The Spectator The Stuyvesant High School Newspaper
May 26, 2017
Volume 107 No. 15
“The Pulse of the Student Body” stuyspec.com
Endorsements 2017 Unprecedented Presidents: Uncontested Tickets for Senior Caucus and Student Union By Anne George and Matteo wong Student Union (SU) candidates Tahseen Chowdhury and Alexa Valentino and Senior Caucus candidates Pallab Saha and Abie Rohrig ran uncontested, perhaps out of respect or perhaps out of fear; both tickets wielded formidable experience and accolades.
Tahseen Chowdhury and Alexa Valentino — Student Union
“We took [running uncontested] as a sign that the Class of 2018 really trusts us and that just motivates us to do more for them,” Saha said. Their platform reflects this drive and speaks to their previous successes in the Junior Caucus. This year, Saha and Rohrig not only understood the importance of aiding the juniors’ college search, by developing close ties with the Alumni Association and selling preparatory books in the school store, but also focused on counteracting gradewide apathy with a Pep Rally. However, they are aware that the roles they needed to assume as the Junior Caucus differ from those they will have to as the Senior Caucus. “[After] senior year, we are leaving behind all the memories we’ve made,” Rohrig said. “The Senior Caucus makes sure a grade identity is formed.” Saha and Rohrig have divided their platform into four major components: leaving a mark, moving on to the next chapter, reinforcing school spirit, and embracing senior year. In order to leave a mark, Saha and Rohrig will revitalize the Mnemonics Public Art Project, commonly known as the Memory Cubes. “We want to reach out to [Principal Eric] Contreras and [Assistant Principal of Security, Health, and Physical Education Brian] Moran so that the Class of 2018 has a say in what goes into our memory [cube],” Rohrig said. They also aim to begin mentoring underclassmen caucuses and collaborating closely with the SU. “I think that a problem within the SU this year has been a lack of communication between the caucuses and the SU, and there have been a couple of instances where this has happened,” Rohrig said. “The SU only has a certain amount of political capital, and if each caucus is just doing their own individual thing and the SU isn’t on the same page, then the SU as a whole isn’t able to coalesce, discuss, and prioritize.” In regards to moving onto the next
chapter, Saha and Rohrig want to continue their efforts in making opportunities available to the student body. They plan to establish a task force to aid Internship Coordinator Harvey Blumm in building upon the Student Bulletin and creating an online database of Stuyvesant alumni for students to reach out to. “As seniors, we need to start focusing on what we need to do with our futures,” Saha said. “We can have a career day, where students can learn more about the opportunities they have and their futures.” Despite having an organized vision for the Senior Caucus, Saha and Rohrig intend to continue a well-established method of communication through e-mail and Facebook, gauging the interests and needs of the senior class. To further strengthen school spirit, they propose beginning a PSAL awards ceremony. Having already worked with Princeton Review to subsidize the cost of JProm, Saha and Rohrig plan to use this growing relationship to help make senior activities more affordable. “We also talked to [Princeton Review] about building more of a relationship going forward, where they are going to post practice tests for Stuyvesant students in exchange for funding,” Rohrig said. “By subsidizing costs, [we hope] everyone is able to attend these events that make up the huge memories of senior year.” They are also exploring the possibility of an alternative venue for graduation. “We want to see if we can get a better venue,” Saha said. “We want to look at Madison Square Garden or Lincoln Center. [Though,] the budget has been a problem.” Overall, Saha and Rohrig are confident in their abilities to carry out these plans. “The reason why we had such a successful junior year was because of how efficient our partnership is,” Saha said. “We don’t see each other with the distinction of President or Vice President. We go at it as CoPresidents.”
Courtesy of James Lee
Courtesy of Matthew Au
Pallab Saha and Abraham Rohrig — Senior Caucus
“Every SU in the past and every platform that you’ve seen in the past always has specific ideas, and we lack that, and that’s good,” Chowdhury said. The SU President-elect and his running mate are taking a radically new approach, opting for a broad vision rather than a detailed agenda. They presented a 29 page platform — not outlining new policies, but explaining how they will structure the SU to be “bigger, bolder, and better.” “Our goal is to create an SU that is able to do everything, all the time. Anything people ask for, we’re going to deliver,” Chowdhury said. They paused to qualify. “[If it’s] Reasonable. That’s important,” Valentino said. As Vice President, Chowdhury has already expanded the SU by a factor of ten to include over 200 members, and Valentino has worked rigorously to ensure they have a tightly-run operation. “What we want to do is create a stable SU and a stable organization. Students don’t have power because there isn’t stability,” Chowdhury said. They believe this larger, more efficient SU has already proven itself, citing success in establishing a printing station and bathroom hooks. In the coming year, they aim to consolidate the different caucuses into a unified front, which will be able to tackle grandiose projects and make bold demands. “What ends up happening is the administration views the students as one whole group, so if a caucus gets something then another caucus might not. At the end of the day we’re really just one union, so we’re going to look at the caucus platforms and we’re going to create a
[single] year-long agenda that we’re going to execute,” Chowdhury said. They do have a few specific ideas for putting their expanded power to use, including a second Club Pub Fair and locker trading system, the latter of which is nearing completion. Most ambitious is opening up the fifth floor balcony. With improved organization and a designated task force, they believe this could soon become feasible. “We’re better able to get a grasp [on SU organization] so now we are able to designate someone specifically in charge of working on the fifth floor balcony project,” Valentino said. Their victory is impressive for two reasons. Obviously, they ran unopposed. But perhaps more importantly, Valentino is the first female SU Vice President in years, following a “dynasty” consisting of five consecutive male presidents and vice presidents. “I’m really proud to say I’m one of the first female representatives of the SU in a really long time. It’s kind of cheesy, [but] other females should be inspired to be in the government and I just hope that I do a good job,” Valentino said. As for running unopposed, Chowdhury takes it as a vote of confidence. “I think people genuinely believe we did a decent job this year compared to previous years and compared to what other people could do, and they’re giving us the opportunity to complete what we started, and that’s what the platform is, completing what we started,” he said.
The Spectator ● September 30, 2016
SU Endorsements: Junior Caucus Julia Lee and Amit Narang
Ting Ting Chen / The Spectator
It is rare that a ticket’s platform proposes ideas that do not overlap with those of their opponents. Sophomores Julia Lee and Amit Narang faced the same criticism by The Spectator, but to a lesser extent; their platform contained many thoughtful and original ideas. For this reason, The Spectator has chosen to endorse this ticket. Lee and Narang tackled implementing PSAL frees in their platform, something the Student Union has placed on its agenda for years. However, they have reached out to several schools, such as LaGuardia and Bronx Science, which provide gym frees for students participating in PSAL, and hope to model their plans for implementation around these existing programs. Like most platforms, Lee and Narang focused on communication, but instead of repeating the typical ideas (an increase in emails and Facebook posts), they showed us a prototype of their Messenger Bot. With this platform for communication, Lee and
Junior Caucus candidates Hanah Jun and William Wang recognize the progress that has been made by the Junior Caucus this school year and aim to build upon this positive reform. However, The Spectator does not endorse this ticket because their platform does not propose enough of its own initiatives, and is instead heavily reliant on the accomplishments of current Junior Caucus President and Vice President, Pallab Saha and Abie Rohrig. The ticket, dubbed Winah, plans on implementing an online complaint system to force teachers to comply with the Homework Policy. However, past caucuses have failed at this, and Jun and Wang do not have a magic bullet. Moreover, Winah plans on forming a Council of Communica-
tion to oversee the materials and information being sent from and to the Junior Caucus and develop a relationship with the Alumni Association. These materials include bi-weekly letters to the grade to help students understand the current plans of the caucus, increasing awareness of the College Office and supplying new college-based resources. Saha and Rohrig, however, have already implemented similar forms of communication and began to form similar close ties with the Alumni Association. They also wanted to adopt the previously proposed Academic Committee of Saha and Rohrig, and expand it to provide updated study guides. However, they failed to showcase how this would not overlap with the initiatives already made by ARISTA.
Most importantly, Jun and Wang seem to be grasping blindly into the void that is college aid. Their stated grievances—a lack of communication between the college office and students and between Stuyvesant alumni and students—although founded, have impractical solutions. In their interview, Jun and Wang expressed interest in moving the student body away from Naviance and instead bringing more traffic to the Stuyvesant College Counseling Website, a website set up by the Stuyvesant Guidance Counselors. They plan to work with College Counselor Jeff Makris to turn the website into an interactive, studentfriendly FAQ. Naviance, however, is used throughout the nation, extremely user friendly, and is explained, in-depth, in an assembly all Juniors attend during English. Overall, both Jun and Wang made it clear that they have a great experience in managing their grade, holding events, and communicating with officials and students. As a Freshman Caucus President, Jun planned and managed dances while finding a new venue for the SophFrosh Semiformal. Moreover, she established a complaint system which was connected directly to the caucus and established a help center in the library. Though Wang has not taken a leadership role in any caucus, he has held successful supporting roles in both the Freshman and Sophomore Caucuses. His role in the Sophomore Advisory Council had put him in the center of interand intra-grade communication. His position in the Freshman Caucus’ Common Events Committee further speaks to his commitment to the bettering of the student body. For Jun and Wang, however, The Spectator does not believe experience necessarily dictates success.
the cost for individual students. That is not to say they are ignoring school spirit; for JProm, Lee and Narang called upon their successes planning Soph-Frosh Semi-Formal. They hope to restructure JProm planning by allocating responsibilities to different departments: communications, decorations, food, security, layout, and music. With this greater student involvement, they believe that one of the only junior spirit events will attract more attendees. Their platform is not without shortcomings; the proposal for SU volunteer hours is fuzzy at best, with details left unclear about whether they would work with ARISTA or Red Cross. However, it does show an effort to solve concerns over mandatory Pep Band attendance for band members, because qualified SU volunteers would fill these slots. Despite these flaws, The Spectator is confident in the abilities of Lee and Narang to steer the Class of 2019 through the upcoming junior year.
Meredith Silfen and Nathaniel Unger
Ting Ting Chen / The Spectator
Ting Ting Chen / The Spectator
Hanah Jun and William Wang
Narang are opening themselves up to anonymous constructive criticism, and they hope to use it to provide real-time solutions to their grades’ concerns. They also will use the Messenger Bot for frequent polling, and this can prove to be extremely useful for JProm and college event planning. The duo is in-tune with the needs of rising juniors: academics, college, and the future. Along with continuing the tradition of College Night, and already reaching out with the college office to discuss college trips, Lee and Narang hope to implement a Career Day. By working with the Alumni Association to bring in guest speakers, they hope to provide students with insight into a future beyond school. Lee and Narang also hope to provide tutoring services after school and on weekends, when the Stuyvesant building is already open as a community center. They have spoken with tutoring services with the goal of receiving discounts for students, which will cover the required DOE fees and lower
Junior caucus candidates Meredith Silfen and Nathaniel Unger had a platform comprised of promising visions; however, they failed to back up these broad statements with concrete plans for implementation. The ticket’s platform is centered around the acronym “PERFORM,” standing for Progress, Entertainment, Refining, Future, Opportunity, Relationship, and Management, respectively. These buzzwords represented including more resources for the student body, a greater sense of spirit in the junior class, and a stronger caucus-student relationship. However, while these ideas showed promise, Silfen and Unger did not significantly prove that they had put effort and thought into these ideas, failing to go into detail. For instance, the candidates suggested increasing the number of events for juniors, yet did not suggest any besides dances. Furthermore, they failed to account for the grade-wide apathy that often prevents upperclassmen from
attending events such as dances. Another proposal they had that faced similar issues was the establishment of a “quiet spot” where phones could be used for academic purposes. While this would certainly be a useful and much-appreciated development, Silfen and Unger did not describe where this would be located and how phone use would be properly monitored. The candidates clearly value a strongly increased commitment to communication, both between the caucus and the junior grade, as well as between the junior grade and incoming freshmen. The ticket proposed establishing a room where juniors would be present in order to provide face-to-face advice to underclassmen. However, they failed to distinguish how this would be more successful than the efforts of already existing Big Sibs. While it is clear that the SilgenUnger ticket genuinely cares for the needs of the junior class, their ideas are vague; for this reason, the Spectator has chosen not to endorse their platform for Junior Caucus.
Abner Kahan and Andrew Lu Sophomores Abner Kahan and Andrew Lu chose not to release their platform to The Spectator, citing the need for an “equal playing field” between students and the paper. Instead, they proceeded to propose a series of disorganized and far-fetched plans for the school’s improvement. Some of this ticket’s ideas are original, such as conducting lead tests of Stuyvesant’s water
fountains, distributing healthy homeroom snacks with salvaged wasted fruit, and establishing a battery pack bank to address the ban on using power outlets. Small improvements such as setting up umbrella bags and placing mats in the swimming pool locker rooms suggest a grounded, no-stonesleft-unturned approach. Furthermore, there was an emphasis on steering clear of Facebook—
often derided for being a home for cyber-bullying—and turning to Google Groups and .edu sites. A number of their ideas are simply unfeasible. For one, their sole financial policy is to power a Bitcoin machine with the school’s electricity to mine Bitcoins, a currency mired in legal and stability issues even outside of a school environment’s constraints. The pair’s Junior Prom proposal in-
volves creating a random-pairing process based on gender preferences, with no regard to already-established couples. Another key initiative of Kahan and Lu involves choosing randomly-selected homeroom representatives in an effort to better represent the student body. However, randomly-selected homeroom representatives will likely lack the
drive and aptitude of elected homeroom representatives. Most importantly, Kahan and Lu lack ideas about where juniors will need the most help: college admissions and the rigorous academic year ahead. Due to their platform’s lack of cohesiveness and disconnect with the Class of 2019, Kahan and Lu have not earned The Spectator’s endorsement.
The Spectator ● April 22, 2016
SU Endorsements: Junior Caucus
Sophomores Harrison Vokshoor and Oliver Frank bring original ideas in their platform for Junior Caucus. The Spectator’s Managing Board was very impressed during their interview
by their bright personalities and research. Their platform includes proposals that were long sought for by the caucuses of the Student Union (SU), such as the reforma-
tion of the cell phone policy, continuous updates for the student body, and more student involvement in the SU. More specific to the Junior Caucus is their plan to improve the college trip for the rising juniors by making the process more efficient. By consulting the incumbent Junior Caucus President, Vokshoor and Frank have already identified many of the problems concerning college trips. However, the ticket’s proposal for how it will be improved, a “special advisor position,” is vague and underdeveloped. In addition to the college trip improvement initiative, Vokshoor and Frank plan to help their peers be more college-ready by acting as intermediaries for colleges and business in the city for student internship and mentor opportunities. They also hope to replace the bathroom paper towel dispensers with air hand dryers in order to be more environment-friendly and cost-efficient. On a related note, they plan to improve the school environment by solving the cockroach and mice problem that the school has had for many years. While also improving the school environment, they desire to promote school spirit by bringing the student body closer through larger Open Mic events and volunteering days at local soup kitchens. Despite the uniqueness of their ideas, The Spectator finds that these proposals do not reflect the main interests of the student body, or more specifically, the main interests of rising sophomores. Combined with a lack of concrete implementations in crucial areas, such as college admissions, The Spectator has decided not to endorse this ticket.
Farah Alam and Summer Shabana
Ting Ting Chen / The Spectator
Ting Ting Chen / The Spectator
Harrison Vokshoor and Oliver Frank
Junior Caucus candidates Farah Alam and Summer Shabana present ambitious ideas that aim to make the notoriously difficult junior year at Stuyvesant more relaxed. However, bringing these ideas to fruition may pose a challenge. The duo has a balanced approach that involves both academic advising and engaging events. The pair proposed creating a lunch-on-the-go program similar to the Wellness Council’s breakfast-on-the-go, and increasing attendance at events (like themed dances) by lowering costs. Yet as expressed during their interview, the new event prices reflect marginal decreases—$10 to $15 as opposed to the $20 average current price— and the strategy heavily relies on luring in more event-goers in order to compensate for the price cuts, along with bake sales and candy gram sales. Additionally, the lunch-onthe-go program involves planting a day-long station on the second floor, and determining meal tickets may be an onerous process, since not everyone is eligible for free lunch.
On the academic side, this ticket has plans for increasing the number of the college office assemblies and for creating Advanced Placement (AP) advisory meetings. The duo has reached out to Director of College Counseling Jeffrey Makris about greater coordination between the student caucuses and the college office, showing their commitment to reaching this goal. However, there still appears to be a lack of a common strategy besides hosting more meetings. Furthermore, the AP advisory meetings merely serve an already-filled role of informing students about what specific AP courses teach. The sophomores appear to have researched their policies abstractly with outreach to certain administrators, but there was an admitted lack of experience with student government. While the pair would represent new faces in the SU, their lack of experience poses problems for fulfilling the needs of the junior class. Coupled with the unfeasible aspects of their platform, The Spectator does not endorse this ticket.
SU Endorsements: Sophomore Caucus Evan Wong and Nicole Russack
Freshmen Vishwaa Sofat and Eve Wenig came to their interview early, dressed to impress in business attire, and well-prepared, reflecting their experience as the incumbents. Our questions were met with cost-benefit analyses, and their platform showcased concrete solutions, earning them The Spectator’s endorsement for Sophomore Caucus. Their proposal for high-speed wifi and hotspots seemed unfeasible, yet Sofat and Wenig had already contacted several internet providers to negotiate a low-cost, or potentially free, deal for the student body, similar to the public internet found at an internet cafe. This initiative is indicative of the duo’s general competence. Sofat and Wenig also showed
genuine interest in the well-being of their grade, building upon the Anti-Bullying UNITY project they started this year. They had already spoken with Spark Director Angel Colon and the guidance office in order to manage what seems to be a drug epidemic. They hope to organize mandatory assemblies for students to attend, and they want to work closely with administration to create a safe space for students. Another plan the Editorial Board originally regarded with skepticism is an escalator monitoring system. Past caucuses have tried to implement this before, going so far as to use iPads, but there have not been long-term changes. This ticket has already begun working with SU President-elect Tahseen Chowdhury
to develop a mobile application for checking on escalators. The ticket believes that once this application begins to be used, the administration will have reason to loosen its cell phone policy, showing Sofat and Wenig’s cohesive strategy toward change. Sofat and Wenig were quick to draw on past accomplishments: the revenue they made from SophFrosh ticket sales and the sponsorships they had established were set to make up for last year’s financial losses. Though events beyond their control derailed this success, The Spectator commends them for their efforts and believes that they will be able to solidify financial stability in the future if elected.
Ting Ting Chen / The Spectator
Ting Ting Chen / The Spectator
Vishwaa Sofat and Eve Wenig
Though freshmen Evan Wong and Nicole Russack seem to have made a genuine effort to create a platform that is in touch with the concerns of the student body, their ideas are underdeveloped and lack concrete solutions. For example, the pair proposes a revised cell phone policy. Unlike other tickets, they could name a specific location where students are invited to use their
cellphones, explaining that the half floor would be a calm place for students to take a break. While their proposal to eliminate the need for parents to pick up confiscated phones from the school may be popular with the student body, it is unclear what the duo plans to continued on page 4
The Spectator ● May 26, 2017
SU Endorsements: Sophomore Caucus Evan Wong and Nicole Russack continued from page 3
lunch and could not articulate what they would do differently than former caucus presidents who failed to achieve this goal. During The Spectator’s interview with this ticket, the two seemed disjointed in their policy plans, with the two candidates often expressing different ideas and having to clarify with one another what their actual plan is. Russack seemed more knowledgeable about their platform than her running mate, which created an unsettling dynamic, since she is running for vice president. While discussing their physical education uniform policy, for instance, Wong asserted that students would not need to change. Russack interjected, saying they wanted to do away with uniforms, but still force students to change, and then apologized on Wong’s behalf. While The Spectator appreciates Wong and Russack’s awareness of the student body’s desires, their platform is missing the thought-out plans that caucus candidates need in order to achieve real change and does not warrant an endorsement.
Freshmen Ahmed Sultan and Stefan Sorobay approached The Spectator’s managing board with a handshake and revised platform, making a striking first impression. Their willingness to adapt to hitches in their platform reflected professionalism. Dubbed SULTBAY, their proposals revolve around forming closer ties between the student body and the administration, implementing a uniform grading system, promoting smaller-scale events, and expanding access to educational resources. SULTBAY wants to make use of Stuyvesant Student’s Forum, which was chartered by the Student Union Constitution. The Student’s Forum is a subcommittee made up of the Student Union President and Vice President, the Spectator EditorsIn-Chief, representatives of the Big Sib Chairs, and the ARISTA Executive Board. All students are invited to attend these meetings. Though this is intended to encourage more communication between the student body and the SU or other large organizations, the Student’s Forum can only be called to meet by those large organizations, making it inaccessible to most students. SULTBAY, however, advocates for greater advertisement of these meetings and voting privileges extended to all student attendees. They also propose using a uniform grading system for all classes, likely JupiterEd. While they have good motivations, citing grade transparency as a major reason for implementing such a system,
Ting Ting Chen / The Spectator
specifically replace the current cell phone return policy with. The pair also plans to organize more bake sales in an effort to relieve student anxiety and draw in money for the Student Union (SU). However, they do not acknowledge the Department of Education (DOE) rules that make organizing bake sales difficult. This lack of knowledge about basic DOE rules indicates that these candidates did not research the plausibility of their platform. Their platform also demonstrates a lack of awareness with issues that former caucuses and the SU have attempted to resolve. Evan and Nicole’s platform promises to reinforce the homework policy, though they have no clear plan for implementation. They recognize that there are flaws in the way that this problem is being addressed by the SU, but do not propose a solution. In addition, they are unaware of past SU efforts to let students come in early during
Ahmed Sultan and Stefan Sorobay
SULTBAY does not address the fact that former Sophomore Caucus President Tahseen Chowdhury and Vice President Pallab Saha pushed for the school-wide use of Engrade, an online grade system, for the spring of 2016. However, teachers are not obligated to use this system and many opt not to, which is why the initiative has failed in the past, and Sultan and Sorobay did not suggest a fresh approach other than to meet with teachers one-on-one. One of SULTBAY’s most feasible and beneficial initiatives includes its vision for school events. Unlike its opponents, who focus mostly on large dances such as Soph-Frosh Semi-Formal and Spring Fling, SULTBAY promotes smaller-scale events. These include movie nights in conjunction with the NYC Film Commission, community service and gardening events with the Hud-
son River Park, and guest speakers. However, these may not draw substantial crowds, since it is difficult for new events to gain popularity. On a similar note, the platform also promises easier access to academic resources, including Encyclopedia Britannica. Though many of these resources are available through the library database, they are often not advertised enough for students to take advantage of them. SULTBAY offers a solid platform with a clear vision. Though Sultan and Sorobay are ambitious, they also lack the experience and knowledge that other candidates have gained during their freshman year. Many of SULTBAY’s ideas are vague or are extensions of pre-existing programs within Stuyvesant. Due to a lack of knowledge and experience, The Spectator does not endorse this ticket for Sophomore Caucus.
News NEWSBEAT The Stuyvesant Chess Team attended the National Scholastic Chess Championships in Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday, May 12. Stuyvesant placed fourth in the country in the Championship section. Freshman Sophie MorrisSuzuki also placed 20th in the Championship section.
Sophomore Milan Haiman won an Honorable Mention award in the U.S.A. Junior Math Olympiad (USAJMO).
Freshman Liza Reizis was named one of five finalists in the 2017 Genes in Space Competition. Junior Joshua Lui received an Honorable Mention award in the competition.
Environmental Club Hosts Sixth Annual Earth Day Fair By Nusheen Ghaemi, Mai Rachlevsky, and George Shey
The cafeteria was transformed into a scene of commotion as students crowded to attend the sixth annual Earth Day Fair, held by the Environmental Club on Friday, April 20. Students lined up beside tables covered in multi-color tablecloths, in the hopes of partaking in arts-and-crafts activities or viewing poster boards. The Earth Day Fair focuses on a specific environmental issue each year, and this year’s topic was American environmental policy. Members of the Environmental Club worked in groups to create presentations, with topics ranging from oil drilling to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. “[The Earth Day Fair’s goal] is to raise awareness in Stuyvesant so our students can go out there and make a change in the society through their voices,” soph-
omore and Environmental Club secretary Kenny Wong said. After investigating water regulatory policies such as the Clean Water Act, which prohibits the discharge of pollutants
States that are hazardous due to the amount of pollutants [and] I feel that more can still be done.” This kind of information was shared with attendees of the fair both through Club members’
student juggling performance. The Environmental Club hopes to improve upon the fair next year. “We weren’t looking to partner with other clubs this year, [but] that would be
“[The Earth Day Fair’s goal] is [... to raise] awareness in Stuyvesant so our Stuyvesant students can go out there and [...] make a change in the society through their voices.” —Kenny Wong, sophomore and Environmental Club secretary in certain waters, freshman and Environmental Club member Derek Lao became quite familiar with the subject. “I believe that the US has taken amazing actions to make sure the quality of our water is in check,” he said. “However, there are still bodies of waters in the United
presentations and through other activities. “One of the highlights of the fair was the seed planting. [...] It’s a great experience to learn how to plant,” freshman George Zhou said. The fair also included entertainment such as a StuyFlow demonstration and a
our idea next year,” Wong said. In the meantime, the Environmental Club has many other events planned to raise awareness and improve the environment. These initiatives include terracycle bins, the billion oysters project, a rooftop garden, and a toner recycle program.
Courtesy of Marissa Maggio
Seniors Joel Ye and Kenneth Li won silver medals in the Physics Olympiad Competition.
Courtesy of Marissa Maggio
Senior Lawrence Kwong and sophomore Aleksandra Koroza were accepted into the Junior STEM Academy, which provides access to mentorship with scientists and think tank opportunities.
The Spectator â—? May 26, 2017
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News “Concerned Stuyvesant Alumni” Boycott Alumni Association Over Issues of Transparency and Accountability By Nishmi Abeyweera, Shameek Rakshit, and Blythe Zadrozny
Concerned Stuyvesant Alumni (CSA), a forum of alumni, announced a boycott of the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association (SHSAA) during the SHSAA’s Annual General Meeting on May 3, to protest an alleged lack of transparency and accountability. The forum is calling on alumni to donate directly to the school instead of through the SHSAA. The SHSAA, a non-profit organization, funds programs and events within the Stuyvesant community, and holds events for alumni, primarily reunions. The SHSAA consists of alumni members who pay dues and have the right to vote and serve on the board, and basic members, alumni who do not pay dues but can take part in committees, without the right to vote or serve in leadership roles. Tensions amongst alumni arose in 2013 and 2014 when two former alumni groups, the Friends of Stuyvesant (FOS) and Campaign for Stuyvesant (CFS), began efforts to merge with the SHSAA to form one alumni association for the school. During this period, the SHSAA adopted new by-laws related to the governance of the organization. After the announcement of the merger process, many alumni began discussing their shared concern about the future of the organization. “[Our] efforts really began three years ago as more and more of us realized that we weren’t having a positive experience with the Alumni Association,” CSA member Nicholas Griffin (‘80) said. These alumni decided to create an informal forum, known as the CSA, where they could propose reforms and push for information about the by-laws. The CSA is not an actual organization with official members, and alumni associated with the forum primarily use Facebook to communicate with each other. Many alumni contend that the merger negotiations were conducted without their knowledge and that the by-laws failed to increase transparency within the SHSAA. “SHSAA directors adopted new by-laws on September 11, 2013, and kept them secret until May 2014,” CSA member Dr. Jeff Golland (‘57) said in an e-mail interview. “These by-laws created an endowment and a board of trustees to run it within the SHSAA, but with nearly no accountability to the trustees. [...] Who the negotiators
an agreed upon framework, the representatives of the Association brought it back to the Board and membership for discussion and debate. That took place over a number of open and public Board Meetings. Our meetings are open to all members and non-member alumni [...] I don’t recall any of the dissident members ever having come to a board meeting,” SHSAA President Soo Kim (‘93) said. The CSA argues that further attempts to discuss the merger process were rebuffed by the directors of the SHSAA. “Those trustees were the leaders of the Campaign for Stuyvesant, and so when we discovered that, we [said] [...] that’s fine but give us more information about these trustees,” CSA member Neal Wilson (‘81) said. “The board got very tight-lipped and refused to answer any of our questions.” The SHSAA responded by stating their procedure for electing trustees. “[The trustees] serve a longer term—six years as opposed to directors with three. They have a self-selection process that you might see in many non-profit bodies, such as the Harvard Corporation or most non-member charities. If the committee does not assent, the trustee candidate cannot serve,” Kim said. Further scrutiny by the CSA into the operations of the SHSAA prompted new concerns over the association’s budget and the allocation of funds. The SHSAA diverted funds from the funding of school clubs and teams in order to fund the establishment of an endowment. “We were confused, if the Alumni Association was not helping out with needs of the school, what were they doing?” Wilson said. Although the SHSAA releases financial reports in the form of IRS 990C forms, as it is legally obliged to do, many alumni believe that the association should strive for greater accuracy and transparency. “IRS 990C forms are usually a year or two behind because they need to be based on audited financial information, and that takes time to complete. Volunteer organizations typically distribute (and often publish) a current financial report, and that’s what we have been asking the board to do,” CSA member Dr. Beth Knobel (‘80) said in an e-mail interview. The CSA has also expressed dissatisfaction with the nomination and election process for leadership positions in the SHSAA. Current SHSAA board members are responsible for nominating future candidates, with each board member
They are evaluated on a number of criteria, [including] [...] how much they give in terms of time, how much they give in terms of money, and what they bring in terms of gravitas and experience, ” Kim said. The CSA takes issue with this process, because they believe this allows the Board of Directors to eliminate candidates who disagree with the management of the association. “There was no competition, they could have been elected with one vote according to the bylaws. They had 850 votes out of 350,000 living alumni, and there was no one running
serving a term of three years. “Applicants have to be dues-paying members of good standing, and must acknowledge they’re willing to meet our criteria for participation, giving, and best practices.
to other associations, such as the Parents’ Association, following an annual general meeting held on Wednesday, May 3, 201. “We are encouraging financial and other support [...] directly to the school, its departments, or individual student organizations. We plan to keep at it until SHSAA returns to collaboration with its active membership, especially established reunion leaders.” Dr. Golland said. Senior board members of the SHSAA are also beginning to resign from their positions. “About a whole dozen of board members [...] have walked out the door because they don’t like
“We have tried for years to engage them, as we have seen how schism and multiple organizations can hurt the community, but it has been fruitless. I don’t know if it’s possible to make them happy. I try to tell everyone in the Association not to take it personally and that is the nature of leadership and organizations.” — Soo Kim (‘93), SHSAA President against them,” Wilson said. This year, SHSAA board members selected seven nominees for seven vacant positions. Members are also able to stand for elections by submitting a petition signed by a minimum of 50 alumni members or five percent of the total alumni members. No candidates, however, used the petition process this year. In response to this criticism, the SHSAA noted that it reserved the right to determine the qualifying criteria for its leaders. “Every group has a right to enforce its own standards and that’s what you’re seeing. Our volunteers work hard, they spend a lot of time and effort, and they enforce standards of the same high level of volunteerism amongst anyone [who] wants to join. Before you can express your opinion as to what you think will be good for the Association, you have to show that you contribute to the Association [...] and this is not about money, because by far the most valuable contribution is time,” Kim said. Notwithstanding the claims of election malpractice, alumni currently associated with the CSA, including Dr. Knobel, have been elected to the Board of Directors in the past. Knobel resigned halfway into her term, however, to protest
“We are encouraging financial and other support [...] directly to the school, its departments, or individual student organizations. We plan to keep at it until SHSAA returns to collaboration with its active membership, especially established reunion leaders.” — Dr. Jeff Golland (‘57), CSA member were was never made public.” The SHSAA, however, claims that negotiation meetings were made public and that a lack of initiative on the part of certain alumni contributed to much of the confusion. “When we had
communication with alums,” Knobel said. “Those efforts were met with open hostility. I was badmouthed and even bullied for my efforts. One board member actually told me he hated me because I was pressing for the SHSAA to change.” The CSA also argues that these restrictions on elections have been detrimental to the Alumni Association. “This is a public high school [...] Everything needs to be done in the light of day. If they were to adopt better practices with regard to nominations, access to the board, leadership; if they went beyond the
the SHSAA’s alleged attempts to prevent reform. “In my year and a half on the board, I tried to help the SHSAA improve. I ran the Communications Committee, and tried to improve newsletters and social media
nickel and dime attitude, they would actually be able to expand their membership. Their membership has actually been going down,” Griffin said. Though the discourse between the two groups started with the CSA creating petitions and attending SHSAA meetings, hostilities heightened when the CSA began to make comments on the SHSAA Facebook page. The SHSAA responded by censoring the CSA’s comments. “I’m not allowed to post any comments on their Facebook page, as are all CSA people. All of our comments need to be approved before they’re posted, and they don’t approve any of our comments, they leave them in pending status,” Wilson said. This led to the creation of the CSA’s own Facebook page and website. Kim has joined the CSA’s Facebook page twice, in order to respond to concerns raised by the CSA. “[Kim] didn’t answer our questions. [...] He joined the page for a week, essentially and created a lot of storm and controversy, and then quit the page, and then came back a few months later and did it again,” Wilson said. The SHSAA justified their decision to remove select CSA members from their Facebook page, stating that the CSA had launched spam attacks on the page. “They have launched coordinated efforts where 20 of them repeat posts [...] on the Facebook page and what they’re trying to do is get us to delete their stuff or warn them and then ban them. We’ve fallen for it and we’ve banned them for violating the group rules and then they use that to say that we’re censoring them,” Kim said. Tensions came to a head this month when the CSA decided to announce a boycott to protest the SHSAA. “We avoided this step for a long time [...] After three years trying to negotiate, we decided that there is a culture in the organization that is allergic to change,” Griffin said. “Three years is enough time to show their good faith and they haven’t [done so].” The CSA called all members to divert funds from the SHSAA
the way things are being run,” Wilson said. The petition on the CSA website, which asks signees to divert donations and end their membership until the SHSAA implements change, currently has 204 signatures. The CSA hopes that the SHSAA will soon be able to agree with their proposed reforms regarding accountability and transparency within the association. “[We want the SHSAA to] propose regular public reporting on dues and fundraising. If fundraising is successful, leaders should want that to be known. The silence suggests failure,” Dr. Golland said. The CSA would also like less money to go toward overhead such as salaries, which right now, makes up more than a third of donated funds Regarding the election process, members of the CSA would like the SHSAA to have several more candidates than vacant positions. “Giving alumni choice of candidates to be their representatives is standard operating procedure at most alumni associations. Many of its own procedures, particularly the checks and balances [were] put in place by previous boards and legal counsel[s] to ensure good management,” Knobel said. The SHSAA plans to move forward from this divide and continue to encourage alumni to give back to the association. “We have tried for years to engage them, as we have seen how schism and multiple organizations can hurt the community, but it has been fruitless. I don’t know if it’s possible to make them happy. I try to tell everyone in the Association not to take it personally and that is the nature of leadership and organizations,” Kim said. Despite the rift, the CSA looks forward to sitting down with the SHSAA to tap into the resources offered by Stuyvesant’s alumni. “There is so much more that can be done with the great people who have gone through 15th Street and Chambers Street over the decades that we can and should be doing,” Griffin said.
The Spectator ● May 26, 2017
News Eric Contreras Appointed to Principal of Stuyvesant
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and NASA
Sarah Chen / The Spectator
There is an ongoing investigation into the relationship between Russia and the Trump administration. President Trump fired F.B.I. Director James Comey on Tuesday, May 9. Later comments by Trump to the media and Russian diplomats suggest that the Russia inquiry was the motive behind this termination of employment. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller as the special counsel for the investigation into collusion between the Trump administration and Russia. Mueller served as F.B.I. Director under President George W. Bush and Barack Obama and is well respected by members of both parties. Republicans began the process of repealing Obamacare by narrowly passing their own health care bill in the House of Representatives. This follows a failed attempt at health care reform in March when conservative opposition forced Republicans to abort their efforts. The bill must now pass the Senate, where it may be amended before going to the President. Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron defeated farright candidate Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election on Sunday, May 7. At the age of 39, Macron will be the youngest leader of France since Napoleon. In an election largely fought over France’s membership in the European Union, Macron advocated internationalism. The election was largely seen as a win for liberals after a string of conservative victories around the world. A suicide bombing allegedly coordinated by ISIS killed 22 people attending an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on Monday, May 22. British police identified Salman Abedi, a British citizen of Libyan descent, as the primary suspect. British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the United Kingdom’s terrorist threat level to its highest level, indicating that a second attack may be imminent. The White House released its first comprehensive budget proposal on Monday, May 22. The plan is already facing controversy over sharp cuts to welfare services and increases in defense spending. Many critics also note that there are mathematical errors in the proposal. President Trump launched his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, The Vatican, Italy, and Belgium. During this trip, Trump will attempt to promote a message of religious unity and encourage American allies to increase their efforts in the war on terrorism.
By George Shey with additional reporting by Chloe Hanson and Peter Tam
Former Interim Acting Principal Eric Contreras was confirmed as the Principal of Stuyvesant High School on Friday, March 31. He served as the Interim Acting Principal for seven months following former Principal Jie Zhang’s retirement from the Department of Education (DOE) last year. Contreras has an extensive background in the education field. He originally worked as a social studies teacher in the Bronx and Queens and moved on to become the Assistant Principal and Principal of the Queens High School of Teaching for seven years. Contreras also served as the Executive Director of Social Studies for New York City’s DOE. After Contreras went through the C-30 process and became Interim Acting Principal, the DOE issued a posting for the permanent Principal position, to which Contreas and many others applied for. The application for principal consisted of two main stages. In the first, a panel consisting of parents, students, and faculty interviewed applicants and selected the person whom they felt was the most qualified. In the second stage, the superintendent
had to vet the chosen person. “Frequently people would ask me, you know, are you anxious [for the interview], and the answer was actually, no I wasn’t. [...] So many great things and exciting things happen at Stuyvesant daily, [so] I never really had time to think [about] the interview process,” Contreras said. The superintendent named Contreras as the principal on March 31, after he passed through both stages of the application. Contreras feels ecstatic to be appointed as principal, but also feels the same sense of mission he felt as an Interim Acting Principal. “I was extremely excited, happy, and honored, but [the confirmation] didn’t change my work. I was waking up with a sense of obligation before I became appointed, and I was waking up with a sense of obligation after I became appointed. [...] The initiatives I’m working on [...] [didn’t change] from the day before I got appointed to the day after,” he said. Contreras is currently undertaking many initiatives to improve Stuyvesant, including an effort to strengthen the research program. “One thing I did was bringing together research coordinators, alumni, and teachers [who] had some input on what had worked in the past and we had developed a very strategic plan around strengthening our re-
search program,” he said. “We had a research panel event, we put together parent research night, we collaborated with a number of nonprofits, and I held meetings with labs to see if they would open up space for our [students].” Additionally, Contreras plans on improving the technology and engineering programs at Stuyvesant. Amongst the proposed changes are plans to expand current courses and create new ones tailored around subjects such as aerospace engineering, engineering design, and mechanical engineering. Contreras is also actively working with Parent Coordinator Dina Ingram to foster a sense of community amongst the parents. “We have put together a series of parent events, wellness events, and parent meetings,” he said. In addition, Ingram is also working to create a biweekly publication that covers day-to-day activities and student events for parents to read. Contreras hopes that his changes help bring about a unique and versatile experience to each student. “There is a complexity to a [Stuyvesant] student that is second to none so the formula to [create] a great STEM school [is] to allow learning across all disciplines,” he said. “ If you want complex thinkers, you need to create a complex experience.”
Stuyvesant Holds First Japan Day Festival By Tahmid Jamal and Sasha Spajic
The fifth floor buzzed with 500 students lining up to don sumo suits, learn the art of Bon dancing, and decorate the walls with their wishes for Tanabata, the Japanese Star Festival, in celebration of Stuyvesant’s First Annual Ja-
various aspects of this culture. Assistant Principal of the World Languages Dr. Ernest Oliveri has assisted teachers in organizing festivities, such as the Día de los Muertos Celebration and the Chinese New Year Festival throughout this year. The event was conceived after these celebrations,
nium, an annual celebration of Japanese culture already held in the Japanese classes. Kodomo No hi, or Children’s Day, was suggested as the date to schedule the event. “We needed to prepare the decorations, make sure we had enough food, and also organize how the extra credit was going to work,”
“We ran out of food really fast, and some decorations were being teared off, not intentionally of course, as people were pushed against walls with the lack of space.” —Dillan Blake, sophomore pan Day on Friday, May 5. The event was organized by Japanese teacher Chie Helinski and an organizational cabinet of junior students to showcase
when Ms. Helinski began brainstorming a Japanese cultural event. Much of the inspiration for the event stemmed from Japandemo-
junior and President of the Cabinet Liz Lee said. The event offered various activities for attendees. “We wanted to make it more
hands-on so we formed a committee of students which focused some events on craft. We added [a thousand] origami cranes around the poster of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, [as] that’s culturally done. [In Japan,] for New Year’s, people go to shrines. They get fortune readings. So, we organized fortune readings for students. July 7 is the Star Festival. It’s a big international holiday and celebration. [The Japanese] make [Tanabata] wishes on paper. So we did just that,” Helinski said. The event was positively received by many students. “I entered the raffle right away. The food and sweets were amazing. I really enjoyed watching the festivities and participating in some of the events that I only saw in movies, like writing down my wishes. It was even better because lots of my friends went, though extra credit really helped convince them to go,” sophomore Anne Zhang said.
The festival attracted a large volume of people, causing some issues for organizers. “Although I had fun, after 10th period, the hallways were really crowded and it was a little overwhelming. At one point I just wanted to leave because there were so many people, ” Zhang said. Organizers addressed these concerns of overcrowding and difficulties in planning. “We ran out of food really fast, and some decorations were being teared off, not intentionally of course, as people were pushed against walls with the lack of space,” sophomore Dillan Blake said. The Japanese department has already begun looking to next year’s celebration to make further improvements to the festival. “It [will] definitely [be] in the cafeteria next year with probably a megaphone to talk to the whole crowd,” Helinski said.
The Spectator ● May 28, 2017
Eliana Kavouriadis/ The Spectator
New Arts and Theater Clubs Rise At Stuyvesant
By Anna grace goldstein
posters with the word “RIOT!” on them hanging from walls and escalators all over the school building earlier this year. RIOT stands for Rampage of Imagination and Original Theater, and this new theater company has some of Stuyvesant’s best theater writers and creators on board. Sophomore, Co-founder, and Vice President Noelle Gloria said, “RIOT! is a script writing club, so we intend for our members to produce skits or short plays to perform at SOS, and, when RIOT! grows bigger and more established, we even hope to hold our own showcase.” The relaxed and creative atmosphere of the club is part of what
Freshman Sara Stebbin and the members of her new club “Stuycatto” approach art through the medium of song. “Music composition is something I love and am passionate about, but I never really had a group of friends who shared that interest,” Stebbins said. While the music created by the members ranges from classical to contemporary, Stuycatto is as much a uniting force for teenage musicians as Stuyvesant is for ambitious students who are pursuing various types of careers. “The
“Honestly, when I want to share anything, I can always turn to the people in Stuyccato.” —Jason Lee, junior
Stuyccato community is a friendly one, so sharing music is always encouraged,” junior Jason Lee said. “I enjoy the positive feedback and criticism that I’m given because it pushes me to improve my music. Honestly, when I want to share anything, I can always turn to the people in Stuyccato.” The formation of clubs like these within our community reflect an evolving environment at Stuyvesant. Young artists are making a place for themselves and their creation, and forging a path for all students to pursue a more well-rounded education. These people are intelligent and hardworking, while also being creative. It just goes to show: Stuyvesant is not only a place for STEM-centric students.
Elena Sapelyuk/ The Spectator
I know from personal experience that when people think of Stuyvesant, they tend to have a very limited view of what our school represents. Many, if not all, of us can recall telling a friend that we’ve decided to attend Stuyvesant and finding ourselves thrown into a conversation about how it’s a pressure cooker of misery and how we will never be able to balance our social lives with our academics. However, any Stuyvesant student knows that as focused as we all are on our grades and schoolwork, many have an artistic side too. In fact, our school has a long history of producing remarkable art, writing, music, and theater, from STC and SING!, to our literary magazine, Caliper, and our school newspaper, The Spectator. I reached out to a few of the students leading new artistic clubs and publications so that I could share with the Stuyvesant community just what these groups have to offer and capture the essence of the artistic side of a school that is famous for being STEM-oriented. Earlier in this school year, freshman Andrew Ng founded a literary magazine called The Acacia. Though it publishes many types of media, The Acacia focuses on engaging students who love writing. “Acacia is made up of mostly freshmen, so it is easier for everyone to bond and be friends,” freshman Fawziyah Khan said. Because of its large freshman membership, Acacia may be a model of the future of Stuyvesant. It provides the newest generation of students with their own outlet. “I got [the] idea to found my pub because I wanted to give students a special medium to express themselves through writing,” Ng explained. “ I personally love writing, and I wanted to give that level of empowerment to everybody els e.” Ng isn’t the only student trying to create artistic spaces to help his peers express themselves. The Stuyvesant Broadcasting Community (SBC) is one of the more ambitious new clubs this year. “It’s mainly intended to broadcast things like news, music, videos/
audio we might record. We also display art and write stories,” junior and SBC President Alexandra Wen said. They are pioneering a new medium for students to express themselves. Wen is optimistic about their club’s potential, saying, “I can easily see us doing well, being able to prepare for future projects, and having everything organized.” Freshman and SBC Vice President Chris Brown, who will be inheriting Wen’s position of president next year, said, “One idea we had was a talk show or interview show where we could invite students or teachers to be featured.” Chances are you saw the red
makes it so special. Freshman Matthew Carlson says, “There isn’t such a thing as a typical RIOT! Meeting.” Yet it still has big goals for its members, and each meeting has a purpose that its members are always motivated to execute together. The creative spirit of RIOT! defies every stereotype and false expectation surrounding Stuyvesant. A student theater company opposes that common belief that all the students are dedicated only to math and science. “In improv, you really have to think on your feet, which is something that many don’t associate with STEM subjects. Also, the creativity is definitely something that defies the STEM stereotype. It’s a good thing in improv to take a creative approach to the prompt, your character, or the scene in general,” Carlson said. Sophomores Elena Sapelyuk and Klaire Geller also created Stuyvesant Fine Arts, a chapter of the National Art Honors Society. It is run much like Stuyvesant’s Red Cross, with hour requirements for certification. “I realized that there wasn’t really a place for people at Stuy[vesant] to create art. Our school is so focused on STEM subjects and academics, many people who are artistically inclined feel guilty for taking time out of their schedule to express themselves,” Sapelyuk said. “I wanted to create a space where everyone can create as well as collaborate and give back to the community. [We] paint a flower or laugh while collaborating on a project.” The purpose of this club is a combination of creating visual art itself and volunteering. Each club meeting has a theme or a lesson. They even travel to the Brookdale Senior Center on a monthly basis to provide watercolor classes, and they hope to work on large mural projects around the school building. “The elders really show their joy being with us. They make us feel comfortable with our environment. Through the few volunteering experiences, I have made friends with a 101-year-old and an Asian-American elder,” said sophomore Kate Shen in an email interview. “The 101-year-old show[ed] so much happiness when she completed her first painting, saying she is going to show her son her accomplishment. The AsianAmerican elder started to talk to me about her children and her life stories.”
Members of the Stuyvesant Fine Arts Club at work during a club meeting.
The Spectator ● May 28, 2017
The Spectator ● May 26, 2017
Editorials Staff Editorial
Changes On the Horizon for the Big Sib Program: Good or Bad? “We have for years referred to them as mini-counselors. They are the ones getting to see the freshmen and the transfer sophomore students the most in the beginning, and are the most tuned-in to how they are doing in their transition,” Assistant Principal of Guidance Casey Pedrick said. Even so, the guidance office has decided to play a larger role in Stuyvesant’s Big Sib program in the hope of improving its organization and effectiveness. In the past, the Big Sib program was completely student-run, from the application process and selection to homeroom management and Big Sib accountability. Applications were not standardized and were based heavily on the Big Sib Chairs’ personal judgments, while attendance records were rarely kept for homerooms. As a result, the program seemed to be more oriented toward the privilege of being a Big Sib, rather than offering support systems to incoming students. Of the Little Sibs surveyed, 48.9 percent reported knowing all of their Big Sibs’ names. This is certainly a mark of success, but it also means a slight majority of Little Sibs did not know their Big Sibs’ names. Five upperclassmen are entrusted with the responsibility to mentor 30 freshmen through Stuyvesant, and it does not require a large impression to be made in order to remember so few names. What it does require is initiative on the part of Big Sibs to introduce themselves and make legitimate connections. At its core, these problems stem from an issue with the highly subjective selection of Big Sibs. “There are some people who either should not be Big Sibs or just don’t do their jobs as Big Sibs,” Big Sib Chair Kevin Li said. Also surrounding the program is the stigma of nepotism. To alleviate these problems, the guidance office has revamped the selection process by adding an anonymous first stage with a rubric. “In the beginning, [the Big Sib Chairs] are giving points to things in different areas [based on] the rubric. None of that was ever done before. It was just them reviewing it on paper, taking their little notes, having the interviews. At least now you have an anonymous review with a rubric you are following,” Pedrick said. A concern with a rubric-
based application, however, is that it focuses too much on academic performance. It is important to have students with a variety of perspectives and achievement levels in the program. In some instances, the rubric appears to be almost an afterthought—interviews, for instance, began before an interview rubric was finalized. This system was created in order to provide students with a concrete idea of why they may not have been accepted into the program, yet it should not exist simply to cover that base. It is important to strike a balance between transparency and avoiding robotic selections. One important step that has been taken is
Suzy B. Ae / The Spectator
lowering the grade requirement for Big Sib applicants from an 88 to an 85 and being more strict about maintaining this baseline; the new cut-off will allow more students to be eligible while also standardizing the process. Many upperclassmen, once selected for the program, also find that there is no incentive to be an active participant; even with homeroom leaders, some freshmen homerooms are devoid of Big Sibs. “We’ll hear from teachers that no Big Sibs came to homeroom today or only three come consistently,” Pedrick said. Under the restructured program, Big Sib Chairs will no longer be assigned to a specific homeroom. Instead, they will each oversee a batch of homerooms and provide direct guidance to homeroom leaders. Additionally, homeroom teachers may be asked to report any Big Sib absences to the guidance office. Both the guidance office and the Big Sib Chairs recognize that Little Sibs often face issues that are beyond the scope of another student. In
these instances it is important that the Big Sibs have a close connection with their Little Sibs’ guidance counselors so that they can pass on any larger issues. To promote this, most Little Sib homerooms will have at least one Big Sib who shares their guidance counselor. To ensure that freshmen foster a relationship with their guidance counselor, instead of giving a generic introduction to their entire homeroom during Camp Stuy, counselors will hold smaller meetings in the hallway. “We want the guidance counselors to not only [...] go to each homeroom and talk [at Camp Stuy,] but to talk to specific kids in homeroom. For example, pull out two or three [students] at a time to rea l l y introduce themselves and make themselves approachable,” Li said. C a m p Stuy, along with the Big Sib Little Sib Dance, is part of the frenzy of activity that the Big Sib Program opens up with each year. But by the end of the first marking period, apathy seeps into the program. To combat this, the new Big Sib Chairs are planning to hold events outside of school throughout the year. “Homeroom is only once every two weeks generally for 15 minutes. We’re going to try to maximize the opportunities we have face to face with our Little Sibs. I know some homerooms [already] have little bubble tea meetups and things like that. [Now,] not only one homeroom is doing it, but all homerooms are doing it,” Big Sib Chair Charlotte Ruhl said. However, a more effective way for Big Sibs and Little Sibs to bond would be through weekly, rather than sporadic, homerooms, which both would be required to attend. Homerooms should not only be a time to hand out forms, but a place for students to interact. In the past, Big Sib Chairs have spoken with faculty about having more frequent homerooms, but they have not been cooperative in helping underclassmen assimilate. The guidance office’s involvement in restructuring the program has obvious benefits, but historically the Big Sib program has been entirely student-run. This autonomy is part of what makes Stuyvesant a unique school, and studentbased leadership makes Big Sibs truly welcoming and inspiring. We hope the Big Sib Chairs continue to be the driving force behind the program.
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F o r t he
Rec o r d
• Issue 14 Newsbeat reported that sophomore Joshua Weiner placed first and senior Asher Lasday placed second in Student Congress at the New York State Speech and Debate Tournament. Lasday placed first, and Weiner placed second. • Issue 14 Newsbeat misspelled senior Lawrence Kwong’s name.
The Spectator ● May 26, 2017
Opinions An Obligation to Strangers
Courtesy of Matthew Au
people standing around the pond, but they refuse to help the child. Do you still jump in even though other people won’t? Of course. The inaction of others doesn’t mean it’s okay to let the child drown. Now, imagine the child drowning lived in a different state than you. Again, most would argue that factors like location or nationality do not change the value of one’s life, and thus we are still morally obliged to save the child’s life. According to philosopher Peter Singer in his book “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” at every moment, we are all choosing to neglect the drowning child and give up on moral duties. By
in effect choosing our expensive clothing over another person’s life. We have already established that the location and nationality of the child, as well as the inaction of others, are all morally irrelevant in our obligation to save someone’s life. If this is the case, then very little separates our hypothetical obligation to the drowning child from our actual obligation to children in abject poverty abroad. One could argue that saving a life in the real world is not as simple as lifting a child out of a pond. In reality, though, there has never before been a time in history when it has been so easy to save someone’s life. Controlled
sity in his book “Doing Good Better,” some charities are hundreds or even thousands of times more effective than others, meaning they can save a life for a fraction of the cost. GiveWell, an organization that scrutinizes the efficacy of charitable practices, has selected a handful of charities that are particularly outstanding. The Against Malaria Foundation, for instance, provides longlasting insecticide-laced bed nets to children in Sub-Saharan Africa for $2.50 per treatment. With every $3,300 in donations, the Against Malaria Foundation is able to save one life. Another charity, Deworm the World, provides pills that rid children in Ke-
By Abie Rohrig Suppose one day you’re walking alongside a shallow pond when you notice a child has fallen in and appears to be drowning. You run to where the child is, but just when you’re about to pull the child out of the water, you remember that you are on your way to an important event and you’re dressed in your most expensive outfit. Do you have an obligation to save the child, despite the risk of ruining your pricey clothing? To this, nearly everyone would say yes. The material worth of clothing is meaningless when compared to the value of a human life; clothing is replaceable, but a person’s life is not. Now, let’s add some caveats to this thought experiment. Imagine there are several other
Something as simple as switching from a Chipotle bowl to a halal platter could save you $5, which could in turn either provide two bed nets or ten deworming pills to those in need.
choosing to spend money on material luxuries instead of donating to effective charities that help those in extreme poverty or on the verge of death, we are
studies of humanitarian efforts allow experts to identify which charities are the most effective at saving lives. According to William Macaskill of Oxford Univer-
nya and India of parasitic intestinal worms at a cost of only 55 cents per treatment. The World Health Organization finds that 880 million children worldwide
suffer from parasitic worms, an often overlooked global health problem. Though usually not life-threatening, parasitic worms are a cause of immense suffering, and have been shown to significantly reduce school attendance. If your financial situation prohibits you from putting aside money to donate to effective charities, then it is difficult to maintain the argument that you would be obliged to donate. However, if you believe that you do have some wiggle room in your daily expenditures, even small alterations could have a huge impact. Something as simple as switching from Chipotle to halal could save you $5.00, which could in turn provide either two bed nets or 10 deworming pills to those in need, and packing your lunch at home and taking it to school could do even more. At very little cost to our material well-being, we can have a superhero-like effect on the world by letting an 80-year-old blind man see for the first time through a cataracts operation, or even preventing a mother in Ghana from having the grief and sorrow of losing a child to infectious disease. If you are willing to sacrifice your expensive clothing for the drowning child, then you should be willing to switch from Chipotle to halal or forgo another pair of shoes and donate money to where it will mean a lot more. If you really agree with this, back it up with action—the world will thank you.
Stuy Afloat on the Sea of Numbers By Marie Ivantechenko and Alexandra Wen A social life, good grades, and enough sleep—choose wisely, because you can only pick two. The ideal Stuyvesant student has perfect grades, great extracurriculars, and great potential—that includes the great potential of developing mental health issues. Outside of the classroom, it’s more common to hear “I’m going to kill myself” or “Please push me off of a building” followed by laughter, rather than “I’m gonna take a break.” Our parents, our teachers, and even our peers talk about how we’re supposed to be the best and the brightest, how we’re supposed to be leading the nation to great things someday. We knew the rigorous academic setting we were getting into. But why does that mean we “don’t get to complain”?
ents ask me whether I got any grades back or what tests I have coming up. They expect me to get good grades, and if I don’t meet their expectations, I am lectured about how I’m not going to get into a “good” college. Even after countless mental breakdowns about grades, there’s no room to complain because as a Stuy student, I’m expected to deal with it. After all, Stuyvesant is a place where the ends justify the means: as long as you get into a good college, your experience here doesn’t matter. With 3,350 students in a 10floor building, the competition is immense and the pressure to succeed can make or break you. It’s the prime example of a “sink-or-swim” environment, and most students seem to float around during their four years. Unfortunately, a large number of students “sink,” especially
Rather than waiting for other people to notice that we are struggling, we need to take action for ourselves and actively seek help.
To my parents, my Stuyvesant experience is nothing more than a number. When I (Marie) get home, I’m not met with, “Did you learn anything interesting today?” Instead, my par-
with this year’s increase in mental health-related hospitalizations. What if the notion of the “perfect Stuy kid” just doesn’t exist and we are all just sinking ships? Do some of us just take
longer to drown? I (Alex) cannot, using both hands, count the amount of times that I’ve drowned. During freshman year, suicidal ideations intruded my daily thoughts. During sophomore year, anxiety attacks were so common that at my low points, they felt more like sinking than shaking. Instead of being proud of one’s well-being, many Stuy students take pride in the exact things that cause many mental health problems: numbers. The numbers mean everything, from the amount of likes on a profile picture to the grades that colleges see. And we, as students who grew up thinking that numbers were worth more than us, use that exact system to rank ourselves too. Before we even got into this school, we were already a statistic. On the SHSAT, a test with a simple cut-off score, you either get in or you don’t. At Stuy, college admissions dominate everything. Some students create clubs for the sole purpose of making themselves look good, and others go to clubs that seem “scholarly.” The option of doing something because it makes you happy rather than because it makes you look good for college is uncommon. The students who do create or go to clubs that aren’t geared toward adding that extra touch on their college application are commonly questioned about their intentions. Why’d you make it? What college are you trying to impress? It’s almost like finding rare birds, but they’re only rare because they’ve been driven to near extinction. We have been questioned about the creation of Stuy Limitless, a club we made for both the purpose of helping people with their self-confidence and
for helping ourselves along the road of recovery from mental illnesses. The joke “Did you make this for college?” isn’t funny when you realize that other students genuinely believe this.
started to change their mentality, with guidance department meetings starting to focus more on mental health and the effects of stress, and presentations focusing on teaching freshmen
It’s the prime example of a ‘sink-or-swim’ environment, and most students seem to float around during their four years.
That shakes us to the core—to realize that an environment that cultivates learning is the same one that cannot see past numbers. But, no one is born with a superiority complex. No one pops out of the womb screaming, “I’m better than you for having one more point on my exam!” People claim that this is just the “Stuy attitude,” but, by doing that, they’re only dismissing the problem instead of facing it. How many Stuy students have to drown before we actually address this issue? Luckily, as junior year comes to a close, I (Alex) have recovered. I’ve used my resources when I’ve hit my low points this year; I’ve gone to guidance and to the nurse. Resources are available to us, such as the SPARK program’s free, confidential counseling. The administration has
how to cope effectively with it. But, there’s only so much they can do to solve the problem if the main issue is ourselves. Most of us expect our peers, teachers, and parents to be able to see that we are drowning. We expect them to throw a life jacket to save us, but everyone is in their own bubble. Rather than waiting for other people to notice that we are struggling, we need to take action for ourselves and actively seek help. We need to stop being stone walls, with our mental health resources bouncing off of us like rubber balls. As students, we need to start reaching out more instead of waiting for others to come to us. One cannot fix a problem without first recognizing it—so we, the student body, now need to change before our own foundation falls out from under us.
The Spectator ● April 21, 2017
The Spectator ● May 26, 2017
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
“Thirteen Reasons Why”… Or Why Not
Based on Jay Asher’s novel published in 2007, Netflix’s “Thirteen Reasons Why,” aired on March 31, 2017, emphasizes how serious teenage bullying and suicide can be. Viewers follow Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), a junior attending Liberty High School, as he listens to the 13 cassette tapes Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) left before she took her own life. She dedicates each tape to a different person who drove her closer to her decision to commit suicide. On the tapes, she recalls instances of sexual harassment, rape, slut-shaming, and vicious rumors. The anti-bullying message behind “Thirteen Reasons Why” is prominent and powerful, but the way it is presented is controversial. Some believe that the series glorifies suicide, presenting it as an ‘easy way out’ to teenagers going through troubles similar to Hannah’s. So, is “Thirteen Reasons Why” a revolutionary, powerful show, or is the backlash well-deserved?
Carrie Ou/ The Spectator
Netflix’s “Thirteen Reasons Why” adeptly tackles the subject of suicide and makes for a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece.
By Dina Hedeisha There was a lot of buzz when Netflix released season one of “Thirteen Reasons Why.” With American actress and singer Selena Gomez as its producer, it’s not surprising that so many people were excited to watch the series. The series has much more than a famous celebrity producer, however. “Thirteen Reasons Why” tells the riveting, tragic story of Hannah Baker by walking us through the cassette tapes she left behind as an explanation for her suicide. While suicide is a heavy subject, the plot of “Thirteen Reasons Why” weaves in Hannah Baker’s star-crossed lover to lighten the plot. It was a smart decision on the part of the writers and directors to focus more on this relationship than Hannah’s suicide. Had “Thirteen Reasons Why” been solely about Hannah’s suicide, it would have been too dark for most audiences to stomach. Clay’s presence gives viewers something to hold onto and root for throughout the show, which may have kept them watching despite the graphic and upsetting scenes. Clay’s heartbreak may also have an impact on viewers who may be having thoughts of suicide because it shows the impact suicide can have on loved ones. Many people con-
Art By Shruthi Venkata Along the beach by the Point des Almadies, the westernmost point of Africa and a popular tourist destination, you’ll find loads of the same kind of art, jewelry, and clothing scattered around. One vendor sells batik (a dyeing technique in which wax is used to prevent parts of the fabric from being dyed) dresses with stripes, jewelry made of coconut shells and pretty plastic beads, and woven multicolored baskets with a cover and vertical grip bought from women working in a supplier workshop not far away. Two tents down, someone is selling the same thing, plus tiny wooden elephants, turtles, cats, and a variety of other animals that he sculpted himself, but no batik dresses. On the next block, someone is selling all of that, plus bags made of bright, quilt-like fabric with “African prints.” Why, in markets and popular tourist locations, are dozens of vendors selling exactly the same wares, while original art is hard to come by? Almadies is Dakar’s hub of expatriates and tourists, especially Americans and Europeans, or “toubabs,” the loosely thrown-around Wolof term for a white person or Westerner. (I’m of Indian descent,
templating suicide believe that the world would be better off without them, and Clay’s regret over failing to tell Hannah he loves her while she was still alive may give people hope that they do mean something to someone. There is a lot of uproar over the graphic scenes in the series, especially the scene of Hannah Baker’s suicide. Some believe that since these scenes can be triggering and should not have been included. However, a trigger warning is included at the beginning of each episode that contains a graphic scene, with a brief description of what exactly may be triggering. Those who continue watching do so at their own discretion. In addition, the graphic portrayal of Hannah’s suicide, including her mother’s initial reaction to finding her body, conveys a more powerful message because it emanates the permanence of suicide and the effect it can have on loved ones. When Hannah seeks help from her school guidance counselor, Mr. Porter (Derek Luke), he dismisses her problems and does not offer any substantial emotional support. People criticize this depiction of Mr. Porter and believe it to be unfair, but it is true to reality. People contemplating suicide usually do seek some sort of help; according to Mental Health America, 64 percent of people who attempt suicide visit a doctor the month before their attempt. This reality will allow schools and health professionals to expand the resources available to teenagers with depression or suicidal thoughts. As screenwriter Nic Sheff puts it, “Facing these issues head-on—talking about them, being open about them—will always be our best defense against losing another life.” The message behind “Thirteen Reasons Why” goes beyond a simple “don’t bully.” It sheds light on the harm bystanders can cause. There were many instances of bystanders in the series. For example, Hannah and Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn) stayed silent while Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) raped Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe) at a party. Clay didn’t say anything when the slutshaming rumors of Hannah spread around the school. The truth is, silence is just as harmful as bullying; if you’re not against the bully, you’re often complicit.
Netflix’s “Thirteen Reasons Why” treats the subjects of mental illness and suicide irresponsibly, destroying all of the show’s potential. By Victoria Huang There is no argument that “Thirteen Reasons Why” does not bring attention to suicide; however, this attention may cause more harm than good. There is a reason why suicide awareness groups across the nation have expressed concerns about the show. There are many problems with the show—the biggest one being the lack of attention on mental disorders and illnesses. Whether the directors or writers of the show avoided the subject of mental illness on purpose or not, it comes off as careless and irresponsible for them to miss such a prominent factor in Hannah’s downfall. Furthermore, “Thirteen Reasons Why” idealizes and glorifies suicide. As Dan Reidenberg, the executive director for Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), says, “Young people are going to over-identify with Hannah in the series, and we actually may see more suicides as a result of this.” The show depicts Hannah committing suicide as a form of revenge, since the series shows her leaving the tapes behind for the people who hurt her to show them what they did to her. This is detrimental and undermining to people who struggle from suicidal urges, as entertainment journal “The Edge” notes, “It perpetuates a ‘suicide as revenge’ mentality, a message of getting justice against everyone who wronged her.” I’m not one to victim-blame because it is certain that Hannah has had an impossibly rough time from her peers that she blames in her tapes, but the show almost vilifies her. The tapes she records explaining why she killed herself will make viewers question exactly why she chose to do that. There are many graphic scenes in the show which can trigger people who have had similar experiences or have thought about doing the things Hannah has done. Though some people favor these scenes because they’re realistic, they almost seem like a howto guide to suicide when the show explicitly shows how Hannah takes her own life. A Stuyvesant junior who would prefer to be left anonymous feels strongly about these graphic scenes. When asked about her experience watching said scenes, she said, “[I have suffered from having suicidal thoughts]
for most of middle school up until the end of sophomore year. [The show] deals with really dark subject matter and visualizes the very dark thoughts I’ve been working on and off therapy to repress; for instance, in Hannah’s bathtub scene, [I had] the exact thought and [seeing] it on screen prompted a panic attack.” She agrees that it is important for the show to expose teenagers to this topic, but the way it is portrayed isn’t actually providing anything for youth suicide prevention. Instead, it may cause a potential relapse. Unlike the novel, the Netflix original is anything but sophisticated. While the 288page book has depth and truthfully depicts belligerent school environments and teenage anxiety, the show stretches the plot line across 13 one-hour long episodes so much that the meaning becomes lost. Instead of focusing on Hannah and her mental health, the plot focuses more on the relationship between her and Clay. This relationship is stretched so thin that it becomes flimsy and transparent. The writers and directors of “Thirteen Reasons Why” claim that its purpose is to prevent teenage suicide and show those who are struggling that there are people out there who can help. However, the show does nothing to elaborate more on that. Hannah does not talk to a professional until the last episode, where he dismisses her and doesn’t suggest any treatment at all. She also does not talk to her parents, which is common for many who are suffering from suicidal thoughts. If this series is really supposed to show that it’s okay to talk about one’s said thoughts, Hannah should have done this to possibly influence many others who are watching. The poor image of adults in helping Hannah is damaging and enforces the idea that they don’t understand and won’t ever listen to a suicidal teenager’s thoughts. We see her loved ones failing to help her, which ultimately leads to her decision to take her own life. Netflix’s “Thirteen Reasons Why” has good intentions, but it comes off as irresponsible and hurtful. Maybe if the directors had depicted mental illnesses more realistically, the series would have had a different outcome.
Toubab Art and the Mechanized Artist but I, too, am a toubab because I’m light-skinned enough and apparently have the air of an American.) Toubabs are the crowd that always seem to be hunting down Senegalese art. Art has always been present in Senegalese culture—they wear batik, have decorative woodwork at home, keep fruit in woven baskets. However, today’s lower-middle class Senegalese homes and wardrobes house far less Senegalese art than those of expatriates. It makes sense that tourists and expatriates buy things that they see as characteristic of the culture they came to. Like in the United States, you need to go into a formal gallery or studio to find original work. The tourist industry’s demand for what it sees as traditional makes it appealing for certain artists to branch away from Senegal’s fine artists into a uniform line of work. Artists became artisans. Wood sculptors became carpenters. Couturiers became tailors. The art feels handmade, but lacks uniqueness. Many toubab artists today can’t afford to be creative, think it safer not to, or simply have never thought about it. In the Village Artisanal of Dakar farther downtown, Aliou Kanté sculpts daily alongside hundreds of other artists, smoothing small wooden beads, animal figurines,
and decorative statuettes, as he has Artisanal among tourists, due to since 1985. He comes from a fam- the construction of a new road that ily of artists, and was brought to gives drivers less of an incentive to the Village by his older brother. His drive by the Village, he earns little. family is Laobei, a caste of wood- He works for a full day but is forced workers, of Guinean origin. to sell to retailers who buy at meaFor centuries, strictly Laobeis ger rates. Art sellers, like made wooden sculpmany in the stalls in tures. The Laobei artAlmadies, interact ist Cheikh Sow, who directly with often also works in the wealthier tourists Village making and earn much koras and sabar more. drums, explains While he that only they dreams of exposing may cut down his work in Europe trees and know and having it disthe incantations tributed throughto do so without out the world, disturbing the I was surprised spirits that the to hear that he trees host. While doesn’t asthe caste system pire to make is no longer presany stylistic ent in Senegal, many Laochanges (I beis continue their family’s would expect traditional profession, and international they currently constitute the success to revast majority of woodworkers Nikita Borisov/ The Spectator quire more in Senegal. or i gi na li t y ). Kanté loves his profession and He, however, has been working in wants to continue it, but explained the Village since 1985—meaning 32 that it poses large difficulties. Art- years of unchanged style. ists like him rely on business that As it were, there are an imcomes almost entirely from tour- mense number of artists in the field ists, but with the decreasing vis- with Kanté who have developed a ibility and popularity of the Village financial reliance on the chain of
sellers and tourists, because it is an immediate solution for the lack of money in their pockets; change and creativity are risky. It is detrimental that the art in demand among toubabs is stagnant, because it encourages many artists with large potentials to cater to a specific taste instead of working from personal inspiration. If expressing oneself is a risk, then it’s a part of artists’ job description. Toubab artists need to have the opportunity to innovate; dependence on the tourism industry shouldn’t limit them. If Donatello or Rodin were confined to tiny animal figurines, the arts would have suffered. There is a danger in artists who want to express themselves feeling muted in an unhealthy industry that makes art a restrictive, menial labor. What the industry needs is respect for those behind the beautiful culture that made it possible. It would be great if customers, especially toubabs, bought from the source. Prices must do justice to the time and labor exerted to make the art possible—artists ought to create unions, and the Senegalese government ought to lay down stronger legislation regulating labor (the arts are among many fields that this would benefit). Senegal will in the years to come, inshallah.
The Spectator ● May 26, 2017
Arts and Entertainment Insights: Art
Artistic Appropriation on Wall Street: The Fearless Girl and Charging Bull
By Matthew Fairbanks
However, there is at least one person who is not happy with the The “Charging Bull” apstatue, and that peared underneath a Christis Arturo Di mas tree in front of the New Modica. York Stock Exchange as Di Moda gift to the city on the ica takes no morning of Decemissue with ber 15, 1989. This the intrinstatue represented sic message the largest and of the statue, most famous but he claims work of Sicilian that it vilifies his sculptor Arturo own work. When Di Modica. Di Modica began Then, on work on the bull the day bein 1987, Wall fore InterStreet was just national recovering from a Women’s crash the year beDay of this fore. He intendyear, the “Fearless Girl” ed for the statue appeared directly across to symbolize the from the Bull on the same resilience of the stretch of Bowling Green. American people and Immediately after it was unto be an ode to their veiled, it received almost strong work ethic. unanimous praise as an inThis message is spiration for women everyamplified by the where, signifying that they fact that in fican achieve anything, in Taylor Choi/ The Spectator nance, a “bull the face of every obstacle.
Arts and Entertainment
market” is a market that is showing growth. Being in the heart of the financial district, its meaning was even more pronounced. Despite some of the connections requiring specialized knowledge, Di Modica wanted the bull to be something all could rally behind, regardless of their background. With the addition of the “Fearless Girl,” the message of Di Modica’s work is radically changed. The “Fearless Girl” is daring, defiant, and, well, fearless. Her chin is up, despite the wind blowing against her dress, and she stares ahead with a confident gaze, unfazed by the challenges ahead. With the way the statues are positioned, the challenge she is unfazed by is Di Modica’s bull, which is charging right toward her. Economic growth and the resilience of the American spirit are not challenges for a little girl. On the contrary, these things are good and can help both women and men. Therefore, the bull’s challenge to the girl must represent something else, which means that the original meaning of Di Modica’s work has been changed. Bulls are male cows and are
often a sign of masculinity; they are aggressive, large, and virulent. Though it was not his intention, Di Modica’s work does lend itself to this interpretation. The bull’s muscles are rippling, its eyebrows are furrowed, and its nostrils are flared. Weighing over three and a half tons and reaching 18 feet, the bull is truly massive. Finally, as anyone who has viewed the bull surely knows, the bull was sculpted in an anatomically correct manner; that is to say, it has a penis and, as it is anatomically correct for bulls, quite large testicles. This turns Di Modica’s work into the perfect symbol of not only masculinity, but dangerous, rampant masculinity (as a charging bull is very dangerous). Now the bull is the obstacle the “Fearless Girl” must, and will, overcome. While this makes for a charming narrative and a brilliant symbol for feminists, it is truly unfair to Di Modica. This is not what he intended his work to mean, and it is not what he wanted to see it relegated to. However, legally, the situation is difficult. The “Fearless Girl” is not physically altering the
“Charging Bull,” and Mayor Bill De Blasio extended its permit through April of 2018. Yet, it is impossible to say that the “Charging Girl” has not altered the meaning of Di Modica’s work. Ideally, the “Fearless Girl” would be beside the “Charging Bull” and looking in the same direction in which the bull charges. That way, the bull could retain its original meaning of American economic resilience, and the “Fearless Girl” would retain its message of female empowerment (but in the context of working with the bull, not against it). In fact, this furthers the intention of the investment firm that commissioned it, as they were promoting not only general female empowerment, but also gender equality in the field of finance. Of course, this solution has its own set of problems; if the “Fearless Girl” was simply moved besides the “Charging Bull,” it would block pedestrian flow, but it does seem to be the best solution, where everyone gets what they want (including the public, with two great works of art).
“Dear Evan Hansen” Conveys A Food Five-Minute Trends Powerful And Modern Message
By Emma Linderman
Kristin Lin/ The Spectator
well-written lyrics were accompanied by strong singing and music that stuck with viewers throughout the performance. Judging by the amount of tears at intermission, the score definitely struck a chord with the audience. The powerful message in “Dear Evan Hansen” is communicated not only by musical numbers, but by believable and passionate acting. Ben Platt hit the nail on the head with every aspect of his portrayal of Evan Hansen, down to the blinking and fluttering that accompany Evan’s anxiety. Platt, with Laura Dreyfuss’s quirky yet charming take on Zoe, make for a believable couple that the audience could relate to. Rachel Bay Jones is perfectly fit for the role of Evan’s mother, starting out the show by doting and being supportive in “Anybody Have A Map?” and revealing the genuine and straightforward side of her in “So Big/So Small.” Kristolyn Lloyd provides comic relief as the dedicated and studious Alana, Connor’s self-proclaimed “closest acquaintance,” and copresident of the “Connor Project,” an organization centered around remembering Connor and essentially convincing Connor’s parents that Evan cares about their son. The rest of the cast’s perfor-
mances, such as Jennifer Laura Thompson and John Dossett as Connor’s parents, Will Roland as Evan’s sarcastic family friend, and Mike Faist as Connor, help tie the musical together by creating a varied range of characters that make the show feel believable. “Dear Evan Hansen” is also endearing through its visual aspects. The cast moves on and offstage on set pieces that allow for smooth transitions. The stage’s backdrop was a set of screens that reflected the plot and highlighted different aspects of the performance. As the “Connor Project” gains an internet presence, the set flashes images of social media profiles and comments praising Evan and Alana’s work. With social networking being such a huge aspect of our culture today, it’s refreshing to see a show that revolves so heavily around interactions on the internet. These images also change to correspond with Evan’s emotions at different points in the show. This gives another dimension to the performance, helps the audience follow along with the plot, and punctuates significant scenes. During “Waving Through A Window,” texts and pictures flash by quickly to convey desperation and urgency. What attracts so many people to the production is how viewers can see themselves onstage. The musical sheds light on issues such as suicide, dysfunctional family relationships, and mental illnesses that are extremely prevalent in today’s society, but are also often misrepresented. Most people have probably felt like outsiders at some point in time, especially in high school. By adding details such as Evan taking medication for his anxiety and Connor not being able to form a relationship with his parents, the show stays true to reality and allows the audience members to feel as if their own stories are being told. The show reaches out to audiences by reminding us that no one deserves to be forgotten, and you are not alone. While the most of the characters in the show are high school students, audiences will be able to see themselves in “Dear Evan Hansen,” regardless of age.
Tiffany Yee/ The Spectator
When hearing the words “musical theater,” “Dear Evan Hansen” isn’t what would typically come to mind. In an industry that is usually associated with tap dancing and extravagant musical numbers, the show tells a poignant and unique story that touches on subjects such as bullying, suicide, and mental illness, having audiences crying 20 minutes into the first act. The production lets viewers laugh, sob, and learn that many others face similar struggles. The musical, directed by Michael Greif, centers around 17year-old outsider Evan Hansen (Ben Platt), who suffers from social anxiety and is advised by his therapist to write letters to himself in order to improve his confidence. Evan prints out a letter at school, which is spotted by Connor Murphy (Mike Faist), Evan’s tormenter and equally alienated classmate, who takes the letter home after mockingly signing the cast on Evan’s arm. Evan returns to school to be informed by Connor’s parents that, shortly after their interaction, Connor committed suicide with Evan’s letter in his pocket. With the note giving Connor’s parents the false belief that Evan was one of their son’s only friends, Evan is integrated into the Murphy family and begins to form a relationship with Connor’s sister, Zoe, whom he has long admired. Composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul tell the show’s story through songs that illustrate Evan’s thought process when interacting with others, his relationship with his frequently absent mother, and the shock of Evan and those around him when it is revealed that Evan was not close with Connor. The songs narrate every event, from Evan nervously making up a story about time he spent with Connor to Evan finally realizing that he doesn’t have to put up a front to be accepted. The pop-rock style of the show’s score differs from classic show tunes, yet exhibits the emotions of high school students and their families in an honest and thought-provoking way. “Waving Through A Window,” one of the show’s more well-known
songs, describes how Evan is affected by social anxiety with lines such as “Give them no reason to stare / No slipping up if you slip away / So I’ve got nothing to share / No, I’ve got nothing to say” that narrate how Evan goes about his day-today life. The musical’s songs range from upbeat and catchy, like “Sincerely, Me,” to more lyrical and truthful, as in “Words Fail,” in which Evan tries to explain to Connor’s parents the reasons behind him letting them believe that he and Connor were friends. The
By Paulina Klubok Oh, New York, filled with the stench of success and $1.00 pizza. Evolution in the city that never sleeps means constantly innovating and experimenting with the art of food. Cookie dough, once relegated to the bottom of the freezer and the occasional baking expenditure, has now become the basis for a classy, hot pink cafe in Greenwich Village. Cake appears on towering waffle stacks in a perfect defiance of a healthy breakfast. Bagels are dyed in funky colors, a reflection of the hippie 1960s and of our overwhelming need to be unicorns. Here are some of the desserts New York famously offers:
Red Velvet WTF Waffles:
Prize for most original and glorious creation since Michelangelo’s David goes to Clinton Hall’s Red Velvet WTF Waffles. For $15, you can enjoy the layered version of the junk food aisle in Clinton Hall, a spacious Battery Park restaurant. The Red Velvet Waffle is really three individual red velvet waffles stacked on top of each other with layers of ice cream, raspberry sauce, oreos, whipped cream, and more stuff in between. A slice of red velvet cake delicately perches at the top of the confection. Towering, incredibly rich, and dripping with gooey wonder, Red Velvet WTF Waffles are worth the hype and will surely leave your taste buds shook.
Found on just about all of Instagram, rainbow bagels are the food equivalent of a Lisa Frank sticker set. Strongly resembling colorful playdoh rolled together, rainbows bagels are overly sweet, vaguely fruit-loopy, and offered with a variety of whimsical cream cheese fillings—from funfetti to Fruity Pebbles. Though created by The Bagel Store over 15 years ago, they’ve blown up fairly recently, praised for the experience and photo opportunity they provide more than the taste. You can get them at 754 Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn, for only the cost of a long wait and about $7.00 per bagel. Or perhaps skip the train ride and go to Zucker’s instead.
News alert: your favorite, but possibly dangerous, mid-baking snack has been turned into a safe-to-eat dessert that can be be consumed shamelessly. Cookie Do NYC, a cheerful, Pinterest- worthy bakery found at 550 LaGuardia Place, is an homage to cookie dough in all its forms—in scoops, waffle cones, ice-cream sandwich, baked cookies and cupcakes, as pie filling, sundaes and more. Scooped cookie dough ($4 for a single scoop) is offered in 13 classic cookie flavors, ranging from commando (plain) to brownie batter to peanut butter snickerdoodle. With Cookie Do NYC regularly opening to long lines that wrap around the block, cookie dough is clearly in high demand. Driving its appeal is the innovation of a classic dessert that brings back nostalgic childhood memories and a sweet, smooth flavor. The verdict: drop in, but in the case of a mile-long line, hit up your local supermarket instead.
Deep Fried Oreo Pizza:
Eat away your computer science grade with the unexpectedly perfect combination of greasy goodness in the form of deep fried oreo pizza. Created in a relaxed, retro-style Krave It in Bayside, Queens, batter-covered oreos are deep fried to golden perfection, baked on top of a cheese pizza, and generously topped with powdered sugar and oreo crumbs. The perfect mix of textures—crunchy, sweet oreos combined with gooey cheese— makes the pizza ($16 per pie) pass as both a guilty pleasure dessert and a hearty meal. Not as popular as it should be, deep fried oreo pizza is the quintessential New York food.
The Spectator ● May 26, 2017
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
A Stuy Student’s Guide to Springtime Flicks
Film By Corinne Pita
Spring is the beginning of blockbuster season, but it’s also known as the time of the year when mediocre movies are put on the big screens, expected to come in and out of theaters without much attention. Despite the spring season usually lacking any Oscar-worthy releases, it’s still important to know what’s available to watch, no matter what the season; and who knows, maybe an Oscar film managed to sneak its way into a May release date. With that in mind, here are nine movies, ranging from blockbusters to slight obscurities, that you may want to go check out during the warm months before the summer rolls in!
Beauty and the Beast Christine Jegarl/ The Spectator
March 17, 2017
This was perhaps one of the most anticipated spring-season flicks of this year: a real-life adaptation of the Disney animated movie “Beauty and the Beast” (1991), one of three animated films in history to have been nominated for Best Picture. This new adaptation stars Emma Watson as the widely-admired Disney bookworm, Belle. It has been praised for its beautiful set and costume design, having brought to life Belle’s famous yellow ballroom gown, as well as the grandiose character design of each of the objects. Though it came out almost two months ago, tickets are still being sold, so I recommend you catch it in theaters before it leaves the big screen for good.
Gifted April 7, 2017
This movie is about a little girl with a brain all Stuyvesant students wish they had. An unparalleled genius in mathematics, “Gifted” follows the tug-of-war battle for a young girl’s life between her down-to-Earth uncle (Chris Evans) and his incredibly ambitious mother (Lindsay Duncan). Most people know Chris Evans as the honorable Avengers leader, Captain America, so watching him take on this vulnerable, average human role should be a nice change of pace for most viewers.
Fate of the Furious April 14, 2017
The Fast and Furious movies are famous for their over-the-top car chases, with each scene in each new movie release crazier than the last. However, these movies are also heavily built on the family-like connections each of the characters have with one another. It’s a combination of the closeness between the characters and their unquenchable hunger for driving cars that causes them to get stuck in a situation crazier than the last. Though I don’t have high expectations for this movie ( car chases can only get so crazy before they become too painfully unrealistic to watch), if you find joy in watching the insanely impossible occur on-screen, go get yourself a ticket for this flick.
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer April 14, 2017
Sometimes, the most obscure movie can be the one most packed with surprises; after all, what expectations could you have for something you’ve never heard of? With this springtime indie film comes Richard Gere, a man famous for his role as a classy rich boy in the ‘90s film “Pretty Woman,” playing Norman, a devious middleman who’s made a living as a forgettable fixer. When Norman makes arrangements with someone on the rise to fame, the world begins to learn his name, and knowledge of his existence and schemes soon rise with his unwanted popularity, threatening the life he’s lived comfortably for so long. If you’re looking to get away from the Hollywood blockbuster and trying something out of the norm, why not go and give this flick a try?
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 May 5, 2017
“Guardians of the Galaxy” was one of Marvel’s most highly regarded films, with a music score unrivaled by any action movie before it. Three years after this movie was first released, Marvel fans can rush back to the cinemas to watch Star-Lord, Gamora, Draxx, Rocket Racoon, and everyone’s favorite baby tree, Groot, go on another crazy adventure across the galaxy, but not without some sweet new tunes to accompany them! If you plan to go and watch this film, get ready to see some new faces and old rivals join the Guardian squad, alongside a highlyanticipated character reveal that everyone who’s seen the original film has been waiting for.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword May 12, 2017
Everyone knows the story of King Arthur and the sword in the stone. However, this year, filmmakers have decided to take a dark turn on this classic tale. Starring Charlie Hunnam from “Sons of Anarchy” (2011-2014) and Jude Law from the “Sherlock” (2009, 2011) films, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” turns the good-and-bad heroic tale of King Arthur into something far more complex, making the responsibility that comes with pulling the sword from the stone a much heavier burden than that of the original version. With this film comes a whole new twist on a myth that has been retold the same way for centuries, so go and see for yourself which version of the story you prefer.
Alien: Covenant May 19, 2017
Whether or not you’re a fan of the “Alien” franchise, this film is one of the biggest topics of conversation of the spring season. The sequel to “Prometheus” (2012), the first of the “Alien” prequel films, this film takes place before any aliens caused problems for Sigourney Weaver and her crew. When an expedition group made up of couples capable of colonization are sent to explore the outer reaches of space for a planet suitable for life beyond Earth, they happen to stumble upon a desolate planet that appears to be an uninhabited paradise. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and these unlucky explorers become the second crew to encounter one of the most terrifying sci-fi monstrosities to ever be put to the big screen.
Wakefield May 19, 2017
Bryan Cranston, renowned Emmy-winning actor from “Breaking Bad” (2009-2013), stars in “Wakefield,” an independent movie that looks like it has enough potential to get the attention of the Academy this year. Following a man who runs away from his life in a most unusual way, the movie follows him watching from his attic as the ones he loved try and forget he ever existed. Simultaneously, Wakefield tries his best to unshackle himself from the restraints of the life he once lived. The number of things he must let go before he can truly be free may be too much for him to toss away completely, but only the movie can tell you just how far he’s willing to go to be free.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales May 26, 2017
Johnny Depp is back as everyone’s favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, in the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” film! As is the case with all “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, one of Sparrow’s past enemies is back to take revenge, with powers more terrifying than any of the antagonists before it (they wouldn’t make it any other way). With the recent Pirates movies yet to be released, I can’t say I have many expectations for this film, except that Jack Sparrow will hopefully be as hilarious as he always is, finding even crazier ways to get himself out of trouble and making the movie worth a watch at least once just for the laughs.
Controversy and Conversations Around the Whitney’s Biennial
By Karen Chen Shock. Controversy. Conversations. The Whitney Museum of American Art’s latest exhibition, “Whitney Biennial,” can be summed up in just three words, and while they can be used to describe just about any contemporary art show, the biennial makes the ideas conveyed by these words literal. The show, put together every two years, generally spotlights the works of younger, more contemporary artists, with the first biennial occurring in 1973. This year, the Whitney targets the biggest issues America faces today—from climate change to wealth inequality to racial tensions—all while showcasing newfound intersections between art and technology, as well as art and activism. The ultimate theme seems to be that nothing is sugarcoated. Every problem is real. Every face is real. It’s time to face reality. The controversy of “Open Casket” by Dana Schutz, compared to the praise of “THE TIMES THAY AINT A CHANGING, FAST ENOUGH!” by Henry Taylor speaks volumes. Though similar in subject matter, the two have been received in very different manners. “Open Casket” is based on photographs of Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered by two white men, in his coffin in 1955. The photographs were released because his
mother wanted to let the world know what had happened to her son. Schutz, as a white painter, is seen as inappropriately appropriating such subject matter, though she does use interesting techniques to represent Till’s disfigured face on a canvas, such as raising the surface on various sections to make the painting three-dimensional. The day after the opening of the biennial, protesters (many of whom are artists) wearing shirts stating “Black Death Spectacle” began standing in front of the piece to block it from being viewed. Taylor, a black artist, depicts the shooting of Philando Castile by a police officer in “THE TIMES…” As a color block piece, the painting immediately draws attention, with deep yellow windows contrasting with the dark blue and green car in which Castile lays lifeless, one eye open with specks of paint, not blood, splattered across his white shirt. Interestingly, the mustard yellow windows are like blocks of paint, keeping all that is happening outside the car out of view; only the police officer’s gun in one window and a sliver of the sky in the corner of another window are featured. The Whitney’s mission of highlighting artists that represent a new generation is evident in this particular work, as Taylor’s source was the Facebook live
Catherine Joh/ The Spectator
video taken by Castile’s girlfriend. Taylor transforms the event into a visual symbol, using paint to convey the overwhelming chaos and feelings of Castile in the video. In the next room, the Whitney explores a related topic in another medium: virtual reality. Viewers are provided a trigger warning and must be over 17 to watch. They are
given headphones and virtual-reality goggle sets, are told to grip the railing below, and are closely supervised by staff. The approximately two-minute video, titled “Real Violence,” is of a white man, the artist, Jordan Wolfson, taking a baseball bat and horrifically pounding another white man before dragging the man and graphically kicking his face in. Blood is everywhere, but despite it being set in the bustling city, no one pays attention. However, the viewer, trapped by the goggles and headphones, has no way of ignoring the horrific scene. The video ends as the sound of the man singing Hebrew blessings ends, with the camera shifting unsteadily, like it was all a dream. Created with a doll to produce the most realistic content, Wolfson’s work speaks to the charged atmosphere of America today, and because it does not deal with race or social class, it brings light to the bigger problem of violence in America. It shocks and angers viewers who aren’t sure what to expect before becoming suddenly immersed in the scene. The curators’ choice to place the work so closely to the ones dealing with racial tensions, however, gives each piece greater context.
While the biennial deals greatly with the problems of America today, other works bring more positive messages. Musician Kamasi Washington’s piece, “Harmony of Difference,” in particular, uses film and music to express precisely the opposite, or perhaps a solution, to the problems of America presented by the rest of the show. The work is split into five parts: “Desire,” “Humility,” “Knowledge,” “Perspective,” and “Integrity.” Each part features cuts of all different walks of life interrupted by images of a galaxy, as soothing jazz music builds to become richer and more exciting. The piece does not include the chaos that others in the show are portraying, but instead purposefully focuses on the idea of everyone living in harmony. Somehow, all the works curated for the biennial are incredibly topical, though many were chosen before the 2016 presidential election even began, and that fact only proves the necessity of a show that can garner huge audiences while pinpointing the various problems that continue to plague America. The sense of urgency the Whitney Biennial brings, along with the attention generated by its controversies, only proves the effectiveness of activism in art, and it prompts us, as viewers, to wonder what our roles are in the grand scheme of things. The “Whitney Biennial” will be on view until June 11, 2017.
The Spectator ●May 26, 2017
Humor These articles are works of fiction. All quotes are libel and slander.
The Rhombicosidodecahedron By Christopher brown and alexandra wen
gram feature of the fidget rhombicosidodecahedron to go to school for her. “For the first time since that multiplication worksheet back in third grade, I actually started working on the rhombicosidodecahedron the moment I got home. It felt like I was procrastinating on my other homework, but I’ve decided to put off caring.” Regardless of what it was, the fidget rhombicosidodecahedron was obviously a success. Yang received an A for the class, and apparently, many of the purchasers of the fidget rhombicosidodecahedron have as well. Many teachers blame the “exam cheating” feature of the cube, but it’s obviously just the amazing de-stressing power of the fidget rhombicosidodecahedron. Yang’s design for the fidget rhombicosidodecahedron shall be forwarded to the Fidget Company™, where production will begin immediately. The fidget rhombicosidodecahedron will be available in stores beginning August 2017, at the price of $599.
By alexandra wen and Ziyun Zhang School still starts at the unholy hour of 8 a.m., and the train delays can only cover your latenesses for so long. When the excuses start to run out, can you bear telling the truth—that you tried to fit 12 hours into half an hour—to your teachers? Of course not. So, here’s a list of excuses that you can give them instead.
Daniel Tam / The Spectator
Final projects have been assigned by drafting teachers who are determined to torment their students. However, when drafting teacher Christopher Suter told his students the guidelines of the final project, he did not expect one of his failing students to design one of the most ingenious toys ever created: the fidget rhombicosidodecahedron. “Needless to say, it was […] interesting,” Suter described. He declined to comment further, as he was busy fidgeting with the rhombicosidodecahedron. Junior Michelle Yang’s fidget rhombicosidodecahedron is a masterpiece, with over 60 different gadgets designed to make pre-calc somewhat palatable. Yang has created an enormous black market by selling the fidget rhombicosidodecahedron in the girls’ bathrooms for $1.00. Within a day, Yang earned $50,000—not quite enough for a year of college tuition. Some of the components of the
toy include: a ball bearing to roll around, a pen clicker to click pointlessly, and a flat face that does absolutely nothing, but it feels nice, so there’s that. The rhombicosidodecahedron has an ingenious and ergonomic design and fits right in the palm of your hand, similar to a slightly small grapefruit. Yet, with 420 faces, the fidget rhombicosidodecahedron has several unique features. For one, it has a portable printer. However, when someone tried to use it to print an entire textbook, printer functionality had to be disabled until further notice. Another feature in progress has been the nuclear warhead side. Though testing is still required, a certain individual named Jim Kong-Dos has expressed interest. To our understanding, the U.S. government has deemed Stuyvesant a sufficiently depopulated area to conduct nuclear testing. “I don’t know what possessed me to create the rhombicosidodecahedron,” said Yang in an e-mail interview. She failed to show up to school—in fact, she used the holo-
Excuses for Being Late
The Pinnacle of Time Management By Sander Cohen-Janes With the APs quickly approaching, many Stuyvesant students have their noses buried in test-prep books as if they were searching for a second-term senior’s commitment to school. Others completely replace studying with the time-honored tactic of not studying. Sophomore Andrew Werner, on the other hand, has brought his third-best idea—after his wildly successful Flag Rugby team and Satanic Ritual club—to fruition: a time machine.
“This machine will revolutionize the way students study for history tests. We can watch history like we watch Netflix,” Werner said. AP World History teacher Zachary Berman gave his thoughts on Werner’s creation: “While it’s a marvel of science, a time machine simply isn’t practical. History is long, and events like the Attack of the Clones require context and 30 shekels to fully understand. A better application of the time machine may be to actively change history so you can’t possibly get anything
wrong on the AP test!” Berman proceeded to wear off his caffeine high by spinning around like a Sufi. While altering the past seems tempting, telling yourself from the beginning of the semester to prepare a textbook-sized outline to cram the night before the test seems more practical. Anyway, the odds of riding along with Werner are slim since the whole sophomore class is clamoring for a seat like it’s an open computer at the printing station, so good luck!
Damesek Accepts Michael Espinosa’s Promposal! By Daniel Knopf When Assistant Principal of Organization Randi Damesek agreed to go to prom with senior Michael Espinosa, she had no idea that she would soon fall in love with the plucky senior and end up marrying him, having seven kids, moving to Nantucket, buying a 2008 Honda, and driving their seven children to soccer. Espinosa’s promposal to Damesek was a shock to everyone, especially Damesek herself. “Michael asking Damesek to prom was one of the most surprising announcements I had ever heard,” sophomore Alexa Valentino said. “The only other announcement as unbelievable as Michael’s was when someone said that the Peglegs had actually won a game.” Even more startling than Espinosa’s promposal was Damesek’s reply: a resounding yes. “When I first heard Michael’s question, I was
aghast that a student would have the audacity to ask me
Katherine Lwin / The Spectator
to prom,” Damesek commented. “After some thinking, however, I realized that going to prom would allow me to try out my new mega-
phone, the ILoveTheSoundOfMyVoice2000, so I said yes.” When Espinosa and Damesek turned up to prom wearing matching pantsuits and grimaces, everyone there realized a new power couple had just been formed. “After seeing Damesek and Espinosa party together, I now know what to comment on the ‘name a more iconic duo, I’ll wait’ memes,” junior Jacqueline Cao said. As the epic night drew to a close, Espinosa shocked everyone once again by asking Damesek to marry him. Onlookers somehow managed to be even more shocked, however, when Damesek said yes. “After seeing her hide in a closet for 45 minutes to just scream at some kids for making out, I knew she was the one for me,” Espinosa said. The happy couple now lives in a timeshare in Nantucket with their seven children: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.
MTA-related: • “There was a giraffe on the train, and I had an allergic reaction to it.” • “The 2/3 line was delayed, which made the 4/5 delayed, which made the H/X delayed, which delayed me.” • “Someone was performing, and they kicked me in the depressor labii inferioris. I had to get medical attention.” • “I dropped my math notes on the train track, and I spent about half an hour calculating the probability of death if I tried to get them. I eventually figured that it wasn’t worth it so I went home and rewrote them.” • “An anti-vaxxer was on the train, so I couldn’t get on.” • “A fat man decided to sit next to me and fall asleep on me on the train, and I wasn’t strong enough to push him off, so I could only get off when he did, which was the last stop.” Weather-related: • “There was too much sun, and as an overworked teenager, my skin is only accustomed to darkness.” • “The temperature was below 80 degrees, and it was too cold. I have no fat since I haven’t eaten a meal since the first day of freshman year.” • “It was very cloudy today and I don’t trust clouds since water is clear but clouds are white. I waited until the sun came out.” Miscellaneous: • “My printer ate my homework. It bit my hand when I tried to grab it.” • “I tried running this morning before class. My head said yes, but everywhere else said no.” • “To test g = 9.8 m/s2, I threw myself down the stairs and injured my right hand. I couldn’t swipe my MetroCard because it hurt so much and it took three hours to find someone who would help me.” • “I thought my noisy alarm clock was my band class noodling, so I thought I was at school already.” • “My parents emptied my entire bookbag because it was messy—I didn’t take notes anyway. I didn’t realize it until I got to the train station and refused to leave without my precious empty notebooks.” • “If you round to the nearest hour, I got here on time.” And finally, the most effective one: The truth. Tell them why you were really late. Maybe you overslept because you spent all night studying for a test. Maybe you forgot to turn on your alarm. Maybe the trains were actually delayed. Teachers are not heartless; they’ve gone through school just like you. They’ll understand if you’re tired or your legs were sore so you couldn’t make it down the stairs in time. Instead of lying, why not just own up to it and make sure it doesn’t happen again? Just kidding, don’t do that—they’ll roast you. Please value your dignity.
Boys Who Code Club Disbanded By Tiffany Chen The Boys Who Code Club, created just a week ago, was disbanded after members realized the multitude of similarities between their club and the rest of the computer science clubs in the country. Founded by freshman Sudat Khan, the club was created to empower boys to pursue computer science fields and had several dedicated members. “We felt left out after seeing the multitude of girls-only
computer science clubs and thought, ‘What was so special about them?’” Khan said. “If girls can have their own computer science clubs, why can’t we? We were shocked to learn that many computer science clubs already foster this mentality in their male population.” After Boys Who Code was disbanded, former members joined other computer science clubs in hopes that they could continue to feel empowered against the overwhelming female majority;
these clubs include the Hacking Club, the Coding Club, and the Cybersecurity Club. Some, however, have protested against Boys Who Code’s closing by joining Girls Who Code, a Stuyvesant club dedicated to teaching girls how to code. While seniors and co-Presidents Sarah Yoon and Stephanie Yoon are completely fine with it, the male members feel oppressed in the female-saturated environment. “I didn’t understand why all the girls were so intimidated
while I was there,” an anonymous male Girls Who Code member said. “These girls are all going to be welcomed to STEM fields with open arms while guys would be rejected. Reverse sexism is a thing, and to say that guys have it much easier than girls in STEM fields is completely false.” The Student Union (SU) was saddened to learn that the newlychartered club would be disbanding after only a week. “We wasted $700 on this club to buy new laptops for the boys,” SU Vice Presi-
dent Tahseen Chowdhury said. “This funding could have gone to the ‘I Have Created This Club to Look Good For College Club’ to buy new traffic cones instead.” Still, Khan is dedicated to his cause, wanting to make sure that all men fight against societal pressure to go into a certain field and pursue something they are interested in. “I’m going to create a Boys Who Engineer Club soon,” Khan said. “That doesn’t exist yet, right?”
The Spectator ● May 26, 2017
The Spectator ● May 26, 2017
Sports A Week With Girls’ Lacrosse By Ting ting chen and emily siew
The Spectator ● May 26, 2017
Sports Sport Editorial
Golden Gate Tides: The Rise and Fall of Colin Kaepernick continued from page 20
With Kaepernick still on the market despite having the best resume, talk has started that Kaepernick has been “blackballed” by the league, with reasons ranging from his play to his politics and even going as far as race. In all likelihood, however, that is far from the truth. The fact is that Kaepernick is not the only talented player that stayed on the market for a long time. Adrian Peterson and LeGarrette Blount are both powerful, accomplished running backs with some time ahead of them, with the former ranking among the best in the league before injuries, age, and a suspension derailed his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings. To say that any of these players have been “blackballed” is
ridiculous, since they have both performed adequately of late. The problem is simply lack of demand at the price that Blount, Peterson, and Kaepernick are likely asking at. Kaepernick, Blount, and Peterson have been starters for most of their careers, and have likely been looking for starting positions along with “starter money.” For Kaepernick, the situation is similar. At 29 years old, and with a more limited skill set than fellow free agent quarterbacks like Tony Romo, Kaepernick is an unfortunate “tweener” when it comes to his role. Though he would win a starting job on numerous teams, including the Rams, Browns, and Jaguars, all three of these teams have younger developmental options at the position. On the flipside, many other teams have established veteran starters that would relegate
Kaepernick to a strict backup role. Having been a starter for his entire career, it is unlikely that Kaepernick is simply willing to resign to a year on the bench
starting offer is very slim. So, he waits. As for Kaepernick’s off-field concerns, while defending a brutal dictator is insensitive, it pales
There was still something about Kaepernick’s game that made me think, ‘Hey, this guy can play.’
quite yet. However, with most starting roles already filled, the chance of Kaepernick getting a
in comparison with the literal rap sheets of other free agents, past and present, ranging from
Greg Hardy to Ray McDonald to even the aforementioned Adrian Peterson. All three of these free agents have been signed to a free agent contract at one point or another, despite crimes as severe as child and domestic abuse. So, to call Kaepernick unsignable is unfair. Even the argument that a backup quarterback cannot be a “distraction” is unfair, as there are numerous controversial backups in the NFL right now. Seattle Seahawks’ backup quarterback Trevone Boykin, for instance, is still on the roster despite multiple offseason arrests and frequent media attention, and is nowhere near the player that Kaepernick is. At the end of the day, this should just be perceived as a financial dispute, as anything more would be hypocritical and irrational by front offices.
Girls’ Badminton Comes Up Short
Emily Siew / The Spectator
Emily Siew / The Spectator
By Celina Liu and Jeremy Rubin
Emily Siew / The Spectator
With a 4-0 lead over Maspeth High School, Stuyvesant’s girls’ varsity badminton team’s second doubles, comprised of senior and co-captain Yiqing Hu and sophomore Tracy Chang, swiftly defeated their opponents without dropping a set. This sent Stuyvesant into the quarterfinals of playoffs, where they would face Seward Park Campus, one of their toughest rivals of the season. The team, after succumbing to a 3-2 loss at the hands of Seward, were eliminated from playoff contention on May 12. This ended their quest for an undefeated season, as they were 9-0 heading into the match (including their one prior playoff game). The team dominated their competition in part because most teams are brand new, badminton being made a Public School Athletic League (PSAL) official sport just four years ago. “I feel really positive about the season. Both of our losses [against Seward] were quality losses for our teams,” coach Hugh Francis said. This season, Stuyvesant de-
feated Seward Park Campus 3-2 in the fourth match of their season. This was the only one-point game Stuyvesant had in the regular season, fueling tension that led to the Seward Park victory in the playoffs. This led to the rivalry between the two schools and will continue next season. Seward’s badminton team is known for its dedication and intensity both on and off the court. “Seward, the school we lost to, is devoted to the sport, as they even film the games and analyze them afterwards,” Hu said. Stuyvesant will try to match that intensity this coming offseason to exact their revenge next year. Considering how Seward’s team prepares for its matches against other schools, Stuyvesant was able to make Seward really work for its wins. Although Seward had triumphed in two out of their three matches against Stuyvesant this year, Stuyvesant was able to pull away by a score of 3-2 early on. After the initial victory, Seward changed its strategy in order to win the second doubles games at the next two matches, turning the tables for a 3-2 win for them. “They switched
out players for the later games,” Chang said. Even with the tough loss at the end, this was still an incredibly successful season for the team. “Compared to previous years, we did much more conditioning and even running than we did in the past,” Hu said. The extra effort from the players led to more endurance as the season wore on, putting the team in a better place to succeed. One revelation for the team has been the play of sophomore Lucy Wang. “[She was] able to become a starter as a third single,” Hu said. That play is crucial if Stuyvesant wants to come back and get revenge on Seward Park next year. In order to do so, the team needs to work on their execution during games. “We should still improve on serving, especially not making serving errors, hitting in, and many badminton technical skills, such as netting and dropping,” Hu said. “They were getting caught off balance—that’s something to work on,” coach Francis said. This comes with practice and repetition, so these abilities will hopefully translate into a deeper postseason run next season. However, a repeat undefeated season will be difficult. Hu, along with three other seniors, will be gone next year. Younger players will have to step up and fill their
places in order to keep competing. Hu remains confident in her teammates and their ability to lead the team to a better place
in the playoffs next year. “I look forward to the team’s future,” she said.
May 26, 2017
The Spectator SpoRts Cricket
Tigers Clawing for Playoffs
Nadia Rahman / The Spectator
Boys & Girls Track PSAL City Championship Randalls Island Icahn Stadium
By Jeremy Rubin Freshman Vishwaa Sofat stepped up to hit against the Thomas Edison bowler and eyed him up. Sofat then smacked the next ball for a six, similar to a home run in baseball, except worth six runs. He and the Tigers, Stuyvesant’s cricket team, cruised to their first victory of the season. After defeating Thomas Edison High School for their first win of the season, the Tigers will look to carry the solid play over for the remainder of the season and put their rough start behind them. The team currently sits at 1-7, which is last in their Bronx/ Manhattan Division. However, the team has not lost hope, even with the tough beginning. “We usually start off a little rough but end much better, so the fight isn’t over yet,” said senior and co-captain Vijay Daopersaud, who bowled well against Thomas Edison and helped lead the Tigers to victory with two wickets. Senior and co-captain Gurpreet Singh shared a similar sentiment: “We still have six more games to go, and I believe in this team to go out there and win,” he said. Neither the captains, nor the rest of the team, will give in with so much of the season left to
play. In order to improve, the team will need to quickly gain the experience and mentality that only comes with playing the game for a long time. Many new players have had to step up and fill the roles previously occupied by seniors. “We lost around seven starters this past season. All of them had at least three years of experience playing the sport,” Singh said. One of the few bright spots on the hitting side of the game, Sofat has become a force with the bat. He has scored a combined 54 runs over six games and will look to add to that total as the season draws on. “He really stepped up and provided much needed stability for batting and bowling and keeping, something done by very few players in the league,” Daopersaud said. A consistent problem for this team has been run production. Their highest output was the 83 they scored against Thomas Edison in their win, but after that the next highest is more than five runs less, and the team averages about 60 runs per game. Opponents, meanwhile, have surpassed the 100-run mark four times against Stuyvesant, and Dewitt Clinton piled on 257 in a blowout Tigers
loss. If this team has a shot to bounce back, they will need their batsmen to step up. With 14 juniors on this year’s active roster and only two seniors, expectations were high but tempered. Last year’s team finished with an 8-5 record and was third in the division, making it to the second round of the playoffs. However, this year’s Tigers roster is younger and less experienced. Even though many would call this a rebuilding year, the captains believe in their team. “There are benefits in having a young squad. They have more years ahead of them and they all have a ton of potential,” Singh said. With the season just over half finished, the Tigers will need to greatly improve their record in order to try and qualify for the playoffs. While that is an extremely challenging task, this team has the personnel and leadership to go on a run. However, even if they fall short, the team is in position to rebound next year, with a huge junior class and underclassmen that have been practicing and improving this season. Either way, the Tigers are in position to make noise in the league sooner rather than later.
Wednesday Boys JV Baseball vs. Graphics Campus Randall’s Island Field 27
WRAPUP The Beasts, Stuyvesant’s boys’ volleyball team, suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Fort Hamilton Tigers, which eliminated them from the quarterfinals of the playoffs. They finished with a 12-1 record and a perfect 10-0 regular season to win their Manhattan A West Division.
Stuyvesant’s girls’ fencing team, the Vipers, were defeated by secondseeded Tottenville 45-32 in the semifinal round of the playoffs. They finished in Division 2 with an unblemished 8-0 regular season record.
Golden Gate Tides: The Rise and Fall of Colin Kaepernick
By Dimitriy Leksanov
Before he took a knee, before he was benched, and way before he led the San Francisco 49ers on an improbable Super Bowl run in 2013, I had already gotten acquainted with the strong, scrappy quarterback who was Colin Kaepernick. I first became acquainted with Kaepernick’s play in 2010, when I had the privilege of watching him make mincemeat of Kellen Moore’s Boise State Broncos during an improbable November comeback. Though I never had an eye for evaluating talent, especially at the age of ten, there was still something about Kaepernick’s game that made me think, “Hey, this guy can play.” Among the jungle of marginal quarterback play that is college football, Kaepernick stood out. Standing at 6’4 with a live arm and the speed of a wide receiver, Kaepernick was rightfully drafted high by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2011 National Football
League (NFL) Draft. The 49ers had an established quarterback in Alex Smith, but it was obvious that the team needed a breath of fresh air from Smith’s monotonous, uninspiring style of careful play. With a frightening defense that featured linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman both in their prime, they needed a more explosive option to lead their offense over the hump; Kaepernick was their man. However, since his two playoff runs, Kaepernick’s career has taken an unfortunate turn for the worse after his past two seasons, which have been all but disappointing. No collapse happens overnight. Rather, the seeds for disaster are sown years in advance, and everything bubbles below the surface before coming to fruition. For over a year, there had been a power struggle between head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke that finally boiled over when Harbaugh was forced out in favor of organiza-
tion favorite Jim Tomsula. Under the new regime, Kaepernick struggled immediately, posting an ugly four-interception performance during the Week 3 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. However, not all the problems were with Tomsula’s incompetent coaching. The death knell to Kaepernick’s dominance came as a result of shifting offensive and defensive schemes. For his three years of success with Harbaugh, Kaepernick had become a master of the read-option running scheme, an offense only previously known at the college level until Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins all made it popular in 2012. However, 2015 was a different time. It had been three years now, and the read option offense was but a relic, with quarterbacks forced to adapt (like Wilson) or fail (like Griffin). In Kaepernick’s case, he still had the tools to succeed, but the rapid culture shift from Harbaugh to Tomsula likely stunted his growth as a pocket
passer. As a result, he was hung out to dry in what became a disastrous 2015 season, and culminated in a disgraceful benching for Jacksonville Jaguars’ castoff Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick eventually won the job back, and he actually played soundly in Kelly’s ball control, tempo offense. However, in the end, he left the 2016 season, and the 49ers, with more questions than answers. His play was only adequate at best, and, beyond the questionable play, character concerns had also been piling up ever since Harbaugh’s departure. After catching fire from teammate NaVorro Bowman for posting a picture of himself in a Miami Dolphins hat online in the offseason after the 2014 season, he seemed to lose the trust of his locker room. Then, the biggest uproar came before the 2016 season, when Kaepernick decided to make a political statement. In light of recent police brutality, Kaepernick openly professed support for
movements like Black Lives Matter, and then he truly stirred up controversy by refusing to stand during the playing of the StarSpangled Banner before games, a move that many conservative voices saw as disrespectful. However, the last straw came as Kaepernick seemed to profess support for the late former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and actually wore a shirt with his image, a move that many saw as insensitive. Now, for Kaepernick, the future looks cloudy. Though he opted out of his contract and into free agency, the free agency period is two months in and Kaepernick is still unsigned, leading some to get suspicious. Early in the free agency period, the NFL has seen a number of inferior quarterbacks earn rich contracts, from veterans like Josh McCown to spunky youngsters like Geno Smith.
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