Altaf keeps smiling despite third-place

by Coralie Carlson

Sabeen Altaf heard of her third-place finish over the sounds of geese and waves on the Mississippi River banks Thursday evening.
“Wow. I should let Mike know,” Altaf said, after taking a call from Minnesota Student Association election officials on her cellular phone.
Her running mate Michael Hsu, an Institute of Technology junior, didn’t join the campaign staff at the East River Flats Park because he needed to study for an upcoming midterm.
Altaf, a College of Liberal Arts junior, said she was disappointed by the finish and surprised that her endorsement didn’t carry more weight.
Students Against Fees Excess endorsed Altaf and Hsu, who pledged to work towards fiscal responsibility among groups who receive student service fees. The College Republicans also supported the duo, but did not give official endorsements.
Despite the loss, Altaf kept a cheery demeanor, laughing and smiling as she broke the news to her campaign staff.
“Whatever happens, happens for the best,” she conceded.
During their campaign, Altaf and Hsu advocated publishing an annual review of MSA to upgrade the organization’s reputation. They also supported better food service and the installation of e-mail stations at Coffman Union.
Altaf, surrounded by a small group of campaign staff at a picnic table, said she didn’t have any projections of who would win, but she expected more students to vote.
“I think the reason is because there was no clear message why people should go out and vote,” said Orlando Ochoada, senior in the College of Education and Extension who volunteered for Altaf’s campaign.
Dismayed at the student apathy, CLA sophomore Stuart Sajdak said, “I wonder how many votes Homer Simpson got this year.”
In 1995, the cartoon character garnered enough write-in votes for a third-place finish.
In a last-minute flurry of campaigning, Altaf talked to voters on the Mall on Wednesday afternoon and her staff posted another round of signs at 4 p.m.
Altaf said she enjoyed campaigning, but wouldn’t commit to running again next year.
“I don’t know right now. Right now it’s all overwhelming; that can be discussed next year,” she said.