Megan Cui ’21 and Salvador Gómez-Colón ’21 were elected Student Body Co-Presidents for the 2020-2021 school year on Monday, April 13. For their first goal as Co-Presidents, Cui and Gómez-Colón will strive to unite the Andover community and restore a sense of normalcy once students return to campus, according to Cui.
“The first thing we want to do when we become presidents… is that we want to genuinely bring [the] school back together and try to make everything seem as normal as possible… After this one term being taken away from all of us, it’s hard to say that things will get back on track the minute we go back on campus. I think, not only as Co-Presidents, but as all student leaders across the campus, we will need to hold up this responsibility of uniting everyone together, welcoming new students, and spreading the messages of telling returning students that everything will be okay, that we’re all in this together,” said Cui in an interview with The Phillipian.
According to Gómez-Colón, when current Co-Presidents Sebastian Romero ’20 and Shahinda Bahnasy ’20 told him that he and Cui had won, his mind was blown. Cui and Gómez-Colón’s inboxes and text messages flooded quickly after the results were shared with the Andover community on Monday morning, according to Cui. Gómez-Colón shared that both Nick Demetroulakos 19 and Keely Aouga ’19, former Co-Presidents for the 2018-2019 school year, texted him congratulations. According to Gómez-Colón, he and Cui emulate the distinctive traits of the two previous pairs.
“We’re tapping into previous Co-Presidents and they’re very excited about us and they’re really willing to help us. I think there’s a lot of things that I feel like I’m inspired by. The two past Co-Presidencies that I’ve seen at Andover, Nick and Keely, I think it was their positivity and the energy that they carried which I think that Megan and I emulate a lot…Sebastian and Shahinda, obviously, their energy, but their boldness in their ideas and their enthusiasm to get stuff done and all that. So, I think that Megan and I are that combination of that energy and that drive,” said Gómez-Colón.
Cui continued, “We were working with Shahinda and Sebastian a lot, so we see the sense of unity they inspire across campus… We’re not all together, but they have continued to spread messages of positivity and love and kindness and thoughtfulness, and that’s something that Sal and I definitely plan to do, even when things get back to normal because there’s always room for positivity and love. That’s what we both believe.”
Gómez-Colón believes that with a combination of passion, drive, and positivity, he and Cui will be able to enact their plan for “Big Blue Change.” Although policy changes are at the forefront of their platform, both he and Cui emphasized the importance of enjoying their last year at Andover and making it a meaningful year for the student body.
“My personal goal for next year as Co-President, I think it’s going to be a combination of getting stuff done but also enjoying it. I think that there’s this really huge thing people sometimes don’t think about is that we need balance, right? And a lot of us come into these roles or have come into roles similar to this and then you go on with this mindset [of] ‘I’m going to get so much done,’ and then sometimes things don’t turn out your way. It’s a lot of factors we can’t control, but what my mindset is going to be is [that] we’re going in with the best intentions, with the most excitement possible and [we will] just enjoy the ride,” said Gómez-Colón.
Cui and Gómez-Colón will not become Co-Presidents until the start of the 2020-2021 school year, allowing Spring Term to be a period of transition where they begin working with Romero and Bahnasy, according to Cui. Although the pair will have to go through this transition period online, Cui still believes that they can continue to work with Student Council and the faculty.
“This will be a little more difficult just because I don’t think we can assemble everyone together at once without having all the different time zones and obviously, connection issues. So then we will have to work extra hard just to try to reach everyone individually. I think that it won’t impede our work as much as we think it will, if that makes any sense. But I think it’s going to be exciting, but it’s going to be challenging,” said Cui.
Although Cui and Gómez-Colón haven’t spoken to faculty in recent weeks, they anticipate that they will continue to have conversations about major components of their platform, such as extending personal time to full long blocks and implementing electronic sign-in stations. According to Cui, the pair will work to ensure that once students return to school, the process to enact change will be faster than they anticipated.
“Before we submitted our platform, we sought out a lot of advice from current administration officials… One of the things we really wanted to make sure before we launched our campaign, launched our platform, was that our ideas were feasible. And luckily, from what we received, they are, so we’re just going to be capitalizing on those conversations we had in the past. We’re going to capitalize [on] that to get the energy and that ball rolling all over again,” said Gómez-Colón.
Gómez-Colón reflected that a lot of discussions with faculty members surrounding policy change can happen online, citing the “Wellness Excuse,” a day-off for students to recharge, as an example. However, there are still parts of their platform that they can’t work on during the current circumstances, according to Gómez-Colón, such as their “Feel Better” stations, which would provide necessities like tissues and hand sanitizer across campus.
“Our ‘Feel Better’ stations, we can’t work on those until we get to campus or ‘Snacks and Lawning.’ That won’t happen until we get there. But there’s a lot of stuff that can happen, and I think we’re going to be looking forward to taking the best actions we can under these current circumstances, which are far from ideal, but we’ll definitely make the best out of it,” said Gómez-Colón.
Speaking to the Andover community, Cui and Gómez-Colón emphasized that no one is alone during this crisis and that everyone is experiencing this at the same time, together.
“This is a message for all the Andover students right now. If anyone’s feeling happy right now, if anyone’s loving online classes, that’s amazing. But to those who are feeling down or stressed, having a hard time with family and having a hard time dealing with everything that’s going on or have been personally affected, just keep your head up. Remember to know that everything will get better. That’s something that I think everyone should know,” said Cui.