Introducing Cayla Chew and Vanna Lei as Freshman Caucus Co-Presidents

Freshman Caucus Co-Presidents Cayla Chew and Vanna Lei share their plans for the 2022-2023 school year.

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By Julia Lee

For the 2022-2023 school year, 18 tickets campaigned for Freshman Caucus on November 24. Freshmen Cayla Chew and Vanna Lei won the election with 165 votes, with a close margin of two votes ahead of the runner-up ticket in the instant runoff.

Prior to coming to Stuyvesant, the pair had already fostered a close relationship, when they both attended the Bay Academy middle school. “[Lei and Chew] get along really well. They’ve known each other for a really long time, which is good because [...] they have a special bond and can work with each other,” freshman and Chew-Lei campaign manager Valerie Chu said.

Though the Chew-Lei ticket did not have an official slogan, they ran on a platform with the objective of making freshman year memorable through bonding events. One of their plans is to collaborate with the Sophomore Caucus to host a Soph-Frosh Dance. “We don’t have a specific theme yet, but it’ll be around mid-winter to mid-spring because that is around that time when our cabinet is done,” Lei said.

Chew-Lei also plans on hosting more events relevant to specific holidays or memorable dates, such as celebrations for Pi Day and the third anniversary of COVID-19. “The [purpose of the] three-year COVID-19 anniversary [is to] support mental health [and] to go over the last three years of bad and good memories in quarantine and coming back to school,” Lei said.

Aside from events, one of Chew and Lei’s top priorities is to create two freshman offices on different floors as an exclusive freshman space to study and relax. “The 8th floor [office] would be the break room where you hang out with your friends and chill. And then the 9th floor [office] would be a quiet place for you to study because if you [don’t separate the two], no one will be able to [accomplish] anything,” Lei said.

Additionally, Chew and Lei hope to add hooks to shower stalls to make showering after swim gym more convenient. “Most people throw their stuff over the wall, but that isn't actually clean, and [your belongings] may get wet. If there are hooks for our bags and towels, there will be a smaller chance that something will fall on the floor while you're trying to wear your clothes,” Lei said.

Chew and Lei plan on collaborating with the administration in order for their plan to come to fruition. “We already have an idea of where the hooks are going to be. To implement this, we are going to work with the administration to create a plan that is safe and effective,” Lei said. Chew and Lei note that though the hooks might not be added to the shower stalls immediately, they hope the installation is available for next semester’s swim gym students.

Another facet of the Chew-Lei ticket is a point system devised to encourage participation in events and contests. “It's similar to how [you get tickets] when you play games at an arcade [...]. You get tickets for playing and winning and then you exchange them for prizes,” Lei said. “With each competition and event, you get points for either participating [in the contest], voting [for a winner], or winning.”
Once sufficient points are accumulated, freshmen can exchange their points for rewards such as merchandise, gift cards, and more. “The points are cumulative so with each point [you] don’t necessarily get a prize for each event. But [for] each contest or event that you participate in, [the points] gradually add up and then you can [redeem them],” Chew said.

Despite their late start in student government, Chew and Lei remain optimistic about the implementation of their plans. “We’re quite confident we’ll be able to gather everyone together. We’ve selected a handful of events from before as well as [talked] to fellow peers about what they’d like to see [during] their freshman year. Though none [of our events] are to occur this month, there are more plans for the future,” Lei said.