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Ryan A. Petersen ’08 and Matthew L. Sundquist ’09 were elected president and vice president of the Undergraduate Council (UC) last night in a race that reaffirmed the direction of the council.
The Petersen-Sundquist ticket received 1,314 first-place votes, or 37.5 percent of the votes, beating out second-place finishers Tom D. Hadfield ’08 and Adam Goldenberg ’08, who received 1,025 first-place votes, or 29.3 percent of the votes.
As voting closed, the two campaigns were considered the frontrunners in an election crowded with six tickets.
This year’s election marked not only a victory for Petersen, but was also a stamp of approval on the current UC leadership. Current UC President John S. Haddock ’07 and Annie R. Riley ’07 led the effort to restructure the UC with an emphasis on the council’s role in advocacy and student group funding.
During their campaign, Petersen and Sundquist stressed student advocacy under the slogan, “It’s about students.”
Petersen said last night that this emphasis set their ticket apart from others.
“It was a great campaign with a lot of great ideas and discussion,” Petersen said. “Our message focusing on students really hit home.”
Sundquist also attributed the win to their campaign message.
“Students identified with the fact that we want to put the council back in touch with the everyday concerns of students,” he said.
Petersen’s effort to get out the vote, which included a grueling schedule of knocking on freshmen and sophomore doors, may also have been a factor.
“I knew win or lose that I was satisfied,” Petersen said last night. “I had never seen so many of my closest friends get active.”
Petersen’s position as an insider among insider candidates appears to have been a huge asset in this race. He is the chair of the UC’s Student Affairs Committee (SAC), which has traditionally been a stepping stone from which to launch a successful presidential campaign. He is the fifth SAC chair to be elected in the last seven presidential elections, according to UC Treasurer Ben W. Milder ’08.
Petersen had the support of most UC members, including both Haddock and Riley, who participated in his campaign.
Hadfield’s second-place finish last night echoed his previous UC defeat. Last year, Hadfield and then-presidential contender Magnus D. Grimeland ’07, snagged a surprise second-place finish, but the momentum was not enough to catapult him to victory in this election.
An emotional Hadfield offered his congratulations to Petersen last night.
“I’ve got nothing but complete respect for Ryan Petersen,” Hadfield said. “He ran an impressive campaign, and he’ll make an excellent UC president.”
The presidential election was not the only item on the ballot. Students overwhelmingly favored the Environmental Action Referendum, which received over 88.3 percent of the votes. The EAC called for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Over half of Harvard undergraduates—3,519 students—voted in this year’s election, according to Election Commission Chair Joshua G. Allen ’09. Last year, the election saw a turnout of 3,896 students.
“This year’s campaign wasn’t vitriolic—a lot less votes were cast out of anger,” Allen said.
Haddock said yesterday that Petersen and Sundquist should keep the ideas of the other campaigns in mind when they assume leadership of the UC.
“Honestly, I hope Petersen and Sundquist take lessons from all the campaigns because they all brought important things to the table,” Haddock said. “I’m proud of everyone who ran because I think Petersen-Sundquist will be better for it.”
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