The Race Is Won

Ben Hassine, who is currently a campuswide senator, won the election by a margin of 278 votes over incumbent A.S. President Utsav Gupta, who came in second.

The outcome of the presidential race was heavily influenced by the single transferable vote system. Using the STV system, voters are asked to rank the candidates in order of preference. In the event that a student’s first-ranked candidate is eliminated, that vote is transferred to the second-ranked candidate, and so on.

Gupta — running for reelection on his self-created NOW! slate — received the most No. 1 ranked votes of all seven candidates. He had 1,153, compared to Ben Hassine’s 1,106. Gupta led Ben Hassine in every round of the elimination except the final one, in which 465 votes were transferred to Ben Hassine — giving her a total of 1,991 votes, compared to Gupta’s 1,713.

Ben Hassine, who ran on the Students First slate, said the win came as a surprise to her.

“This was such a hotly contested election that the entire time we were in the dark,” she said. “We didn’t know how we were doing, and everyone had different opinions about who was going to win. I didn’t expect it, and I had prepared myself not to win and made plans for next year if I didn’t.”

She added that the STV voting system was a fair indicator of student preferences.

“It’s like a thermometer,” Ben Hassine said. “With the STV system, there’s no binary of ‘yes’ or ‘no’, since the voters can rank on what they want.”

Gupta said he was disappointed about the loss, but agreed that the results showed a clear preference.

“A loss is a loss, and you have to learn to swallow them,” Gupta said. “Whether or not it reaffirms [my actions as president] or not, I don’t think it really speaks to those types of actions. It just speaks to who had the best ideas for next year and who can get the vote out, and I think the answer is obvious tonight. It’s Wafa.”

The Tritons First slate — led by current Thurgood Marshall College Senator Brian McEuen, who came in third for president — swept a majority of the executive and senatorial positions. Tritons First candidate Andrew Ang won the vice president of finance and resources position, while Michael Lam, also of Tritons First, took vice president of external affairs.

Additionally, Tritons First candidates Anish Bhayani, Adriana Garcia, Michael Raimondi, Zoe Seher and Jennifer Tzi won five of the eight campuswide senatorial positions.

McEuen said he was pleased his slate took so many spots despite losing the presidency.

“If a majority of my slate won and I didn’t, that’s fine with me,” McEuen said. “And we did great tonight.”

McEuen said that he would likely not be involved in the student council next year.

“[Ben Hassine] has good counsel,” McEuen said. “I hope she listens to them, because that didn’t happen last year.”

From the Students First slate, Deyna Roberson, Victor Flores and Adriana Garcia won campuswide senatorial positions. Ben Hassine said it was unfortunate that no Students First vice-presidential candidates would be joining her, but that it would not affect the performance of the council.

Independent presidential candidate and Thurgood Marshall College Council Chair Tan Dhillon, who came in fifth, said that he planned to continue his involvement in A.S. Council.

“I’m not done with A.S.,” he said. “I’m planning to come back as associate vice president.”

Associate vice presidents are appointed by the time the new council assumes office during Week Seven.

Sixth College Senator and presidential hopeful John Condello — who placed fourth after running independently — said he was “super happy” with Ben Hassine’s victory.

“I think she’s experienced, she’s idealistic and hopefully she can appoint everybody that can help accomplish her goals — and I’m glad Utsav didn’t win,” Condello said.

He added that he’d like to see Ben Hassine take a firmer stance on many issues.

“[I’d advise her] to not be so politically correct and make sure that she can speak her mind more often, and not worry so much about offending people,” he said.

Independent presidential candidates Joe Virgilio and August Ryan Brenner were not present at the election announcements.

The results were delayed for two hours while the A.S. Elections Committee discussed three election separate greviances — two of which were filed against the Tritons First slate and the other against Gupta.

According to A.S. Elections Manager Vishal Kotcherlakota, student voter turnout was 22.7 percent — down from 24.3 percent last year. Marshall College boasted the highest college turnout at 25.3 percent, and Warren College had the lowest, at 21.1 percent.

“I’m happy that it was a competitive race this year,” Kotcherlakota said. “There was a diverse group of turnout, which is what a legitimate A.S. election needs.”

Ben Hassine said that her first priorities will be to appoint associate vice presidents and charter a committee to start determining the 2010-11 executive budget.

Additional reporting by Trevor Cox, Reza Farazmand, Hayley Bisceglia-Martin and Simone Wilson.

Readers can contact Angela Chen at [email protected]