Wong and Tan Elected Freshman Caucus Co-Presidents

Emma Wong and Cynthia Tan were elected Freshman Caucus co-presidents for the 2018-2019 school year.

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Freshmen Emma Wong and Cynthia Tan were elected co-presidents of the Freshman Caucus for the 2018-2019 school year on November 5. The Wong-Tan ticket finished with a total of 209 votes, while their runners-up, freshmen Elio Torres and Anagha Purohit, received 151 votes.

The election used an instant runoff voting system through the Student Union (SU) voting website. This new system allowed freshmen to rank all of the tickets based on order of preference in a single round of voting. Voter turnout was higher than expected, with 360 voters out of 902 freshmen, compared to last year’s 172 voters.

Junior and Board of Elections Chair Caroline Magoc voiced her support for the Wong-Tan ticket. “We saw over the course of the past weeks that [Wong-Tan] and the other tickets were very passionate,” she said. “They especially put up lots of posters [and] they tried to make contact with lots of freshmen students.”

However, the election came with some issues involving voting, and Magoc acknowledged the controversy of the new system. “You’re not supposed to be forced to rank all of the candidates because obviously if you’re ranking someone last, that means you don’t want them,” she said. A new voting system will be implemented by the BOE next election, in which voters will not be required to rank all tickets.

In addition, inappropriate behavior from tickets aiming to slander and strike other tickets during the end of the election was brought to the attention of the BOE. “That was completely out of the character of someone who we wanted to be a leader for freshman caucus,” Magoc said.

Following the election, Wong and Tan discussed their plans for implementing their proposed policies, as well as obstacles they expect to face. “A lot of [our policies] just came from actual experiences from freshmen,” Wong said, explaining their thought process in developing a strong platform for their campaign.

Wong and Tan propose a variety of new policies and advocate for improvements to existing policies for students. These initiatives include earlier re-entry during free periods, PSAL frees orno P.E. classes for athletes, more WiFi access and printing stations, different bell sounds for each bell, and more freshmen in-school activities.

Freshman Elizabeth Stansberry, one of the campaign managers for Wong and Tan, explained that she initially advocated for the ticket because of their policies. “Their plan for expanding the bandwidth of the WiFi by allowing clubs to get their own routers is particularly exciting because of how feasible it is and how impactful it will be,” she said in an email interview.

Freshman Amanda Zhong supports Wong and Tan because she would benefit from their proposal of PSAL frees. “One of the main reasons I decided to vote for them was their policy of no P.E. for students in PSAL sports. I am on two teams myself—JV volleyball and basketballso I personally understand the struggle of having to go to practice every day,” she said in an e-mail interview.

Freshman Olivia Tedesco, a campaign manager for Wong and Tan, is in favor of the idea of letting students back into the building mid-period. “One of their policies that I am very excited about is being let inside the building before the warning bell,” Tedesco said in an e-mail interview. “Personally, I find it very frustrating having to wait on the bridge to be let inside, especially on days when it is cold or rainy.”

Some of the policies that Wong and Tan propose, like earlier re-entry for students during their free periods, have been considered by previous caucuses and the SU. While students have requested year after year for the school to enforce such policies, they involve administrative or technical issues that could cause complications for the school. “[We] think that would work, the SU thinks that would work, all of the caucuses would support that, but [Principal Eric] Contreras doesn’t think that would work because there would be a security issue,” Wong said.

Currently, students who leave school premises during the school day can only re-enter the building five minutes before the warning bell. Pushing the restriction earlier to halfway into the period would be more convenient but also difficult to enforce, since school officials would need to be especially vigilant of all students and visitors entering and exiting the building throughout the entire period.

Moreover, Wong and Tan must face the challenge of Stuyvesant’s limited funding in implementing their provisions to improve student and school services. “We mentioned the idea of having three different warning bells to Contreras,” Tan said. “He told us that it would not work, because we need to wait until the bell system breaks and then the DOE will fund it.” As Wong and Tan work with administration to provide better services for students, the true test lies in balancing student requests with available resources.

However, Wong and Tan are confident that they will turn their policies into reality with the help of the SU, other caucuses, and school administration. “The other caucuses […] could give us some information on what is actually doable,” Tan said. They believe many of their proposed policies can be implemented over time, building on the work of previous caucuses and the SU.

Excited for the year ahead, Wong and Tan are guided by the suggestions and feedback of their peers and are determined to fulfill the promises they made during their campaign. “They definitely deserve the position, and I’m excited to see what they do with it,” Magoc said.