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January 2017

MAS LIBERTY INSIDE New year's resolutions chapter spotlight of January Jsa campaign season beginning humans of MAS Thanks, Obama

Thanks, OBama


CONTENTS 2 Table of Contents 3 Credits and Upcoming Events 4 Realistic New Year's Resolutions By Sonal Mahindroo 5-6 Chapter Spotlight: Bergen County Academies By Rohit Setlur 7-8 Thanks, Obama. By Saneel Sreeni 9-10 JSA Campaign Season By Anika Prakash 11 Humans of MAS Facebook Page By Sara Mills 12 Contact Information

5-6 Chapter Spotlight

Bergen County Academies JAN 2017



CREDITS Editor-in-Chief Madison Richmond Staff Writers Sonal Mahindroo, Rohit Setlur, Anika Prakash, Saneel Srini, Sara Mills Staff Editors Maya Merchant, Kanav Mahajan, Justin Greenman, Diamond Terrell, Ambika Sinha Director of Graphic Design Brian Meng Vice Mayoral Editors Laura Boyajian and Margaret Evered

DATES South Brunswick HS Chapter Conference January 28th Bergen County Academies Chapter Conference February 4th Winter Congress February 10-12th Howell HS Chapter Conference February 18th Leonia HS/Academies at Englewood Chapter Conference February 25th Secaucus HS/Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS Chapter Conference March 4th Spring One Day March 18th Princeton HS Chapter Conference March 25th Manalapan HS Chapter Conference April 1st Spring State April 22nd-23rd Contact the Vice Mayor, Laura Boyajian, if you have any questions regarding these dates

JAN 2017




01 02

Stop thinking that I was a bad speaker after speaking at a debate. I know no one is concentrating on the tiny mistakes I make.

Don’t act shy at the dance. It doesn’t matter how good at dancing I am, I should just put myself out there and own it!


Delete Yik Yak off my phone.


Don’t pretend that I’ll be wellrested at Winter Congress. Plan ahead for 7 hours of sleep for all three days.


Briefly consider eating healthy.


Go to the gym.


Remember to turn on read receipts when I’m texting someone I’m mad at so that they know that I’m ignoring their texts.


Try not to roll my eyes when a contestant on The Bachelor says “can I steal you for a second?”


At least don’t watch Netflix all day.


Don’t waste time buying a planner, decorating it, and color coding it when I know I will only use it for a week.

JAN 2017




chapter spotlight

By Rohit Setlur The featured chapter of this month’s Chapter Spotlight is none other than the Bergen County Academies Chapter from Hackensack, New Jersey. The chapter, currently led by President Olivia Vladyka, Chief of Staff Isabella Impalli, Directors of Debate Brian Kehoe and Casey Chan, Director of Activism Claire Kwon, Director of Fundraising Tarek Mohammed, Director of Communication Josh Gonzales, and Senior Advisers Anna Prisco and Ethan Zang, consists of about 60 students, according to President Vladyka, and is one of the largest and most active clubs in the school. Furthermore, the BCA chapter has been active for many years, making it one of the longest running chapters in the region. On the local level, the BCA chapter is extremely involved, being active in not only their school, but in their community as well. The chapter volunteers at almost every school event, bringing not only the labor, but also the brainpower, necessary to get things done. In order to help high school seniors become involved in the political process, the BCA chapter held a voter registration drive. The chapter goes out to Bergen County Board of Education meetings, and showcases the political and educational mission JSA strives to achieve. Attending the prior conferences of this year, Fall State and Fall One Day, Vladyka stated the chapter was very successful in each convention and that they were able to let the Freshmen have a rewarding experience. BCA is excited for the upcoming conventions and will be using them to help publicize their chapter. JAN 2017 |


As an experienced JSA stateswoman, Vladyka hopes that students in her chapter, and those across the Mid-Atlantic State, to know that it is very important, especially in this modern political era, for students to become informed about politics today and get involved in their community and in democracy. She would like nothing more than for her chapter to “get a sense of how many students truly care about civic activism and debate through JSA experiences,� something that is evident through the active debate and overwhelming activism in each and every convention. The BCA Chapter is unique because it continuously tries to involve as many people as possible, according to Vladyka, and its members are actively involved in the community around them, working on campaigns, volunteering, and reaching out to everyone to help promote JSA. They understand the value of political discussion, especially in today’s political setting, and place that as the main focus of the chapter, and of JSA. We would like to thank the Bergen County Academies Chapter for their active involvement in JSA, and would love to see more of the chapter at future conventions.

JAN 2017



Thanks, Obama. By Saneel Sreeni

“I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change- but in yours.” As President Obama closed out his Farewell Address, he attempted to one last time instill something that many American citizens have been searching for- hope. Whether you found the speech corny or heartwarming, one cannot deny that Obama’s reaffirmation of the fact that power lies in the hands of the people is something that is so sorely needed now, more than ever. Many are undeniably discontent with the recent election, concerned that their values, rights, and culture will not be acknowledged under the new administration. The validation, or invalidation, of these fears will only become more apparent with time, but it is key that those who feel threatened recognize that they have some measure of control over their lives, something which Obama hoped to convey. He referenced past accomplishments as prime examples of how such examples of civic participation have yielded beautiful results, as shown with same-sex marriage, and preached the American ideals that have fostered innovation and prosperity in the past. However, he did not fail to bring attention to the cultural and economic divisiveness that has only strengthened in recent years. A central factor in this, Obama points out, is the tendency of people to enclose themselves in “bubbles” of people with like-minded ideals. Through machine learning and news feed algorithms, many of us are kept happy with a constant flood of information from social media looking to please their consumers. This can obstruct us from understanding the validity of an opposing opinion’s argument, which undermines the very point of politics. It is the reason that intensive and occasionally harmful debate has sprung up with no resolution and the reason that significant productivity is found to be so rare in the modern political landscape. The first step in transcending the barriers that have created the dissent in

JAN 2017



Obama speaking after Trump's inauguration, at Joint Base Andrews.

America is opening ourselves to opposing lines of thinking and to kindle debate and compromise based on all the evidence, not just a select portion, according to Obama. Acceptance is the key, here. Obama’s speech is also noteworthy for a reason that hits a little closer to home for most JSAers. JSA has long been a mode by which students across the nation are stimulated into participating in debates aimed at broadening their viewpoint of the many issues prevalent in American today. Furthermore, one of its most basic tenets has been to increase civic involvement as early as possible and to enforce the importance of being an active citizen. Obama’s farewell address was reminiscent of both of these points, which served as the core constituency of the speech. As a platform by which many can express their views, JSA has enjoyed some of the most diverse and thoughtful discussions in recent years and it is imperative that this continues. By popping our metaphorical bubbles and accepting that opposing views may prove valid in their own way, we are taking the first steps to progress, something that cannot be forgotten in the years to come. Regardless of one’s view of Obama and his actions in office, it is hard to deny that he made several valid points regarding the future of America. To borrow yet another quote from the speech, "Change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it." Obama’s speech was a firm message to the people that conveyed exactly what is needed for our nation to continue on its path to progress.

JAN 2017




BY ANIKA PRAKASH Each year, numerous devoted JSAers go head-tohead to fight for a spot in each of the leadership positions within the Mid-Atlantic State. There’s a variety of positions available, and each position is up for election annually. Some popular positions include Governor, Mayor, and Vice Mayor; however, the MAS’s current Lieutenant Governor, Daniel Zhao, expects that the majority of people will run for mayor as it’s a “prominent, well-known position.” To prepare for the elections at Spring State, candidates begin their campaign trail at Winter Congress. The Fair Elections Handbook contains the guidelines for the campaign, which states there is a tentative spending limit of $250 in order to give all the candidates a fair chance. There are numerous other rules, including rules that candidates may not collude with one another and no candidate can receive the support of any currently elected official. Additionally, Zhao noted that “candidates may not use official JSA events, such as debates and keynotes, to promote their candidacy— [they may] only [campaign] during designated campaign times and during nighttime activities.” Unlike the elections we know all too well, candidates here usually don’t use negative campaigning in order to get ahead. Zhao pointed out that, positively, “criticism of candidates tends to be specific to their platform points, rather than their character.” He also noted that this is largely because the Fair Elections Handbook also encourages candidates to behave in a statesmanlike and courteous manner.

JAN 2017



Spring State Election 2015.

The electoral process is as close to a real democracy as possible. The campaigns as well as the

best, even when success isn’t in immediate sight. He also added to “keep in mind how your actions

election are entirely student run and a live count of

reflect on you as a candidate and how they affect

the votes is projected “to keep the process as

other candidates.” Although negative campaigning

transparent as possible,” as Zhao noted. He also

isn’t prevalent, he wants to make sure candidates

added that “while certain modifications are

don’t experience immense amounts of tension and

necessary given the limited time of the process in

unease as a result of other candidates’ hostility.

JSA, elections are still a great way for delegates to

Overall, he suggested that candidates enjoy their

get a taste of the democratic system.”

experience, regardless of whether they are

For candidates who are running for a position for

ultimately elected or not. “Don’t be bothered,” he

the first time, Zhao had some words of advice. He

said. “Remember why you’re doing this, don’t be

thinks it’s important candidates know why they’re

discouraged, and keep at it.”

running and to always keep that in mind. “The campaign trail is long and hard, and it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal when little things knock you off trail.” He wants to encourage candidates to do their

JAN 2017




Click the Facebook symbol for a form to submit stories. New York City is currently the fourth most culturally diverse city in the United States at this point, climbing its way up to number one. The city, densely populated within its three hundred mile radius, has become a place for more than eight million people to call home. So, we’ve all heard of Humans of New York which has accumulated a fan network of over 18 million people, but what about Humans of MAS? The Mid Atlantic State of JSA has continued to grow in numbers as well, all its participants sharing the same burning passion for politics, each with a different story to tell. Laura Boyajian, the NJR Vice Mayor, and Aarushi Parashar, the NJR Director of Technology, recognized this growing diversity and sought to create another outlet where people could voice their opinions and be heard, beyond speaking at debates. Boyajian initially introduced this idea after looking at other states. Aarushi Parashar, who runs both the Facebook and Instagram accounts began compiling and posting people’s stories and quotes. The response they got was so overwhelming that they decided to make a separate Facebook page for it, which you can find right now called, ‘Humans of MAS’. With this new page, Parashar says, “we hope that this will benefit MAS as a whole by unifying the state by highlighting our differences.’ In addition, the leaders hope it will serve as a way to maintain the connection that emerges in conventions that is often lost after conventions are over.

The page is for the people, by the people, so it will continue to be as active as people make it. Parashar, who is currently running the page, hopes to feature at least one person a week but if the number of submissions becomes larger, she will post more often. The page has a life and heart of its own. It’s a larger sense of community than the JSA MAS Facebook group. It puts a face to the text. These are real people with real stories; people just like you. To be featured, you can simply fill out the Google Form on the MAS Facebook page or below. Ideally, the stories selected are not necessarily JSA related; they are stories that ameliorate a shared sense of community among all individuals. Walking into a debate at first can seem overwhelming, meeting new friends from a crowd of nameless people is difficult. In creating this page, “we are trying to capture snapshots of the daily lives of our delegates but at the same time we aim to make this more unifying as a tight knit community and honestly an enjoyable platform for people to express their views,” said Parashar. Perhaps now these nameless people in the crowd won’t be so daunting after all, since they’re just people, and perhaps the room will seem a little warmer when you walk in. And if you have a story you want to tell, make sure to submit to Humans of MAS for a chance to be featured!

JAN 2017



CONTACT INFORMATION Reach out to the following people for comments, questions, or concerns about the MAS Liberty of Junior State of America. Madison Richmond Editor-in-Chief of the MAS Liberty Laura Boyajian NJR Vice Mayor

JAN 2017



Profile for MAS Liberty

MAS Liberty: January 2017 Issue  

An online newspaper written, edited, and designed by members of the Mid-Atlantic State of Junior State of America. This edition features art...

MAS Liberty: January 2017 Issue  

An online newspaper written, edited, and designed by members of the Mid-Atlantic State of Junior State of America. This edition features art...


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