Jady Chen Appointed as Replacement Junior Caucus Co-President

Jady Chen was appointed Junior Caucus co-president after former co-president Daniel Jung’s resignation.

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By Hepzibah Srithas

In light of alleged corruption and misconduct within the Junior Caucus (JC), Co-President Daniel Jung resigned from the caucus cabinet. The allegations surfaced after a series of social media posts released by former members of the JC cabinet in February.

Though the initial impact of the letter sparked waves of backlash from the student body, retrospective reflection on the controversy has fostered new perspectives on the situation within the student body and Student Union (SU) alike. Coordinator of Student Affairs Matt Polazzo expresses his qualms about how rapidly the allegations—and Jung’s resignation—circulated among the student body after the situation was publicized. “Having read that letter that was put out, it seemed to me to reflect disagreements between a group of friends and a lot of airing of dirty laundry that should have been dealt with behind closed doors,” Polazzo said. “A lot of the accusations were hearsay, and ultimately to me, there didn’t seem to be anything that was significant enough to lead to any kind of formal investigative process.”

Although Jung declined to comment, Sokolov spoke on his behalf in an interview with The Spectator. Sokolov expresses that recent accusations of misconduct was one of many considerations that went into Jung’s decision to resign. “[Jung] [resigned] on his own volition. It was his personal choice. [Resigning] was a really tough decision for him […] but I personally respect his decision,” Sokolov said. “He had a lot of responsibilities as president […] The [allegations] played a minute role in [his resignation], but I don’t think that was the biggest part of his decision.”

Though rules outlined by the SU Constitution allocated the responsibility of nominating a candidate for vacated offices to Sokolov alone, Sokolov shared that the decision to nominate Jady Chen as the new co-president was jointly made by him and Jung. “Daniel did ask Jady to be the co-president,” Sokolov said. “The [SU] Constitution states that the new president must be chosen by the president who is not resigning, but I definitely agreed [that] Jady was an extremely competent candidate. It was both Daniel’s and my decision. After all, we were a team for such a long time, [so] I see no reason to not follow his last wish.” Following the nomination, Chen was officially appointed after the SU cabinet voted in her favor unanimously.

Formerly, Chen served as the cabinet’s Chief of Staff, the highest role a cabinet member—with the exception of the presidents’ positions—could assume. Sokolov expresses that Chen’s experience as Chief of Staff allowed her to work closely with the co-presidents and develop a familiarity with the technicalities of cabinet operations. “The philosophy behind the executive board was that [the board] fulfills the responsibilities of the presidents when presidents are not available. Whenever [Jung and I] needed help, we were able to ask our executive board to help us out. Jady did a wonderful job at that and was able to take on a lot of the work,” Sokolov said.

Chen revealed that informally filling the role during the transition period prior to Jung’s formal resignation allowed her to feel more well-equipped to serve as co-president. “When the [allegations] first came out, [Jung] had already considered stepping down immediately. I know that there [were] issues regarding different parties and he wasn’t really sure what to do—which I think is understandable, […] given that kind of situation—but [Jung] did ask me beforehand to step in for him,” Chen said. “By the time the [replacement] happened, I’d already been fulfilling a lot of the responsibilities as almost an ‘acting’ president, so for me, I’d already been working toward the new position.”

In spite of Sokolov’s emphasis that Jung’s resignation was a personal choice rather than disciplinary action, students have evaluated Jung’s resignation with recent controversies in mind. Some students feel that in light of the misconduct allegations associated with Jung, his resignation was the right course of action. “I think [resigning] was the only thing he could’ve really done. In that situation, there was no way to justify any of the things he said, and a lot of the proof [for the allegations of misconduct] was pretty damning,” junior Phoebe He said. “I think it made sense for him to step down.”

Others believe that the scandal did not necessitate Jung’s resignation. Polazzo, in particular, discouraged Jung from resigning. “I’m not a big fan of these sorts of public cancellations. I thought that he was being made to suffer for things that he had done a long time ago and expressed a lot of regret about,” he said. “[Jung] felt that [he] couldn’t continue to serve in that capacity, and at the end of the day he gets to make these decisions about what he wants to have happen in his own life.”

The transition in leadership from Jung to Chen has brought minor logistical changes to cabinet operations. However, these changes to internal procedures have little impact on the majority of juniors.

Most juniors seem to possess apathetic attitudes regarding the Junior Caucus. “I have no idea what’s going on with the caucus,” junior Nyarai Masoni said. “I know there was controversy for a little bit, so I guess it makes sense that [Jung] stepped down.”

Concerns regarding a lack of transparency have resurfaced among some students due to the lack of communication regarding appointment procedures for new caucus leaders. Some juniors note that they found out about the change in cabinet leadership through friends rather than an official source. “I didn’t know it was happening until I was talking to [Sokolov] recently and happened to find out [Chen] was the new president,” an anonymous junior said. “Before that, I didn’t really know that [the appointment of a new co-president] was happening.”

In spite of the changes that have been put in place, some students believe that greater systemic change is necessary to sufficiently address issues within student government. “The change of leadership does help, but I feel this was just one step. There are no mechanisms to hold caucuses accountable for nepotism, corruption, incompetence, or any other issues. There needs to be a way for the student body [to] hold student government accountable if they’re not fulfilling their duties as caucus leaders,” junior and former cabinet member Luca Adeishvili said. “We had to make an entire open letter just to hold the Junior Caucus accountable. […] [Cabinet members] resigned on their own accord.”

Furthermore, the recent change in cabinet leadership has raised questions regarding the upcoming Senior Caucus election. Many students are expecting the incumbent cabinet to be contested, which is a contrast to the uncontested nature of typical SU elections, including the election that appointed Sokolov and Jung as Junior Caucus co-presidents. “I’ve been hearing [...] juniors being like, ‘I wasn’t thinking about [running], but now that there has been that whole issue with the JC, I’m thinking about running,’” Adeishvili said. “No one really knows what’s going to happen.”

Though the Junior Caucus has faced some adversity throughout the course of the school year, Chen hopes to end the year on a positive note. “Our main priorities right now are helping fellow students with college research—that’s a huge thing coming up as juniors—and definitely Junior Prom. That’s going through a lot of planning right now.”

Sokolov echoes these sentiments. “[The caucus] is continuing our business as usual. We’re trying our hardest to keep up the good work and make sure we actually follow through on our promises.” Sokolov said. “[Chen] is a really good replacement for [Jung], and I hope that we’ll be able to end the year on a good note.”