Ryan Lee and Amanda Cisse: Leaders of the 2022-2023 Student Union

Ryan Lee and Amanda Cisse, leaders of the 2022-2023 Student Union, reflect on their goals and changes they would like to see in the upcoming school year.

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By Zifei Zhao

After an uncontested spring election, senior Ryan Lee and junior Amanda Cisse were appointed as President and Vice President, respectively, of the 2022-2023 Student Union (SU). In the 2021-2022 school year, Lee served as SU Vice President while Cisse served as Sophomore Caucus Co-President.

Currently, the SU is in the process of planning annual events that occur in the first semester to aid the back-to-school transition. “Amanda and Ryan are already pretty deep into planning. They’ve mostly been focusing on things that happen earlier in the school year like merchandise-selling and Boograms,” senior and SU Chief of Staff Jady Chen said.

Along with providing a transition period to the new school year, Lee and Cisse are also intent on distinguishing themselves from prior administrations through addressing the power dynamics within the SU. “From what I’ve seen, especially last year and the previous two years, [the SU] has just been this sort of strand of bureaucracy,” Lee said. “There was this weird chain of command [that] executives higher-ups of the SU would establish, making it seem [like] a bureaucratic thing where people are telling others what to do.”

In order to establish an environment in the SU that fosters coordination and collaboration, Lee hopes to entertain more input and decisions from directors and members alike. “A major different approach we are trying to do this year is to make SU much more grassroots,” Lee said. “We are trying to be as collaborative as we can by [...] having our team along with every single process and project, and every single move in the project comes from a result of the discussion amongst a bunch of different people.”

The SU leaders have also chosen to improve the former SU structure by including more underclassmen in higher positions. “In past years [...] a lot of the upper board were all seniors, so when those seniors graduate it leaves us with [few] people who can rise up and fill [cabinet and executive council] positions,” Cisse said. “I am excited we have underclassmen [that can] bring [their] perspective to the table.” Currently students as young as sophomores are involved, but Lee and Cisse also plan to incorporate freshmen once the school year begins.

Lee and Cisse also plan to increase transparency as a response to the lack of open communication with the Stuyvesant student body, another concern emerging from last year’s discussion of corruption and nepotism within caucuses. “We’re really trying to up our presence on social media and have more information about all the members of the Student Union, especially regarding some problems like corruption and nepotism last year,” Chen said. “This year we’re focused on keeping our record really clean and organized, making sure people know that we’re here for them and we’re also ready to listen to them.”

For the student body, Lee and Cisse plan on improving communication through strengthening and expanding their outreach platforms. “We are trying to maximize our use of video platforms [including] TikTok, SU YouTube, and working with our communications and graphic departement to make sure we are using interactive videos and putting content there,” Cisse said. “Just recently, we worked with the Clubs and Pubs Department to start up StuyActivities’s Instagram because we are realizing that the rules page on StuyActivities is [...] not digestible for students.”

Furthermore, Lee and Cisse’s major focus on inclusivity will also be seen through their continuation of last school year’s goal to increase the number of gender neutral bathrooms. “A major thing we targeted last year was increasing gender inclusivity,” Lee said. “The Student Leadership Team made a lot of progress in adding gender neutral bathrooms. We've added some in the staff offices and are looking to change that into an actual public bathroom for students.”

The two express excitement about working on the Student Leadership Team (SLT) team. “I had been interested in SLT since my freshman year and I actually didn’t know that the Vice President gets to serve,” Cisse said. “I was really excited because they do a lot of valuable work with the gender neutral bathrooms and we are looking to expand the SLT department.”

While Cisse has faced some difficulties with transitioning from the caucus to the SU, the pair have managed to learn from each other and establish a concerted dynamic. “I wasn't aware of the administrative side of StuyActivities, [such as] the rules on the StuyActivities page and even technical permissions for sending e-mails,” Cisse said. “I think [Ryan]’s been very good at communicating things that I need to know and making sure we are set for the year.”

In light of Lee and Cisse’s many ambitious plans for the upcoming school year, Chen has high hopes for the partnership. “[Lee and Cisse] have an amazing cabinet and they both have the drive to work for SU,” Chen said. “Because they have that [ambition], no matter what their dynamic is, they’ll get so many things done this year.”