Two anonymous students have created stuywatch.com, a Web Site they call “the official unofficial guide to student rights and news at Stuy High.” The purpose of the Web site is to unite the Stuyvesant student body against what they believe to be the administration’s unjust policies.
The two students, assuming the pseudonyms Hiro and Chase, sent e-mails on September 15 to other students whose e-mail addresses they have in their personal address books or obtained from the mailing lists of organizations such as the Big Sibs. These emails invited students to visit stuywatch, where they would find “insightful student news and opinion[ s] about the issues that affect student lives.”
“We decided to create stuywatch because we felt that there was serious lack of student interest in the things happening around them,” the founders said in an email interview.
The Web site boasts a blog maintained by Hiro, Chase and other writers whom they approved to disseminate information, as well as a forum on which registered users may post comments.
The founders have decided to remain anonymous with the hope that the focus of the Web site will not be on them, “but on the site and discussions it creates,” they said.
“I can understand the founders’ desire to remain anonymous, for fear of administration reprisals,” said senior Daniel Giansante, who is a registered user on the Web site. “But I think the mystery of their identities distracts from their message.”
Student Union (SU) President Jamila Ma posted a comment on the Web site that said stuywatch has the SU’s support. “We will cooperate with them if we believe that [their motive] is consistent with what the SU strives to do,” she said.
“The support of the Student Union is much appreciated,” the founders said, “since they have resources that could potentially be useful.”
The Web site has quickly became an active place for discussion, with 1,239 unique visits and 6,332 pageviews in the first four days since its inception. As of September 19, there are nearly 130 users registered on stuywatch and 375 people subscribed to a related Facebook group.
The first few blog posts have been introductory messages stating the purpose of the Web site. Registered users have made 151 posts on the forum, where they are discussing issues such as leaving school premises during free periods, the use of scanners during lunch, the inability to congregate on certain floors, the new locker policy and, according to one post, “a general air of mistrust from the administration with regards to students.”
“More than anything else, this is contingent on the support and enthusiasm of the students,” the founders said. “We’re not here to dictate. We’re here to help inform and to stimulate discussion.”
They said that stuywatch aimed to be what stuycom.net, another student-run Web site, once was: a place to get news and discuss issues relevant to the student body.
“Stuycom is dying out,” junior Grace Klein said. “This is a good way to unite the school.”
“There was one time when stuycom was a center of fighting for student rights,” said senior Scott Ritter, who operates stuycom. “The focus has shifted away, in a sense, from student rights. However, that is still a goal of mine.”
Ritter said that he is willing to work with stuywatch. “I wouldn’t shy away from it,” he said. “We have the same goals.”
The founders of stuywatch said they would not resort to encouraging sit-ins or walkouts unless such forms of protest prove necessary.
“Hopefully, we will be able to communicate the views of the student body to the Student Union [...], who can formally enter into negotiations with [Principal Stanley] Teitel about the policies,” the founders said .