On Tuesday, October 20th, the University of Chicago’s College Council held an election to break the tie between Evita Duffy and Allen Abbott, potential representatives for the Class of 2022. The election occurred via a public town hall meeting on Zoom. After a series of deliberations, this year’s College Council voted 11-2 to elect Abbott.
During the election, both candidates were asked to give three-minute speeches, which were followed by a Q&A.
Duffy spoke first, focusing on the uniqueness of UChicago’s policy towards free speech. Duffy highlighted the importance of the Chicago Principles and Kalven Report, discussing her desire to champion unheard voices on campus—from political minorities to those with disabilities. Duffy also laid out policy proposals she would like to pursue, including addressing the physical and mental health of students, expanding gym and library hours, and returning the Dean’s List to its old structure.
Abbott followed Duffy, speaking about his experiences with student government in high school. Abbott described how he has already involved himself on campus, through House Leadership, RSO’s, and working with College Council on the Green Fund. Abbott then laid out the three policy goals he’d like to pursue on College Council: (1) improving the transparency and efficacy of UCAIR, (2) working with Career Advancement to fix the Metcalf Internship Program, and (3) instating digital UCIDs.
Following both candidates’ speeches, current council members posed questions. The candidates were first asked about what committees they would like to serve on if elected.
Much of the questioning then proceeded to address Duffy’s IOP whiteboard controversy, from last year. Duffy reaffirmed that she never attempted to minimize COVID-19; instead, her goal was to highlight the dangers of socialism. Duffy also emphasized the importance of having an openly conservative representative on College Council, in order to more fairly represent the community’s diverse perspectives. Meanwhile, Abbott was asked about what he’d bring to the table if elected. Abbott focused on how he understands and relates to students who don’t pay attention to College Council and claimed that he would be able to effectively reach out to his peers if elected.
After the Q&A, both candidates were sent into Zoom breakout rooms, so that College Council could deliberate and vote upon the candidates. The deliberation, like the Q&A, focused mainly on Duffy and how her political beliefs would affect College Council.
Representative Naa Ashitey (’21) expressed concern for marginalized students and claimed that she did not feel comfortable electing Duffy to defend them. Representative Tyler Okeke (’23) went further and criticized Duffy, claiming that her support of a “fascist” president would not be suitable for College Council: “[W]hat I’m more worried about is the violence that [Duffy] can actually bring to this council given her views and her alignment with a fascist president.” Okeke expanded on this further, claiming he was “deeply worried that [Duffy] is preparing and desires to [represent a] campus that is 15 percent Jewish while comparing the only Jewish candidate for president on the ballot to a deadly respiratory disease.” However, Representative Kevin Yan (’21) expressed approval of Duffy and explained that he knows her to be a kind and caring person.
Multiple College Council representatives, including Harry Gardner (’22) and John Fuentes (’22), commented on how they were impressed by Abbott and were intrigued by his policy proposals.
After deliberation, the members voted. Both candidates were thereafter informed that Abbott won the election 11-2. Abbott will serve as the fourth representative of the Class of 2022, and all of College Council’s 2020-21 representative seats have now been filled.
Rachel Ostergren is the Chicago Thinker’s Chief of Staff. As a rising third year, she plans on double majoring in Public Policy Studies and Jewish Studies. She is also involved with Chabad on campus. Rachel is from Fruitland, Iowa, and loves reading, playing the piano, listening to jazz, and doing crosswords.