Asplundh-Smith Wins Election

Championing strong community spirit and a renewed commitment to the school’s program and policies, Allegra Asplundh-Smith ’04 will lead Phillips Academy as Student Council President for 2003-2004. Asplundh-Smith’s victory – the first by a female since 1998 – comes after several rounds of voting and campaigning that began late in the Winter term, as she edged out nearly 20 candidates in one of the most hotly contested races in Andover history. At a special All-School Meeting this past Wednesday, fellow finalists Sam Levenback ’04 and Fan Wang ’04 joined Asplundh-Smith, current Council President Kanyi Maqubela ’03, and Head of School Barbara Landis Chase on the podium for the final campaign speeches of the election. After Mrs. Chase thanked all the candidates for their hard work and dedication to the their innovative ideas, Maqubela introduced the finalists – adding an emotional farewell to the position he has held since September 2002. Asplundh-Smith spoke first, beginning her speech with a dedication to those fighting in the war with Iraq. “In a world that has changed so radically over the past few weeks,” she said, “how can we imbue this election with any importance?” Asplundh-Smith used the situation in the Middle East as a call for the Andover community to discover what it values most, and what it has learned from its 225 years of existence. Prior to her campaign, Asplundh-Smith contacted a group of 80 Andover students of all demographic types to survey them about their experiences at school. She noted that most of the students whom she contacted said that their most memorable experience at the Academy occurred as part of a team, class, or some other group. “Truly, [Andover] is a school defined by community,” she said. As Council President, Asplundh-Smith aims to build Andover’s community spirit. Calling Seniors “the wisest members of the student body,” she urged the Academy’s oldest students to take active roles in the Andover community, proposing that they take leadership positions in courses like the Life Issues seminar taken by all Lowers at the school. The President-elect also detailed her plans to work with students and faculty to make the school better for the average student, one who does not play a varsity sport and is not enrolled in high-level courses. In her speech, she proposed adding more choices and flexibility in selecting courses to remove the traditional barriers of prerequisites that close the Academy’s most interesting electives to all but the most advanced students. Adding that she would strive to allow all students to pursue their passions, Asplundh-Smith closed her speech by saying, “We must recognize our own ability to influence the world around us.” “I am just thrilled with the results,” Asplundh-Smith said. “It is very rewarding and hard to put your ideas out on the line, and it was amazing experience to have my peers validate and support my plans. I have so much respect for the student body right now.” Speeches from Levenback ’04 and Wang ’04 followed Asplundh-Smith’s address, with Levenback centering his agenda on building a “firm foundation of progress for the student council.” A current West Quad North Cluster Disciplinary Committee representative, Levenback recommended the institution of a precedent guide for DC offenses, so that “a violation that receives Dean’s Reprimand in Pine Knoll does not receive probation in West Quad North.” He also suggested replacing traditional keys with credit-card style devices that would have the added capacity to work as a debit card for laundry and take-out food. To improve communication throughout the school, Levenback proposed allotting the Student Echo publication a more generous budget and revamping the Student Council’s defunct web site. “I will represent each and every one of you,” he added, in closing. Presenting what became the most energetic of the morning’s speeches, Wang ’04 assumed the podium to deliver an improvised address to the student body. Assuring the audience that “Love is the meaning of [his] life,” the former Upper Representative Wang proceeded to detail his plans for a debit card in the Ryley Room, and a responsibly structured Student Council that gives an equal voice to each representative. Wang also showed his audience his comical side by then explaining that his seemingly bizarre campaign posters featuring pictures of a beautiful woman were inspired by a winter term love interest. He also referred to one of his creations, The Blue Pages, which lists restaurant addresses and numbers and movie theatre information, as well as more serious topics, such an outline of the Disciplinary Committee (DC) system and descriptions of various academic buildings on campus . “I have a vision that the Student Council can be a useful instrument,” Wang said. “All the speeches were interesting and the voter turnout showed real student interest in the policies of the student government,” Maqubela said, as he congratulated his successor on her victory. Elections for next year’s Student Council President began late last term, when a large pool of preliminary candidates submitted five hundred signatures from the student body and a platform outlining their ideas to Maqubela. After several rounds of voting by paper ballot in the lobby of Commons, the three finalists were announced in the last weeks of the winter term. Asplundh-Smith represents the first female Council President-elect since Jackie Bliss won the position in 1998 and only the third female in that post in almost a decade.