The past few years have been tumultuous ones for the Student Union (SU), and the next one might be no different. The SU and the students will require a strong student president capable of defending student rights from further encroachments by the administration. While both tickets for SU leadership this year— junior Vanessa Charubhumi for President and sophomore Alexa Solimano for Vice President (VP), and junior Jamila Ma for President and sophomore James Kim for VP—have adequate experience, neither fully show the ability to defend our rights. The Spectator endorses Ma for SU President and Kim for VP not based on who would make the best SU President today, since both tickets were qualified, but on which ticket we felt would best improve to inject initiative and drive into their roles.
In terms of goals, both Charubhumi-Solimano and Ma-Kim seek to increase student awareness of the inner workings of the SU as well as reduce the infighting that has plagued our student government. Yet these admirable goals require a further step: implementation and a solid stance against the administration— actions that Charubhumi-Solimano seem hesitant to take.
Though neither ticket supported the locker policy and both supported active negotiation with the administration, only Ma-Kim were willing to seek other avenues besides mere discourse to solve the problems the SU faces. Though equally eager to resolve various issues, Charubhumi-Solimano adopted a more moderate stance in dealing with the administration, one that hinted at yielding to administrative decisions upon the failure of negotiation. In this respect, Ma-Kim’s platform took the extra step, and reflected a willingness to continue to fight the policy.
Each candidate’s opinion on what his or her tenure in the SU would entail was also an important distinction. Charubhumi and Solimano said they felt the vice presidency is “a learning experience” meant to hone skills for future positions in the SU. Ma said a VP’s obligation is to take individual projects and devote him- or herself to them, an active approach that promises to be more productive than Charubhumi and Solimano’s passive one.
In terms of the vice presidential candidates themselves, however, Solimano was more vocal and involved. Her interactions with Charubhumi showed ease and cooperation, while Ma and Kim’s relationship appeared to lack balance since Ma overshadowed her running mate during the interview.
Yet, the SU President is the one who ultimately plays the most pivotal role in Stuyvesant’s student government. Though Ma is a relative newcomer to the SU, she has been serving as SU Budget Director for the past year, and thus has an understanding of the SU’s inner workings. Charubhumi brings formidable experience to the table, having been class president as a freshman and sophomore, as well as the SU VP this past year. But had these three years been productive ones for Charubhumi, her experience would have added to her platform. Unfortunately, overall passivity and treating the office of grade president and SU VP as a “learning experience” do not demonstrate the initiative the position of SU President requires.
Ma and Charubhumi’s individual commitments to the SU may also prove to be divided. Both are highly devoted members of their respective teams, namely debate and track for Ma, and volleyball and tennis for Charubhumi. Though they promise to balance these obligations, the hefty time commitment would pose definite problems to either candidate. Charubhumi’s past handling of these commitments, giving priority to her participation in sports teams over her SU position, however, gives Ma the slight edge
Both candidates were reserved in interviews, displaying more timidity than enthusiasm. The current SU has experienced members who set admirable goals and seek to follow through with them. What it lacks—and sorely requires—is initiative. No matter who emerges as the SU President and VP, we hope that that ticket will step up to the plate and display the eagerness the student body has come to expect and require in its presidents.