Following voting ending on Wednesday, Oct. 11, the Student Assembly released its election results on Tuesday, Oct. 17. Contested positions included the College of Engineering representative, freshmen representatives, transfer representative and students with disabilities representative at-large.
To improve voter engagement for the Fall 2023 election cycle, the S.A. offered raffle entry to prizes for students who completed all eligible ballots. Four students won Hydro Flask water bottles, two won Bose Speakers and one won a Nintendo Switch.
College of Engineering Representative
Amida Akpan ’25 was elected the College of Engineering representative over Le-Qi Tang ’26 and Audrey Pinard ’25.
Akpan received 176 votes out of the 412 ballots in the first round of counting. The number of votes for Akpan, however, was adjusted to 218 in the second round of counting due to the use of ranked-choice voting. Ranked-choice voting allows voters to order their candidate preferences as a list ranking as opposed to only voting for one candidate. In each round of counting, the candidate receiving the least votes is eliminated.
At an S.A. forum held on Sept. 29, Akpan noted that many engineering students lack awareness of academic support resources.
“What I would like to do is increase or advertise all the options and all the help that engineering first and second years have available for them,” Akpan said. “[I want] to make sure that they are aware [that if they] feel overwhelmed in a class and don’t understand the material, they have free tutoring, or if they don’t understand how to select classes for the next semester or next year, they can go to their advisor.”
The elected freshmen representatives include Zora deRham ’27, David Diao ’27, Christian Flournoy ’27 and Cion Kim ’27. Thirteen first-year students ran for the position. Out of 919 ballots — according to the ninth round of counting to adjust for ranked-choice voting — deRham received 152 votes, Diao received 199 votes, Flournoy received 186 votes and Kim received 171 votes.
According to deRham, Central Campus should offer more meal swipe options, such as at existing dining options like Trillium. School spirit, deRham said, can also be fostered by offering buses to away games.
Looking at the positive feedback of the S.A. doubling the Slope Day budget, deRham said she wants to continue to engage students with the S.A.
“That budget increase prompted a lot of people to just say, ‘I’d love to suggest more artists that I know,’” deRham said. “It prompted a lot of talk about the Student Assembly.”
Diao and Kim also expressed wishes to increase student engagement with the S.A., specifically by offering students more information about the S.A. and opportunities to voice their concerns to the S.A.
“It is our role as representatives, or people in candidacy to be representatives, to provide students with information that provides them with transparency,” Diao said. “That is the best way to have representation.”
Kim suggested that the S.A. facilitate forums to connect students with each other.
“We should have a more open forum so that students know where to ask and how to ask [so their opinions] will make an impact,” Kim said. “The [aspect] I really want to focus on is [a forum] on advice and communications. One [forum] would be connecting upperclassmen to lower classmen so that [freshmen] could get advice.”
Flournoy expressed a desire to improve mail and housing services for students, pointing toward the long lines for picking up packages on North Campus, where first-year residences are located.
“One idea … is having certain dorms pick up certain packages on certain days — it might help with the rush and long lines,” Flournoy said.
Simone Chan ’25, who transferred to Cornell after studying at Pasadena City College for two years, won the transfer representative election with 51 votes, compared to Hasham Khan ’26, who obtained 25 votes.
At the forum, Chan emphasized the difference between the experiences of regular transfer students, including herself, and those offered the guaranteed transfer option when applying to Cornell as high school seniors. These two groups, Chan said, require different types of support.
“Cornell does a really good job in reaching out to transfer option students [before arriving on campus],” Chan said. “The transfer students that are not transfer options are more like the freshmen, in terms of [not knowing] what’s coming. We come here with all new expectations, and everything is so brand new.”
Chan said she hopes to bring more resources to transfer students throughout the year. As a transfer student, Chan struggled to select classes but said she felt more information could have aided in this process.
“One struggle [I had that] was really scary [was] I couldn’t select my classes for some reason,” Chan said. “So [Cornell Student Center] didn’t really fully register my status as a student. So I was really panicking during the whole summer.”
Students With Disabilities Representative At-Large
The position of students with disabilities representative at-large went to Allison Helkowski ’26, who received 698 votes, compared to Admir Cekic ’26, who received 626 votes.
At the forum, Helkowski expressed an interest in creating more comfortable opportunities for students with disabilities to share their concerns with the S.A. outside of the larger S.A. meetings.
“Some people who are identified as having disabilities are oftentimes insecure when they come to discussing what they need [and] what they’ve gone through — it is a very emotional topic,” Helkowski said at the forum. “We should open our doors, we should be more marketable when it comes to looking at things like students with disabilities.”
Helkowski also noted that obtaining a Student Disability Services accommodation may unjustly discriminate against individuals with invisible disabilities — an umbrella term for disabilities that are not as visibly noticeable — due to the burden of proof required in the application process. Academic accommodation plans are approved based on the student’s disability documentation, academic history and additional information provided to SDS.
“Epilepsy, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder [and] things of that nature that aren’t exactly visible to the human eye, but still qualify as a disability that requires accommodations,” Helkowski said.