Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

Cat Huang '21 won the election for S.A. president.

October 6, 2020

Cat Huang ’21 Clinches Seat for Student Assembly President

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With 1,286 votes, Cat Huang ’21 won the election for Student Assembly President Monday night, ending an election season that faced a six-month delay and last-minute questions about its legitimacy.

Uche Chukwukere ’21 received 1,154 votes and Dillon Anadkat ’21 was eliminated after the first tabulation, garnering 673 votes during that round. In the first tabulation, Huang had 880 votes and Chukwukere had 961. Under the ranked-choice voting system the Office of Assemblies uses to conduct elections, it appears as if there was no clear majority among first preference votes for Huang and Chukwukere in the first tabulation, prompting another one to take place.

The election also saw only 16.85 percent voter turnout, a historic low for S.A. presidential elections. Last year’s election had a voter turnout rate of 39.9 percent.

Huang ran a campaign on eliminating the student contribution fee, ensuring that students have access to equitable health care, conducting a review of Cornell’s student health plan and defunding the Cornell University Police Department.

Chukwukere’s platform was nearly identical to Huang’s — the two took similar stances on a range of issues such as defunding CUPD. Anadkat was the incendiary candidate, adopting starkly different campaign stances than Chukwukere and Huang and primarily advocating for greater representation of student athletes, students in Greek life and international students in the assembly.

Huang held the highest current S.A. position of the three candidates, as she was previously the executive vice president on the S.A. Anadkat had no prior experience in the S.A., and Chukwukere was an undesignated representative at-large on the assembly. Before results came out, Huang served as acting president of the S.A.

Election results for this year’s S.A. were supposed to be announced in March, but as campus suddenly closed because of the pandemic, the presidential candidates spearheaded a move to pause campaigning and continue in the fall semester. The initiative to suspend campaigns gained widespread support among other S.A. candidates at the time, with most signing on to a motion to do so.

Campaigning resumed in September, with candidates vying for endorsements from organizations on campus and posting campaign graphics on social media. The three presidential candidates debated again Sept. 23, but this time on Zoom.

The night before voting was originally set to close on Oct. 1, the directors of elections — Moriah Adeghe ’21 and Savanna Lim ’21 — found that unranked ballots would not be counted, raising questions about the election’s fairness. As a result, the two made the decision to pause the presidential race and destroy all the votes casted during the original voting period. Voting restarted Oct. 2 at noon and ended Oct. 5 at noon. Results came out over 11 hours later.

Results for University Assembly representative were also announced Monday, after that election was also delayed due to concerns with unranked ballots. Bennett Sherr ’21 won the U.A. election.

Huang will be leading an S.A. that has lately faced criticism for failing to foster an inclusive environment for its members. During the summer, some S.A. members formed Cornell Students for S.A. Reform after the assembly used funds from its student activity fee to donate $10,000 to a Cornell Students for Black Lives fundraiser.

“I’ve had student assembly members come to me after these meetings where they did feel hurt or bullied,” Huang said at the S.A. presidential debate. “I want to make sure that the members feel safe and that they can share their voice on the assembly, because that’s what we’re here for.”

This article will be updated.