinrich, CC ’16, will be Columbia College’s newest University senator.
Columbia College students elected Henrich in a special election that saw 36 percent voter turnout.
The election also included Columbia College’s first-ever ballot initiative from Barnard Columbia Divest. BCD, which advocates divestment from fossil fuel industries, garnered large campus support through rallies and protest efforts. An overwhelming majority—73.7 percent, or 1,166 students—voted in favor of divestment.
A current senate staffer, Heinrich ran against eight other candidates, the majority of whom did not have experience serving in student government. Heinrich, who is a Spectator nonprofit development associate, emphasized his experience and knowledge of senate agendas. He won with 27.4 percent of the vote, or 394 votes.
“It was a great campaign and I’m honored to be elected,” Heinrich said in an interview Sunday.
Heinrich said that he was studying in his room with a few friends when he received the email with the results.
“I was doing work,” he said. “I didn’t know what else to do. I was very excited, obviously.”
Heinrich has already started working on actualizing his campaign promises by communicating with current University senators and council leaders, he said.
Right now, he said, he wants to work on changing the official Columbia email addresses to include students’ full names in order to make them more professional. He also wants to change the NINJa printing system and release more minutes from committees to the student body.
There was a difference of about 100 votes between each of the top three finishers. Munna Uppal, CC ’14, came in second with 290 votes, while Samer Ozeir, CC ’15, took 192 votes.
Uppal said in an interview that he wanted to congratulate Heinrich for his win.
“It was sort of expected. When I started this campaign, I was fighting an uphill battle,” he said. “When you run on the vision and experience that Marc has, it’s definitely difficult to expect a victory.”
Heinrich said that he was very happy to hear about the victory for the ballot initiative. “I think it’s wonderful that the conversation with the administration has started. It’s a really important conversation. I congratulate them also on the overwhelming support they were able to get.”
This year’s election stood in marked contrast to the uncontested student council races last spring.
During the debates last Sunday, the candidates focused on the Quality of Life Survey and student wellness. Some also discussed the importance of transparency toward sexual assault reports on campus. All the candidates this year supported the divestment ballot initiative.
The schoolwide election for the new University senator almost didn’t happen. Early this semester, Senator Cleo Abram, CC ’15, vacated her seat.
Columbia College Student Council President Daphne Chen, CC ’14, and current senators Matthew Chou, CC ’14, and Jared Odessky, CC ’15, announced the vacancy in an email to students and called for an indirect election as per council bylaws. The CCSC class of 2014 representatives, however questioned the timing of the announcement, since it was made mere hours after the polls for the first-year elections closed and there was suspicion that CCSC leaders knew of the vacancy weeks before.
Council leaders denied the class of 2014’s accusation and said that they notified students of the vacancy only once it had been confirmed. After media attention generated student outcry, CCSC leaders reversed their decision and decided to hold a direct election.
As for Heinrich, he said that he was ready to get started.
“I’m just really excited to get to work,” he said. “I’m really thankful for everyone who voted for me and I’m ready to get to work.”