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Updated: 7:05 a.m.
Danny P. Bicknell ’13 and running mate Pratyusha Yalamanchi ’13 will lead the Undergraduate Council next year, the UC Election Commission announced Thursday night after a relatively quiet race dominated by two insider tickets with strong records of leadership on the Council.
Voter turnout was significantly lower than in previous years’ elections, with participation down 865 votes from the 3,595 ballots filed in the 2010 race.
Bicknell and Yalamanchi received first-place votes on about 56 percent of the 2730 cast ballots. Given this clear majority, the pair won the election in the first round, and no redistribution of second- and third-place votes according to the Council’s instant-runoff voting system was necessary.
Crystal D. Trejo ’13 and David H.A. LeBoeuf ’13—an inactive Crimson news writer—claimed second place, trailing the victors by a margin of 592 votes. Running on a promise to abolish the UC when they graduate in May, Ryan P. Halprin ’12 and running mate Aneliese K. Palmer ’12 won the remaining 282 votes.
For the two leading tickets, many of the major themes of previous years’ platforms—including social space and increased dialogue between students and administrators—dominated the discussion. Both groups focused on offering attainable goals, with Bicknell-Yalamanchi promising a “realistic platform” and the Trejo-LeBoeuf ticket running on a slogan of “real action.”
But over the course of the two-week campaign, momentum shifted toward the Bicknell-Yalamanchi ticket as they began to capture a clear majority of student group endorsements. With the support of 25 organizations, the duo garnered endorsements from large student groups including the Harvard College Democrats, Radcliffe Union of Students, Queer Students and Allies, and the Environmental Action Committee. This more than doubled the 11 endorsements gathered by Trejo and LeBoeuf, which included the Harvard Republican Club and Harvard Organization for Latin America.
Bicknell attributed much of the ticket’s success in winning student group endorsements to their experience as UC leaders, realistic platform, and collaboration with student leaders in formulating their ideas.
According to Harvard College Democrats President Jonathan L. Newmark ’12, Bicknell and Yalamanchi’s focus on creating attainable goals—including changes to student group funding policies—secured the group’s endorsement.
“Danny and Pratyusha were the natural choice for the Dems because they brought ideas to the table that catered specifically to our needs,” Newmark said.
In addition to student group endorsements, Bicknell and Yalamanchi successfully gained a majority of support within the Undergraduate Council, particularly among freshmen council members—with nine of the 12 freshmen committing to their campaign.
“Our campaign strategy was geared largely toward freshmen because the reforms that are enacted will affect them the most,” said Phillip J. Morris ’12, one of the campaign managers for the Bicknell-Yalamanchi ticket. “Seniors won’t be around to experience the changes that are promised, so they typically don’t care as much.”
Morris added that Bicknell and Yalamanchi’s long tenure as UC leaders—both have served since their freshman years—appealed to Council members and student group leaders.
“At the end of the day, I think experience is what set the tickets apart, and it showed in the solutions and proposals that were set forth,” said Morris. “Danny’s experience with advocacy and Pratyusha’s experience with finance served as a powerful combination that helped win over both student groups and Council members.”
At an election results party last night, Bicknell and Yalamanchi expressed their excitement to begin working to implement their campaign promises.
“We were motivated to run to make a difference,” Bicknell said. “We will be working every single minute until the end of our presidency to advocate for students.”
—Staff writer Rachael E. Apfel can be reached at rachaelapfel@college.
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