Voters Select Asplundh-Smith, Levenback, Wang As Final Student Council Presidential Hopefuls

After weeks of heated campaigning by the six remaining candidates in the race to succeed Kanyi Maqubela ’03 as Phillips Academy Student Council president, the student body cast its final ballots of the winter term this past Wednesday, narrowing the pool to three finalists. Allegra Asplundh-Smith ’04, Sam Levenback ’04, and Fan Wang ’04 advanced to the final round of the elections, which will culminate with speeches at an All-School Meeting scheduled for the beginning of the spring term. According to Maqubela, this year’s presidential race represented one of the most enthusiastic in recent memory, with candidates posting dozens of colorful posters across campus and making a wide variety of campaign pitches to students. “All of the candidates did a great job campaigning and maintaining a certain level of respect toward both the Student Council and the position that they are running for,” Maqubela said. The sole female candidate of the remaining group and the second female finalist in the past two years, Asplundh-Smith commented, “It’s been so crazy and fun. I am just so thankful to everyone who supported me throughout the primaries.” She plans to focus the remainder of her campaign on “making sure the Academy maintains its position as a rigorous academic environment while making the school a healthy place to learn, grow, and be.” Asplundh-Smith’s proposals include increased communication between Student Council and its constituents through PAnet and the student government newsletter The Student Echo, as well as preserving weekends and afternoons for essential “down time.” Levenback, who maintained throughout his campaign that his position as West Quad North Disciplinary Committee (DC) representative gives him an ideal perspective from which to approach DC reform, commented, “I am elated with today’s results and am thankful to all of the students who voted for me. It is very humbling that so many would consider me for their vote.” Levenback is also a strong supporter of increased communication across campus and hopes to lobby for the use of polls in collecting important student feedback. “It is very pleasing that the election has been in such good spirit thus far,” he said. “I look forward to a tough final round and I am ecstatic to have made it this far.” As a current Upper Representative, Wang has made a number of contributions to the Student Council that he hopes to continue if elected to the position of president. “I want to continue my work on the BluePages and [protect] weekend activities,” Wang said. He also commented on several parts of his proposed presidential agenda, stating that if elected, he would encourage members of the Student Council to take on more responsibility. He would also work on conducting evaluations of representatives that could be forwarded directly to their constituents. “Student Council representatives need to spend more than 30 minutes a week working for their respective classes. There should be more responsibility so that the Student Council representatives dedicate more to the active improvement of student life,” he added. On a more general note, Wang noted, “I would like to thank everyone who voted for me. The race was tight, and I respect each one of the candidates who helped to make this presidential campaign a memorable one.” The three presidential finalists were joined by fellow contestants Sam duPont ’04, Will Scharf ’04, and Aaron Stroble ’04 for a live radio debate last Monday. Candidates’ responses to questions posed in the debate proved that they would continue to focus on possible solutions to the pace of life problem and new ways to approach the important discussion of DC reform. The candidates who did not advance to the final round wished the remaining contenders luck and offered their own opinions about the campaign. Scharf commented, “I had a great time sharing my ideas with the student body, and I would like to thank all those who voted for me throughout the election. I do and will always appreciate your support. Vote Sam Levenback!” duPont echoed Scharf’s sentiments, stating, “It was a close race and I was proud to be part of such a fine group of people. I throw my full support behind Sam Levenback.” Stroble remarked on the qualities that candidates should possess to be elected president, stating, “When you get down to the final three candidates, you can take everything and throw it out the window. The debate, the Student Echo questions, the platforms, the posters, and the student interaction around campus all mean nothing. There is one thing that will decide the winner, and that is the speech, which I eagerly await.” The finalists have endured three separate primaries, as the pool of contestants was narrowed from 18 candidates to ten and then to six, until it was finally shrunk to three. After emerging victorious in several consecutive rounds of elections, the finalists face a long road ahead of them. In the remaining weeks of the winter term, they will be challenged with gaining support within Andover’s student body and must also present engaging plans to improve student life in the coming year. At the beginning of spring term, the candidates will have the opportunity to present a formal speech to students and faculty at an All-School Meeting, after which the final ballots will be cast and the president for the 2003-2004 school year will be announced. Having enjoyed a tenure that has seen the reduction of the athletic requirement and the initiation of a complimentary shuttle service for student use, among other things, outgoing Council President Maqubela reflected, “I am very excited about the Student Council’s prospects for next year.”