Senior Caucus: Ruth Lee and Falina Ongus
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Though Lee has some experience serving as a member of caucus over the past three years, Ongus has no prior experience in student government. Both candidates of OnLee lack experience serving as presidents of caucus and have no official track record as a team. Despite this, both candidates have indicated leadership in extracurriculars, with Lee producing Soph-Frosh and Junior SING! and Ongus serving as the co-president of the Black Students League for two years. Through their leadership roles, both have created sufficient connections with the administration.
OnLee has marketed itself through various social media platforms, including a Facebook page and an Instagram account, both of which have received extensive follower support. Their website highlights their platform with a page for college resources and a short montage of their campaign that showcases their strong chemistry and natural enthusiasm for Senior Caucus. Though OnLee was able to meet in-person together for both the interview and the Senior Caucus debate, their social media posts and policy descriptions alone exhibit genuine passion for the Senior Caucus.
The OnLee platform promotes a comprehensive balance of organized policies that address both the academic and leisurely concerns of the senior student body. While planning on continuing previous Senior Caucus initiatives, OnLee not only outlines a flexible plan that can adjust senior traditions for the virtual end of the school year, but also adds a couple of ambitious policies into the mix. Though their practical policies lack originality and the more zealous policies lack a clear, viable path, the OnLee platform has a clear foundation that demonstrates authenticity in their values and a dedication to ensuring that their policies come to fruition.
The OnLee campaign centers around three core values: Advocacy, Community, and Tradition. From providing college resources to keeping senior traditions alive, OnLee has established a solid range of policies, hoping to support their peers and keep the senior class united as they head into their final year at Stuyvesant. OnLee, however, lacks the years of caucus experience their opponents have, which is especially evident in some of the gaps in their platform.
OnLee offers a few policies to aid seniors as they begin the college process this upcoming semester. One is the Alumni Network, where OnLee plans to partner with the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association Mentorship Program to expand their services to help seniors receive constructive feedback for their college application essays. This idea of reaching out to alumni, however, is not novel, as other caucuses have proposed similar processes. There are many larger existing college-help programs, such as Y Tú También and QuestBridge, that many Stuyvesant students already use. Though OnLee has taken the initiative of reaching out to alumni, 20 of whom are willing to participate, it is unclear what steps OnLee will take to ensure that the policy is fully implemented. They also aim to organize a grade-wide scheduling system for guidance counselor meetings, which addresses a pressing concern many seniors in need of college help have had in the previous year.
A major pillar of the OnLee platform is Community—uniting the senior class through small-scale projects. OnLee aims to increase the usage of Senior Caucus social media platforms, not only to update the student body, but also to host events, such as movie nights or Kahoot! games, challenges, and feature clubs—a stark contrast to the lack of social media presence of past caucuses. One of OnLee’s new ideas is to compile songs, suggested by seniors, into “Class of 2021” playlists to play during Friday Café Sessions—productive live streams on YouTube every Friday in which students can study and connect with their peers through music. Believing that the senior class is “fragmented,” OnLee hopes that these policies will not only provide stress relief for seniors, but also foster a closer-knit community. While caucuses have held movie nights in the past, Kahoot! nights and Friday Cafe Sessions are more unique ideas that are both feasible and practical methods of connecting students.
As traditions are a defining part of the senior experience, OnLee hopes to preserve them while introducing new ideas of their own. Acknowledging the uncertainty of hosting end-of-the-year events in-person, OnLee has accommodated by proposing virtual versions of senior traditions. For instance, they plan to continue last year’s Senior Caucus’s modification of creating a virtual banner where seniors can upload their signatures in place of a physical one. Though many of their ideas are practical, this section of their campaign has some shortcomings. For example, OnLee hopes to code their own yearbook-signing website for the senior class. This plan, however, fell short when they were unable to provide a definitive answer for who would code the website, indicating that though this idea is ambitious, there is no clear path for its completion. In addition, OnLee hopes to organize professional photographers to take students’ photos for prom. Though their intention to emulate a prom experience is good, OnLee cites funding such policies through events such as Kahoot! nights. This is an unreliable method of raising money for such an expensive project, especially since it has never been conducted before, and should there be a lack of participants during such events, they would not have an alternative way to raise money.
Though their policies vary in feasibility and ingenuity, a definitive strength of the OnLee campaign is their connection to the student body and the role they envision it playing in unifying seniors. “[Ongus] and I have been involved in community clubs that we think we’ve made impacts in, and we’ve really made it a mission to bring our clubs together,” Lee said. Citing SING! as one of the few unifying events that they have both participated in, Lee elaborated: “We want to bring that sentiment of community, and we want to bring that sentiment of understanding that we’re a support system for each other. And that’s going to follow through if we become Caucus presidents.”
Overall, The Spectator has chosen to endorse the OnLee ticket for Senior Caucus. Considering their minimal experience compared to Corr-Sela, OnLee is the riskier choice. And while both Corr-Sela and OnLee introduced similar degrees of ambiguity in their platforms, only OnLee shows a fresh enthusiasm that matches the ambition in their policies, apparent through Lee and Ongus’s strong chemistry and their emphasis on bolstering the community of the senior class. With a new outlook for senior year, OnLee radiates a passion and dedication that embodies the spirit of senior year, as well as a confidence in their platform that ultimately distinguishes them from the other candidate.