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Students elect Asa Craig to the board of trustees

A sophomore two-time member of the Student Assembly has been elected by students to represent them on the Cornell University Board of Trustees.

Asa Craig, a government major, beat nine opponents to become one of two student-elected trustees. His term runs from summer 2009 until summer 2011. Craig will replace Kate Duch '08, whose term ends June 30. The other student-elected trustee is Michael Walsh, a doctoral candidate in biological and environmental engineering.

Online voting began April 14 and closed April 16. The Office of Assemblies announced the election results April 22. Both undergraduates and graduate students voted, with 3,423 ballots cast.

The board's 64 members help determine major policy directions for the university and plays an important role in safeguarding its integrity.

Craig is concentrating his academic work on inequality studies and international relations. In addition to serving two one-year terms on the Student Assembly, he has served on the University Assembly for one year. He is president of the Cornell Glee Club and plays piano and alto saxophone. A work-study student in the College of Arts and Sciences admissions office, Craig promotes Cornell to prospective families as an Arts and Sciences ambassador. This summer, he will work on government policy issues in New York City as a Cornell Urban Scholar.

During the campaign, he pledged to mitigate the university's fiscal situation without damaging academic programs or on-campus student life, to enhance the university's financial aid and loan policies, and to promote diversity while amplifying unity among the many campus communities.

Fiscal responsibility also played a role in how the election was administered. For the first time, the Office of the Assemblies conducted the election and counted votes in-house, rather than contracting out those tasks as it has for the past decade, said Ari Epstein, the office's assistant director. It tabulated votes using open-source software, OpenSTV, developed by Jeff O'Neill '92, J.D. '05, during his first year at Cornell Law School.

The move saved the office about $18,000, Epstein said. "And each ballot is available in a simple text file format so any member of the community who doubts our tabulation has the ability to do it themselves with their own software." The office ran the Employee Assembly elections online with the software, and plans to do the same with the Faculty Senate elections as well, eliminating the waste and cost of paper ballots, Epstein said.

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Joe Schwartz