The voting was swift and the results decisive. There will be no run-offs.
Rich Tao ’10 walked away from a crowded field filled with his close friends Wednesday evening, claiming a whopping 45.2 percent of the vote in a Yale College Council presidential race most observers expected would head to a second round. That total was enough to earn the Silliman College representative the title of YCC president-elect. Current YCC Treasurer Harrison Marks ’10 and Branford College Representative Katrina Landeta ’10 trailed Tao, finishing with 34.2 percent and 20.6 percent of the vote, respectively.
But last night, fielding call after call from supporters, Tao sat with backer Joshua Williams ’08 and sang the praises of the people who worked on his campaign.
“You can’t win an election with one vote or one person,” Tao said, barely containing his excitement. “When I was forming this platform, I wasn’t thinking of my own ideas or talking to friends — I was meeting with leaders from different organizations on campus to gather their thoughts. That will continue now that I’ve formally earned the title.”
It is a platform that promises continued work on financial-aid reforms, a push for greater administrative accountability and enhanced sustainability initiatives, to name a few.
Across campus, in her Branford suite, Landeta sat with friends and a sympathy package of strawberries, musing about the future of the council and the week’s campaign.
“I’m really genuinely excited for Rich,” Landeta said. “We shared the same vision and the same message. I have a lot of faith in Rich’s ability to execute his vision and change the student body’s attitude towards the YCC.”
Asked whether she would continue to serve on YCC, Landeta said she would make no promises but added, “it would be an honor” to work with an Executive Board that she termed “amazing.”
But for both Landeta and Marks, Wednesday was a disappointing night. The defeat marks an unwelcome turn in Marks’ student-government career, which began days after the Timothy Dwight College sophomore stepped on campus in the fall of 2006. Since then, Marks has made a name for himself, earning a reputation as a treasurer with ideas and a knack for following through — albeit with a healthy dose of ambition.
At the corner of Elm and York streets late Wednesday night, a victorious Tao ran into Marks; the two exchanged brief words, a handshake and a promise of further cooperation.
“I’m going to be calling you 1,001 times this summer for input,” Tao said, stumbling over his words with excitement. “And if you don’t pick up… .”
And indeed, the new president-elect would be wise to take a page or two from the outgoing treasurer’s book: Marks leaves a new Bass Library DVD collection and the inaugural trip of the YCC Party Train to New York as his legacy.
“I was disappointed, but I’ll get over it,” Marks said. “I’ll continue to try and make Yale better because it’s what I love doing. So I give my congratulations to Rich; I’m sure he’ll do a good job.”
Further down the ticket, it was a triumphant night for student-government incumbents, with YCC or Freshman Class Council-based candidates claiming victories over their outsider opposition.
In her fifth-floor room high above the Branford courtyard Wednesday night, incumbent Vice President Emily Schofield ’09 literally skipped with excitement as she talked about the coming year. Schofield, who handily defeated challenger Jarrett Burks ’10 in a landslide, 69.5 percent to 30.5 percent, will return as the Council’s No. 2, bearing a fresh slate of ideas and a year’s worth of experience under her belt.
“I’m relieved,” Schofield said. “I really wanted it so much, and it’s such a gamble: It’s hard to convey everything you stand for in a one-week campaign.”
And indeed, the veteran Schofield faced a challenge from an upstart but well-known Burks, whose pitch for a fresh face on the council’s Executive Board won over nearly one in every three voters. With that kind of energy, Schofield said she would love to see Burks in the ranks of the YCC next year.
Asked whether she had any words for Burks, Schofield replied, “Please run for the YCC next fall.”
“You are driven and have great ideas on how we can reach out to different segments of the Yale population,” she added.
For his part, Burks was resigned but accepting of his loss, saying simply, “You win some, you lose some.” He praised Schofield for a clean campaign and voiced hopes that someone on the council would take up the mantle of his campaign and carry his ideas forward from the inside. But for now, Burks said, he will return to normal life at Yale — a life that this week included no fewer than three papers in the heat of the campaign season.
“It was so hectic this last week,” Burks said. “The campaign was taking its toll on me, and I’m looking forward to at least taking a breather.”
So is YouTube phenomenon and Saybrook College representative Jon Wu ’11, who spent the better part of yesterday off the campaign trail. Wu was passed out on a futon in the room of campaign manger Anna Grasza ’11 on Wednesday night, sipping orange juice and nursing an illness. Now, after securing an eight-point win over Timothy Dwight College representative Will Alexander ’10 in the race for treasurer, there will be rest for the weary.
“I’m looking forward to going to class again,” Wu joked. “And I’m definitely excited to serve on this E-Board; this is the way I see myself best able to affect the campus and effect change on campus.”
On a night that featured double-digit wins in the races for vice president and secretary, Wu’s 54-46 victory over Alexander was comparatively close.
And next year, Yalies will not be “without their Wang” on the YCC’s Executive Board. In a race that saw this year’s only campaign violation, Jonathan Edwards College representative Jasper Wang ’10 triumphed over FCC Vice-Chair Abigail Cheung ’11 by a wide margin. Wang took home a comfortable 65.3 percent, followed by Cheung at 34.7 percent.
“It’s a joke [campaign slogan], but I’m a serious candidate,” said Wang, who now must prove that he is also a serious secretary. “Once you’re hooked with the phrase, then you hold on and might just bother reading my platform.”
That platform, on which Wang now settles down to work, includes improving YCC accountability, ensuring that a student voice is heard as considerations of two new residential colleges moves forward and enhancing the council’s recently retooled Web site. For opponent Cheung, Wang had only words of encouragement.
“For a freshman, she was really poised and organized during this campaign,” he said. “I hope she stays involved in the YCC and considers running for E-Board again.”
It was a messy ending in the race for Yale Student Activities Committee chair, but a happy one for Branford YSAC representative and Spring Fling co-Chair Colin Leatherbury ’09. The junior emerged from a pack of four candidates, topping nearest rival and YSAC outsider Kristian Henderson ’09 by only 5.4 points for a final count of 31.3 to 25.9 percent. A few more votes, and Henderson could have swung a run-off: YCC election rules mandate a 5-percentage-point margin to declare someone the winner outright.
Rounding out the field, Davenport College YSAC representative Jon Terenzetti ’10 pulled in 25.2 percent of the vote and outsider Travis Long ’10 — a self-proclaimed “work horse” — collected 17.6 percent of the vote.
When Leatherbury phoned his mother Wednesday evening, he uttered the words “Today was a day of days,” taken from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and code in the Leatherbury house for victory. And what a day it was.
Leatherbury convincingly clinched a race most student armchair pundits, and Leatherbury himself expected to head into Thursday and Friday’s runoff round.
“The numbers surprised me a little,” Leatherbury said. “I was expecting a strong 25 or 28 percent, but not 31.”
And now Leatherbury’s thoughts will turn to governance.
“My first thought when [YCC President] Rebecca [Taber ’08] called me was, ‘Now I actually need to do all that stuff I promised,’ ” Leatherbury said.
The Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee will remain in the hands of one of its own next year — Saybrook College’s Bryan “BT” Twarek ’10. To succeed current Chair Joshua Tan ’09, Twarek edged current UOFC board members Anne Xu ’09 and Matt Marr ’10. Twarek captured a plurality of 41.1 percent, followed by Xu at 34.2 percent and Marr at 24.7 percent.
“I’m looking forward to next year,” Twarek said. “I want to make it simpler for people to apply and to get funding — that’s the main point of the UOFC, but not many students know a lot about it.”
Twarek, this year’s Capital Equipment Director on the UOFC board, also said he hopes his competitors in the race stay involved on the UOFC next year.