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The Daily Tar Heel

Houston Summers wins student body presidency

The junior will take over as UNC’s student body president on April 1.

Houston Summers and Kathryn Walker await the results Wednesday evening for the Student Body President election.
Houston Summers and Kathryn Walker await the results Wednesday evening for the Student Body President election.

“It’s kinda surreal right now,” said Summers, a 27-year-old former minor baseball player and a member of UNC’s track and field team. “Taking a second and reflecting back on everything that’s happened over the last few weeks, it’s been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster in understanding some of the issues that people deal with on our campus on a daily basis.”

Summers’ won the election with 64.8 percent of the vote while runner-up Kathryn Walker received 35.2 percent.

Summers’ was the front-runner in last Tuesday’s general election, when he won 35.6 percent of the vote, while Walker received 26.3 percent. David Marsh, the third candidate in the race, received 21.2 percent and was eliminated after the general election.

Because no candidate received a majority, a runoff election was deemed necessary.

This year, 3,051 students participated in the runoff election. That number means only 16.6 percent of undergraduates voted, the lowest turnout in a runoff or general election since at least 2005.

Last year’s student body president runoff election drew in 7,441 undergraduates, one of the largest in UNC’s history.

Summers said he does not know what policy he will chose to work on first, but after his team is assembled, they will choose which items are most pertinent on campus to address.

He also said his team will be comprised of both members from his campaign team as well as outside students.

“We have some unbelievably talented and strong individuals on our team right now that do represent a lot of diverse areas of campus; however, there are some areas on our team that we are missing,” Summers said.

Summers said he believes he won over some of the votes from those who wrote in author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, who died in 1960, in the general election.

Hurston, who took classes in secret at a segregated UNC, received 10.6 percent of the total votes in the general election earlier this month.

“I want to prove to those individuals who didn’t (switch their vote) that I am ready and willing to stand and hear their voices and incorporate everyone in the conversation,” Summers said.

Walker, who received endorsements from former candidates Marsh and Tyler Jacon, said she is disappointed she was not elected, but she is proud of her team’s work.

“This was a very hard campaign cycle, and we’ve been through a lot with the tragedy, and Dean Smith’s passing and the snow, so congratulations to Houston, and I’m very proud of the campaign that we ran,” Walker said.

Walker said she would be happy to help Houston in any way he needs it, but ultimately it is up to him whether he chooses to incorporate her or any of her ideas into his administration.

Summers said this is very much a possibility.

“It’s very difficult to view those policies that an opponent has put forth, but I think now obviously I’m going to be more open and receptive to those things and the ideas that she put forth.”

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