*The Scroll interviewed candidates Jerry Huang ’23, Osegie Osayimwen ’23, Stephen Souder ’23, Valentina Williamson ’23 and Ainslie Kell ’23 for this article; Will Richards ’23 responded by email. Huang and Osayimwen are members of the Scroll.
Candidates will give speeches in the Hess large auditorium during Thursday community time, according to an all-school email sent by Hugo Nutting ’22. Nutting explained that the poll will be released soon after the speeches and remain open for 24 hours. He anticipates that results will be tabulated and released on Friday evening. He will only release the name of the winner, not details about the standings.
Unlike in previous years, this election will utilize a ranked-choice voting system, where students will be able to choose their first, second, and third most preferred candidates. This is to avoid an outcome where the president-elect is supported by a minority of the student population due to an electorate split between a wide field of candidates. Points will be assigned based on the preference a candidate received on a voter’s ballot, which will be totaled to yield the overall winner.
According to Osayimwen and Huang, this election will be characterized by a strong desire for big changes, given the continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the relative inaction of this year’s student government, including the Student Council and current Student Body President Hugo Nutting ’22. This has been reflected in a campaign featuring detailed policy proposals, sometimes published through Instagram accounts. At the same time, most candidates played down high hopes and focused on feasibility, with Osayimwen being a notable exception and calling for more ambitious plans. According to Nutting, this campaign cycle has featured more comprehensive and ambitious policy proposals than usual.
Campaign Instagram accounts have also become venues for drawing attention. Souder produced cinematic videos and montages, including a parody of “My Name Is” by Eminem; he said that such efforts demonstrated his dedication to his campaign. Huang posted an original endorsement song featuring students in the Mods. Endorsements were courted not only of eligible voters, but also of seniors and recent alumni, such as former Student Body President Chijioke Achebe ’21, who endorsed Osayimwen.
While candidates have gone to varying extents to elaborate on their ideas, and have emphasized different aspects of their platforms, there has largely been consensus on key issues rather than significant clashes.
Firstly, the Student Handbook has been a major focal point. Osayimwen proposed a handbook review committee; he, Kell, and Stella Fierro ’23 have discussed reforms to the Academic Honesty Committee and Disciplinary Committee processes as well as greater leniency for parietals. Kell seeks to amend the 20% rule, which allows the school to make a student go pass/fail if they miss 20% or more of their classes in a term.
Secondly, mental health has surfaced as a priority for some candidates. Huang proposed “mental health passes” that would allow students to miss obligations without accruing APs. Kell suggested ways to alleviate burdens on students with eating disorders or mental disorders. Richards called for greater awareness of mental health to be promoted at school meetings, seminars, and by posters. Valentina Williamson ’23 proposed an array of measures including student groups, while Stephen Morris ’23 declared that the administration must prioritize students’ sleep.
Thirdly, many candidates seek greater transparency from the administration about decision-making and financial spending. Osayimwen argued that budgets for arts, athletics, and student life programs should be made public. Huang suggested weekly conversations with leading members of the administration and student government. Both candidates also supported a greater prioritization of arts and girls athletics programs.
Finally, a variety of add-ons to the student life experience were proposed. Huang, in particular, published a document of proposals on his Instagram page, including but not limited to a revamped peer tutoring program and access to reliable transportation. Will Richards ’23 proposed more frequent off-campus trips and organized “dorm games.”