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CCSC winners: Action Potential, Clear Party

Alix Pianin // Published April 23, 2009 in Columbia Spectator

Results of Columbia University's first instant runoff voting election for Columbia College Student Council.

Uncontested party Action Potential was unsurprisingly elected to the Columbia College Student Council Executive Board Tuesday night, while the majority of Cliff Massey’s Clear Party won out over The Party, ticket of class of 2010 presidential incumbent A.J. Pascua.

While next year’s CCSC will include veteran council members, a large portion of the council will be comprised of newcomers who have promoted their understanding of student life outside the walls of Lerner’s Satow room. With the exception of Sue Yang, who formerly served as the class of 2010 vice president, the executive board includes an entirely fresh line-up: Sana Khalid, CC’11, Deysy Ordonez, CC’10, Nuriel Moghavem, CC’11, and Sarah Weiss, CC’10, who is currently studying abroad in Ecuador, will fill the vice president of communications, vice president of campus life, vice president of finance, and vice president of policy slots respectively.

But while the Action Potential victory was a given, Massey’s win over Pascua will bring in a full slate of council outsiders—participants and leaders in other sectors of the campus.

Massey, who won with about 64 percent of votes, said that he thought his party appealed to voters in making sure that “our platform is their platform” by seeking out other juniors and soliciting their suggestions in a door-to-door campaign.

Other Clear Party Members elected to council were Evelyn Phan as vice president and Asher Grodman and Lena Phan as representatives.

This is the first year that students voted for candidates by plurality instead of majority. While students have traditionally chosen between contenders and voted for their single favorite singular candidate, the new system allowed voters to rank the candidates in order of preference. Candidates with the majority vote were elected.

Under the new rules, a candidate could be elected without a majority so long as the tally indicated that the contender was the most widely preferred choice. But the new voting system proved precarious for candidates running as a full party, as it did not guarantee the election of an entire ticket. Clear Party candidate for representative Ruqayyah Abdul-Karim, President of the Black Students Organization, was not elected with the rest of her party after being edged out by The Party’s representative candidate Maximo Cubilette.
Elections Commissioner James Bogner, CC’09, said that the Commission owed much to CCIT’s efforts to help design the new system online.

Voting turnout was down significantly from last year; 1,856 voted in the student body presidential race between George Krebs and Alidad Damooei, both CC ‘09, while 730 voted in this year’s presidential election, 721 for Yang. Both Bogner and Yang said that the uncontested races were probably responsible for the lower turnout, though Yang said that the opportunity to run without opponents allowed the Action Potential party to avoid the negative aspects of campaigning. “It definitely would have been a more exciting campaign for us [to run with opponents],” she admitted, but said that she appreciated the opportunity to focus more on student issues. To do so, her party created a survey asking students what they want to see from the College.

While it was a relatively smooth election after last year’s turbulent road to the polls, The Party filed a rules violation against the Clear Party Tuesday morning. The Party claimed that the Clear Party had violated the moratorium on campaigning, raising issue with the Facebook statuses of support from students that continued to be posted even after the campaigning cut-off. According to CCSC elections rules, “Rules violations committed by supporters will be treated as if the candidates committed them.”

The Election Board ruled Wednesday that there had been no rules violation. Candidates are responsible for the actions of students they solicit for support, but EB members wrote in an e-mail sent several hours before elections results were announced that The Party had not presented sufficient evidence to prove that the Clear Party had appealed for the endorsements.

Learned Foote was reelected 2011 class President in an uncontested race. Sean Udell will serve as class Vice President, and Tom Amegadzie, Alexandra Coromilas, Sonya Chandra were all elected class representatives.

Newly elected 2012 class President Aki Terasaki and the rest of his Access Columbia ticket—Sarah Chai for Vice President, and Brandon Christophe, Kenny Durell, and Jasmine Senior for Representatives—won slots on the council.

For now, Yang said that the new E-Board would keep campaigning through the rest of the year to gain broader insight into student issues and what to tackle next year. She and the board plan on meeting incoming administrators and plan to set a calendar for next year. Ordonez said that the board would like to set up regular office hours to meet with students next year, and is motivated to serving constituents “even if it means not sleeping for a week.”

In an online interview from Ecuador, Weiss said that watching the campaign from off-campus gave her a new insight into the importance of campus life.

“While I missed campaigning on-the-ground (I love the face-to-face contact), seeing the campaign from afar brought a new perspective and really emphasized the importance of being there and present on campus,” Weiss wrote.

She also said that she saw current policy debates extending into next year—“smoking on campus, the current alcohol policy, the A + policy appear to be the biggest contenders for discussion,” she remarked—and that her time sitting on the committee to select the new Columbia College dean gave her “a great introduction into the inner-workings of the University.”