Sophomore Caucus: Unique Zhang and Aleksey Olkhovenko

The Spectator reviews the platforms of the Sophomore Caucus candidates, this being the Olkhovenko-Zhang ticket.

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By Unique Zhang

RECORD: Having served as co-presidents of Freshman Caucus, the pair worked closely with the other caucuses, the Student Union (SU), the administration, and even other high schools. They hosted several events during their tenure, such as a highly attended talent show, though their study hall sessions were less successful. Due to the challenge of remote learning, their willingness to accept feedback and create possible improvements in this year’s platform is commendable.

CAMPAIGN: Zhang and Olkhovenko have a strong dynamic, given their friendship since middle school and close collaboration as Freshman Caucus co-presidents. The ticket has a well-organized social media presence with a sizable following that introduces their team and summarizes their policies.

PLATFORM: Both Zhang and Olkhovenko demonstrate capability in bringing their ideas to fruition and continuity from their time in Freshman Caucus, with a focus on transitioning sophomores to in-person learning and advocating for mental health. However, some proposals are unoriginal, unnecessary, or may struggle to gain traction among sophomores.

The Zhang-Olkhovenko ticket runs on a platform with five pillars—growth, unity, initiative, dedication, and empathy—emphasizing the importance of supporting the incoming sophomores during their first year in-person. Despite the pair’s experience and chemistry, the ticket exhibits a lack of original ideas and some unnecessary proposals.

One of their priorities is the LifeStuyle, which is an elaborate map and guide of the Stuyvesant building and surrounding areas. It entails a bird’s eye view of Stuyvesant of features of the building, as well as a newsletter-style document with non-academic knowledge for students, such as the best restaurants near the building. This is their strongest idea, as such a guide could benefit sophomores in their first year in person.

Zhang and Olkhovenko also proposed the Hallway Helpers initiative to support rising sophomores, with upperclassmen volunteers—either SU members or willing students—stationed to direct lost students in between classes. Though this idea may help some on the first days of school, it is unnecessary in the long-term as students typically memorize the path to their classes after the first few weeks. Additionally, the pair proposes the Homeroom Buddies initiative, where SU members would join homeroom meetings to teach students about the SU. However, it is questionable how necessary or helpful this SU-centric policy would be for sophomores.

In addition to aiding sophomores, the Zhang-Olkhovenko ticket hopes to host events, such as the Snowball—a winter dance in the school gym—meme day and movie/game nights. While many of these ideas are feasible, they lack originality as they have been hosted by past caucuses. They also plan to expand the talent show hosted this year—Stuyvesant’s Got Talent—to an in-person format. While their virtual study sessions were unsuccessful this year due to low turnout, they plan to improve on their sessions by planning them further ahead of time with ARISTA and the SU. The pair also proposed starting a podcast featuring cabinet meeting recaps, SU members, alumni, and Principal Yu, which could increase communication among Stuyvesant.

In light of the mental health discussion this year, Zhang and Olkhovenko also wish to introduce a new club called StuyTherapy for students to participate in destressing activities, such as ranting and ripping up paper. However, there are several clubs that already focus on mental health at Stuyvesant, such as Project Love and the Wellness Council, so it is unclear how this club distinguishes itself.

Overall, Zhang and Olkhovenko have a strong background of experience and established relationships as co-presidents, with exuding enthusiasm and excellent chemistry to carry out their proposed policies. Unfortunately, their lack of new ideas and ideas that would expend more effort on part of the SU than would reap benefits for the Stuyvesant community.