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A competitive race is underway for this year's Columbia College Student Council executive board, but voters shouldn't expect many familiar faces—this year, tickets are composed largely of students who have had no prior involvement in CCSC. James Bogner, CC '10 and chair of the Elections Board—a division of CCSC that oversees elections—attributed the competitive nature of this year's race to student life issues that have cropped up recently, including the debate over the academic calendar and the push for gender-neutral housing. "I think each year is a little bit different, just given the personality of different classes that we have on campus, and everybody brings something special, and so there's just years where there tends to be a lot of people interested," Bogner said. "I think people are interested in being a part of that and helping to see our campus grow." Bogner also thought the diversity of students running for CCSC positions stemmed from a savvy understanding of the way the CCSC elections system works. CCSC now runs on an instant-runoff voting system—meaning that students rank the candidates rather than choosing between them. If one candidate has an overwhelming majority, the process stops there, but if not, the lowest-ranked candidates are eliminated from the race, and his or her votes are redistributed to the other contenders. "Instant-runoff voting requires that you have a broad base of support," he said. "So I think what you see is candidates understanding that you have to have as much support from as many people as they can, so they reached out to try to form parties that can represent as much of a cross-section of our campus as possible." Many of the candidates this year have no experience with CCSC, and instead come from organizations like the Student Governing Board and the Activities Board at Columbia, two governing boards that dole out funds to campus groups. Isaac Lara, CC '11, who is running for student body president on the ReNew CU ticket, has served on ABC. He thought that coming in as a fresh face would work to his advantage, "I think a lot of people are disillusioned with the way CCSC is right now, so they're making the transition. Seeing that student council interest has kind of waned made me want to get involved in CCSC. What's unique about being in ABC and SGB is that we're not firmly entrenched in student council—we're still aware of what's going on in CCSC, but we're not involved—so that's part of the motivation. There is an advantage to not having an extensive history. You can come in with a completely different perspective and completely different views." Other candidates—such as Eugenio Suarez, CC '11, who is running for student body president on the Naked Party ticket—feel that the setting of boards like SGB and ABC won't allow them to effect as much change as CCSC does. "What [current CCSC president] Sue Yang is doing is great, but we want to take it one step further," Suarez said. "There are a lot of issues on the table that cannot be resolved in SGB—they're more than just SGB." Nuriel Moghavem, CC '11 and current vice president for funding, is running on the Party Bus Party (Bus) ticket for class of 2011 president. Last year, he moved from a position on ABC to a spot on the CCSC executive board, which has been a trend in this election. Moghavem said that he hadn't considered running for CCSC until Yang, CC '10, approached him with an offer to join her ticket. "The things I wanted to do and the changes I wanted to see, I would have a better opportunity to do that from CCSC [than from ABC]," he said. According to Moghavem, "We've done a good job at making CCSC relevant to different clubs and organizations, and this is a time that people from ABC and SGB are interested and excited about what CCSC is doing." Learned Foote, CC '11 and current class of 2011 president, is running for student body president on the Stand Columbia ticket as veteran member of CCSC. He said that involvement from students outside of CCSC is critical. "I think someone who hasn't been involved on council is absolutely critical—they can see it with fresh eyes," Foote said. "I think that a well-comprised ticket would be a mix of the two." elizabeth.scott@columbiaspectator.com

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