Niels Graham and Paulina Ruta

Paulina and Nils
Photo by Ting Ting Chen

Midway through their interview, Graham and Ruta said something surprising: they don’t want to put effort into fighting student apathy. “Our grade is abnormally apathetic,” they wrote in their platform. “For the past three years, candidates have run a crusade on apathy in our grade to little fruition.” To Graham and Ruta, continuing to battle student apathy by planning flashy events is futile—if students don’t want them, they say, why should we plan them?

Some may view this idea as bringing unnecessary negativity to the year of high school that should be the most fun-filled. But Graham and Ruta have witnessed the Class of 2017’s lack of enthusiasm for grade-wide after-school events (most recently the low turnout for the Junior Caucus’s “Junior Joust” event), and accepted it as a reality. At this point, the Graham-Ruta theory of “circumventing apathy” rather than confronting it head-on is not so much pessimism as it is pragmatism.

The duo hopes to bypass students’ indifference by working on measures that can benefit the senior class without requiring effort. For example, major goals include renovating the Student Lounge, acquiring more benches for the senior atrium, and decorating the Senior Bar, thus implementing lasting change for day-to-day senior life, rather than serving their class by planning sporadic events.

Graham and Ruta also provided solid explanations for how they would execute these ideas. For funding, they hope to acquire grants from the Alumni Association, an organization Graham has built solid ties with throughout his tenure as a Budget Director for the Student Union (SU). (Ruta, as a Clubs and Pubs Director, also has the benefit of experience working within the SU.)

The Alumni Association plays a key role in several of their other plans, which could, perhaps be a weakness—if the Alumni Association is unwilling to comply, executing platform promises will be a lot more difficult for Graham and Ruta. Nevertheless, Graham assures that he has a strong connection with the organization, and hopes to use its grants to subsidize senior dues (which are hundreds of dollars) for students from low-income families, providing one of the first financial-aid programs within the SU.

They also would like to set up after-school workshops led by the Alumni Association to help students learn about prospective colleges, provide job and internship advice, and run mock college interviews with students. College planning, which is not a traditional focus of the Senior Caucus, would be an important part of the Graham and Ruta’s early leadership, a response to the dissatisfaction students felt toward the Junior Caucus’s college planning this year.

Even though Graham and Ruta are less focused on planning events to increase school spirit, they still acknowledge its importance, and described plans for an end-of-school senior picnic, which seems to be a feasible plan and one that would attract students.

The role of the Senior Caucus has traditionally been to build grade spirit in the last year of high school. While Zulfiqar and Ramadani have a platform that actively pursues this, The Spectator believes that the clear-mindedness with which Graham and Ruta have assessed their grade’s needs makes them better leaders for the Class of 2017. They understand their grade’s problems, and have refreshingly innovative ideas for how to combat them. Their ticket is the clear choice for The Spectator’s endorsement.

 

Sports editor Nadia Filanovsky redacted her name from this endorsement.

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