Leading with 41.73 percent of the vote, Peter Huang ’18 was elected Yale College Council president Friday night.
Sarah Armstrong ’18 was closest behind Huang, with 23.36 percent of the 2,581-person vote, not including abstentions. Diksha Brahmbhatt ’18, Josh Hochman ’18 and Carter Helschien ’18 earned 15.65, 11.43 and 7.83 percent, respectively. The vice presidential election, in which there were originally four candidates, will conclude with a two-person run-off on Tuesday between Christopher Bowman ’18 and Kevin Sullivan ’18, who garnered 33.21 and 28.49 percent of the vote, respectively. Lauren Sapienza ’18 and Zach Murn ’17 were elected the new events director and finance director in uncontested races.
“I feel like this moment is very surreal … because I absolutely believed 100 percent that there would be a [presidential] run-off,” Huang said. “I’m also excited for the opportunity, but I’m also overwhelmed with the news.”
According to the YCC constitution, a candidate can win with between 40 and 50 percent of the vote if he or she beats out the nearest candidate by at least 5 percent — a provision that secured Huang’s victory. Because Bowman earned less than 40 percent of the vote, he would have needed to defeat Sullivan by at least 10 percent in order to win the vice presidential election without a run-off.
Huang ran his campaign on a three-pronged platform: University services, academics and student life. His platform included several large-scale, overarching projects within the three areas, such as eliminating the student income contribution and promoting an increase in resources for ethnic studies. It also included several smaller-scale, more short-term initiatives, such as better integrating transfer students into the Yale community and creating a database for Yale alumni to provide input on their extracurricular groups.
“The way I grouped [my platform] was two groups, one being macro-level issues, like faculty diversity, and the other was supporting student groups,” Huang said. “I want to tackle faculty diversity first.”
Many of the other candidates plan to continue serving on the YCC. Brahmbhatt said she hopes to be appointed a position on the YCC executive board, adding that if nothing else, she will serve as an associate member. Similarly, Helschien said he will remain involved with the YCC, though he is still deciding in what capacity. Hochman said while he does not plan on holding a formal position within the council, he hopes to mentor the next YCC academics director — the position he holds this year — and ensure that this year’s projects be continued.
“I am very satisfied that I ran a campaign on my own accord and kept up the positive spirit and heartfelt approach to the community,” Brahmbhatt said. “I am really happy I went through like that, seeing everyone supporting each other, and I am very excited for YCC’s future.”
Both Sullivan and Bowman said they would continue campaigning in preparation for Tuesday’s runoff election. Sullivan said the results were much closer than he expected, adding that he would be on Cross Campus in the upcoming days to inform students of his platform as well as to ensure as high a turnout as possible. Similarly, Bowman said he will not take the chance for granted and will work to mobilize as many voters as he can to hear his message.
Still, both candidates also said they understand that the student body may be weary of the YCC elections by this point, with each noting that he would strike a balance in how hard he campaigns.
This year’s race saw a 48.3 percent turnout, with 2,633 total votes cast. This is a 43.7 percent increase from last year’s election, when there were only three presidential candidates and one vice presidential candidate.
Students interviewed attributed the rise in turnout to both the increase in candidates and the racial protests on campus last semester.
Matthew Johnsen ’18 said this year’s more crowded candidate field led to a greater proliferation of campaign material on social media, bringing the election to more students’ minds. Albert Cao ’18 said the competitiveness led to a diversity of opinions and approaches to campaigning that caught the attention of many Yalies who otherwise would have been apathetic.
In addition, more people may have been interested in this year’s elections because of events on campus last fall, Jae Hyung Kim ’18 said.
There were 52 abstentions in the presidential election, 763 in the vice presidential election, 530 for events director and 644 for finance director.