Freshman Caucus Coverage 2022

Issue 5, Volume 113

By The Editorial Board 

Cover Image

Olivia Cisse & Sonya Cisse

DYNAMIC: The Cisse ticket has an especially close relationship, being that the two are sisters who eat, sleep, and work together. As caucus leaders, communication would likely come easier than most due to their sisters status. In addition, they complement each other in a friendly rivalry, as Olivia Cisse represents the more sociable and extroverted side and Sonya Cisse represents the more “academic” and introverted side. However, this close relationship can also be their weakness, as it may be too close for professional comfort.

PLATFORM: The Cisse ticket has many ambitious policies, accompanied with pragmatic sensitivity. The Cisses both plan to increase awareness of various school events, and have ambition to shift the ‘Stuy student’ stereotype in a more positive direction. In addition to academic support in the form of study guides, sample schedules, the Cisse ticket also proposes a personalized system of support for freshmen, focusing on time management and organization. The Cisse ticket also looks towards raising the frequency and diversity of field trips, through both fundraising and communicating directly with the administration. Additionally they stress the importance of raising awareness of sexual harassment and supporting the LGBTQ community at Stuyvesant.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Overall, the Cisse ticket is a reasonable choice for Freshman Caucus. They have demonstrated not only articulation of their ideas, but also a balanced communication between the two sisters. Furthermore, they possess a clear grasp on their core values and overarching goals for the freshman class. The Cisses have ample prior experience: both sisters represented their classes in Student Council, co-captained the eighth grade soccer, and participated in their school’s peer mentoring program. The Cisse ticket presents a balanced and well thought out candidacy, despite the slightly over ambitious aspects of their platform.

Samuel Sunko & You Zhou

DYNAMIC: Sunko and Zhou met in eighth grade and have developed a close friendship since then. Sunko has experience running for eighth grade president, while Zhou was co-captain of his school’s speaker city team. They were also once team leaders for their school newspaper. If elected, they plan to divide the work so Zhou focuses on policy and Sunko focuses on graphic design and communications.

PLATFORM: The ticket does not have specific policies or values to represent their goals for the freshman student body. Rather, they emphasize that their goals will be concrete once elected based on what the students want. Through a need-based Google form, the pair plans to create policies around what students say they want. Their ideas were fairly vague, some of which include more social events for freshmen and more choices in AP classes for freshmen.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Sunko-Zhou ticket does not have an extensive policy document or policy plans in general. The ticket has some ideas on what the freshmen need, such as help with choosing classes and making changes to their schedules, but is leaving the bulk of its planning and brainstorming for once they become presidents. Due to the lack of initiatives they have for the students, it is unclear how they would pose as representatives of the student body.

Amy Wang & Christopher Kelly

DYNAMIC: The Wang-Kelly ticket has a friendly dynamic, often jumping off each other’s ideas and points. They struck up an online friendship over the summer before meeting in-person at Stuyvesant and instantly forming a connection. Though their amiability is evident, there is also a clear thread of professionalism. Wang seems to hold a larger leadership role, resulting in a slight power imbalance.

PLATFORM: The Wang-Kelly ticket is mostly focused on creating policies that help students in their day-to-day lives, but these proposals are not at all realistic. Many of the issues that they raise are due to safety rules imposed by the school. For example, they hope to veto the headphone policy. Though it may be inconvenient for some, the rule serves to keep students alert enough to hear important safety announcements. Many of Wang and Kelly’s ideas make a fair attempt at helping the students but do not account for the infeasibility from the administration’s perspective. Certain policies, like their dividers policy (which proposes placing dividers in the boys’ bathrooms), are warranted. But the idealism attached to their other policies is too great to overlook.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Though the Wang-Kelly ticket has the potential to grow into their roles, their greatest weakness is that most of their policies are extremely infeasible and require extensive administration involvement. Examples of such policies include reforming the headphone policy, adding air conditioners to the locker room, increasing time during passing periods, and instituting monthly no-homework days. They have hefty prior experience, but their policies fail to address the unique needs of freshmen and instead propose larger changes that are difficult to implement. Furthermore, the ticket claims to value uniqueness, but many of their planned events have been executed in previous years. Despite their ambition and experience, the Wang-Kelly ticket possesses a sense of naivete that prevents them from understanding the responsibilities that running a caucus at Stuyvesant entails.

Myles Vuong & Angelina Li

DYNAMIC: Vuong and Li first met in biology class this year, building a relationship as they tried to overcome one of Stuyvesant’s most difficult freshman classes together. Over time, the duo felt the need to address many of the issues freshmen are facing during their transition to Stuyvesant. Though they converse frequently outside of class, Li’s high commitments put Vuong in the driver’s seat for the execution of most ideas. Both have experience in community service and student government, but Vuong leads the ticket’s discussions, while Li adds on from the backseat.

PLATFORM: Through engagement, entertainment, and excellence, the Vuong-Li ticket features a variety of plans to improve the freshman experience at Stuyvesant. A long list of potential events, some centered around holidays and others on a monthly basis, look to always give students events to look forward to. With stress reduction at the forefront of their priority list, the ticket has ideas to address the homework policy and improve tutoring programs such as AIS, while also making study materials more accessible, like previous freshman caucuses. Finally, through planned weekly polls, Vuong and Li plan to ensure that all freshmen have the opportunity to share their perspectives on topics being addressed by the caucus.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Though featuring three pillars of community with a goal of “putting the u in Stuy”, the Vuong-Li ticket lacks concrete directives in their policy documents, raising questions about the ticket’s commitment to various projects. Their charter of events is nothing out of the ordinary, with no particular plans for any large events, except a proposed carnival. However, the duo’s plans to increase community through smaller, more frequent events could greatly improve connections between freshmen. Though the ticket is aware of many pre-existing initiatives such as ARISTA, much of their plans involve raising awareness for those items rather than creating new initiatives to help the freshman body. Their plans to address the homework policy through data collection and strongarming appear overly ambitious and are their only currently planned major project.

Dean Hevenstone & Henry Woodcock

DYNAMIC: At first glance, the Hevenstone-Woodcock ticket has a friendly, appreciative dynamic. They met each other at fencing tryouts and continued speaking to each other throughout Model UN meetings and over weekends. This constant contact is evident in the casual conversation they have with each other. They certainly profoundly respect each other’s capabilities. However, that dynamic is undermined by Woodcock’s more passive role—rarely speaking or adding on to policies. While an introvert-extrovert dynamic is extremely common across Freshman Caucus candidates, Hevenstone and Woodcock do not contribute equally to the communication, outreach, and development of their campaign.

PLATFORM: The Hevenstone-Woodcock ticket’s platform hinges on several different proposals which aim to resolve perceived long-standing issues. The first of the issues they target is work-life balance, which they believe may particularly affect freshmen arriving from middle schools that have not prepared them for the level of work given at Stuyvesant. To combat this challenge, they plan to create a committee inside the Student Union that conducts polls and surveys throughout the year and uses the data to pinpoint which teachers may be violating the Homework Policy. Another change they hope to implement is making the weekly Opportunities Bulletin more accessible, as they believe that it is often too long and difficult to parse through. They also plan to try adding more options to the school lunch as a long-term goal, since many students may not be able to eat it due to food restrictions. Finally, they would like to create an alternate working space, as well as implement changes that will allow Stuyvesant students to have more social interaction.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Hevenstone-Woodcock ticket strives to make Stuyvesant an inclusive and supportive environment for freshmen. Their campaign places an emphasis on policies that will help students maintain a work-life balance and engage in social opportunities and extracurricular activities outside of the classroom. Unlike many other campaigns, Hevenstone-Woodcock focuses on attainable goals, such as distributing Google Forms surveys that track how much homework students are given each night and creating alternative work spaces for students to use during their free periods. However, other proposed ideas fall short. Their plan to create an SU committee centered around work-life balance struggles with long-term feasibility and lack of foundation. Additionally, their proposals to create a website that would simplify Mr. Blumm’s Opportunities Bulletin and to implement more events in the hopes of improving social life are generally unnecessary. Already existing resources such as extracurricular activities and connections that students can create with staff provide easy solutions for these problems.

Philip Zhang & Madison Lee

DYNAMIC: The Zhang-Lee ticket has a strong dynamic, as the two of them complement each other well. Zhang and Lee met through a tutoring program prior to their time at Stuyvesant and were able to develop a strong friendship. The two have already fallen into specific roles, with Lee tasked with creativity and Zhang the actual implementation of these ideas. Both claim to have prior leadership experience and express passion in contributing to their communities.

PLATFORM: Zhang-Lee presents solutions to existing issues among the freshmen. Regarding the 30-minute homework policy, the ticket suggests the formation of a website that takes submissions and the implementation of a strike policy with teachers, through which teachers are contacted by the administration if five strikes are reached. Zhang-Lee also plans to contact administration with a petition for a two-week trial period of increasing the time interval when students can return to the building during free periods and lunch. The ticket also hopes to keep freshman homerooms connected by assigning each homeroom a delegate, who would collect the concerns and thoughts of their homeroom peers and then attend meetings held with all the delegates for discussion. The delegates would be switched every month to maximize student involvement.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Zhang-Lee ticket has demonstrated a balanced dynamic. One of Zhang-Lee’s major focuses includes increasing transparency and communication with the freshmen. While the ticket’s proposed policies are innovative and offer a new perspective to several student issues already highlighted at Stuyvesant, much of the platform relies heavily on the approval of administration and an attempt to change many of the current safety measures or school systems. Moreover, though the ticket acknowledged a goal of further engagement from the student body, it failed to address specific methods in achieving this aim. Several of the ticket’s policies and methods fall short.

Ankea Cheuk & Sofia Pisareva

DYNAMIC: Cheuk and Pisareva have known each other for years, as they both attended Mark Twain, where Pisareva graduated valedictorian. The two are involved in similar extracurriculars, such as debate and science olympiad. However, they only recently became friends, with Cheuk describing their relationship as “strictly professional.” In terms of responsibilities, Pisareva handles all social media and promotion, and Cheuk develops policies.

PLATFORM: The Cheuk-Pisareva ticket focuses their policies on four base values: Advocacy, Collaboration, Growth, and Transparency. The policies themselves are categorized in three categories: Academics, Community, and Transparency. With a combination of community-building activities and more ambitious academic changes, the pair aims to quickly help the freshman class.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Overall, the Cheuk-Pisareva ticket is led by two ambitious individuals with unique ideas, including trivia bowls, multicultural nights, and “Locker Letters,” which aim to help the next incoming class. Despite their creative ideas, the plans to fund and organize these events are not as well thought-out, with monthly bake sales being the only fundraising idea so far. Regarding their academic policies, some of the ticket’s more determined ideas involve changing the testing policy to mandate a “review day” in class prior to an exam and creating an infractions website for students to report violations of the homework policy. The nature of these policies makes them nearly impossible to implement, with teachers unlikely to revise their entire curriculum and administration unlikely to alter the spiral of communication. Their goals are unrealistic, as most rely on approval from administration.

Sama Daga & Eisei Kori

DYNAMIC: Daga and Kori have known each other since their middle school years at NEST+m, where Daga was the student body president and Kori was involved in student government as an event planner. The pair has an amicable dynamic, often supporting and building off of each other’s responses, but they also demonstrate the professional capability to get work done.

PLATFORM: The Daga-Kori ticket falters on substantial and creative initiatives for the freshman class. The ticket’s policies focus on centralizing existing systems by incorporating them into student government, such as ARISTA, the Alumni Mentoring Program, and Big Sibs, with claims that the aforementioned programs might not be well-known to the majority of the student body. These policies, though possible, do not address the needs of the freshman class. Rather, they add a superfluous layer of administrative tasks. Other policies, like cultural events and social activities such as field days or “Wednesday Night Live,” are well-intentioned but not well planned in their verbal explanations and written policy document.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Daga and Kori have the potential to be good leaders, as they are both well-spoken and thoughtful, and possess the charisma and confidence necessary to lead the student body. The ticket’s actual policies, however, do not reflect this potential. Their motto is “Together We Stuy,” with five core “pillars” of cultural awareness, advisement, unity, support, and enforcement. Their advisement, support, and enforcement policies do not seem like they would serve new ideas to the freshman class. Instead, they would maintain the status quo by piggybacking off of pre-existing organizations and programs. The ticket’s cultural awareness and enforcement policies, while beneficial in theory, are one-dimensional. Two out of four cultural holidays listed on their policy document are not sufficiently planned out, and many of their vague and predictable policies attempt to enact changes (such as the headphone policy and feminine hygiene products) that have been promised but unfulfilled by numerous past student governments. Though Daga and Kori are genuine in their desire to help the student body, their policies lack originality and specificity.

Anonna Mehjabin & Serenity Dingwall

DYNAMIC: Mehjabin and Dingwall are clearly stronger together, having met through the Discovery program over the summer. They aim to represent many of the underrepresented groups within Stuyvesant, giving voice to those who have previously been marginalized.

PLATFORM: While the pair exhibits strong leadership skills and has previous experience in student government and event planning, their campaign is marred by a lack of realistic policies. They have ambition to bring about change, but their proposed policies are not clearly defined in how they will actually be carried out. Additionally, many of their ideas are beyond the scope of the Freshman Caucus.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Overall, the Mehjabin-Dingwall ticket is grounded in values that will elevate the freshman class. Their lived experiences positively shape their leadership and they appropriately aim for inclusivity and unity. They also address specific and unique issues through policies like expanding student discounts to help local businesses and a biweekly newsletter highlighting smaller clubs. However, many of their ambitions highlight a lack of awareness, being purely idealistic. They are promising leaders, but their campaign is primarily composed of ideas for improvement and limited by a lack of coherent policies.

Kassandra Sinchi & Rahul Kissoon

DYNAMIC: Sinchi and Kissoon have known each other for many years, having not only attended the same middle school, but also competed together in policy debate. Despite this long-lasting relationship, the pair seems to have more of a professional than a friendly dynamic and does not appear to be entirely on the same page regarding policies.

PLATFORM: Sinchi and Kissoon’s platform consists of several ambitious initiatives, such as altering grading policies to be less test-heavy, creating a prayer room for the Muslim community at Stuyvesant, and establishing regular field trips to help facilitate bonding. Despite these worthwhile endeavors, the vast majority of their policies either already exist or are entirely out of the scope of the Freshman Caucus to establish.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Sinchi-Kissoon ticket consists of two experienced, ambitious individuals with a great capacity for noticing where change is necessary. Their campaign acknowledges several important issues, such as a lack of inclusivity at Stuyvesant, unfair grading policies, and insufficient opportunities for student bonding. However, the measures they propose to combat these issues are highly impractical and are insufficiently backed up with means of implementation. In particular, their proposal to change the grading policy at Stuyvesant overlooks the departmental measures that would have to be taken. They claim they will achieve this change solely by establishing student support, which also seems unlikely to effect change. In comparison, the ticket’s stronger policies are those that promote bonding specifically within the freshman class, such as a homecoming dance and freshman seminars. While these events would still require extensive fundraising, a challenge for any caucus, they are far more feasible than other policies and are likely to serve their intended purpose, despite being slightly basic. However, due to the overwhelming lack of feasible policies, this ticket falls short.

Lauren Yang & Wade Guo

DYNAMIC: Guo and Yang are social butterflies looking to use their interpersonal strengths to ease the transition of other students to Stuyvesant. Coming from different schools and meeting each other in Freshman Composition, they formed a friendship grounded in daily communication. The pair has not defined a clear division of roles between the two of them yet, but Yang appears to be slightly more outspoken. Overall, the ticket demonstrates a friendly dynamic that is somewhat marred by an imbalance in leadership.

PLATFORM: The Guo-Yang ticket has six core policies, encapsulated by the acronym LAURDE: learning opportunities, advancement of freshman quality of life, understanding of work-life balance, representation of the concerns of the student body, direct involvement in student life, and emotional check-ins.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Despite only meeting in Freshman Composition, Yang and Guo have already developed good communication skills when it comes to sharing ideas and campaign planning. This collaboration is bolstered by their prior relevant experience. Though Yang and Guo have not previously held formal positions in student government, both planned events at their respective middle schools and are eager to work with others. Yang-Guo offers solid, if generic, ideas for aiding freshman transition and socialization. They plan to overcome academic challenges faced by the freshman class through creating more study guides, sponsoring study groups, and helping students with organization. The ticket centers student life opportunities around homeroom bonding: scavenger hunts, holiday competitions, dances, and cultural celebrations. They hope to supplement their plans with feedback from the freshmen, collected in emotional check-in surveys. In addressing bigger concerns of the student body, like the cooling system and re-entry to school, the pair plans to meet with the SLT. However, many of the ticket’s initiatives lack originality and feasibility. For example, ideas for opportunities bulletins and platforms that compile bell schedules and A/B days significantly overlap with already existing resources, like Mr. Blumm’s Opportunities Bulletin and the Student Union’s Weekly Schedule e-mail. Proposals such as modified re-entry times during free periods and changes to the headphone policy are unlikely to come to fruition, given the historical difficulties that caucuses have faced in coordinating with the school administration on these systems.

Tristan Haugh & Sienna Hwang

DYNAMIC: Haugh and Hwang met at Stuyvesant in English class and have characteristics that complement each other. While Haugh embodies a good work ethic and acumen for business, Hwang is highly social and skilled at connecting with others. The pair has extensive backgrounds in student leadership; Hwang was a part of the student council executive committee and co-led her middle school feminism committee, and Haugh was also a student council representative at his middle school. Both are well-spoken and able to reinforce each other’s policies seamlessly.

PLATFORM: The Haugh-Hwang ticket revolves around four pillars: fun, unity, spirit, and transparency. Their focus is to improve transparency, help students overcome stress with fun events, and maintain an “integrated administration that allows all students to have a say in what they want to see.” In order to hold themselves accountable, they plan to send polls every month. They also endeavor to restructure how funding is organized through the school, which may be beyond the scope of the Freshman Caucus, given the current DOE funding limitations.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Overall, the Haugh-Hwang ticket has great potential for Freshman Caucus, as they are both well-spoken, ambitious, thoughtful, and charismatic. Their campaign focuses on making communication among classes easier, directly involving student input for events, and rooting out nepotism by finding qualified candidates for caucus positions. Unlike other campaigns, they introduced a unique cross-funding project, where various clubs raise funds for each other to create a more equal cash flow so all clubs can get sufficient funding. Even though this plan is certainly a creative idea, it may not be plausible due to DOE funding limitations. Their event plans are also similar to those of many other tickets, and their initiative to make class group chats has already been put in place. While this ticket is competent and charismatic, their policies are too general.

Thomas Alfred & Rohan Sen

DYNAMIC: Alfred and Sen have known one another since middle school, and their closeness and strong ability to communicate with each other have enabled them to create a clear vision for the Freshman Caucus.

PLATFORM: The Alfred-Sen ticket’s largely focuses on the creation of “B teams” at Stuyvesant to offer more opportunities for students with less experience in certain topics. The pair plans on creating less competitive alternatives for math team, robotics, and sports teams. Alfred and Sen also want to add more benches around the school and increase communication about the condition of escalators.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Alfred-Sen ticket is ambitious, and their platform centers on inclusion and increased communication. However, most of their plans are either impractical or already exist. “B teams” are already present in the form of clubs that are accessible to everyone, and there are JV teams for several of the sports teams at Stuyvesant. Additionally, sending out relevant e-mails on the condition of the escalators is unlikely to succeed. The suggestion to increase the number of sitting spots throughout the hallways is also difficult to carry out and not entirely necessary.

Ellis Thompson & Jenna Battista

DYNAMIC: Two-of-a-kind Thompson and Battista met on the first day of freshman year and charismatically hope to bring the student government to the freshman body. They strive to maintain good working relations and go out of their way to talk to one another, though their relationship lacks direction as they share a very similar skillset.

PLATFORM: The Thompson-Battista ticket aims to encourage direct democracy, remove the negative stigma around Stuyvesant, and connect with those who are struggling. They value pragmatic approaches to projects that have a lasting impact on the student body. However, many of their policies are not groundbreaking, and those that are ambitious are beyond the scope of the Freshman Caucus.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Thompson-Battista ticket embodies a charismatic and approachable aurora, effectively connecting with the student body. With previous leadership experience in student government and sympathy toward the mental health of their peers, they hope to encourage a direct democracy where the freshmen will feel supported and heard. By bringing initiatives directly to the student body, the duo hopes to find and elevate the needs of the average freshman to higher platforms where they can be addressed, whether by the Freshman Caucus or higher powers, such as teachers and administrators. However, the ticket struggles to find the balance between feasibility and impact. Though their goal is to create policies that address the entire student body, Thompson and Battista have several policies that will barely improve quality of life for the freshmen, while requiring significant upfront investment. Such an example is their initiative to improve the quality of toilet paper. Though idealistic, this ticket’s policies will require significant funding to fulfill, made difficult by the new funding limitations set by the 2021-2022 Stuyvesant financial audits. Additionally, the duo plans to address many of the freshman body’s problems by “raising awareness,” which may not show any tangible results. Their ambitious freshman prom is also likely beyond the scope of their power but does emphasize the need for social events shown by many tickets.

Samuel Sunko & You Zhou

DYNAMIC: Sunko and Zhou met in eighth grade and have developed a close friendship since then. Sunko has experience running for eighth grade president, while Zhou was co-captain of his school’s speaker city team. They were also once team leaders for their school newspaper. If elected, they plan to divide the work so Zhou focuses on policy and Sunko focuses on graphic design and communications.

PLATFORM: The ticket does not have specific policies or values to represent their goals for the freshman student body. Rather, they emphasize that their goals will be concrete once elected based on what the students want. Through a need-based Google form, the pair plans to create policies around what students say they want. Their ideas were fairly vague, some of which include more social events for freshmen and more choices in AP classes for freshmen.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: The Sunko-Zhou ticket does not have an extensive policy document or policy plans in general. The ticket has some ideas on what the freshmen need, such as help with choosing classes and making changes to their schedules, but is leaving the bulk of its planning and brainstorming for once they become presidents. Due to the lack of initiatives they have for the students, it is unclear how they would pose as representatives of the student body.