2023 SU Sophomore Caucus Endorsements and Coverage
Reading Time: 15 minutes
Kristy Gao and Max Abraham
DYNAMIC: Kristy Gao and Max Abraham used their experience in student government to build a campaign based on practicality, addressing what they see as the flaws of the 2022-2023 Freshman Caucus. After working together on a biology group project, they discovered their compatibility. Abraham, an avid public speaker and political canvasser, joined forces with Gao, an organized planner and member of the Freshman Caucus events team, to tackle the issues facing rising sophomores. Overall, their dynamic is strong and the specific skill sets of each individual makes them good partners.
PLATFORM: The Gao-Abraham ticket is centered around solving “bad Stuy habits”' that arise freshman year. The largest issue they hope to address is cramming for exams. The Gao-Abraham ticket plans to offer study hall sessions that will allow students in the same classes to review material together and formulate questions. Though this service is already offered to some extent in the form of AIS and ARISTA tutoring, Gao and Abraham argue that unideal AIS teachers can be part of the problem when it comes to grasping challenging content. The ticket hopes to address individual problems as well, creating an anonymous mental health form for sophomores to submit their concerns to. The form will be an outlet for people to gather personalized solutions for issues they don’t feel comfortable bringing to guidance counselors or peers. However, dangerous situations like suicidal thoughts or abuse would have to be reported to guidance, going against their confidentiality promise. In addition, the duo expressed a necessity for more events in the upcoming year, such as a Spring Dance and Spring Festival. However, such an ambitious list of events does require significant funding, and the ticket proposed to reduce costs by using services, products, and facilities already available at Stuyvesant. They mentioned that their funding will mainly come from budget management of the sum they get at the beginning of the year, and from possible bake sales. Their lack of ideas for fundraising may cause issues to arise, as they might not have enough money to execute the events they have planned.
OVERALL REVIEW: Overall, the Gao-Abraham ticket prioritizes practicality and focuses on sophomore-specific issues they have observed from their observations of the current Freshman Caucus. The two have an excellent dynamic and could fare well as co-presidents, though there is room for improvement in their planning for special circumstances, evidenced by their incomplete design for their mental health form and lack of preparation for budgeting. Overall, the Gao-Abraham ticket’s strong dynamic leaves no doubt about their capability to get things done, but their policies and planning still need improvement. The Spectator does not endorse this ticket.
Solomon Binyaminov and Philip Zhang
DYNAMIC: Binyaminov and Zhang have been friends since middle school and often play video games together. Their long friendship is clearly shown by their chemistry and trust in each other. They balance each other out very well, demonstrating complementary interests in both STEM and humanities. Both have outgoing personalities and are very well spoken.
PLATFORM: Binyaminov and Zhang focus their platform around B.A.N.G.: Broad, Academics, Navigation, and Growth. As they both are sports players, they heavily emphasize sports in their policies, including a Sports Fair and a separate sports catalog on StuyActivities to encourage students to join. Other than sports, some other notable policies are that they plan to add more benches, allow students to enter school eight minutes before the end of the period instead of five, and add dividers between urinals in the boys’ bathrooms. Binyaminov and Zhang are aware that these policies are ambitious, but believe that compromise with the administration is possible. They propose a two-week trial period in order to test the effectiveness of each of their policies. Binyaminov and Zhang plan to stay as transparent as possible with the student body, even if certain policies are unsuccessful.
OVERALL REVIEW: Despite their ambitious and arguably unrealistic policies, it is clear from their experience in caucus that they are qualified to lead the student body. Binyaminov was Chief of Staff and Zhang was an Events member. Through their roles in the Freshman Caucus, they directly witnessed the issues that occurred, and plan to address these as next year’s caucus Co-Presidents. The dynamic between the two proves that the duo works well and balances each other out. Other than their experience, their honesty and openness is what distinguishes them from other candidates. Binyaminov and Zhang realize their policies are ambitious, but believe they can still achieve the desired results. The duo also values efficiency, so if a policy is deemed unachievable they plan to shift their resources toward more feasible goals. While they have few policies and events and most are unoriginal, they are able to thoroughly explain how each policy or event will be achieved. Binyaminov’s and Zhang’s leadership experience and overall confidence make them a qualified candidate for Sophomore Caucus. The Spectator endorses this ticket.
Amrit Das and Marlee Sidor
DYNAMIC: The Das and Sidor have worked together since third grade, citing their collaboration during their eighth grade graduation as one of the key moments in their partnership. Das’s proficient public speaking skills in combination with Sidor’s writing skills are promising for accomplishing leadership tasks. Furthermore, Sidor’s inclination for planning and organization complement Das's inclination for taking action. Overall, they have a good dynamic and their longstanding friendship is evident in their comfort with each other.
PLATFORM: Das and Sidor’s campaign focuses on transparency, cleanliness, and community. The ticket cites many problems at Stuyvesant including the lack of transparency regarding school safety issues, excessive homework loads, a dirty cafeteria, and the five-minute policy regarding reentrance into school after frees or lunch periods. However, they lack specific plans to address these issues, simply stating that they will fix them. Their more feasible plans included biweekly or monthly e-mails sent out to the sophomore student body and working with graphic designers to redesign the Stuyvesant website. Though one of their campaign points was more fundraisers, their fundraiser plans consisted solely of bake sales and collaborations with other clubs.
OVERALL REVIEW: Though the Das-Sidor ticket exhibits a good dynamic, their campaign’s appeal ends there. Their platform is extremely lacking, using buzzwords like transparency and community without elaborating on actionable plans. This inadequacy may stem from their lack of Student Union (SU) experience, especially when it comes to budget allocation. With vague, unrealistic and generic goals, their campaign offers little innovation. All in all, their disorganization and lack of specific plans makes it doubtful that they will achieve meaningful progress if they win the election. The Spectator does not endorse this ticket.
Olivia Cissé and Eunice Wong
DYNAMIC: Cissé and Wong have a balanced dynamic, with Cissé taking the lead in matters of communication and outreach and Wong being more adept at listening and taking notice of responses to the ticket’s potential policies. The two met in freshman year and have worked closely over the past several weeks to craft platform policies; they communicate openly with each other about campaign-relevant issues. Aside from running for Freshman Caucus in the fall, Cissé served as Assistant Props Director for Soph-Frosh SING! and was co-captain of her middle school’s soccer team. Wong, a member of the Stuyvesant girls’ frisbee team, was class president in middle school and is highly involved in volunteering activities outside of Stuyvesant. While their leadership experience during their time at Stuyvesant is rather limited, the Cissé-Wong ticket shows a strong work dynamic with a highly cooperative relationship between the two candidates.
PLATFORM: Cissé-Wong’s most strongly emphasized point is their ticket’s attunement to the needs of the sophomore body, in alignment with the platform’s four core values and policy categories: funding, events, communication, and support. The values are meant to be interconnected—proposed events (movies, game nights, and dances) are to contribute to the funding of support-related initiatives and would be open to feedback from the sophomore class, which would allow the Cissé-Wong ticket to maintain a strong line of communication with students. Funding would also come from a shoe drive fundraiser, where the Sophomore Caucus would work with the SU to donate shoes to an organization in return for funds.
OVERALL REVIEW: Though Cissé and Wong have a balanced dynamic and appear to complement each other well, many of their proposed policies relating to academic support, such as study guides and group study halls, are repetitive and fail to bring much that is new to the table. Some of their other ideas for supporting the sophomore body—adding a printer on the seventh floor near the computer stands and replacing the benches in the back of the library with armchairs—are interesting and show the ticket’s sensitivity to their peers’ concerns. The ticket’s acknowledgement of the potential infeasibility of select policies shows their practicality, another aspect of their campaign that the two candidates pride themselves on. Needless to say, Cissé-Wong’s down-to-earthness, while commendable, does not compensate for the unoriginality of major components of their campaign platform, and thus The Spectator does not endorse this ticket.
Ryan Yang and Josephine Boone Ireland
DYNAMIC: Ireland and Yang balance each other out. While Yang dreams big and shoots for the stars, Ireland grounds the duo by converting Yang’s ideas into manageable and realistic policies. The two met through Stuyvesant’s varsity swim team, where they bonded over a passion for the sport and a shared identity of being student-athletes, gaining both leadership experience and resilience alongside one another. Both candidates also have volunteer experience, which has strengthened their commitment to bettering the Stuyvesant community. They describe their relationship as fluid, constantly bouncing ideas off of each other and accommodating one another’s preferences and time constraints.
PLATFORM: A major component of Ireland’s and Yang’s platform places increased emphasis on hosting speaker events that students find relevant and engaging. They plan to invite speakers who are experts in topics specific to students’ course material, making extra credit events more meaningful and applicable. Particularly, they want to focus on recruiting speakers in both the humanities and sciences, as well as adult representatives who could speak about career development. In order to encourage participation in these events, they plan to offer gift cards in a raffle. To afford these gift cards, Yang and Ireland plan to charge low entrance fees to some events which would also serve as entrance into the raffle. One of the pair’s other focuses is improving the sanitary conditions and comfort in the boys’ bathrooms. They will do this by installing dividers between the urinals and putting fly stickers on the urinals (fly stickers are meant to improve the aim of urine in order to reduce messes). Yang and Ireland also seek to bolster the appeal of the vending machines by purchasing popular snacks in bulk—these profits would be used to fund events. The one academic change they plan to implement is to hold open study halls. Their final proposal is to work with the Stuyvesant administration to allow for the switching of escalator direction (down to up) when the up escalator is broken. They spoke to Assistant Principal of Safety, Security, and Physical Education Brian Moran about this idea and he reportedly said that it is plausible.
OVERALL REVIEW: Overall, Ireland and Yang offer a few unique ideas for the Sophomore Caucus. However, their commitment to sensibility seems to prevent the partnership from proposing more ambitious plans for their term. A major value of their ticket is to promote open communication. Their experience as varsity athletes allows them to empathize with the struggles of student athletes and students in other high commitment activities. There are concerns about the feasibility of some of their proposals, specifically the admission prices to certain events. The Spectator does not endorse this ticket.
Alvaro Hernandez Jenaro and Thomas Alfred
DYNAMIC: Hernandez Jenaro and Alfred are friends who work well together and have complementary skill sets. They share the same vision for the Sophomore Caucus and hold similar values.
PLATFORM: Hernandez Jenaro and Alfred emphasize accessibility within Stuyvesant and have a deeply-rooted goal to help everyone find a home at Stuyvesant. They plan to create monthly opportunity e-mails specifically curated for sophomores and make information about clubs accessible to ensure opportunities for all. Additionally, they aim to bridge the gap between guidance counselors and students. However, it is unclear how they will manage to bridge the gap and make counseling widely accessible to everyone. They also proposed to give everyone who was denied from joining extracurriculars a second chance. They plan to create a B Team for Math Team and create additional tryouts for sports, though they suggested few concrete steps to pave the way for this initiative’s success.
OVERALL REVIEW: While these candidates are passionate about expanding opportunities for student advancement and increasing connectedness across the rising sophomore class, their platform lacks diversity in the policies they want to implement, as well as concrete plans for how they would achieve these policies. The Spectator does not endorse this ticket.
Vanna Lei and Cayla Chew
DYNAMIC: As the current freshman caucus Co-Presidents, Lei and Chew have gained ample experience navigating the inner workings of the SU. They have cultivated relationships with the other caucuses, the SU, and the administration, and have exhibited the organizational skills necessary to run ambitious events. Lei and Chew have hosted a Freshmen-Only Scavenger Hunt and the Flower Bouquet Contest, and they are in the process of organizing a Semi-Formal Dance for this June. This impressive track record speaks to the ticket’s efficient leadership style and is a strong predictor of similar administrative successes in the future.
PLATFORM: Having known each other since middle school, Lei and Chew have a great dynamic. With Lei’s love for STEM and Chew’s passion for the humanities, the pair complements each other very well. As Freshman Caucus Co-Presidents, their chemistry has proved beneficial when it comes to dividing responsibilities. While Lei worked extensively with the IT department and budgeting, Chew worked with the Internal department on social media projects. Their Instagram presence indicates their close engagement with the student body. With their strong partnership and connections with the current freshman class, it is clear that Lei and Chew will be approachable Co-Presidents.
The Lei-Chew campaign revolves around the assortment of events and policies they intend to implement. For events, Lei and Chew plan to hold an Egg Scavenger Hunt, speaker events, and friendly competitions for their class, including Family Feud and a Squid Game remake. In terms of policies, Lei and Chew hope to bolster their social media influence with interactive reels, add charging stations to the school, and decorate the Sophomore Bar for special events. Lei and Chew also plan to continue their Freshman Caucus policies of monthly e-mails and magazines, information guides for studying and course selections, and Caucus website.
The Lei-Chew ticket promises another year of engaging events and practical policies aimed at alleviating sophomore stress. Their success in pursuing initiatives—such as the addition of shower hooks to the pool locker rooms—gives credence to the ideas they put forth. Their demonstrated dedication to the freshman class not only benefits the Class of 2026 but also serves the Stuyvesant community as a whole.
The ticket’s platform offers both practical and creative solutions to problems faced by the current freshman class. To promote early involvement in different fields, Lei and Chew plan to create a cabinet position solely dedicated to surfing through Mr. Blumm’s Opportunities Bulletin and compiling the jobs and internships applicable to sophomores. One of their more ambitious policies aims to install charging stations within the Stuyvesant building—an attempt to address the dearth of outlets available for student use. Chew and Lei are cognizant of the considerable cost that comes with such an initiative but have developed funding strategies such as an entry fee for their freshman Semi-Formal. They have also grown familiar with some of the stringent DOE policies on bake sales and cited other possible methods of fundraising, such as merch sales and a sophomore bar pop-up cafe, though that may not be very feasible.
While Lei and Chew are strong candidates for the Sophomore Caucus Co-Presidency, their ticket does not have many original, ground-breaking ideas, and their more ambitious ideas are not as feasible. Their AP study guides, for example, fall on the practical spectrum of ideas but are not a unique initiative. They acknowledge the costs of their charging station policy, but other logistical and administrative barriers of this initiative are vague.
The Lei-Chew ticket has exhibited maturity in their ability to adapt to the needs of the student body. Their Freshman Caucus campaign promised the introduction of 8th- and 9th- floor freshman offices, but upon closer assessment, Lei and Chew realized the intrusive effects of this policy and chose not to pursue it. This demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the Stuyvesant community that will aid them in future initiatives should they win their class’s vote. Thus, The Spectator endorses this ticket.
Kassandra Sinchi and Rahul Kissoon
DYNAMIC: Sinchi and Kissoon have been friends since middle school, and their shared experience in middle school debate has created a strong bond between them. Both members of the ticket have experience in student government, and Sinchi is currently a part of the SLT. With Sinchi focusing on inclusion policies and Kissoon focusing on event planning, the dynamic duo form a ticket with a diverse set of goals and initiatives.
PLATFORM: The Sinchi-Kissoon ticket plans to increase student event engagement and awareness of important figures. They plan to highlight significant people during times like Black History Month and Pride Month through e-mails and morning announcements. Some notable events the ticket is planning include a Thanksgiving food drive, Father’s Day card-making, Secret Santa, home competitions, and a sophomore end-of-year dance. Sinchi-Kisson also plans to provide rewards and gift cards to incentivize participation in these events, as well as to encourage students to submit feedback forms.
OVERALL REVIEW: The ticket has a wide variety of goals and events planned; their target areas range from community-bonding events to more serious issues such as teacher feedback forms and increased mental health resource dissemination. Almost all of Sinchi-Kissoon’s policies are feasible, and the pair has the experience to carry their ideas through. However, their ticket lacks some more unique proposals that would otherwise distinguish them from the rest of the candidates. The Spectator does not endorse this ticket.
Trisha Kumar & Ahana Chandra
DYNAMIC: Trisha Kumar and Ahana Chandra met in their global studies class and have created a great friendship in which they share similar cultures and ideas. They have a balanced relationship by dividing tasks, providing each other with advice, and keeping each other in check. While they do not have significant experience in student government, both have leadership experience in Stuyvesant. Chandra was a producer for SophFrosh SING! and is a member of the SU External Affairs Department. Kumar is head of the science department for the Metis Project, a tutoring club.
PLATFORM: The Kumar-Chandra ticket has policies that target school life, academics, and events. To improve the school experience, they plan to implement vending machines that accept credit cards, install charging stations throughout the school, and remove the five-minute reentry rule. Their academic policies include reducing the amount of homework during SING!, creating grade-wide study guides and hosting college sessions after school where upperclassmen can guide sophomores in preparation for the application process. One of Kumar-Chandra’s proposed events is a cultural day talent show, where students can showcase their diverse backgrounds and engage with others who share the same language, promoting cultural amalgamation.
OVERALL REVIEW: Taken as a whole, the Kumar-Chandra ticket has a special focus on improving the day-to-day lives of Stuyvesant students. Furthermore, they have a relaxed and respectful dynamic. Their policies have a commendable motivation, such as installing new charging stations and organizing a cultural day talent show. However, Kumar-Chandra’s biggest liability is the lack of a clear strategy to fund or organize their events. When asked about any fundraisers they plan to hold to pay for their ideas, the Kumar-Chandra ticket could only rely on students rallying behind their implementations. Their main policies have already been implemented by past caucuses or are out of their control, such as removing the five-minute reentry rule. Overall, the Kumar-Chandra ticket has thoughtful ideas but lacks preparation. Thus, The Spectator does not endorse this ticket.
Chloe Tam & Vincent Chen
DYNAMIC: Tam and Chen have been friends since the beginning of freshman year, meeting in various shared classes and through their participation in the math team. While the pair is close and on the same page regarding policies, Tam seemed to take on a more noticeable role within the campaign, sparking the concern of workload division.
PLATFORM: The Tam-Chen platform prides itself on feasibility, with the pair’s platform document consisting of numerous small events and initiatives to improve Stuyvesant. Their initiatives are certainly achievable and beneficial to the Stuyvesant community, with ideas including a pillow station for sophomores to get rest, game buckets with fun activities, as well as events such as festivals and cooking classes. While these suggestions could occur in practice, they are not necessarily revolutionary, nor would they make a lasting impact on the sophomore body. Additionally, the ticket had few concrete ideas regarding how to fund these initiatives. One of their main suggestions was using alumni to fund benches and generate profit for events, but it is unlikely that would be effective.
OVERALL REVIEW: Overall, the Tam-Chen ticket is composed of rational, achievable policies. While the events they propose are feasible, they are unimaginative and unambitious. One cannot create lasting change without taking risks, and unfortunately, the Tam-Chen ticket chose not to shoot for the stars. Additionally, due to their minimal prior involvement in the SU, they are inexperienced with funding these initiatives, as they have not been exposed to DOE regulations, contacting alumni, or going through budget allocations. However, their commitment to practicality is commendable. Likewise, the ticket is admirably committed to accountability and is planning to highlight often uncredited members of the caucus on social media. Ultimately, the sophomore body could be in safe hands with Tam-Chen, but due to their lack of experience and ambition, this ticket falls short. Thus, The Spectator does not endorse this ticket.