Meet the Candidates: William Choi

William Choi (’22) is running for the position of Activities Liaison.

Blueprint is committed to restoring the issues and vision to the center stage of this election. We’ve reached out to all declared Student Council candidates to hear about their ideas for the next school year. All responses received will be published prior to the start of voting. This post is neither an endorsement nor disapproval of any particular candidate.

1. Why are you running to become the activities liaison?

As a student here at KIS, school events were like the oasis in my repetitive school life. The “student council hosted events” were the ones my friends and I would always be excited about! Every time, there were always new and creative ideas waiting for us!
That naturally sparked the curiosity inside me, about how the student council manages these events, from planning to actually hosting them. This year, I had the opportunity to serve as a class representative, where I got to see the different roles of Student Council, especially when it came to activities. What brought me here today was by seeing how major successful events like Patio on Fire, Pep Rallies, and Spirit Weeks were hosted. I envision myself to take on even more responsibilities and leadership into managing these events, potentially even starting new ones! But why activities? Apart from being able to lead in hosting events, the role of the activities liaison gives me plenty of opportunities to interact and communicate with the student body. Most importantly, it allows me to implement new ideas for some positive change. For example, what about having a Valentine’s or a Halloween Party/Dance? I’m already thrilled to be able to take my leadership to the next level.

2. What do you see to be your role in Student Council?

Anyone that is elected to serve in the Student Council, either as a class representative or as an officer, all have diligent ideas and skills they can bring to the table. As an officer, I would work towards being a great listener by being open-minded and not judgmental. This would apply to both students and Student Council members. It would be my job to take the ideas that we have from discussions to organizing and implementing them for the good of the KIS community. As an Activities Liaison, I want to reach out to the student body to support the society here at our school. I would have a bigger role in having to reach out to a broader public, listening to more people from diverse backgrounds.

3. How do you plan to promote new clubs and lesser known clubs?

For newer and lesser-known clubs, students must be more informed about what each club does, specifically, their vision, their goal, and their purpose. As the activities liaison, I would help facilitate a ground of advertisement for these new clubs. For example, we can create websites where clubs get their web page for promotion. This would be a more convenient and detailed version of our current spreadsheet. We can also provide a space for clubs to hold bake sales or mini-seminars/showcases, where they can fundraise and promote their clubs. I would help endorse and provide these opportunities for start-up clubs so that students can learn what certain clubs stand for, and whether or not they are interested in them.

4. What makes you the best candidate for this position?

This year, I was able to learn and observe from the great leaders of our school. The importance of being a good listener stood out to be very clear to me.
But while being a good listener, a student council leader should also be able to deliver the message of the public, best to the admin or teachers, and his fellow Student Council members. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been trained and prepared to communicate and speak on behalf of the student body, but I kept on wondering: “How could I become a better listener?”

One idea that I had, was to put a “Dropbox” system in place. Inside this box, students would be able to “drop” any concerns or complaints they might have, from their social life to academics. The dropbox would be completely anonymous, and the Student Council would address ALL issues, big or small, and become the “bridge” to connecting these students to the professionals that can provide help, such as our school psychologist or the administrators. Subjects that can be taken care of within the Student Council will be actively discussed during our regular weekly meetings. More suggestions and more feedback lead to only greater solutions. As the activities liaison, I want to establish a platform for the student body to communicate with any type of problem or opinion without hesitation. Every individual is under different circumstances and has their viewpoints and opinions when it comes to policies about activities or clubs. My goal is to establish transparent communication with the students and the faculty. Good or bad, my ultimate goal is for KIS to be known for its great communicating student body.
I’m a prepared listener to take on for this role, to host activities that you would look forward to. To help promote your club. To make sure your voice is heard.

5. What is a secret talent that you have?

Possessing “talent” is a great characteristic for an individual. However, my “best talents” are the ones shared and expressed for the common greatness of the student body of KIS. I’m sorry that I cannot provide any superpowers or magic to help you guys fly to avoid the stairs! Don’t forget to Vote for VVilliam as Activities Liaison for Victory!

Meet the Candidates: Catherine Lee

Catherine Lee (’22) is running for the position of Community Outreach Liaison.

Blueprint is committed to restoring the issues and vision to the center stage of this election. We’ve reached out to all declared Student Council candidates to hear about their ideas for the next school year. All responses received will be published prior to the start of voting. This post is neither an endorsement nor disapproval of any particular candidate.

1. Why are you running to be the Community Outreach Liaison?

Great question! Let me begin by explaining a little about why I’m running for an officer position in the first place. As some of you may already know, I’ve been a part of Student Council here at KIS for the last five years in a row. In the Middle School Student Council, I served my first year as a grade representative and my last as part of the executive team.

Each year I sought out greater responsibility, and each year my peers trusted me with more. Through this process, I learned how much I love being in a position to serve on my peers’ behalf and lead through dedicated acts of community outreach.

After middle school, I went back to square one as a grade representative for the High School Student Council. Over the past two years that I’ve held this position, using my past experience as a foundation, I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground and trying to make small but meaningful differences where I can. This has included reaching out to peers who need my help, contributing to events such as spirit weeks, pep rallies, patio on fire, and supporting the current officers. With my strength in communication, I believe that Community Outreach Liaison is the perfect position for me—I will elaborate on this point in my response to the third question.

Now, I am once again calling on my peers and their trust in me as I seek a position of greater responsibility, so that I may do more to make our school a more communal place.

2. If elected, what do you see to be your role in the Student Council?

First, within the Student Council, I will give be able to use my position to give voice to the concerns and thoughts of our community. Whether it be in town-hall meetings or extracurricular activities, as an officer, I would make sure our community as a student body always has a seat at the table. Since I will be a junior next year, I will be ideally positioned to serve as a bridge between the underclassmen and the seniors in order to create a closer and more tightly-knit community here at KIS. I see this responsibility as being embedded in the title of the job itself.

Furthermore, as Community Outreach Liaison, I will be taking on more of a leading position as part of the officer team. I will give direction and guidance to the members of Student Council who are relying on me for them and work in coordination with other officers. As stated in the position descriptions, a large part of my responsibility will be to establish a community within Student Council. Given my experiences in HS StuCo over the past two years, I already know many of the current members and potential future members of StuCo, and I hope to use these friendships and relationships as a great starting point to forging better alliances, which will only help the Student Council accomplish more on everyone’s behalf.

3. What makes you the best candidate for this position?

What makes me the best candidate for Community Outreach Liaison are my expertise and experience. Since I have already talked about my five-year experience, I will concentrate more on my expertise when answering this question.

As far as expertise goes, I’ve identified “communication” as the keystone to carrying out the role of Community Outreach Liaison successfully. The job itself entails “coordinating efforts with lower school divisions, attending PTO meetings, establishing Student Council community and volunteer efforts, and working with Service Learning Coordinator.” All of these responsibilities require an effective communicator, and I am confident enough in my own communication skills to say that they make me the best candidate for this position.

My experiences in MUN and debate have given me ample opportunities to practice the art of articulating my opinion and listening to others’ carefully and formulating cogent, thoughtful responses. Those skills will be applicable to platforms of formal communication such as PTO meetings. Also, with regard to conversational communication skills, a big part of my Student Council journey has been about being a more approachable, communicative member of our community. To me, this is just part of the contract of holding any leadership position at all, and with all the practice I’ve had, I am confident in my ability to use my experience and expertise to successfully carry out the role of the Community Outreach Liaison.

4. In which area do you think our school and the student body face the greatest challenge?

Over my past twelve years at KIS, one thing I’ve noticed is that students prefer to stay with the same group of friends year after year and are afraid or unwilling to change something that they’re already accustomed to. This can be attributed to our upbringings in the somewhat conservative environment that is Korea, as one’s surroundings inevitably affect one’s character and personality significantly. This unconsciously embedded nature within Korean students makes it difficult for new students to feel like they truly belong in this community. Since this trend boils down to a cultural aspect, I acknowledge the difficulty of overcoming this issue, which is why it persists even though KIS continuously emphasizes inclusion as an integral value.

As a solution, I would like to introduce the shadow program, which was a program I was part of as MS Student Council. Under this program, a new student follows around a Student Council representative for the whole first day of school. Representatives are trusted to take on the responsibility of helping new students forge friendships and connections with peers, as well as providing them guidance whenever needed. I have strong faith that successful execution of this program can truly help new students upon their arrival.

5. What’s a secret talent that you have?

I can move my ears without touching them. Maybe that’s what makes me such a great listener!

Meet the Candidates: Hannah Choi

Hannah Choi (’22) is running for the position of Community Outreach Liaison. 

Blueprint is committed to restoring the issues and vision to the center stage of this election. We’ve reached out to all declared Student Council candidates to hear about their ideas for the next school year. All responses received will be published prior to the start of voting. This post is neither an endorsement nor disapproval of any particular candidate.

1. Why are you running to be the Community Outreach Liaison?

I’m running because I have been a grade rep my entire time in HS and I wanted to get more involved in STUCO. I am running for the Community Outreach Liaison position specifically because I genuinely enjoy connecting with others and wish to incorporate everyone’s opinions as much as possible.

2. If elected, what do you see to be your role in the Student Council?

If elected, I envision my role in Student Council to be one that binds everyone together. I mean not just STUCO and the student body, but also everyone within STUCO. Grade reps are sometimes informed of plans later than officers since there are a lot of processes that must be undergone in officer meetings before the word is officially spread. I wish to help everyone be involved ASAP. I will also try my best to apply everyone’s opinions to improve STUCO socials and meetings. As the position encourages, I will reach out!

3. What makes you the best candidate for this position?

What makes me the best candidate for this position are my clear goals and spirit (both of which I will outline in my future updates!). I have also attended the AISA Leadership Conference (with other schools’ STUCOs) every year in my time in high school, which means that I not only have a lot of new ideas but also have a lot of experience in STUCO-related issues or approaches 🙂

4. In which area do you think our school and the student body face the greatest challenge? How will you work with this challenge?

I think the greatest challenge in our school and student body is the lack of adequate communication. For instance, town hall. Town hall is designed to be a judgment-free zone where students can vent about their problems so that STUCO can approach and try to solve them. However, every town hall, we discover that so many people are too shy to participate in it. So my solution is: an anonymous google form! This way the student body can still let STUCO know their problems, eat their lunch, and still be anonymous. If so many students feel comfortable submitting anonymous google forms on the KIS Anonymous Facebook page, I’m sure they will feel comfortable submitting google forms (just as anonymous) for STUCO as well!! 😉 For more references, I am addressing several other problems in my document coming soon!

5. What’s a secret talent that you have?

A secret talent that I have is my wild self in karaokes. Anyone I can went to karaoke with before can attest to this!^^^^^

Coronavirus: How students are questioning KIS’s safety

How is KIS reacting to the coronavirus outbreak?

December 31st, 2019 marked the official beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in China. Only weeks later, the deadly virus had entered South Korea. 

For those who don’t know already, the coronavirus is a virus which targets mainly the respiratory tract. It is a part of a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The uproar of concern in the status quo is caused by the fact that coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans, and is quickly becoming a global epidemic. Currently, there is no known cure. 

The virus has, naturally, sparked great worry amongst the KIS community. Students have begun to wear masks in school on a daily basis, and many teachers have installed hand sanitizers and wipes in their rooms. One sophomore described how wherever he went—school, subway stations, or academies—he saw a majority of Koreans with their faces covered and heads down. 

“It’s almost like an apocalypse,” he said. “I hope this blows over soon.” 

The outbreak of the coronavirus has caused many students and parents to wonder if school would close down. Some students have jokingly referred to the prospect of no school, remarking that they hoped such an event would occur to avoid schoolwork. Others, however, have expressed more grave perspectives on the matter.

“I really feel like school should be shut down,” one worried junior remarked. “The coronavirus isn’t a joke. It’s a really dangerous virus. I don’t feel safe coming to school right now.” 

“I’m not just worried for myself, but also for my family,” said another student. “What if I contract the virus at school and unknowingly bring it back home? What then?” 

To try to quell these concerns, the school has enacted measures to keep the coronavirus out of KIS. For one, they have installed heat sensors at the B3 and HS first floor entrances which alert supervisors when someone with a body temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius enters the school. 

“This is to make sure that people with the symptoms of coronavirus don’t enter the school and potentially spread it,” said one supervisor. 

Another measure that the school has taken is to lower the standard degree of a fever from 38 degrees to 37.5 degrees Celsius. 

But even with all these preparations, students still feel uneasy.

“The school can’t afford to shut down, but can afford these fancy new machines? That just doesn’t make sense,” said a sophomore. 

Another student suggested online school. “We can just have school online. That’s what technology is for, isn’t it?” she said. “Sometimes people with corona don’t even show the regular symptoms. We’re just coming into school every day with the blind faith that we’ll be fine.” 

When asked if she felt as though the school was doing all they could to ensure her safety, she responded, “If they really wanted to keep us safe, they’d close school until this virus goes away, not make school a place where disaster is just waiting to happen.” 

When students feel as though their health and livelihoods are threatened, that is when the school must go above and beyond to allay those fears. 

— Lauren Cho (’22)

KIS’s New Badminton Team

A new sports team.

Juniors Peter Ha and Eric Kweon, after prolonged efforts to reinstate the KIS badminton team, have recently obtained approval from Athletics Director Mr. Vreugdenhil.

Badminton is now an official winter KIS sport for the first time in almost four years, and will be competing in assorted sporting events such as KAIAC and AISA, coached by either Mr. Ashok Shanishetti or Ms. Christy Yang. Each of the boys and girls teams will be admitting 10-13 members. Peter and Eric’s request for badminton to be classified as a varsity sport is under review by the administration. Those who are interested in joining the team can fill out this interest form.

–William Cho (’21)

 

 

Why are lunch prices rising?

It’s not greed. Really.

“Why are the prices rising?” ask many waiting in line in the cafeteria. They’re right— burgers, once well within ₩5,000, set us back ₩5,800, and Korean meals jumped more than ₩1,000 to ₩5,200 in a two-year span. As someone who had been at KIS since the entry of Hyundai Green Food as the school’s official caterer, I’ve felt the impact of the gradual increase of lunch prices. However, we tend to view these price increases as something unjustified that’s done merely for the increase of profits and in the spirit of greed. The economic trends in recent years offer sufficient explanation.

First, it must be established that Hyundai Green Food’s dependence on the Korean economy is significant. Despite the fact that the company tends to source its beef from Australia and certain types of rice from Vietnam, its ingredients are mostly grown or raised in Korea; fluctuations in prices of ingredients in Korea will most certainly impact Green Food. Since the 2000s, South Korea’s minimum wage has been steadily increasing until the past few years, where President Moon Jae-In’s economic policies in recent years have driven the minimal wage up in dramatic increments.

ROK Minimum Wage
South Korea’s hourly minimum wage. From tradingeconomics.com.

The first conclusion that can be drawn is that the Hyundai Green Food is probably paying higher wages to the cafeteria workers in order to keep up with the rising minimum wage. Of course, this change is advantageous for our cafeteria’s workers, but not for the company. Low-cost labor keeps its products and services cheap and accessible to a larger audience. Then, we must consider Green Food’s supply chain.

This supply chain involves agriculture and animal husbandry, labor-intensive fields of work that involve many unskilled laborers that are often paid low (sometimes, illegal) wages. Prices for agricultural and animal products are determined by numerous factors, the some of the most important of which are the production and circulation costs, both of which are directly impacted by the Moon administration’s wage increases. The produce and livestock companies that supply Green Food have to pay higher wages to the manual workers that grow and raise the products and the truck drivers that drive the food to wherever it needs to go; these wage increases ultimately drive the costs of food up due to the fact that companies increase prices in order to cover for the additional expenses the increased salary incurs. In summary, with every step of the food’s journey from the field to the cafeteria, the current economic situation forces increased expenditure by all the parties involved, a chain reaction which makes its way to us and forces us to pay more for lunch. So, to those that say that these price increases are motivated by corporate greed, here’s your answer. Don’t jump to conclusions.

— William Cho (’21)

Sources will be provided upon request.

Image: Hyundai Group

 

Town Hall Recap (Nov. 5)

A quick summary of Student Council’s Town Hall (Nov. 5).

The Student Council’s Town Hall on November 5 has been a productive forum in which students were able to honestly articulate their opinions on the current state of the school, ranging from policy on food ordering to the schedule system. Below are some concerns brought up by the students in attendance.

Contact time

It became apparent that the degree to which contact time activities are carried out by advisories varies dramatically. Multiple students stated that they wanted contact time to be spent more actively with engaging passion projects, but there was unanimous consensus that advisory time as work time is (generally) time well spent.

Grading systems

Students, as predicted, seemed to have strong opinions on this issue; the complaints reflected general dissatisfaction regarding recent changes in the grading system. Concerns were raised about the perceived effects of the grading system, namely the magnification of disadvantageous grades in the gradebook.

Food ordering policy

A student pointed out the need to clarify policy on food orders, pointing out a discrepancy between a statement by the administration and the KIS Student Handbook. The student stated that although the admin had announced last year that all food orders on campus by students during school hours would be prohibited, the Handbook maintains that food orders are allowed provided that a supervising teacher gives his or her approval. 

The schedule

The rotating schedule was criticized due to the fact that changes in the schedule for half days and other events set back progress made in class. A student noted that it was problematic that some blocks were well ahead in terms of learning of others.

Other assorted concerns

The students have agreed that they should be able to do anything they want (of course, as long as it is appropriate and in adherence to the Student Handbook and federal law), especially sleeping, during autonomous block.

Students had also brought up sports uniforms, notably the fact that their sizing is inconsistent and that their maintenance is insufficient. Specifically, the student athletes in attendance have complained that their uniforms, when they handed out at the beginning of the year, were frequently dirty, contained numerous holes and rips, and carried an unpleasant odor. 

Complaints were leveled at what many saw as “hypocritical” violation of the library’s ban on eating. Students noted that despite the fact that the library was designated (and heavily enforced) as a food-free zone, teachers would frequently eat in the library in direct violation of those rules.

Please address any comments or concerns to blueprint@kis.or.kr.

— William Cho (’21)

 

Extinction Strikes: Why the Youth Are Angry

From September 20th to September 27th, over 6 million people around the globe marched out into the streets to demand climate justice. With 2,500 events scheduled in over 150 countries, the protest turned out to be the largest climate mobilization in world history. The events were intentionally scheduled so that the United Nations Climate Action Summit (Sept 23rd) would be sandwiched between the two strikes, pressuring countries to take ambitious and transformative action.

The remarkable factor that distinguishes the climate strike from any other mass socio-political movement is that it is youth-led. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old from Sweden, spearheaded the movement when a couple of years ago, she sacrificed a day of school to stand in front of the Swedish parliament and protest. This solitary ripple has inspired a wave of global protests where the youth are taking charge. Many public schools have been supportive of the student strikersmost notably New York City’s public education system that excused 1.1 million students to join the strike.

hii

In South Korea, more than 5000 people joined the 9/21 Climate Emergency work strike, and 700 for the 9/27 School Strike. Although the turnout rate was lower than other countries, the strikes were the biggest climate mobilization in Korea’s history, indicating significant and meaningful progress in Korean environmental activism. Below is what a KIS student who participated in the strike had to say. 

“When it comes to climate change, people give up saying “What difference will I make.” But we need to realize that everyone can make a difference. Difference doesn’t mean solving the problem immediately. It means moving forward together.” -Alicia Lee (‘20)

The strike organizers chose the Korean government as their primary target, criticizing the administration’s defeatist claims that they were “already doing everything they could.” In response to the government’s investment in six new coal power plants, strikers gave the government a failing grade in the subject of climate action and demanded that politicians entirely halt coal investment starting from 2020.

During the UN Climate Summit, President Moon failed to announce substantial and concrete climate policy, instead making vague promises about ‘clear skies’ and increasing funding for environmental agencies. His response is lackluster at best, and detrimental at worst. It is far too late to enact tepid, small-scale policies such as “increasing funding.” Because behind its dismissive rhetoric that blames China for the entirety of its climate crises, Korea stands as one of the most environmentally careless nations. Korea is one of the top 4 ‘climate villains,’ a term referring to countries that have been most irresponsible and negligent about responding to climate change. It also is the OECD’s fourth largest emitter of CO2 and has the fastest growing rate of carbon emissions. And despite such outrageously deficient political action, there still seems to be a dire lack of urgency coming from the government. 

Behind closed doors, the government has continuously claimed that fulfilling the conditions of the Paris Agreement is realistically impossible and incompatible with economic development. It seems as if Korea’s environmental policies are a tool for advancing the country’s reputation in the global arena, not a genuine political issue of concern. What we need from politicians is simple: an acknowledgement of the climate crisis and the government’s role in aggravating it. Of course individual citizens’ efforts matter, but there is a firm limit to how much change can be incited solely through grassroots activism. In order for humanity to avoid extinction in the coming 50 years, there is no option other than bold, aggressive, and revolutionary political action. The younger generation deserves to live, and we aren’t going away until those in power value us over economic growth. 

– Yoora Do ‘20

Featured Image: Charles Park ’20

We Are Not the Enemy of the People

The Press doesn’t exist to be positive or to be liked. To shield our school from dissent, from questioning the status quo, from going against the orthodoxy for the sake of deterring negativity violates the very core of our purpose.

Chris Park is the former Editor in Chief of Blueprint. -Ed.

There is a global erosion of the understanding in the role of the press. We are the daily targets of Twitter rants by the President of the United States. He calls us the “enemy of the people,” a line autocrats around the world are too eager to echo—the same thugs who aren’t afraid to detain and murder journalists.

Over the past 10 years, 700 journalists have been killed. One of them was Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post who wrote scathing articles about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The Saudi government assassinated him and dismembered his body last October.

We are the Press.

We exercise and defend the first right of the People guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. Our job isn’t to be liked or deliver feel-good news. We serve as the final line of defense in the corroded state of our democracy, holding in public spotlight every decision an elected body makes.

And that sacred duty starts with us here at our school. Perhaps it’s a bit conceited to fuse together principle so grandiose like the freedom of the press with a mere student newspaper. But even something one might consider trivial, such as student body election, is a microcosm of the larger democratic experiment that warrants a free press. With it should come the protection for the Press.

The piece published by Blueprint a couple of days ago laid out what the editorialist believed was missing from this year’s Student Council elections: a focus on issues. It never denigrated the hard work done by the student leaders in the past. The writer agreed that, in part, elections are a popularity contest: outreach efforts, be it through slogans, social media presence, or face paints, are important.  But it shouldn’t be the only part of it. An election is an application for the job, albeit more public than one we typically encounter.

Blueprint rarely publishes anonymous Op-Ed pieces, as one Facebook commenter noted. But we believed that publishing the article anonymously was the only way to deliver this important perspective to the school community, especially witnessing the level of vitriol in numerous personal attacks and threats made since. The original piece has now been updated, reflecting the authorship. We now ask for your discretion.

Since the publication of the article, a number of people have reached out to Blueprint thanking the writer for voicing a necessary perspective. As opposed to critics of the article who freely expressed their opinions on public and private media (and they have full rights to do so), supporters felt the need to keep their opinion hidden from the student body. We have a climate where free speech and expression are implicitly oppressed by the fear of blind criticism, and where students are so quick to dismiss opposing views that some were taking sides without even reading the article. This is an eerie reflection of the harshly polarized state of the current political climate, both in the United States and Korea, calling to mind how Republican commenters are treated on New Yorker articles or, conversely, Democrats on the Washington Times.

We take no position on whether the writer’s perspective was true, but we do take the position that it was a perspective and merits publication. It has turned out to be an important perspective, at that—evoking critical thought, debate, and discussion throughout the student body, perhaps inviting more intellectual engagement with the significance of student council elections than ever.

Regardless of which side of the debate you were on, the vast majority of the responses showed that our school was a community driven by passion. Democracy is a messy experiment, one full of vociferous and quarrelsome individuals unafraid to voice their opinions. And politics, at any level, can be awfully personal. Its results can determine our financial security or immigration status. Sometimes, as it was in this election, it’s our friend and family bravely taking on the challenge to run. It might seem unfair to have an “October-surprise” article ruthlessly excoriate those we are close to, but we need a place to have a frank and open discussion about the state our politics, no matter how personal.

A free press is an agent to drive that debate. We, of everyone, want a vibrant discussion on issues we bring forward and welcomed the comments and opinions shared since that article went online.

We, however, were disturbed by those who disputed our right to express, to question, and to publish, harassed our writers, and dismissed our work to simply be a desperate cry for attention. They are the very culprits in the global assault against a free press and are no better than the violent mass who assault journalists at Trump rallies.

Again, the Press does not exist to be positive or to be liked. To shield our school from dissent, from questioning the status quo, from going against the orthodoxy for the sake of deterring negativity violates the very core of our purpose. Blueprint, as the only student-run newspaper at KIS, should and will continue to diligently carry out our duty to the People.

We stand by our decision to publish the controversial piece a couple of days ago. Not because we necessarily agree with the piece, but because, we, as a school, need to maintain the integrity of the Press.

Featured Image: Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Jennie Yeom (‘20) and Hope Yoon (‘19) contributed to this article. Jennie Yeom is the current Editor in Chief. Hope Yoon is a former Editor.

The Fundamental Problem with Student Council Elections

When we vote for a candidate’s name instead of his or her skills in this fashion, our election is really no better than the half-baked candidacy of “Make America Great Again,” one driven entirely by personal popularity, professing vague promises that even supporters themselves cannot define.

The Blueprint Editorial Board encourages candidates to demonstrate that the StuCo elections are actually more than what many people believe it to be.

This article has been revised to reflect its authorship and input from readers.

The election to decide the direction of our student body is tomorrow, but we know very little about the candidates running aside from their catchy slogans. That’s it. Apparently, the only thing to know about almost every candidate is who can write the best catchphrase. But who cares? Tomorrow’s election will entirely depend on how popular someone is.

Admittedly, voter outreach using campaign posters around the school and on social media is a useful tool. It helps candidates publicize their candidacy and draw attention to their individual campaigns. However, what most candidates fail to understand is that witty posters are not the only, nor the most important, part of a campaign to lead this school; posters should merely be a means to an end. (An exception to what I just said is in the race for the Creative Director position, where a good poster shows off creative ability and is therefore both important and effective. But I digress.) Many have solely relied on their campaign posters as an instrument of campaigning, and only three—out of twelve—candidates so far have publicized their qualifications, plans for the future, and/or vision for the school and the school body.

The use of campaign posters without the other hallmarks of campaigning — clarification of platform positions, community outreach, debates, etc. — is a recent trend that hints at something more alarming: that most of these candidates are confident that they will win solely by virtue of their popularity. As trivial as this might seem — “Who cares if this election is a popularity contest? They’ll still do their jobs!” — it’s important to recognize that, for most KIS students, this is the first time we will be voting, one of our first experiences with the democratic process. That this entire election seems mostly based on popularity doesn’t really encourage real political engagement.

The unspoken rule of elections states that voters should vote for the candidates who present the best plans, goals, and/or qualifications. Why, then, aren’t we learning more about these candidates? Why haven’t there been more rigorous discussions about goals and plans for how to achieve them? I suspect candidates don’t often worry about engaging in a political process due to their confidence in their voters/friends. They know that a sizable portion of the student body will vote for them unconditionally despite the fact that they have no idea why the candidate should win. Why should they push to be more thoroughly vetted?

Because it matters to the integrity of our student government. When we vote for a candidate’s name instead of his or her skills, our election is really no better than the one that promised to “Make America Great Again,” which was driven entirely by personal popularity and vague promises that even supporters themselves could not define.

Of course, I must acknowledge that many of the candidates have included something of substance in their posters. I applaud that effort. But many of those statements are rather vague and noncommittal; most are merely campaign slogans, one-liners that are supposed to capture the essence of a candidacy that is so much more than one line. Taken together, all of this leads to a lack of faith in the StuCo elections.

That we have a serious problem here is evident when people pass off running since they are “not going to win anyway.” While some might dismiss this as mere apathy, it actually reveals the darker truth that we perceive the election as a popularity contest, and this attitude brings immeasurable harm to our school and our conception of democracy, affecting our civic participation down the line. Too many people in the past have attempted to run for Student Council positions and put immense amounts of time and effort into campaigning just to be beaten by someone more popular than them. It seems that we, as a student body, have grown to accept that no amount of qualifications or careful planning can beat popularity.

I encourage the candidates to engage with the political process and demonstrate that the StuCo elections are actually more than what many people believe it to be.

– William Cho (’21)