– On the left, Secretary candidate Otto Smith; on the right, his opponent, Thomas Leeds

Secretary – Q&A

April 25, 2021

Q: Why did you choose to run for your specific position in the Senate? What difference do you think you can make in that position? 


Smith: I chose the position of Secretary because I felt like it matched up best with my personality and skill set. I think I can execute the position of Secretary well because of my productivity, organization, and overall willingness to stay on task and do a job. The duties required are to take notes, make outlines and make sure every facet of the Student Senate is running smoothly and on time.


Leeds: First off, I choose to run for an Officer position because I want to serve and help lead U of D. I am very passionate about this school, and I want every Cub to have as great an experience here as I have had, and under my leadership hopefully an even better one. The position of Secretary does not have a lot of designated duties or tasks. I chose to run for Secretary because I interpreted the role as an opportunity to be able to take its role in the Student Senate as a broad one where I can expand its duties to fill in unique gaps between the other Officer positions. I can initiate and propose new committees in the Student Senate and oversee them with a lot of attention to detail because the position of Secretary does not have a lot of designated responsibilities, as I previously mentioned. 

I would want to create a new mental health committee that would work to get rid of Prepare U and then find alternative solutions that the student body actually wants. I also want to create a temporary committee to oversee the new Joe Louis & Johnson Rec Center to coordinate activities, extracurriculars, and outreach opportunities with the community closely with the student body so that all Cubs can partake in fun events there. I don’t want people to think that since the written role of Secretary is vague and sparse, that I will be a vague and sparse Secretary if elected. Rather, I will capitalize on the opportunity to fill the gaps in the role with what the student body wants me to do for the next year. I see it as a role that is tailored to the current needs of the school, where the Secretary “expands” if you will, their duties to meet the needs of the students on a yearly basis, where each preceding year a new Secretary will change the position to best fit the desires of the students. 


Q: What Senate activity would you like to replicate and build on?


Smith: I think the Backyard Blast can be vastly improved and upgraded to make it even better than it was last year. The idea for a carnival-like event is great, but there’s always a hard time getting a lot of people to come and have a good time. I think there needs to be a bigger venue with more options for rides and entertainment.

Leeds: Spirit games, student sections, and intramurals. These three things are a big part of what makes U of D, well, U of D. I want to bring all of these back to what they were in previous years but build on them to make them even better. With the new Rec Center, we can host more student sections at U of D, which means we can have more participation, and involvement on a regular basis, as the games will be closer to school. I want to also host bigger and better spirit games that consist
of something along the lines of a U of D triathlon. There are many new opportunities with the Rec Center such as potentially hosting spirit games there and having school-wide soccer, basketball, or football tournaments. I also want to give more purpose and meaning to homerooms and revive the spirit of competition within the school. I remember during my “Cub-For-A-Day” visit there was an intramural dodgeball tournament going on, and everybody was so excited and ready to compete. Homerooms would all go to play, and everyone would be invested in the outcome. I want to see this spirit back at U of D next year.


Q: Each Senate officer leads a Senate committee. Which committee would you like to lead and why? What new idea would you bring to your committee?


Smith: I would like to run the Freshmen Committee. I feel like underclassmen are very overlooked, which is unfortunate because they are the future of the school for the next 4 years. I was once a lost freshman and know how stressful and confusing it can be. For that reason, I would propose a freshmen sports party. One where they can sit back and watch some sports games, or go to the backfield and play some football. This will be just for freshmen, so they can get to know each other and share similar interests with each other. 

Leeds: I want to lead the Appropriations Committee and any committee I work to initiate. The Appropriations Committee is a no-brainer for me because I am involved in so many different clubs: Inscape, Quizbowl, Ping-Pong, Politics, Physics, Mock Trial, and Chess Team. I am also president of two of the clubs (Ping-Pong and Politics), so I understand what it takes to start a club, what it takes to run one,
and how they function. A big part of any club is the amount of money allocated for their budget. This is arguably one of the most important roles of the Student Senate, allocating the right amount of funds to the many clubs around the High. If a club does not get enough money, it will not be able to function properly. The committee needs to be able to understand the needs of each club more in-depth than in previous years because, in the past, some clubs have gotten more funds than they need, which dries up the pool for other clubs that really need the funding. Because I am very involved in the clubs at U of D, I already have a significant understanding of many clubs’ needs, and I could easily work with other club leaders to understand their clubs’ needs. Under my leadership, the club Appropriations Committee would better understand the needs of the clubs at U of D and would be better equipped to allocate those funds accordingly. 

Another candidate mentioned an idea of a “reserve fund,” and I am not sure what exactly those funds would be used for, but I think it would be great if we build off of that idea and make a specific reserve fund for club appropriations that would be overseen by the Appropriations Committee. If a club runs into funding troubles or if something comes up last minute that is very urgent, they could send a request to the acting Secretary for some emergency funds, and if the Secretary believes the request has some bearing, they could call a special session of the Appropriations Committee to vote on the right amount of emergency funds to be allocated. 


Q: Senior year is full of excitement, hard work, and fun. However, as a Senate officer, you’ll have a lot of extra work to do. What activities are you involved in and how will you balance these?


Smith: I am involved in Varsity Baseball, JV Tennis, Varsity Skiing, Varsity Hockey Manager, and Physics Club. Outside of this, I manage a paper delivering route and am an active member of my church’s youth group. Clearly, I am a very busy person and I will have to make a lot of sacrifices for the Student Senate to be the most productive leader I can be. Some of these sacrifices might include quitting a sport or club to create time.


Leeds: As previously mentioned, I am involved in seven different clubs and lead two of them as president. I also volunteer at several local organizations such as the Northville Rotary Club, and the Living and Learning Center, and I am working towards obtaining a private pilot’s license. All of these activities are big commitments, but just like with school work, I always give my best effort and get the job done. I already have to balance all of these activities this year, while campaigning for secretary, doing Saturday labs for AP Chem, working on the junior research paper, and taking standardized tests, so I think if I can do all of that this year, why couldn’t I do it next year? Next year I won’t have to worry about a research paper, and I will have finished taking the SAT and ACT, and I won’t be running/campaigning anymore, so in place of all of these time-consuming activities, I will be working and fulfilling the role of Secretary. I think it is perfectly manageable and suitable for my schedule.


Q: What do you see at UDJ that currently needs the most improvement or change? What would you do to get the change in motion? What would be the sign that the change is in place?


Smith: I think Prepare U is one subject that definitely needs to be changed. Every Wednesday, I walk into homeroom during Prepare U, and students are either sleeping, listening to music, or just staring off into space. When a program that’s meant to be beneficial becomes a burden, it is a clear sign to change it. Instead, I think we need to have two mental health weeks during the year to focus on breaking down the stigma of mental health and recognizing it in a better, more productive, and healthy light. 


Leeds: The thing I want to change the most is the environment in the school. Before Covid, we used to be able to play ping-pong and spikeball in the commons as well as play Euchre or other games like Chess or checkers. These were simple things but make U of D a special, fun place to be. The Commons was a place where students could meet up with friends that they don’t share a class with and have some fun and unwind between periods. All of that fun and excitement has been lost this year due to Covid. Next year will be a new opportunity to bring back these activities and the enjoyable atmosphere that went along with them. 

One of the things that stuck out to me the most last year is all the people who would play the piano during lunch hours. It is something really special and exclusive to U of D the more I look back and reflect on it. We had people playing classical music, modern music, homemade music, and even our favorite songs from Minecraft while we ate lunch! It was just nice to hear and made the school more lively while also being beneficial to people who want to practice and perform. We can enact common-sense measures with or without Covid to enable people to do things that have been absent from this school year but doing it safely as well, such as wiping down the piano with disinfectant after you play or allowing students to go onto the backfield to throw a football around or kick a soccer ball. As Secretary, I would make it my personal mission to bring as much fun back to the High from before Covid as I possibly can. I really want to do this because it will just be so much more fun, and it is healthy to move around and get some exercise instead of sitting all day long on a computer. 

For the question concerning: “What would be the sign that the change is in place?”, all I would say is the actual policy changes and improvements made to U of D. That being said, I feel like this question hints at there being a sign that you completed your mission and now you’re done. For me, there is no limit to the amount of work I can do to improve myself and others, so I will never stop trying to improve U of D as there are always things that can be built upon or changed for the better; it just depends on whether or not you are willing to do the work to achieve that desired change. 

If elected, you can count on me to work tirelessly to get these things done so that all Cubs can truly experience what U of D Jesuit has to offer. If you see something you want to be changed, no matter how big or small it is, I will hear you out and do my best to help you. All you have to do is reach out to me either in person, online via email, or on social media to say hi. Remember, if you want a great leader, vote Leeds to Lead.

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