Amanda Cisse and Fin Ying: Leaders of the 2023-2024 Student Union

The new leaders of the 2023-2024 Student Union express different ambitions for this school year.

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By Lily Serry

The Student Union (SU) leaders of the 2023-2024 school year, President Amanda Cisse and Vice President Fin Ying, have an exciting mix of returning traditions and new administrative policies in store for the student body. Both Cisse and Ying have past student government experience: Cisse was Vice President of the SU, and Ying was Co-President of the Sophomore Caucus during the 2022-2023 school year. Though school has only just begun, the two have been working closely together on their plans for the year.

Cisse and Ying decided to begin planning early for the upcoming year based on what they learned from their past SU leadership experience. “The biggest thing I learned was just the timing of everything, so with events and different policies you would want to start during the year,” Ying said. “It’s really important that you start early for everything because sometimes there are just unexpected obstacles that come up, and they really set you back.”

One item on the pair’s agenda is to host unsanctioned (in which the SU takes full liability for the event) activities that students have enjoyed in the past. “We’re going to try to have more out-of-school events this year [...] like when I was sophomore and [then] Vice President, we did stuff like ice skating at Chelsea Piers, [going to] Broadway Shows [and] movies, [so] we’re thinking that could also be really fun for the students,” Cisse said.

Improvements to Stuyvesant’s merchandise store are also in the works, including an increased variety of options. “We are currently [...] talking to the Alumni Association and Principal [Seung] Yu and other administrations about possibly making some sort of collaboration with the alumni store so that we use their facilities and sell more seasonal merch throughout the school year,” Ying said. “We’ll have more designs and more options, so maybe something for different seasons, like winter would be beanies [...] And we would bring some more popular options that students are looking [forward to].”

The two leaders also expressed eagerness to revamp the morning announcement system, inspired by the 2022-2023 Senior Caucus’s humorous AI announcement, which simulated President Joseph Biden and Former President Donald Trump’s voices on the school-wide speakers. “That’s one of the only policies that actually really impact[s] every single person in the school,” Ying said. “The morning announcement [...] would be really fun if we could create some more engaging and fun activities, [such as having] facts or [a] song of the day.”

Along with the revamping of traditional Stuyvesant offerings, Cisse and Ying have administrative policies they hope to pass to improve the academic experience of the student body. “We [had] put on our platform that we would like [the weighting of] the testing policy [to change],” Cisse said. “We already met with Principal Yu about this, and our [Student Leadership Team] has been currently working on this [...] He said he likes the idea a lot and [that] we should start off with some sort of survey to the school to see if students agree with it [...] We need two-thirds of the student population to fill it out.”

In addition to the new testing policy, Cisse and Ying want to implement changes to SING! dues so that they are not a burden to the many students eager to participate. “SING! dues were so high, and so many people complained about them this year. We’re thinking about [a] fundraiser throughout the school year [...] because lowering the cost of the SING! dues might not be possible,” Ying said. “We might [have] people who were a part of SING! be able to get or not have to pay as much for their merch along with the SING! dues so that everything can just be a little bit more accessible to everyone, because I know not everyone is able to pay that high of a price to be able to participate in something that should be open for the entire school.”

In terms of internal SU procedures, the duo hopes to continue making SU processes more transparent to the student body. “A lot of people say that they don’t really know what exactly is going on within the student government [and the] reasons for why we can’t implement certain things. So definitely, transparency is one thing we want to work on—to be able to properly communicate with the student body what exactly our limits are and what exactly is being done behind the scenes in the SU,” Ying said.

In line with efforts to increase transparency, the two plan on communicating with the student body with a more active online platform. “Another thing I [want is] a really active social media [that shows] everything the SU is doing; it needs to be put out there on both Instagram and Facebook. Last year, Instagram definitely wasn’t really active. But I think this year, it’s already looking better,” Cisse said.

Behind the pair’s plans lies a team that they are confident will be able to achieve their goals. “I like the team we have this year. I think it is a good balance of people from different grades,” Cisse said. “We had our introductory meeting at the end of the school year and everybody was very lively and got along well.”

Junior and SU Co-Chief of Staff Madeline Goodwin shares a similar sentiment about the importance of communication within the SU. “Overall, the SU and Exec [have] been in a lot closer communication than we were in last year, [which is] going to help execute some of these things a lot more easily and efficiently,” Goodwin said. “Last year, it was sometimes difficult communicating clearly, and also we weren’t working on as many projects as we are this year, and I think that close communication is helping us do more, even before school [starts].”

Looking ahead, members of the SU have confidence in Cisse’s and Ying’s abilities. “[They] have a strong mutual respect, which allows them to bounce ideas off of each other in a way that maximizes results [...] I feel that their relationship sets up a dynamic with strong longevity for the integrity of the SU; Amanda and Fin are very involved with the happenings of every department, but they trust their members, directors, and each other and delegate in a way that promotes creativity as well as responsibility throughout the entire union,” senior and SU Co-Chief of Staff Shira Galai said in an e-mail interview. “I have a lot of faith in this year’s Student Union. It’s a great assembly of both creativity and productivity.”