Emery Choi ’07 won this year’s election for Yale College Council president in a runoff, defeating opponent Larry Wise ’08 by more than 230 votes to end a competitive campaign season marked by numerous violations of YCC election rules.
In the runoff, which began Thursday morning and ended Friday evening, 2,449 ballots were cast, 18.9 percent less than in the general election earlier this week, which drew 3,020 voters. Although Wise won the first race by a margin of seven votes, Choi held a lead throughout the second election, YCC Vice President and Election Committee Chair Marissa Brittenham ’07 said. In a second runoff last week, Hassan Siddiq ’08 beat Ned Mitchell ’09 for the position of Undergraduate Organization Funding Committee chair.
Brittenham said she thinks the support of presidential candidates Bill Fishel ’08 and Wells O’Byrne ’08, who did not advance to the runoff, helped secure Choi’s victory.
“They provided a voting base,” Brittenham said. “Those were people who were already keyed into this election.”
Choi, who currently serves as YCC treasurer, emphasized increased funding for undergraduate organizations and successful implementation of the Student Activities Fee as his primary goals during his campaign. He said he is looking forward to fulfilling his election promises and getting more students interested in the council.
“I really want to make the YCC more relevant to the student body,” Choi said. “We are going to look to expand the work that we started this year.”
Wise said he was upset by the loss but believes his progress in the race was a testament to the importance of the issues he raised, which include increasing financial aid for middle-income families and promoting the use of sustainable energy.
“I’m really disappointed to have lost and come this far, but what that says to me is that the University should be working on ideas like financial aid and sustainable energy,” Wise said.
Wise said he plans to continue his work with the YCC next year.
Both Wise and Choi were cited during the runoff for violations of election rules by the Election Committee. The committee penalized Wise, whose violations were deemed particularly serious, by withdrawing most of his campaigning privileges — including e-mails, flyers and table tents — during the final day of the runoff on Friday. Siddiq was also cited for sending unsolicited e-mails, and his e-mail privileges were revoked Friday. The runoff violations came after nine candidates, including all five presidential hopefuls, were cited for infractions during the general election.
Students had mixed feelings about the number of campaign violations committed during this election season. While some said they were disappointed in the candidates, others said the infractions did not seem significant.
Aldrin Tamondong Agas ’08, who voted for Wise, said he thinks the Election Committee’s penalty significantly damaged Wise’s standing in the race.
“I believe that the campaign violations were bad for his campaign,” he said. “They probably turned off many potential voters.”
Many students said they were not surprised by Choi’s victory considering a surge in support for him on campus since the end of the first race and the revocation of Wise’s campaigning privileges on Friday.
YooJin Cheong ’09 said he is confident Choi will make a good leader for the council.
“Emery being elected is a good thing for YCC because he had been on the Executive Board for a year, [and] just knowing that the two other qualified candidates endorsed him gives him extra credentials,” he said.
But Christopher Wells ’06 said he thinks Choi needs to move beyond his event-based campaign platform and focus more on broader issues during his presidency.
“I appreciate Emery’s interest in improving everyday life on the Yale campus, but I hope he will take note of Larry’s agenda to make YCC about more than just Spring Fling,” Wells said.
Ultimate Frisbee player Steffi Wu ’07 said she voted for Choi because of his involvement with the Club Sports Advisory Board, which was created this year to allocate money from the Student Activities Fee to club sports teams.
“I’ve actually had some interaction with him,” she said. “I think that it is good that the YCC is getting involved in something that affects so many students.”
Some students said they were compelled to vote in the runoff because the first race was so competitive.
“I wanted to vote for sure because I knew it would be really close, and the candidates needed every vote they could get,” Rachel Jeffers ’07 said.
The winners of the other Executive Board Races were: Steve Engler ’07 for vice president; Zach Marks ’09, who ran unopposed, for secretary; Priya Prasad ’08 for treasurer; and Mike Lehmann ’08 for Yale Student Activities Committee chair.