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Berroa Grabs University Council Seat in Three-way Battle

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Alondra Berroa on Friday was elected to represent over 13,000 undergraduate students on the University Council, a 12-member board which oversees campus operations.

“Oh my God, I won by 715 votes,” said Berroa, responding to election results posted on the Student Association office window.

From Wednesday to Friday, Berroa faced off against Alexander O’Leary, a former Indian Quad senator, and Amanda Demma, a Business & Management Division senator. With 44 percent of the vote, she held a cushy lead over both candidates.

Berroa will succeed Jarius Jemmott, a former SA President, who beat then-assistant to the vice president Anna Agnes last fall by a landslide to take the seat.

Throughout the week, Berroa won the endorsement of Jemmott along with a handful of SA leaders: former President Felix Abreu, Senate Chair Jarrett Altilio, Vice President Madeeha Khan, and President Jerlisa Fontaine.

“She has served us well and I’m mean, there is no reason why she doesn’t deserve this position,” said Fontaine.

Last year, Berroa served as a special assistant to Abreu. During that time, she was appointed as a student representative to the University Auxiliary Services board. She was re-appointed by the Senate two weeks back.

Beyond appointments, Berroa has attempted to grasp an undergraduate-wide elected seat prior to the Council race. Last February, she lost an eight-way special election for senator-at-large to Cristal Marrero by 22 votes.

At the time, O’Leary, who lost to Berroa by 221 votes this election, won a seat for Indian Quad. Unlike Marrero, he didn’t run again in the SA general election.

He’s the only Council candidate without an elected seat. Going forward, O’Leary plans on running for Senate or SUNY Student Assembly representative.

“Yeah, this is a setback for sure but you know, I’m okay,” he said. “I didn’t really expect to win. I did much better than I thought I would.”

While O’Leary looks for another run, Demma hopes to bring her current role in the Senate to push pieces of her campaign agenda. She ran on a platform which included Maintenance of Effort and food insecurity, reflective of her role in the SUNY Student Assembly as an undergraduate representative for doctoral granting institutions.

Demma emphasized her platform on social media. In a campaign post on Facebook, Demma wrote: “So vote for someone who believes in realistic change not vague promises.” She later told the Albany Student Press that the remark was not an attack on O’Leary and Berroa, but a swipe at SA election campaigns.

“I’m not promising perseverance,” she said in a Wednesday interview. “I’m not promising accountability. I’m promising real set goals.”

Despite the advocacy push, she fell the farthest behind with 361 votes.

Voter turnout altogether slumped from 2016. Nearly 400 fewer students cast a ballot in this year’s race, falling out of line with last fall’s record-breaking numbers.

Additionally, the number of students competing on the down ballot dipped. Despite an uptick in University Council bids, some 25 percent fewer students competed in the Senate race.

“Maybe last year was just an exception to the rule that it was just oddly higher than normal,” said Altilio.

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Tyler A. McNeil is the current managing editor for the Albany Student Press. The Capital Region native previously served as managing editor for The Hudsonian, and as an intern for the Times Union and Capital Tonight.

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