Freshman Caucus Endorsements 2021

Reading Time: 17 minutes

Issue 6, Volume 112

By The Editorial Board 

Cover Image

This year saw a whopping 14 Freshman Caucus tickets throw their hat into the election ring, a number that nearly approaches last year’s 16. The Spectator has chosen to endorse three of the prospective tickets.

1. Andy Xian & Fin Ying

CAMPAIGN: The Xian-Ying duo is driven and prepared, with a good sense of their proposed policies.

PLATFORM: Xian and Ying present a thorough and extensively outlined professional platform. The pair has clearly put extensive consideration into how they plan on approaching their key issues.

Placing an emphasis on communicating with and listening to the freshman class, the Xian-Ying ticket is impressively professional and thoroughly organized. The duo has narrowed their sights on feasible and effective plans, such as organizing school events with cultural clubs, and implementing measures like placing dividers at tables to make students feel safer eating in the cafeteria. Their lengthy platform covers matters such as sports teams, homework policies, and student re-entry from lunch outside. Though ambitious, the pair presents confidence that should serve to assure voters of their competence and reachable aims.

While the duo’s platform is by no means groundbreaking, their expansive list of ideas accurately reflects the desires of their year and displays a mature understanding of the limits of Freshman Caucus presidents. The two have made an effort to reach out to their fellow students leading up to the election and have planned a number of initiatives to maintain transparency, including frequent e-mail updates, surveys, and forums.

Both Xian and Ying have significant time in student leadership, with Xian having previously spent four years in student government, including as president in eighth grade, and Ying holding a number of positions in the Red Cross, Asian Coalition, and middle school yearbook committee. Having known each other since sixth grade, the pair exhibits strong chemistry. With a wealth of experience and broad but realistic policies, Xian and Ying are a strong and, above all, dependable team for Freshman Caucus. Thus, The Spectator endorses this ticket.

2. Madeline Goodwin & Ayla Irshad

CAMPAIGN: Despite having only met in freshman year, Goodwin and Irshad have grown close, and their strengths complement each other well. Their strong work dynamic points to a likely organized and efficient administration.

PLATFORM: The ticket’s platform is well-thought-out and focuses on establishing realistic and impactful goals to connect and unify the freshman body. They also plan to work closely with the administration to improve existing policies and plan out social events throughout the year.

Both Goodwin and Irshad have participated in student government since middle school, and their passion drives their campaign.

A central aspect of their platform is open communication with the student body. They plan on hosting weekly live-streamed cabinet meetings on Zoom to encourage transparency on their projects. To gain student feedback, they hope to open a Google Form for students to voice suggestions. To increase accessibility for freshmen, Goodwin and Irshad want to formalize a database for all of the class-specific group chats.

A major goal of the ticket is hosting social events for the freshman class, such as virtual study groups or monthly movie nights to encourage bonding. One unique event is a book swap, where students will be matched with each other based on interests and favorite genres to share and trade their favorite books every few months in the cafeteria.

While every Freshman Caucus has attempted to tackle the homework policy, the duo hopes to address the concern by sending out an anonymous form for students to note the amount of time they are spending on assignments and reporting results to the administration to amplify student voices. They also plan to hold a school-wide no homework day once a semester to provide students with a day of stress relief and an opportunity to catch up on work.

Overall, the Goodwin-Irshad ticket aims to bring the student body together after a disconnected virtual year while addressing mental health concerns. Their professionalism and experience set them apart from other tickets. The Spectator endorses this ticket.

3. Ethan Sie & Khush Wadhwa

CAMPAIGN: Sie and Wadhwa’s lively spirit is a rarity that only further showcases the reason for their well-oiled organization and the way they build their ideas off of each other. Through social media engagement, whether it be with their Facebook page or with a live Q&A session on their Instagram account, their intentions and passionate drive are abundantly clear.

PLATFORM: Recognizing the importance of communication, Sie and Wadhwa are running on a platform that aims to strengthen student engagement while simultaneously introducing novel but feasible policies.

Having met in middle school, both Sie and Wadhwa have gained notable leadership positions inside and outside of their school community. Khush serves as a member of the Executive Council for the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), and Ethan serves as a chairman. The two have experience working with each other, as they launched an education initiative called Tutor Incorporated for the NJHS during the pandemic.

Perhaps due to their previous leadership experience as a duo or their involvement in student government during the pandemic, the Sie-Wadhwa ticket’s primary focus is on generating new avenues of efficient communication, creating school spirit opportunities, and maintaining well-being for the freshman class. To address violations of the 30-minute homework policy, Sie and Wadhwa propose an infractions website, an accessible resource that accumulates the number of student complaints for the Freshman Caucus to review. Their steps of implementation are specific and clear (Sie and Wadhwa propose assigning a subcommittee that contacts a teacher anonymously if a certain threshold of the class complains).

To address freshmen concerns about the prospect of having nobody to commute home with after school, Sie and Wadhwa propose Commute Companions, through which participants would fill out a Google Form and be sorted into group chats of students with similar commutes home. With sample questions on their platform, the policy is feasible since it is not dependent on large numbers of participants but on a preference basis only. Other practical policies, though less innovative, include hand sanitation stations and freshmen school spirit events such as a trivia bowl.

Though some of Sie and Wadhwa’s ambitious policies, such as their school exit policy or push for virtual notetaking, fall short on feasibility, the ticket is not too idealistic. These policies indicate their priority in addressing the concerns and issues of the freshman class, which limits feasibility to an extent. However, they balance each other out in those aspects, with Sie and Khush demonstrating practicality and idealism, respectively. Their flexibility in adapting and propounding new solutions, as well as their platform as a whole, is what ultimately qualifies them for The Spectator’s endorsement.

4. Madison Zhan & Zhi Han Yao

CAMPAIGN: The Zhan-Yao ticket has an amicable dynamic, but their limited knowledge of student government results in inconsistencies regarding their responsibilities and the implementation of their policies.

PLATFORM: The Zhan-Yao ticket sports a brief, non-comprehensive platform centered around freshman bonding. However, their few policies are fairly common among Freshman Caucus candidate platforms and without a clear execution path, bring little new to the table.

The Zhan-Yao ticket prioritizes community building, with a main focus of their platform being freshman-specific events and easing the transition into Stuyvesant. While these are respectable goals, their plans fall short on both originality and concrete steps toward implementation. One of their main proposals is to host events that give freshmen opportunities to socialize and form a more tight-knit community, including movie nights, gaming tournaments, and karaoke. Zhan-Yao’s most unique policy is peer-tutoring within the freshman class. While the duo aims to address the intimidation freshmen feel toward upperclassmen, the policy fails to consider that most freshmen lack the expertise that upperclassmen have. Their proposed tutoring service also lacks the legitimacy of an organization like ARISTA, because their selection process for tutors involves little true vetting.

The third of their four policies is a weekly form to gauge the academic well-being of the freshman class. However, this policy falls short in its execution: there is no clear plan on how to ensure engagement with the form or even where it will be posted. Beyond its implementation, the form lacks usefulness, given the SU’s spiral of communication, “rant form,” and various other initiatives. Zhan and Yao do not specify how or even if these results will be used to address issues among freshmen.

In addition to their policies, the two lack a productive and spirited dynamic. Having only met each other this school year, there is a disconnect between the two when it comes to executing certain policies. Crucially, their greatest shortcoming is their general lack of awareness regarding the needs of the freshman class and Stuyvesant as a whole. Without adequate knowledge of school policies and the SU’s recent efforts, Zhan and Yao fail to formulate effective proposals and leadership style.

5. Aditya Anand & Mason Chung

CAMPAIGN: The Anand-Chung duo possesses a strong chemistry and teamwork that would serve them well in leading the Freshman Caucus if elected.

PLATFORM: With the “RRR Plan,” the pair centers their platform on three pillars: representation, reasonability, and resourcefulness. Focusing on carrying out concrete and reasonable plans, Anand-Chung’s campaign relies mainly on the idea of bringing the freshman class together through hosting various events and mental health check-ins.

Both Anand and Chung were the presidents of their respective middle schools for two years. Their leadership experience from years past provides the ticket with valuable skills in communication, organization, and event planning.

Anand-Chung are no strangers to organizing and executing large events, and they hope to carry out similar initiatives as Freshman Caucus leaders. Both are also strong speakers who are able to confidently and articulately present their campaign. Despite not having gone to the same middle school, the duo works seamlessly with each other and makes a formidable pair.

In terms of their platform, Anand-Chung’s “RRR Plan” presents a strong case for bringing the freshman class together. Although they aim to improve the school community, they place a heavy emphasis on taking realistic approaches to schoolwide issues. They acknowledge that this year is especially tough, since this year’s freshmen are still adjusting to the transition from middle school and remote learning to an in-person high school. To address this challenge, they plan to have freshman-specific monthly mental health check-ins and fun events (such as escape rooms, teacher versus student games, dances, and freshman-only spirit weeks) to help lighten Stuyvesant’s stressful environment. They also plan to implement a bi-weekly Google Form, similar to those done by the Student Union, where students can share thoughts about potential policies or report teacher grievances.

While the duo has clear aspirations, it is important to note that their written platform is somewhat underdeveloped and unclear in regards to how they will achieve their goals. The basic outline is clearly structured but lacks original substance that would set them above the rest of the candidates. Though their ideas for fun events and mental health check-ins are clearly fleshed out and cohesive, other policies fall short in planned implementation.

6. Qiutong Lin & Qiuhan Lin

CAMPAIGN: The Lin twins form a ticket that appeals to the quieter students at Stuyvesant. The pair understand each other very well, and though they do not have prior leadership experience, they are motivated.

PLATFORM: The Lin ticket addresses smaller grievances and promotes a more environmentally friendly Stuyvesant. Some of their proposals seem promising but lack bigger-picture relevance.

As sisters, the pair emphasizes their ability to communicate, as well as their introverted nature. The two of them display drive to represent the more introverted students at Stuyvesant, giving a voice to those who don’t typically speak up. At the same time, their personalities, as well as their lack of previous student leadership experience, may not be the most suitable for the caucus president position. They advocate for efforts to address mental health, like public therapy and an anonymous feedback form for feedback to teachers. Though these proposals seem appealing, they echo suggestions that are made time and time again but are never put into practice and are likely out of the scope of the Freshman Caucus’s influence.

Despite being passionate about environmental awareness, their ideas on how to promote a more eco-friendly school, such as encouraging recycling and organizing environmental awareness events, are not supported by a strong logistical basis. Their suggestion of collecting trash to make art, while creative, seems redundant, as Stuyvesant has previously done similar art projects that are currently displayed around the school.

While it is clear that the Lin ticket is passionate about the well-being of their fellow freshmen, they lack a certain level of insight and specificity in their policies.

7. Alexa Seltzer & Reem Khalifa

CAMPAIGN: Seltzer and Khalifa make a warm and friendly ticket and have great rapport. Friends from Global History, they seem to work well together both inside and outside of student government.

PLATFORM: The Seltzer-Khalifa ticket emphasizes the right goals—communication, accountability, and the construction of a positive social dynamic within the freshman class—but does not consistently have specific plans about how to accomplish them.

Seltzer and Khalifa are a warm, approachable ticket in whom freshmen could easily confide. Both have prior leadership experience from middle school—Khalifa was captain of her middle school’s Quiz Bowl team, and Seltzer, in addition to three years of debate, served as captain of multiple soccer teams. The Seltzer-Khalifa ticket has made efforts to engage with the freshman class, creating both a Linktree and an Instagram account.

However, the ticket struggles with the feasible execution of their many plans. Seltzer and Khalifa’s campaign includes a number of freshman reforms that seem standard and feasible, such as a study guide collaboration with ARISTA and more freshman-specific events. But details could be clearer on plans more unique to the ticket. For instance, their idea to reform the five-minute entrance policy (under which students who have gone out during a free period are not allowed back into the building until the final five minutes) is a worthy goal but could be hard to execute without a more detailed plan of action.

Seltzer and Khalifa also discussed the idea of establishing charging ports and docks around the school and securing universal, penalty-free homework extensions for all students. These plans are exciting but would require more thorough planning to become reality. Seltzer and Khalifa would be compassionate guides to freshmen if elected, but for all their plans to be realized, it would be necessary to delve deeper into specifics.

8. Josephine Yoo & Zoey Marcus

CAMPAIGN: Yoo and Marcus have been friends since middle school and have an amicable relationship. The pair has a good working dynamic, and there appears to be smooth communication between the two.

PLATFORM: The Yoo-Marcus ticket is centered around efficiency, practicality, inclusion, and compassion. Despite this basis, there are flaws with the practicality of their proposed policies.

While the Yoo-Marcus ticket has a number of interesting ideas, they often fail to elaborate sufficiently on the specifics of implementation. One of the duo’s proposals surrounds commute buddies, which attempts to resolve lonely commutes for new freshmen and group students together based on neighborhood and preferred transportation. Another one of their proposals is sorting out Facebook posts in a manner such that critical information is more accessible to the student body. However, the duo fails to sufficiently expand on exactly how they would go about doing so, leaving many of their ideas abstract.

The Yoo-Marcus platform could benefit from more specificity in their well-intentioned plans. Many of their policies are impractical. For instance, their proposal to have teachers give quizzes on assigned days would eliminate pop quizzes, a favorite tool of many teachers. Much of the rest of the platform follows suit; all of their ideas would be beneficial to the freshman class, but no path to enacting their policies is shared.

9. Tajrian Jahan & Mahmud Kalim

CAMPAIGN: Jahan and Kalim are willing to help the freshmen class but lack the communication and coordination required to do so in an effective manner.

PLATFORM:Many of Jahan and Kalim’s proposed reforms target institutions that do not require reform or cannot be easily reformed by the student government. Their platform largely focuses on niche issues that do not impact the majority of the student body.

The Jahan-Kalim ticket proposes a set of distinct ideas for the freshman class but rarely details the plans behind the actual implementation of these programs. These ideas include culture day and a set space in the school building for prayer. The ticket also suggests a reformed cell phone policy that would allow freshmen to use their phones in between periods, which the large majority of students already does without persecution. Jahan and Kalim also promise to enforce the 30-minute homework policy but do not address how they will do so.

Jahan served as their middle school’s student council president, though it is unclear whether Kalim has garnered any relevant experience. Of the duo, only Jahan attended The Spectator’s interview, and they further seemed to be under the impression that leading the Freshman Caucus does not require a committed running mate. Jahan and Kalim do not have a strong line of communication and would struggle in leading the Freshman Caucus.

10. Ryan Radwan & Ethan Sharma

CAMPAIGN: Radwan and Sharma exhibit a solid dynamic and good rapport. Being in the same homeroom and math team together has allowed them to develop a good friendship that could prove useful in student government.

PLATFORM: The Radwan-Sharma platform focuses largely on academic resources with some mention of community building among the freshman body, but lacks innovative policies, especially in non-academic initiatives.

With the acronym CAUCUS—Communication, Academics, Unification, Constitution, Utilization, and Stability—the Radwan-Sharma ticket emphasizes using technology to aid in freshman academics. While Radwan was an eighth grade representative in middle school, Sharma has little experience in student government or leadership. Some of their ideas, such as creating study guides and class group chats on Discord, are well-intentioned but lack originality. The ticket also wants to centralize communication among freshmen into a Discord server, which has already been created and is active with over 200 participants. Another proposed policy is selecting freshmen as Assignments Captains to upload homework reminders or announcements in Discord class group chats. However, they have little plan of implementation or incentivization.

Radwan and Sharma’s largest community initiative is creating freshman hotspots in places in and outside of school, such as on the Tribeca Bridge or in Starbucks, where freshmen can hang out with others during frees. While this plan is an interesting initiative, the execution may be messy, and the lack of specificity weakens the idea. The pair also plans to feature clubs and sports accomplishments in bi-monthly e-mails (nicknamed RAD-Mails) for freshmen to read. Otherwise, there is little elaboration on other policies.

Though Radwan and Sharma are enthusiastic, the ticket lacks concrete ways to implement both their academic and non-academic policies.

11. Tamiyyah Shafiq & Ava Maddox

CAMPAIGN: Shafiq and Maddox have a cordial dynamic and are eager to help the incoming class but lack the necessary chemistry and coordination to truly work well together.

PLATFORM: The ticket has good intentions, but their proposals are unoriginal and impersonal.

Shafiq and Maddox are passionate about helping the freshman class adjust to high school. However, their policies are underdeveloped as a result of their lack of knowledge about Stuyvesant.

The ticket’s initiatives mainly address the homework policy and mental health. More specifically, they plan on creating and distributing an anonymous homework form for students to communicate with teachers who violate the 30-minute homework policy. Shafiq and Maddox also plan to tackle mental health concerns through an optionally anonymous form for students to express their feelings. Both proposals are similar to past initiatives that have already been implemented. Additionally, neither Shafiq nor Maddox expressed a desire to update the questions in the forms that have been used.

While Shafiq served as treasurer for her middle school’s student government, Maddox has no experience in student government. Additionally, both seem to have trouble communicating with each other and compromise on ideas. Shafiq appears to dominate, while Maddox adds complementary comments. With under-researched and unoriginal policies, The Spectator will not be endorsing this ticket.

12. Milo Zaks & Abedur Rahman

CAMPAIGN: Zaks and Rahman may be capable of being student leaders but do not have the chemistry needed to lead the freshmen class.

PLATFORM: The Zaks-Rahman ticket proposes feasible ideas but lacks the passion and creativity necessary to carry them out.

The ticket’s platform has a few desirable ideas and envisions their campaign as directly democratic, seeking to implement the goals of the students rather than impose them from above. However, their ideas are only surface level, with little explanation of how they hope to implement their plans.

Some ideas seem to replicate already existing programs, such as their peer tutoring program—synonymous with ARISTA—and the peer-to-peer advice program, which is no different from the Big Sib Program. Other ideas are sound but unoriginal, such as pushing for free entry and exit from the building, permitting the usage of headphones in more areas of the school, and enforcing the homework policy, of which the last has no concrete plan of execution. Their most unique idea is to make homeroom meetings more frequent to allow students to create stronger relationships—since the homeroom cohort is the group of students that remains the same throughout all four years of Stuyvesant—which may be feasible and beneficial.

However, Zaks and Rahman have not worked together prior to running for Freshman Caucus leaders and did not demonstrate seamless communication during their interview. Overall, the ticket does not bring many new ideas or interest for the position.

13. Christopher Louie & Nelson Chan

CAMPAIGN: Louie and Chan have known each other since middle school and have a solid working dynamic: Louie is more of a talker while Chan is the listener.

PLATFORM:With a unique platform, the ticket seeks to improve representation and facilitate better communication across the freshman student body, though their policies are not the most feasible.

Louie and Chan demonstrate that together, they would be receptive to the issues of the student body. Their deep-rooted cooperation would be a key asset of their leadership. While it is clear that they would make a strong partnership, their policies are not the most feasible.

One of their policies is creating a centralized document for students to find homework and class materials, which could be a good resource to help students stay organized, improve time management skills, and strengthen community. However, teachers may not be the most receptive to this policy as it is time-consuming, especially if it is expected to be updated every day. Additionally, PupilPath and Google Classroom serve as centralized tools for students already.

They also hope to create a council with a representative from each homeroom to increase representation, but this plan is redundant, as the school already has a Freshman Caucus. Their proposed policy of a freshman hang-out space, perhaps on the east side of the ninth floor, is well-thought-out and beneficial. Other initiatives, such as bi-weekly e-mails and seasonal get-togethers, are feasible but not especially unique.

Overall, Louie and Chan present a solid campaign based on their productive working relationship and detailed policies, though their policies fall short.

14. Preena Patel & Brandon Tung

CAMPAIGN: Patel and Tung have a strong work dynamic, carrying a genuine drive to help the freshman body adjust to a new high school environment.

PLATFORM: Primarily focused on helping freshmen adjust to Stuyvesant, the Patel-Tung platform tackles common problems faced by incoming students, aiming for every voice to be heard.

The Patel-Tung ticket aims to acclimate students to the rigorous environment at Stuyvesant through their three pillars of Contentment, Communication, and Connection. Both are passionate about student government and hope to amplify every student’s voice. However, they lack a concrete plan for implementing their proposals.

For example, they believe that students should be allowed to return any time during their free periods. Additionally, they hope to foster community by designating a separate hangout area or “bar” for freshmen. However, the pair lacks a specific area in mind, responding to queries with vague locations. Moreover, they believe that P.E. uniforms should be optional to improve students’ convenience, though teachers already give ample time for students to change. The ticket also wants to alleviate stress for students by expanding direct communication among students and faculty, such as issuing mandatory homework surveys for teachers to send out to their students, though their overall platform lacks concrete plans.

As Stuyvesant is a heavily academic-focused environment, Patel and Tung believe that there is currently a lack of opportunities for students to showcase their artistic talents. A unique idea proposed by the pair is expanding performing arts at Stuyvesant by offering more recitals in dance, music, and theater.

Overall, the Patel-Tung ticket has a good understanding of the issues facing the student body and has strong chemistry and dedication, though their implementation plans lack depth.