Harry Bittker, a junior majoring in political science, was elected to be the new student representative of the Binghamton University Council for the 2018-19 academic year.

This year, 931 students voted in the BU Council election. Bittker took the majority with 548 votes and an 18.28 percent margin, according to results provided by the Student Association (SA).

According to Kathryn Madigan, chair of the Council, Bittker will start his new role on July 1. Madigan wrote in an email that Bittker has previously shown interest in the work of the Council.

“[I] am looking forward to working with the newly elected BU Council Student Representative Harry Bittker,” Madigan wrote. “He has shown a keen interest in the work of the Council and has attended a number of meetings.”

Bittker wrote in an email that although the student representative position has been overlooked in previous years, he is looking forward to demonstrating its influence on fixing issues facing the student body.

“This is a role that’s been a bit of an afterthought in the past, and as a result, it’s been underutilized,” Bittker wrote. “So to me, this is a chance to address the issues students care about, but also to leave my mark on the role in a way that encourages the SA, [Graduate Student Organization (GSO)] and future representatives to reimagine how the BU Council representative can impact the student body.”

Madigan echoed Bittker and wrote she would like to establish the Council student representative position in order to develop more student interest in the position.

“In addition to my normal duties as Council Chair, I would like to work with Harry and the SA leadership to institutionalize the election of the Council student representative as an integral part of the general election of the student leadership,” Madigan wrote. “That should assist in generating more interest in the position and avoid the need for a separate electoral process.”

According to Bittker, he wants to start his term by meeting with members of the Council, University administration and student leaders to better understand their concerns, how the student representative works with them and how his position can improve.

Bittker wrote that he would also like to immediately address mental health and student safety while working on the issues he discussed in his platform.

“At minimum, I’m hoping to make a serious impact on mental health and student safety on- and off-campus by the end of my term, though I’m going to work hard to make progress on each of the issues I talked with students about during the campaign — especially my diversity, equity and inclusion platform,” Bittker wrote.

Additionally, Bittker wrote that he wants to develop a better onboarding process for future BU Council student representatives, so they will be able to understand their role and responsibilities before taking office.

According to Madigan, the student representative election hasn’t always occurred on time and she hopes to avoid late elections in the future.

“It might be helpful to work with Harry as our new student representative and the SA [and] GSO leadership to establish a procedure to ensure that the election of the student Council [representative] is an integral part of the election structure and doesn’t fall through the cracks, as it has in the past,” Madigan wrote.