Student Union: A Year in Review

The Spectator looks at the progress that the SU and the caucuses have made compared to their campaign promises.

Reading Time: 8 minutes

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By Julian Giordano

Student Union (SU) President William Wang and Vice President Vishwaa Sofat did not run on a platform, since they ran uncontested. However, that did not stop the pair from passionately pursuing policy and initiatives during their term. In addition to attending Student Leadership Team (SLT) and Borough Student Advisory Council (BSAC) meetings, Wang and Sofat have been able to work with administration and businesses to institute policies and provide resources for the student body.

Last summer, the SU failed to secure its partnership with CitiBike over the summer due to legal issues with working with a for-profit organization and liability issues regarding student safety. However, another summer project, StuyActivities, an online chartering system for the many clubs and publications at Stuyvesant, was fully implemented during the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Created to allow students to manage the logistics of their clubs with more convenience, it has allowed the SU to effectively communicate with these clubs.

In order to combat nepotism and exclusivity within the SU, Wang and Sofat administered blind applications for appointed officials during the summer, and they enforced blind applications for all caucuses the following school year. They also reformed the SU Constitution in October by redistributing the votes of cabinet members.

In December, the SU attempted to pass a PSAL free proposal with the Junior Caucus, which would have provided student athletes with a free period instead of a gym period to help them better manage their workload during their seasons. The SLT voted to discontinue the discussion; however, the administration organized a subcommittee to further develop this policy. However, it is not clear how much progress has been made on this proposal since the subcommittee was created.

The Wang-Sofat administration passed an updated cell phone policy in February with more leniency for cell phone use in collaboration with the SLT. They are currently working with a subcommittee for a more strictly enforced homework policy and the creation of a student feedback form where students can anonymously report habitual, excessive assignments from specific teachers.

Meanwhile, the External Affairs department introduced its online Civic Engagement Course, which consists of biweekly newsletters to educate the Stuyvesant community about youth activism, city and state government, and opportunities for students to involve themselves in their communities as young citizens. In addition, the department organized seminars regarding sexual harassment for freshman bio push-ins in order to prevent and spread awareness about sexual misconduct.

The Budget/Finance department has reintroduced StuyVantage, an initiative that provides Stuyvesant students with discounts at local businesses. While the department has secured discounts from PokeGreen, Shake Shack, Terrys, Artichoke Basilles Pizza, and Downtown Yogurt, it is looking to expand these opportunities. Within the school, the SU has partnered with Teas Tea, setting up a vending machine outside the SU room. However, the machine has become an issue with the DOE due to the Chancellors Regulations, which state that vending machines must be from a central vendor. The SU has been working with SchoolFoods and the DOE through BSAC connections to combat this problem.

The SU has maintained its transparency through financial reports published in The Spectator and newsletters; however, it fell through with its biweekly videos. Sofat said that videos are an ineffective and time-consuming means of communicating with the student body, especially considering other more convenient resources already available, such as Parent Coordinator Dina Ingrams weekly newsletter.

Currently, the SU is undergoing its yearly elections, and Wang and Sofat are working to ensure that the upcoming exchange in power is smooth and amiable.


While running, Freshman Caucus Co-Presidents Emma Wong and Cynthia Tan promised policies allowing students to come back into school during the middle of the period; they also promised PSAL free periods to student athletes, which was proposed in collaboration with the SU. In addition, they proposed a modified bell system, more printing spaces, better WiFi access, and in-school activities for freshmen.

Unfortunately, the caucus has not been able to fulfill many of the promises of their platform. A lot of the things we wanted to do werent actually possible; they were just things that the SU in general had been working on for a long time, Tan said. However, Freshman Caucus has been attempting to coordinate multiple events, including a locker decoration contest and a glow-themed dance to help freshmen feel more comfortable at Stuyvesant.

Some difficulties with executing their campaign promises have included conflicts with SING! schedules and event planning, as well as the setback of the PSAL proposal. Additionally, while the Freshman Caucus promised a bell system with differentiating sounds, it had to come to terms that the DOE wont fund a new bell system unless it breaks, Tan said. These issues have stemmed from their lack of experience, as they were unaware of the feasibility of their platforms policies and initiatives when running.

The caucus has been able to contribute to their grade in other ways, though. Its accomplishments include the list of elective descriptions that Wong and Tan have recently published on Facebook to assist freshmen who are completing their course selections. As the end of the year approaches, Wong and Tan have started to plan the annual Semi-Formal in collaboration with Sophomore Caucus.

Wong and Tan have yet to make headway on many of their goals, but they are hopeful that tangible success will be forthcoming as they gradually become more experienced within the SU.


Sophomore Caucus President Katerina Corr and Vice President Ayala Selas campaign focused heavily on increasing communication, promising the addition of homeroom representatives to the SU, and releasing regular e-mail updates. They have also continued developing their pen pal program for AP Spanish students with Assistant Principal of World Languages Francesca McAuliffe and their lecture series.

This year, Corr and Sela have hosted three diverse lectures: Wounded Warriors Project representative Jennifer Mackinday; New York City-based artist, filmmaker, and professor Madeline Schwartzman; and licensed creative arts therapist and music therapist Tom Biglin. They have faced obstacles when scheduling, because access to the auditorium has been limited for all caucuses. While Mackinday presented in one of the two lecture halls, Schwartzman presented in the library, and Biglin presented in a classroom. The caucus has also worked with the Alumni Association to organize research talks for biology classes. However, communication with the administration and the biology department has been challenging, and these biology lectures have yet to be instituted.

The pen pal program has been successful, with batches of letters being sent and received by AP Spanish students. Corr, Sela, and McAuliffe aim to expand the program to Mandarin and French students next year, as well as to Spanish students in lower levels. We hope that the program continues and can eventually spread to the other language levels in the future, Sela said. Finally seeing it go through was very nice, and it was a huge relief.

One challenge for the caucus has been the appointment of homeroom representatives. Time constraintslike receiving report cards or completing surveys during the already infrequent homeroom periodshave made it difficult for the homeroom representatives to present updates to their peers. Because of this setback, Sophomore Caucus has looked for alternative methods to keep sophomores updated. They have been successful in maintaining communication with the student body, especially on their Instagram page. Sophomore Caucus has also introduced their So you want to be newsletters, which provide information about certain job fields, a list of Stuyvesant classes in the respective field, and interviews with people who currently work in the field.

The caucus chose not to pursue a dance this winter, which is usually dubbed the Snow-Ball, due to poor attendance the previous year. However, the Events department is beginning to plan their end-of-year Semi-Formal with Freshman Caucus. They hope to make the dance more interactive, allowing students to choose the theme and location to increase turnout.


Junior Caucus Co-Presidents Eve Wening and Zeynep Bromberg campaigned on increased communication with the student body, revisions to the school cell phone policy, implementation of PSAL frees, an escalator monitoring system, and the organization of more events for students. In addition, they proposed sponsorship opportunities, more gym uniform options, homeroom representatives, and increased diversity of caucus members. While they also proposed a policy allowing students to come back into school 20 minutes before the warning bell, they did not pursue this and allowed Freshman Caucus to do so.

The caucus made due on their promise of blind applications for cabinet positions, which has proven to be very beneficial. The majority of our directors had [or have] not been involved in caucus or have never been directors before, Bromberg said. The Junior Caucus cabinet is more diverse in experience than it was in previous years, which has opened up opportunities for students who were not previously involved in student government.

In terms of communication with the student body, the Junior Caucus sends out a monthly newsletter containing information pertaining specifically to juniors, rather than general information that can be accessed through Dina Ingrams weekly newsletter or the SU monthly newsletter. However, the last newsletter was sent out three months ago in January.

The student body also got to attend successful Junior Caucus-run events such as a movie night, bake sales, and Pi Day. The caucus is also currently planning for Junior Prom. The Junior Caucus has also been able to secure sponsorship opportunities with organizations that provide gift cards to raffle off at these events.

Other proposals of the Wening-Bromberg platform did not go as successfully. The caucus decided not to pursue student artwork in the school because juniors lack a designated area within the building, unlike other grades. They also did not wish to intrude on the senior tradition of creating a mural. The caucus also did not pursue homeroom representatives, as the process was deemed unnecessary bureaucracy. The proposed escalator monitoring system, called Apollo, existed under the Sofat-Wening administration; however, the SU was unsure of how to advertise the website to the student body. Furthermore, with the current escalator issues, Apollo is not as necessary nor useful.

Bromberg acknowledged how downsizing could be beneficial for the organization and how long it takes to make headway in an initiative. Success with proposals is a slow process for a caucus, according to Bromberg. Getting responses and making progress can be difficult but doing so is something the caucus will always pursue.


Senior Caucus Co-Presidents Amit Narang and Hanah Jun ran on a platform dubbed PACT: Projects, Academic Aid, Communication, and Traditions. Over the last year, they have tried to achieve some of their platforms goals.

Narang and Jun wished to host a post-college-result celebration event and add board games to the Senior Atrium. However, the caucus was unable to find a way to fund these ideas and was forced to focus on the more conventional aspects of their platform. They initially also advocated for the creation of a spreadsheet with administration statistics, rankings, locations, and other information for a variety of colleges, with the spreadsheet being available to all seniors. After exploring the idea with the College Office, they were advised not to pursue this endeavor because such a spreadsheet's efficacy would be limited. Each individual student has their own needs, meaning the spreadsheet would have to be personalized for each student.

The Senior Caucus also worked toward making a website to increase interactions between alumni and students. The website would be oriented toward alumni willing to mentor students about college and career choices. The caucus, however, ran into obstacles with this initiative as well, as members of the Senior Caucus were swamped with the college application process. The website is really hard to launch because we rely on volunteers to make the website, who obviously have other priorities, Jun said.

The caucus has also made changes to how senior dues are collected. We began by sending out monthly newsletters, but we realized that most of the information we needed to convey was more specific regarding senior dues and graduation. As such, we streamlined the system for collecting senior dues, turning it into a single form online and automating e-mails to students who hadnt paid.

Additionally, this past fall, Narang and Jun hosted a pep rally, and are currently working on the logistics of graduation and prom, Jun said. In addition, they have sent out e-mails to graduation speakers such as Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show; Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York; and Barack Obama, our former president. Ultimately, the success of this caucus will be determined at prom and graduation, which Narang and Jun both hope will run smoothly.