In past years, president and vice president Associated Student Body (ASB) candidates would tape flyers onto hallway walls, give speeches at assemblies, and go from class to class vouching for their ideas and platforms. However, this year things are a little different. Nevertheless, Berkeley High School (BHS) continues to prevail and offers us six qualified candidates.
Leila Mirza and Tenzing “Cho” Chosang
Leila Mirza is running for ASB president alongside Tenzing “Cho” Chosang, who is running for vice president. Both are juniors in Berkeley International High School (BIHS).
“We’re running because of the horrific things happening in our school and in our larger community,” Chosang said. “More than ever, we’ve been driven to make a change, so we decided to step up and take responsibility to do our part in creating this change we want to see.”
One of the key parts of Mirza and Chosang’s platform is to ensure that important information is directly communicated to BHS students. “So many emails containing valuable material are left unread, and we want to change that and make sure students are getting the information they need,” Mirza said. To do this, they intend to work with the Chief of Publicity as well as amplify the voice of the College and Community Center (CCC).
Mirza and Chosang want to make these messages easier to read and process, rather than being long emails containing hard-to-swallow paragraphs of information. “We want to really focus on first generation and low income students,” Chosang said, “because we also want to make sure the resources available to them are being well communicated.” Additionally, to improve student performance and create better outreach, they plan to implement several panels, in which students can ask questions and get information from teachers about high-level and elective courses, to feel more confident and comfortable in choosing their classes.
According to Mirza and Chosang, a big issue at BHS is the culture of sexual harm. “The first step to trying to solve these problems is acknowledging that they exist,” Mirza stated. “A lot of the time, these issues are just pushed under that mat, so we really want to educate people about them to start working to change the culture.”
Education is a key factor in Chosang and Mirza’s campaign; they believe awareness and knowledge are the first steps to change. They plan to mandate a curriculum around consent and sexual harm that reaches every student. As Mirza explained, “We know that there are already some presentations going around, but they’re not reaching everyone and they’re not as effective as they could be. We want to use our platform and work alongside the commissioner of women’s rights and the Title IX director, as well as educators outside of BHS, to really finalize a curriculum and ensure everyone can take part in it.”
Mirza is the junior class secretary, the president of the BHS Soccer Without Borders club, and an award-winning artist. Chosang is a current BHS Senate representative and a member of Sexual Health Information From Teens (SHIFT), as well as a leader and member of multiple clubs.
“We think it’s so inspiring that there are six women running for these ASB positions. It’s such a racially and ethnically diverse group of people, and that in itself gives us hope for BHS,” Mirza said.
To learn more about Mirza and Chosang’s campaign, visit their platform or see their Instagram page, @choandleilaasb.
Chloe Burke and Hanim Nuru
Chloe Burke is a junior in Academic Choice (AC), running to be ASB president, and Hanim Nuru, in BIHS, is running to be ASB vice president. For them, one of the most pressing issues at BHS is inclusivity. “I want to make [BHS] a place that’s comfortable for everyone,” Burke said. “I’ve heard of many people who’ve switched to [Independent Study] because they didn’t want to be in the Berkeley High atmosphere. I want everyone to feel welcome and supported and have an inclusive environment.”
Another big issue that Burke and Nuru intend to address in their campaign is small school and club diversification. “BHS has so much potential, because we have all these different students from so many different backgrounds,” Burke said. “Diversifying the executive team can give so many new perspectives, and I think if we can all come together and do that, we can definitely have an effect on BHS.”
Burke also wants there to be an equal support system for all small schools, and small school collaboration. “I want it to be so that a kid from [BIHS] can help out a kid from AC, or someone from [Academy of Medicine and Public Service (AMPS)].” A big part of implementing their goal is in improving communication to students. In order to accomplish this, they have a plan to have elected small school representatives in leadership. As stated by Burke, “They’ll be able to communicate with different schools but also hear from different executive teams. Since each small school has leadership teams, we could have them work together.” Additionally, Nuru wants to create ways to ensure collaboration between different multicultural clubs in order to promote diversity in leadership and make sure a multitude of voices are heard.
Burke is in AC leadership, is the current commissioner of athletics, and has worked closely with this year’s ASB president and vice president. Nuru is the chief of social activities, and has worked in several different leadership positions.
“We’re very passionate about this. We want people to feel great and proud to go to BHS. We’re motivated people and I think we can bring something new to Berkeley High!”
To find out more about Burke and Nuru’s campaign, check out their Instagram page, @chloehanim_asb2021.
Siena Cohen-Parikh and Julia Thomas
Siena Cohen-Parikh, currently in AC, is running for ASB president, alongside Julia Thomas, also in AC, who is running for ASB vice president.
Both of them see huge potential for the next year at BHS. “There are so many things we could be doing that we haven’t done yet, so we want to help everyone achieve everything they can and help our school be as great as possible,” Cohen-Parikh said.
Some of the most substantial ideas of their platform include better student-staff communication. “We want to see real action being taken based on the opinions of the student body,” Thomas said. “Our school prides itself on being all for equality and respect, but I think sometimes that falls through in the classroom. We need teachers and peers to hold each other and themselves accountable.”
In order to accomplish this, they want to help clarify where students can access information by having a website with all the different resources. Additionally, they want to promote ways to volunteer and opportunities to learn real-world skills. “Some people are going to college, some people are getting jobs, but either way [there are] things that we need to know how to do,” Cohen-Parikh said. Part of this plan includes helping students learn how to create resumes and money management, so that they can be prepared to face life after high school.
In recent years, bathroom passes have been a recurring issue. Some argue that the idea of one needing permission to go to the bathroom is unnatural, and can often end up being a sexist policy. For these two candidates, this issue has a lot of significance. “This one might sound like a joke,” Thomas said, “but it’s a big deal, especially when it impacts your grades. It’s also a disrespectful invasion of privacy.”
They also intend to assist students by finding ways to provide better health and academic support. “We want people to learn to take accountability for their behavior, especially when it comes to offensive language and actions in class,” Cohen-Parikh explained. “There’s also a lot of academic pressure put onto students, so we want to make sure that everyone can feel supported by making use of our extra resources, whether or not the student excels academically or not.”
They are both passionate about BHS, and want to be able to implement their ideas and creativity. To find out more about Cohen-Parikh and Thomas’s campaign, visit their Instagram page, @votesienajulia4asb.