SU Endorsements: Freshman Caucus

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Emma Wong and Cynthia Chan

Freshman caucus candidates Emma Wong and Cynthia Tan offer well-developed and thoughtful policies concerning numerous relevant issues at Stuyvesant under the Wong-Tan platform for the 2018-2019 school year.

These issues include problems with leaving the school during free periods, exemption from physical education for student athletes, difficulty connecting to school WiFi past 8:00 a.m., and obstacles students face printing at school. Their ticket demonstrates impressive research and careful consideration. Despite only spending two months at Stuyvesant, Wong and Tan target specific issues that apply to a significant portion of the student body and have important implications on their academic experience. Moreover, the fact that Wong and Tan are aware of the difficulty clubs have accessing WiFi that might be necessary for afterschool activities illustrates that they probably maintain communication with different club leaders and are perhaps participants in these clubs themselves. They are also comfortable voicing opinions, a crucial foundation to a successful campaign.

It is commendable that for each issue the Wong-Tan platform identifies, they offer a distinct stance or solution. This reflects a genuine attempt to present a logical plan of action, rather than simply stating complaints with no strategy for correcting the situation, which inevitably results in inaction. They also have alternative solutions in case their initial proposed solutions are flawed.

That said, the platform has significant shortcomings. While their positions reflect effort, many of their proposed solutions are not realistic or feasible, or are simply illogical. One example is their proposal to change the system for leaving during free periods, which would only be more inconvenient for students by restricting the time frame during which they can leave the building and potentially breaking up their free period. Their solution for printing problems is similarly flawed, which, by further decreasing space for students in need of study periods, will only elevate demand and hurt more students. Candidates should always prioritize the general will of the student population rather than favoring certain groups.

The platform also does not focus on issues specific to freshmen and indicates only a vague intention to develop freshman social life. For instance, while it would be beneficial for freshmen to have a spirit week and socials, Wong and Tan did not come up with a plan to organize such events. Instead, the platform seeks to correct general dissatisfactions among the student body, which are unlikely to be solved by the freshman caucus.

However, while most of the platform’s policies are in serious need of revision, they are impressive considering how little most freshmen know about the nature of problems at Stuyvesant. Furthermore, the ticket appears collective and cohesive, perhaps indicating its potential and dedication.

Lina Khamze and Deven Maheshwari

The Khamze-Mahesh ticket has both potential and heart in the right places. Their priority is the ease of transition from middle school to high school, and their enthusiasm about achieving this goal is palpable. Their main proposals include 7:00 a.m. entrance to the school building, more freshman events and lectures, freshman library priority, designated nap areas for freshmen, and more time to change for swim gym. A highlight of their platform is the early entrance time; though it is unrealistic because of administrative constraints, it would be a beneficial solution to a chronic inconvenience.

However, despite this, the Khamze-Mahesh ticket lacks substance and effort. Despite the many enumerated policy proposals, there is a distinct absence of follow-through in how they plan to carry out these proposals. The fact that no attempt is made to explain or elaborate on the measures needed to achieve their goals, as well as the vagueness of policy points such as “more freshman events/lectures,” gives the well-meaning platform last-minute vibes. Additionally, the suggested policies—such as nap spots, prioritized library access, and extended swim change time—seem to be primarily based on addressing their own personal issues, rather than the concerns of the grade they would represent.

Some things are suspect about the candidates themselves. For example, Deven Maheshwari claims to be an active member of Stuyvesant Key Club, but has gone to zero events and only has one hour under his name for attending the interest meeting. The Spectator would also like to note that the Khamze-Mahesh ticket has been awarded a strike by the Board of Elections for inappropriate behavior.

Overall, the Khamze-Mahesh ticket proposes many ideas, but the shortcomings of their platform are more prominent than their true intentions, which is why The Spectator cannot endorse this ticket.

Ashley Choi and Humaira Khan

The Choi-Khan ticket clearly wants to help better the freshman class, and they offer ideas to do so such as providing supplies, unifying online school resources in one website, online textbook services, and color printing access. Their ideas show the potential of this ticket, such as their intention to partner with printing companies to provide color ink to students. Other ideas, like the intention to unlock YouTube on emails, are both feasible and original.

However, many of their proposals have issues. The pair seems to be ignorant of current resources and the power that the Freshman Caucus has. The Student Union already has an online textbook service and the testing schedules for teachers are already enforced. The goal of Talos is toward establishing a unified online presence. In addition, color printing and supplies are readily available in the library. The platform seems under-researched and underdeveloped, though it is based at its core on good ideas.

Ethan Brovender and Zuzi Liu

Freshman caucus candidates Ethan Brovender and Zuzi Liu want to improve the school environment, specifically in clubs and with students themselves. They acknowledge the need to reform clubs and for students to manage stress. It is worth pointing out that their awareness as freshmen of the problem of using clubs as a supplement in college applications can indicate close involvement with certain clubs and organizations. However, their generality and absence of a possible solution weaken their claim to fix the issue.

Brovender and Liu show little preparation and effort in their platform. The Board of Elections originally did not receive a platform from this ticket and stated that the candidates have not done much campaigning. The issues that Brovender and Liu address are relevant to students, but there is a lack of detail as to how these issues will be resolved.

Elio Torres and Anagha Purohit

Freshmen Elio Torres and Anagha Purohit’s campaign focuses on maintaining the academic excellence of Stuyvesant and easing the transition for fellow freshmen. They promise to implement a stronger system of outreach and organization, and are open to feedback and ideas proposed by the student body.

The Torres-Purohit ticket places a strong emphasis on hosting in-school events that specifically target freshmen. Though this is not an original idea, having more seminars and inviting more guest speakers will allow freshmen to take advantage of the opportunity to explore their future interests by meeting professionals in the field. An interesting idea they had was to create a system to allow students to use empty classrooms during free periods. This plan would provide students with the option to work somewhere other than the library and designated first and second floors, but it would require more administrative involvement to ensure the safety of students without adult supervision.

Another goal of their campaign is to increase communication between the student body and the administration through the use of a suggestion box and monthly surveys via e-mail or Facebook. It is unclear as to where the suggestion box would be located and who would be reviewing these submissions, which can be made anonymously. These submissions may not be an accurate representation of students’ concerns, as many people may not be inclined to fill them out.

Though Torres and Purohit are enthusiastic and have good intentions, they propose very general ideas and fail to distinguish themselves from the other platforms. Some of their smaller goals include more accomodating gym uniforms and other “general improvements,” which showcases their platform’s vagueness, focus on trivial matters, and unclear solutions in combating these matters. For these reasons, The Spectator cannot endorse this ticket.

Michelle Zhang and Joseph Lee

The Lee-Zhang platform brings up some ideas of varying degrees of feasibility and originality. One of their main calling cards is the idea of Homeroom Representatives. This is an idea which has already been implemented by the Sophomore Caucus. However, the efficiency and overall usefulness of these Homeroom Representatives at this point may be improved. Biweekly meetings would be a great way to improve caucus-student relations and communication.

The only other concrete selling point on the Lee-Zhang ticket is the creation of a Marketing Committee, to be in charge of creating events for freshmen. This is a necessary part of caucus, but is again already a practice done by caucuses every year. This idea seemingly shows a lack of knowledge about the positions Lee and Zhang are vying for, as they will be in charge of a wide spread of various committees.

Ultimately, the Lee-Zhang ticket has good intentions and seems enthusiastic. However, their lack of knowledge about the workings of the caucus and Student Union makes us question whether or not their leadership would put the Freshman Caucus in the best hands. The Lee-Zhang ticket does not receive The Spectator’s endorsement for the Freshman Caucus.

Diana Yang and Karen Lin

Freshman Caucus candidates Diana Yang and Karen Lin aim to create policies that are both reasonably achievable and improve the lives of their peers. They hope to make large policy changes such as allowing students to enter the building before the end of the period, creating designated spaces for charging phones, and guaranteeing WiFi. They also propose smaller scale projects like selling rain ponchos, a unique idea which they say is a low-budget and convenient way to increase the quality of life for their peers.

Despite Yang and Lin’s attempt to make realistic promises, their platform is unfortunately underdeveloped. Many of their ideas have been proposed by caucus candidates from previous years without success, and Yang and Lin do not provide any background about how they aim to accomplish any of their ideas. Though their proposals like opening the library to allow students to print before first period are well intended, they are not fully researched. In this case, students can use the printing station or Google Cloud Print by the bridge entrance. Some of their ideas are also vague; one of their proposals is to “fix the swipe in thing,” about which they provide no additional information.

Additionally, they seem to be unaware of the types of policy change that the Freshman Caucus generally facilitates. They propose to change programming, citing the difficulty of traveling from the first to the 10th floor in between periods. However, student schedules are largely random, and there is no realistic way to prevent a student from having two consecutive classes on distant floors. Their campaign also promises better escalator maintenance, but they fail to acknowledge that escalator maintenance is an ongoing issue within the administration, and there may be little to nothing they can accomplish as leaders of Freshman Caucus.

Though Yang and Lin clearly have well-intended ideas, many of their proposals seem to fall flat due to limited knowledge and research. For this reason, The Spectator will not be endorsing the Yang-Lin ticket.

Ella Krechmer and Alec Shafran

The Shafran-Krechmer campaign has a clear intent to improve the lives of their freshmen peers. Their proposals to extend writing center hours and turn the half-floor into a phone-friendly zone are just some examples of how they wish to ease freshmen’s transition into Stuyvesant. These proposals are definitely plausible, though the platform lacks a proper explanation for how they could execute these plans. An idea the platform discusses is student discounts at several local eateries. There seems to be misinformation concerning the extent of previous caucuses’ success in achieving these discounts, as none have been achieved in the past few years. An idea to ask shelters circa Stuyvesant to open their doors for student stress relief is well-meaning, but lacks research, as not a single shelter name was mentioned within the platform. Overall, this platform does have good intent and originality within its ideas but would require serious clarification on how these plans could be brought to fruition.