Presidential Pool Reduced To Ten Council Hopefuls

Voting last Wednesday at lunch and dinner in Commons in the first round of elections, Phillips Academy students narrowed the pool of candidates in the race for Student Council President from sixteen to ten. After all votes were submitted, members of the current Student Council, including President Kanyi Maqubela ’03, tallied all the ballots and announced the results to the remaining candidates. Of the sixteen original Uppers running for President, Allegra Asplundh-Smith, Meade Curtis, Sam DuPont, Uzoma Iheagwara, Derrick Kuan, Sam Levenback, Will Scharf, Aaron Stroble, Ben Sweeney, and Fan Wang will progress to the next stage in the campaign for the postion at the head of the Council. On his success in the recent primary, Curtis ’04 commented, “I’m glad I got through [the first round], even though it looks like I’ll have some heavy competition, I’ll still enjoy the fight.” Those who were fortunate enough to make it through the first round of elections face a number of challenges before the final stage of the election process, when they will give a speech in front of the entire student body at an All-School Meeting. In the next few weeks, two more voting sessions will occur during lunch and dinner to narrow the pool of ten contestants down to six and then to the final three. “The remaining candidates seem very competent and adept, and I think I will have to start campaigning harder,” commented Kuan ’04. This year’s presidential primary was unique in the sheer number of candidates vying for the Academy’s top student government post. A total of sixteen students—the largest number of candidates in recent history—attempted to win the vote of the student body in Wednesday’s elections. Candidates were required to submit five hundred student signatures to Maqubela, as well as a one-page platform outlining their ideas for changes they would like to implement in the school. These platforms, posted both in Commons and in the mailroom in George Washington Hall, were instrumental to many students in their decision regarding whom they would select during Wednesday’s vote. Candidates welcomed the opportunity to advertise their positions on school issues this past Monday, at which time scores of colorful and informative posters began to cover every bulletin board on campus. Although the Dean of Students Office has apparently not been chastising students who choose to hang their posters on the school’s windows this year, such warnings may be coming to candidates who advertise excessively in the coming weeks. This year’s slate of platforms restated several recurring themes found in past campaigns while also showcasing some new proposals. Among the more unique suggestions was one put forth by Curtis ’04, who plans to introduce a debit-card system in which PA students may use a charge card to purchase items around campus and at participating stores in downtown Andover. Reforms to the Disciplinary Committee system appeared on numerous platforms this year. One of the main arguments this year was the lack of adequate student representation on DCs. In light of the Academy’s recent financial troubles, many candidates have added their voice to those of the Academic Council and the Board of Trustees in proposing solutions to the massive budget shortfalls the school is experiencing. Some contestants protested the Board’s decision to cut all off-campus programs for the next three years, while others used the issue to demonstrate an area in the Academy’s life that called for the involvement of students and faculty alike. The need for further cooperation between students and faculty was made clear in every single candidate’s campaign platforms. From student seats on the Faculty Advisory Committee to student input on important budget issues, it is clear that the growing rift between the two parties has sparked a number of proposals that are likely to be discussed by the Student Council of the next academic year. Despite the enthusiastic plans of the candidates, outgoing President Maqubela encouraged every one of them to preserve the important progress that was secured under his leadership this past year. Under Maqubela’s tenure, the faculty agreed to implement an athletic requirement reduction for Uppers and Seniors, a new shuttle service was set up to run on Sundays to the Shawsheen Plaza in downtown Andover, and the production of the BluePages, a handbook that will educate incoming students about the various clubs and activities on campus, was approved. After these ten remaining candidates are whittled down to the final three, the community will congregate for an All-School Meeting in the beginning of the spring term, at which time all three finalists will present their own comprehensive agenda for next year’s Council.