SU Endorsements: Tam-Kuke

The Tam+Kuke campaign is audacious but ultimately lacks the prerequisites needed to succeed.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Cover Image
By Matt Melucci

Platform: ★★★☆☆

The Tam-Kuke campaign’s platform wasn’t poor by any means. Instead, it was distinctly average: it lacked the original, inspirational idea that is a prerequisite for any successful platform and wasn’t well developed. Tam-Kuke’s proposal to create a Student Congress was innovative and a genuine attempt at reform, but it lacked the planning and forethought needed to be successful. There’s not much wrong with the platform, but there also isn’t much to praise. Solid, but unspectacular.


As outsider candidates with no prior experience in student government, the Tam-Kuke campaign has little in the way of a track record of success. There is no evidence to suggest it has the connections with the administration necessary to institute change, though both candidates do seem committed to increasing the participation of the general student body. Though the Tam-Kuke campaign has the potential to eventually take up a prominent role within the Stuyvesant leadership and build an impressive political resume, at the moment, it lacks both of those.

Campaign: ★★☆☆☆

The Tam-Kuke campaign’s most evident struggles were in arguably the most important part of a run for office: a well-run, marketable campaign that attracts positive attention. Perhaps due to their inexperience in the management of large-scale projects, Tam and Kuke failed to put together a campaign capable of propelling them to victory. They fell behind early: while other campaigns built strong social media presence and created pages with large followings, Tam and Kuke dragged their feet. Until the Sunday before election week, their promotion was largely limited to the distribution of plain posters bearing the candidates’ names and lacking any substance. When they eventually did begin to promote their campaign via social media, they failed to garner any positive attention; instead, their posts were overshadowed by a simultaneous social media controversy over comments made by Kuke during his freshman year. Tam and Kuke’s release of a video detailing their campaign’s platform and credentials was undoubtedly a step in the right direction in terms of promotion, but it failed to have a significant impact on the race. Tam and Kuke also experienced severe delays to their planned website: at the time of writing, it still hasn’t been released. Again, Tam and Kuke’s naiveté haunted them: they were unable to coordinate a campaign capable of raising awareness about their policies while painting them in a positive light. Tam and Kuke made an effort to do so, but it was an unsuccessful one.

After an unsuccessful run for Student Union (SU) Vice President last year, junior Peter Tam aims to go one better this time around. Alongside his running mate, sophomore Ted Kuke, Tam has run a reform-oriented, outsider campaign seeking to “renovate” and “redefine” student government. Though the Tam-Kuke campaign has sought to paint the inexperience of its leaders as something that would help them serve as a breath of fresh air in a SU often seen as dynastic, it has appeared instead to hinder the Tam-Kuke campaign throughout their run.

The Tam-Kuke campaign’s lack of experience has influenced its policies. Its flagship initiative, the creation of a “Student Congress”—a voting bloc comprised of two homeroom representatives from each homeroom who would assist the Student Union when it comes to large decisions—wasn’t assiduously planned. During an interview with The Spectator Managing Board, Tam and Kuke were forced to consider an online voting system after it was brought to their attention that their original plan would create a maladroit body of over 300 students.

The Student Congress would control the impeachment progress, showing that Tam and Kuke also hope to give more power to students and create a more nuanced impeachment process. Currently, the SU Chief of Staff has to make the motion for impeachment. The motion is then voted on by the Executive Cabinet, passing with a two-thirds majority. It is then approved by the Coordinator of Student Affairs and the principal. However, Tam and Kuke propose that this motion be offered instead by the student body, though they fail to include how the student body would voice such a concern. The Student Congress—elected representatives—would then vote in favor of impeachment.

Another Tam-Kuke initiative aimed at restructuring and changing the role of the SU is their focus on reporting controversial or inappropriate activities. Tam and Kuke believe the SU should have the power to intervene and monitor any “conversation deemed controversial,” any threats, or any physical altercations involving Stuyvesant students. The ticket was unable to provide the guidelines for what would be deemed questionable content. They also failed to explain why their policy would be an improvement on the current system, in which SU leaders are moderators of the Dear Incoming Facebook groups and have the power to involve the administration if they deem it necessary.

Ultimately, the Tam-Kuke platform falls far short of “redefining” the student government. Many of their proposals, including efforts to increase “connections with alumni” and the “frequency of dances,” expand on already existing initiatives. Tam and Kuke failed to explain how their administration would change or expand on the status quo.

Other Tam-Kuke proposals are well-intentioned, but equally uninspiring. The candidates were unaware of the changes already being proposed to the current homework policy; when told what they were, they appeared open to continuing them, but simultaneously wanted to introduce new initiatives. Tam and Kuke supported allowing students to “contact [the] SU anonymously” to report “grossly excessive homework” but wanted to resolve disputes via “friendly, constructive meetings with teachers.” Tam and Kuke supported the establishment of a universal grading platform but were again unaware of existing attempts by the administration to do so. They lacked insight into what platform they would be using—their platform suggested that Jupiter Ed was their gradebook of choice but Tam and Kuke equivocated, saying that this wasn't a final decision.

In another part of its platform, the Tam-Kuke campaign has placed emphasis on cleanliness and sanitation, branding them as pillars of student health. In order to fund projects like the installation of automatic hand sanitizer stations outside bathrooms and the installation of automatic faucets and soap dispensers, they plan to use money they referred to as the SU’s “cushion.” This cushion is a reserve of money saved in case large-scale events like SING! do not provide the revenue the SU needs to remain solvent. Instead of saving these funds for a possible catastrophe in the future, the Tam-Kuke campaign wants to use them to better student health during their administration. Tam also expressed that their administration would also look into applying for grants. The campaign also aims to collaborate with the Wellness Council and other clubs to encourage cleanliness and wellbeing, an idea also voiced by other tickets.

Tam and Kuke also want to use this cushion to provide financial aid for both students and clubs. For students, they aim to increase the frequency of dances to relieve stress while also decreasing the entry price. They could not provide an estimate of how much the reduced entry fee would be. For clubs, Tam and Kuke hope to provide funds to clubs based on the size of the club, the number of members who qualify for financial aid, and the educational value of the activity. The SU already allocates funds for emerging and newer clubs who do not receive funding from the Parents’ Association, and it is unclear how this financial aid would differ from typical allocations.

Aside from embryonic policy, the campaign has also failed to release their website, putting them at a significant disadvantage in terms of outreach. Campaign promotion via social media was also rather lacking: the Tam-Kuke campaign did not create social media pages to adequately promote its policies on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. They have instead relied on posters and word of mouth, ineffective ways of spreading their campaign.

Additionally, the Tam-Kuke campaign has also been hindered by persistent controversy over comments made by Kuke during his freshman year. Kuke has apologized for such comments, many of which have since been deleted from Facebook. However, some students have still expressed concerns.

In an assured pitch to voters, the Tam-Kuke campaign implores them to “vote new, vote bold, vote fair.” Indeed, a vote for the Tam-Kuke campaign would be bold: though Tam and Kuke have proposed some intriguing policies, many of them are underdeveloped and questionable in terms of feasibility. The Spectator admires the effort Tam and Kuke put into their campaign and commends them for their foray into student politics, but ultimately declines to endorse their candidacy.