SU Endorsements: Freshman Caucus

The Spectator reviews the platforms of the Freshman Caucus candidates, electing to endorse the Agnihotri-Bhattacharyya ticket.

Reading Time: 20 minutes

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By Matt Melucci


One of the greatest challenges the Student Union and particularly Freshman Caucus campaigns face is that of threading the needle between realism and ambition. Some campaigns swing too far in the former direction and set the bar so low that it’s more or less on the ground and release policy platforms that amount to whimpers of cynicism. Others take a “go big or go home” attitude and promise to bring sweeping structural changes to Stuyvesant that are entirely out of the Student Union’s purview, let alone the Freshman Caucus. Policies may be detailed, but they suggest a lack of research or serious thinking on the part of the candidates on the position they’re seeking.

The Agnihotri-Bhattacharyya ticket does a commendable job of threading that needle, acknowledging the limits of the Freshman Caucus while providing a detailed and sometimes original platform within those limits. For instance, the candidates propose not only the standard freshman dances and freshman field day, but also events geared toward helping freshmen’s academic performance. And even their description of dances and a field day goes beyond simply saying “we will organize dances and a field day”; Agnihotri and Bhattacharyya’s platform speaks effectively to the importance of those events and, while it is somewhat light on details, addresses the different implementations that different events will require.

Similarly, Agnihotri and Bhattacharyya’s proposal to simply inform students of existing resources, like the PDFs of textbooks that the Student Union makes available online, is the sort of proposal Freshman Caucus campaigns could use more of. It would likely have a real impact on a fair number of students, but it would not require any of the sorts of massive policy changes to which the Freshman Caucus is ill-suited.

Another important part of the Agnihotri-Bhattacharyya platform is its focus on continuity, and the pair has made continuing the efforts of previous Freshman Caucuses, as well as laying the groundwork for future Freshman Caucuses a priority. In doing so, they demonstrate a realistic ambition: they want to do big things—namely, enable students to re-enter the building before the warning bell during lunch for free periods and wear headphones in school—but understand that doing so will require more than the work of one Caucus over one year. Continuity with previous and future Caucuses is difficult for any Freshman Caucus to achieve, and Agnihotri and Bhattacharyya’s focus on it suggests that they would do well at it.

The Agnihotri-Bhattacharyya campaign is not without its flaws: the candidates’ ideas about improving the school’s Wi-Fi system suggest a lack of research into how exactly the school’s Wi-Fi works and should have been left on the cutting room floor both for falling outside the Freshman Caucus’s purview, and some of their policies are light on the details of implementation—to use an analogy to Presidential politics, they’re more Pete Buttigieg than Elizabeth Warren when it comes to making plans. Nonetheless, their platform is reasonably thorough, and they offer a campaign that is clear-eyed without being cynical and ambitious without being fantastical—all within a neat package of professionalism. That is why the Spectator is endorsing them for Freshman Caucus.


The Bidica-Myma ticket’s platform simply points out the issues Stuyvesant students face; it doesn’t propose any new ideas. They advocate for a cheaper temporary ID price, but they neglect to address why the current price exists, or how they would make it cheaper. They propose to remedy homework overload by simply enforcing the homework policy, though how they plan to enforce it is not explained. Their promise to fix the escalators by having bake sales to raise money for repairs betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the issue itself; lack of funding is not why the escalators have not yet been fixed.

The poorly organized and mistake-riddled list of proposals culminates in two ideas for new areas of the school, though where this secondary lunchroom and “hangout hall” would be is not included. Overall, they present an idyllic version of Stuy where students are happy and safe, but offer very little in the way of practical proposals.

This lack of any sort of reality-based platform belies their lack of knowledge of the workings of the Freshman Caucus, as almost all of their proposals are vastly overambitious and outside the scope of the Caucus’s power. They themselves do not seem sure of what their platform actually stands for, including the phrase: “Who knows, maybe a sofa too.​ We might give a vote to the freshman for them to decide what kind of things ​they want in the area.” This, and other wildly un-thought out ideas, including a snowman building contest (with what snow?), show that while they repeat throughout their platform that they want to help the Stuyvesant community, they are woefully unequipped to do so.

The image presented by the Bidica-Myma campaign is also juvenile, at best. Their website is full of grammatical errors and covered in rainbow letters. Their memorable sign-off, “THANK YOUUUU,” does not make up for the altogether underwhelming presentation, and though their passion for helping their peers is clear and commendable, their overall platform falls short of what we would expect from a contender for the Freshman Caucus presidency. #Stress Free School Life? Not with this ticket.


Neil Dasgupta and Hanson He comprise the NEON ticket and have ambitious plans should they become the next Freshman Caucus presidents. To quote one of the two “About” sections on their website, “We believe that we could benefit the Stuyvesant 2023 community through communicative collaboration and through the strategization our our [sic] campaign promises.” The double “our” was one of many typos on the pair’s site, adding to the air of informality and unprofessionalism evident throughout.

NEON is aggressive from the get-go. On its second “About” page, Dasgupta and He insist that they are running a campaign that is not based on “a sob story about some inherent familial past which relates to our bid for caucus.” This is a risky move; it seems to be accusing past tickets of using this strategy to reel in more supporters.

The pair’s campaign policies include more diverse funding for sports teams, greater wifi accessibility and device usage, new water fountains, larger library capacity, and gym frees for student athletes. According to a video on NEON’s Facebook page, the ticket stresses “efficiency, quality, and transparency.” However, that’s not apparent on their website. Each policy listed is also quite singular-minded and doesn’t elaborate on how NEON plans to pursue such ambitious actions.

The first policy listed is simply titled “FUNDING” and details a system of budgeting that doesn’t just favor Stuyvesant’s most popular sports, such as football. While it’s commendable that NEON wishes to help out teams that have traditionally received less funding, the ticket says nothing about funding for other major organizations at Stuyvesant, such as the Speech and Debate team, which, in recent years, has experienced a drastic shortage of money for coaches and tournaments.

In the campaign policies’ “Tech” section, the ticket notes the need for greater wifi accessibility, but says nothing about how it will surmount the barriers to this faced by its predecessors. The ticket also claims that students should be allowed to use phones and headphones freely throughout the school. Such a drastic change to the administration’s increasingly strict regulations on the student body isn’t feasible and again, NEON says nothing about how they plan on introducing free device access.

One of Dasgupta-He’s most controversial points concerns the introduction of new water fountains: the Elkay EZWSRK EZH2O RetroFit Bottle Filling stations to be exact. The ticket’s site states that the stations have “a motion sensor to reduce the spread of germs, as you no longer have to hold down a button in order to drink water. It encourages the drinking of water and the use of water bottles within Stuyvesant.” First of all, touching a button doesn’t affect water quality, which is a matter of poorly functioning filtration systems. Second of all, NEON claims that the Elkay stations aren’t expensive, but a quick search reveals that stations go for over $800 each. An estimated $10,000, plus shipping and installation, would be required to make as big of an environmental impact as NEON hopes. Third of all, the ticket states that these high tech fountains would encourage greater hydration and reusable bottle usage among students. However, students are already well aware of the benefits of both these things and often defer to grabbing cafeteria water in lieu of the current fountains’ mediocre water. The campaign needs to demonstrate much more need for the Elkay stations if they want to convince the administration to fund such an ambitious endeavor.
Sharing a policy with a few other tickets, NEON notes that “We can fit more people in the library, though the school simply chooses not to.” It seems the capacity issue is being attributed to an act of stubbornness on the school’s part, rather than based on any consultation with the librarians. The ticket also says nothing about how they reached the consensus that not enough students were allowed admittance into the library, as well as what they expect the admission percentage increase to be if their policy did move forward.

NEON’s last major policy, and the only really feasible one, is titled “WHY SHOULD PEOPLE ON SPORTS TEAMS HAVE TO GO TO GYM.” It’s a bold question that concerns student athletes’ continued requirement to take gym. The ticket argues that in addition to PSAL frees, athletes should have another free that enables them to take an extra class, or just relax, as added exercise isn’t beneficial to athletes who already dedicate much of their time to it.

Overall, the Dasgupta-He ticket is extremely lacking. Amid typos and insubstantial campaign policies, NEON also lacks endorsements to give it any reliability, save for one from Dasgupta’s older sister. In the “What People Say” section of the platform site are featured quotes by Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling, and Dr. Seuss, none of which are related to NEON’s actual platform. Though NEON tries its best to present policies that are incentivizing to voters, its campaign is largely unfeasible and lacking in detail about how it intends to carry out such ambitious ideas.


Jesse Ding and Larissa Yu have more experience than their competitors, with both already serving roles in the Student Union (SU) — Ding is a co-director of Event Planning and Yu is a Delegate of External Affairs. The pair claims that their roles within the SU complement one another because as Ding focuses on the internal aspects of Stuyvesant, Yu works with outside organizations. Despite their experience however, the Ding-Yue (or Jeli) ticket seems to prioritize quantity over quality, proposing 30 ideas split into nine categories.

They propose a Freshman Caucus billboard in their first category, “Giving All Freshman a Voice,” which would have a calendar of events, contact information, fun facts, notable alumni, current events, motivation quotes, and a slot for feedback. This idea not only makes student engagement with the caucus more accessible, it also allows freshmen who might not be on Facebook to stay updated with caucus. While the pair also has other ideas to improve communication with caucus, their open lectures idea is underdeveloped and a submission form is unoriginal.

Their second category of ideas is titled “Lightening the Academic and General Stress.” The pair proposes a system where upperclassmen submit study guides for underclassmen, but they fail to clarify how their system will be different from ARISTA’s study guide database and Sophomore Caucus’s initiatives to create their own study guide database. Additionally, their ideas of making teachers post homework to a common platform and upgrading Talos’s server are unrealistic and are out of the control of caucus. Finally, the ticket suggests making official class group chats instead of letting students make groups on their own, which is an overcomplication of a system that already functions well. However, the pair also proposes practical solutions to small problems. Though there are some obstacles to their proposals such as funding and management, the pair wants to redesign student planners and install a school supply vending machine, both of which are creative initiatives.

Though their third category, “Promote Exploration in Freshmen,” seems to be grounded in Yu’s work as a Delegate of External Affairs, their proposals are vague and underdeveloped. They provide examples of outside organizations they want to contact (such as Mount Sinai and the Museum of Jewish Heritage), but the manner in which freshmen will interact with these organizations is unclear. Additionally, under a sub-category labeled “Find More Leadership Opportunities for Freshmen,” the pair suggests having groups of students design benches with Stuyvesant alumni. Though this idea is creative, the purpose of such benches is unclear.

The ticket discusses social events in their fourth category, “Help Everyone Find a Place and Purpose.” They suggest a treasure hunt around Stuyvesant, and though they do not provide much information about the logistics of such an event, they emphasize that teams will be randomly generated. The pair also wants to host a Coffee Pastry morning, where students will be able to grab a coffee and a pastry before their first period class. Though Ding and Ye again do not adequately develop how this event will run, namely in terms of funding, the thought behind the event is clear.

Their fifth category, “Help With the Transition from Middle School,” consists of just one policy — lunch clubs. Though lunch clubs seem to be a great alternative for freshmen who are worried about balancing both homework and extracurriculars after school, it is uncertain how these clubs will operate as Stuyvesant has multiple lunch periods.

Ding and Yu hope to “Accommodate Stuy to Its Large Population” in their sixth category. They pair aims to increase library seating, which is not a unique idea. The pair is also vague, saying they will “partner up with the librarians to create a system where more student librarians can volunteer during each period,” but not elaborating any further. They also want to introduce a form that will allow students to sit in hallways during free periods as long as they understand that in the case of an emergency, the student will report to the nearest classroom. Though their form idea is creative, the actually policy is unrealistic as deans will have to patrol all of the hallways within the building to monitor students.

Their seventh category, titled “Make Sure that the Student Body is Well-Cared For,” focuses on the accessibility of solutions to non-academic problems. Ding-Yue hope to gain sponsorships from companies such as Grammarly, and give out free Swell water bottles, portable chargers, hygienic products, and metal straws. While there is no doubt that the student body would greatly appreciate these free items, Ding-Yue fail to clarify their plans for achieving these sponsorships. However, their Rainy Days Project, in which the pair attempts to bring back a previous caucus’s work, is one of their strongest proposals. The project consists of an umbrella rental system which not only is feastable, but the connection between Ding-Yue and previous caucuses demonstrates their networking skills and dedication to continuity. The pair also emphasizes creating a better freshman experience not only for the class of 2023, but for all future freshman classes throughout this proposal and their entire platform.

Their eighth category is dedicated to improving sanitation at Stuyvesant. Their policies for installing hand sanitizer dispensers, automatic sinks, and air fresheners would be decent if not for the lack of specification for where they would get the proper funding. Their “Minutes Systems” proposal for developing an online system for uploading notes for absent students could be beneficial for students without Facebook. However, it is unrealistic to assume every teacher would convert to online notes, and while the notes could be uploaded by students, it is likely they would need to be approved by the teacher. While in good faith, their sanitation ideas are too underdeveloped to be carried out.

Their final category, “Long Term/Ambitious Plans,” houses many of Ding-Yue’s most far-fetched policies. While the pair is aware that they will most likely not be able to complete these policies, they are all out of the scope of caucus work. They propose a third Camp Stuy, where Big Sibs would take their Little Sibs around the school, finding their classes and meeting their teachers. While a sweet idea, this event acceedes the work of freshman caucus and does not directly benefit the current freshman class. The pair also mentioned implementing virtual reality to complement the curriculum in classes where visualization is essential, like biology, which once again is unique, but would be challenging to develop and fund. The ticket also wants to fix the escalators, more equally distribute funding for sports teams, and hire school test makers (who will make tests instead of teachers). The leaders of freshman caucus have little say in any of these issues, and these policy proposals are unfeasible.

While the Ding-Yue campaign addresses issues in essentially all aspects of freshman year life — the transition from middle school, the new academic standards, and social stress — many of their policies lack depth. Instead of stretching themselves thin, we would have preferred a handful of well-developed and in-depth policies. The Ding-Yue ticket does not receive The Spectator’s endorsement.


The foundational policies for the He-Lei campaign seem to be everything Stuyvesant students are promised every year. Though the unified grading system is great in theory, there is a reason this policy is brought up every year but never implemented. The task has simply proven too difficult due to the variety of teaching and grading styles across the multiple departments in the school. Thus, this idealistic plan to unify all grading onto Jupiter would simply cause too much disruption between departments who have drastically different grading methods and teachers who have adjusted their grading breakdown across many years of teaching. If history has taught us anything, it’s that teachers are more comfortable grading students based on their own grading philosophies; it would be hard for them to limit themselves to a unified grading system.

The idea to promote technology use among students and improve Wi-Fi access is a policy that most freshmen would be in favor of; yet, this policy is once again not unique or completely feasible. It would be extremely difficult to convince the administration to let students connect to the Wi-Fi via their phone because it would conflict with their mission of preventing students from using phones in classes or in halls during classes. The ticket also fails to account for the connectivity issues, given thousands of students would be aiming to connect to the Wi-Fi through multiple devices each, thus resulting in a more chaotic and less productive school web environment. Ultimately, Argus remains the most practical form of connecting students to the school Wi-Fi with their device authentication and limit system, and the benefits of listening to music while studying simply cannot overcome these fatal issues that were overlooked.

Their goals to change sports funding may be the most impractical of all. As the Freshman Caucus, they have little to no influence on the school’s sports funding budget. In addition, their policy on sports funding as described on their platform contradicts itself. They “intend on spreading the wealth so that all teams can get the funding the deserve and in some instances need. [They] will measure this based on the number of students participating in the sport, the number of competitions they go to, and the success the team has.” They plan on spreading the wealth with the football team being the main casualty. They list the football team’s recent lack of success to be their reasoning for cutting their funding. Logistically, their reasoning and plan do not align, as football requires the most equipment and funding considering the fact that they must account for about double the size of any of the other school sports teams. The campaign also fails to understand that the freshman caucus has no authority on which teams deserve funding, especially not based on arbitrary levels of success without considering the quality or quantity of opponents and league structures.

The campaign’s somewhat feasible ideas include notifications on escalator problems and a freshman field day at the end of the year. The escalator policies do have the potential to increase students’ time efficiency when commuting to classes between periods, but the campaign fails to reflect how these policies could have a major impact beyond the minimal seconds saved between realizing and knowing which escalators are broken. The freshman field day, however, is the bright spot in this campaign, as it is very enticing to freshmen. It gives them a chance to express the school’s colors and escape the stressful walls of Stuyvesant High School.

Lastly, there is not much to say about their policies concerning promoting environmental policies other than that it’s the generic environmental platform. Promoting environmental policies and providing funding to the environmental clubs are common cornerstones in every caucus platform. However, they should be given credit for emphasizing these environmental policies in their campaign. There are not many catastrophic flaws in the He-Lei campaign, but they seem to lack a degree of practicality and creativity in their approach and execution to policies.


Comprising the Jung-Sokolov ticket, Andrey Sokolov and Daniel Jung make it very clear from the start that they are informed and realistic when it comes to their policies. While many other pairs make lofty promises to “fix the escalators” or hire faculty for exams, Jung-Sokolov seems to have already conducted research on past proposals suggesting these changes as well as existing school policies, exhibiting outstanding awareness regarding the limitations of caucus power. Their knowledge of Student Leadership Team meetings is particularly impressive, as few others are aware of this behind-the-scenes interaction of our administration and student government, let alone have demonstrated such initiative. Additionally, their attendance of the last meeting allowed them to learn more about the upcoming projects that the school is pursuing, such as resolving the escalator issue. This level of familiarity with the inner workings of Stuyvesant sets the Jung-Sokolov ticket apart from other Freshman Caucus candidates, who usually exhibit some sense of naiveté. It also shows a commitment to understanding the day-to-day operations of the Freshman Caucus, one that speaks well to the ticket’s dedication and ability to fit into their roles were they elected.

The Jung-Sokolov platform consists of uploading more textbooks to the Student Union webpage for download, featuring performances by talented freshmen on social media, expanding the Caucus’ social media presence, increasing the daily print limit, and finally hosting social events to nurture a sense of community within the student body. The idea of working with the Student Union to upload more freshman class textbooks is especially commendable, as it sparks a nice balance between the extent of the power of the Freshman Caucus and the needs of their freshman class. Jung-Sokolov has thoroughly planned out their implementation of this policy, offering a step-by-step approach to making as many textbooks available online as possible. This careful planning shows the merits of policies based on feasibility, permitting action that can create small but meaningful improvements for the freshman body.

Though some of these ideas appear very plausible with due negotiation and planning, they reveal a serious limitation of the Jung-Sokolov ticket—that is, the candidates seem to be compromising creativity in their attempt to appear “realistic.” Possessing a pragmatic attitude is beneficial in that it overrides certain risks, but doing so should not necessarily restrict one to surface-level ideas. As a result of the ticket’s emphasis on realistic goals, the platform lacks ambition and nuance. While a greater social media presence may be a policy that is both feasible and beneficial, for example, the Jung-Sokolov ticket offers few creative uses for such a platform. Featuring notable Stuyvesant students is already a signature of groups like Humans of Stuyvesant, and is the only idea Jung-Sokolov offers. Specific proposals to increase student engagement in student government and school spirit, for example, would have made for a more impactful change. Even more egregiously, their platform offers no specific proposals on how to improve existing Freshmen and Sophomore caucus-organized events. While the Jung-Sokolov ticket is informed and cognizant of their abilities, their goals and ideas pale in comparison to those of other candidates.

Since caucus leaders are there to establish changes that the student body wants to see come to fruition, Jung and Sokolov’s unbending reluctance to step outside of the green zone raises questions about their leadership and openness to policies that may actually be plausible. The two consistently note throughout their platform that being a leader means reinforcing a sense of dedication and commitment, but as of their proposed policies, which appear rather simple and overlap with other platforms, they fail to give adequate justification for this. Why can’t similar policies be adopted by others, who also claim to prioritize Caucus commitments above all else? What would set their proposal and execution of these policies (among others) apart from the other tickets?

Furthermore, the Jung-Sokolov ticket provides generic explanation for what makes the candidates qualified to run; they cite prior roles in middle school student government, an image of “notoriety,” and a goal for “helping others” without clarifying how such qualities will contribute to successful leadership as Caucus presidents. Overall, the Jung-Sokolov ticket shows the most awareness of the limited power of the Freshman Caucus, and its commitment to avoid misleading voters with grandiose and impractical plans is admirable. But that conviction ultimately seems to have handicapped the ticket from seeking creative solutions to Stuyvesant problems within the boundaries of that power, instead leaving it resigned to largely accept the status quo.


With the Yang-Lu campaign, Raymond Yang and Emily Lu aim to “simplify” Stuyvesant for the freshman and incoming freshman class by introducing policies that will fix small stress-building problems, but their ideas are anything but simple to implement. Though they do have some original ideas and claim to have a clear perspective of what they can and can’t do, their proposed policies are, for the most part, overly ambitious or underdeveloped.

Some of their smaller policies are activities that either build off of existing ideas or have been tried by previous caucuses. Examples of the former include student-teacher sports games and a freshman opportunities board, which are proposals that are not entirely original and would overlap with existing policies. Though the freshman opportunities board seems reasonable to implement, as they argue that opportunities for students aged 14-15 are different from those for ages 16 and up, they fail to discuss how it will be established and differ from the sophomore opportunities board. In addition, their proposed collaborations with other caucuses on allowing students to exchange lockers and return to school earlier during their lunch and free periods are not developed enough to distinguish them from previous attempts. Another policy involves creating a grading schedule for certain subject grades to be uploaded, but they do not clearly explain how this will be enforced, especially given that they are aware that they “can’t force teachers to upload grades.” This policy at best would only be a suggestion, and would almost certainly not be successfully implemented.

One of their key ideas is a “pen pal” system between current freshmen and incoming freshmen. The program would give the latter the opportunity to shadow a freshman for a day and experience Stuyvesant on a closer level. Though this is an original and interesting plan, its feasibility is very low. It would require enormous organizational efforts, including having the incoming freshman take a day off from their school, pairing every future student to a current student, and sharing their schedules and classes. Having 30 middle schoolers in every classroom would also overcrowd the entire school and be very chaotic. Furthermore, this program has similar elements to the Big Sibs program; on that note, there is a reason why freshmen are not allowed to be Big Sibs: they lack the long-term hindsight and experience required to advise incoming students. Yang-Lu fails to mention how they will implement the system responsibly and successfully and why it is necessary outside of the Big Sibs program.

Another exciting but similarly impractical policy is Stuyvesant Field Day, which is meant to allow students from all grades to intermingle and play games in order to boost school spirit. Once again, this policy would require excessive planning of chaperones, activities, an adequate venue, and more, given the large student population of over 3000 students. Even if the event starts out with only freshman participation, the idea of hundreds of students in one park area is highly hazardous and ill-advised.

Despite their several infeasible policies, Yang-Lu do have some that are achievable. A potential activity they have planned is the freshman Secret Santa, where students can sign up and buy gifts for one another. Due to the project’s similarity to Boo!grams and Indicator sales, it is reasonable to expect that it will be carried out successfully. A second possible policy is the escalator notice, which involves student monitors being assigned to a floor during their frees and taping up sheets of paper to indicate whether an escalator is broken or not. It may be important to note that this policy is similar to the already existing website that informs students on the function status of each escalator. The purpose of this system is to relieve students of the extra legwork of circling around stairs only to discover that the escalator is broken and prevent confusion and crowding at the stair entrances. Monitors would receive community service hours, which is slightly unreasonable if all they would be doing is tape up posters. Nonetheless, this policy, along with the freshman Secret Santa proposal, are definitely feasible, though not extremely urgent or essential to the well-being of the freshman student body.

Though many of their plans are in need of more development and detail before they can be effectively and efficiently implemented, the overall Yang-Lu ticket should be commended for their various original ideas and desire to expand on existing policies, through which their experience, passion, and creativity can be seen.


Efe Kilic and Kosta Dubovskiy did not submit any platform or other information to The Spectator, and have posted nothing on their social media accounts. They did not show up to the debate and seem to be using the ARISTA crest as their campaign logo.