Last updated: July 26, 2017
1. What is CSA?
Concerned Stuyvesant Alumni (CSA) is a Facebook group, created as a space for Stuy alumni to speak openly about how they are or are not being represented by the current leadership of the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association (SHSAA). Participation in CSA has grown as more people have become suspicious of the vibe they are getting from posts and actions by the administrators of the SHSAA Facebook page and members of the SHSAA Board of Directors.
2. Why was CSA formed?
The creation of CSA was initially sparked by concerns about SHSAA’s management practices, in light of murky and incomplete information that was provided about a so-called merger with the Campaign for Stuyvesant. Those concerns were compounded by questions that went unanswered for long stretches, and by seemingly arbitrary changes to the structure and bylaws of SHSAA. Simple inquiries about finances were met with what can only be called stonewalling. Requests that a process be established to join the SHSAA Board — one that does not require being hand-picked by incumbent Board members — were ignored for far too long. A revised process, which is still considered inadequate, was finally adopted, but more than six months later as of this writing has not still been published on the SHSAA website.
Other alumni, especially those with responsibility for organizing their class reunions, were drawn to CSA when they found the administrative support that SHSAA traditionally provided to help organize class dinners abruptly withdrawn, followed by the implementation of seemingly fluid and ad hoc support procedures. To these alumni, it appeared that the mission of SHSAA had swung heavily away from working with alumni and toward trying to build an endowment.
3. Why is the new provision in the SHSAA bylaws regarding petition candidates considered inadequate?
The bylaws impose three requirements on an alum who seeks to run for the Board by petition. First, the signature requirement requires at least five signatures from alumni in at least ten different classes, which is to say the least an unusually cumbersome procedure that would be hard for an alum to accomplish, especially if they're not provided with a membership list with emails by the SHSAA leadership. The other two requirements — that an alum be a paid member for at least a year prior to being nominated and that they serve on a committee for at least a year within three years of being nominated — might seem reasonable on their face. But both requirements serve to severely limit the pool of qualified alums who could serve, and most significantly these are not requirements for directors handpicked by the board. In practice, these provisions — which still do not appear on the SHSAA website along with the other information on running for the board — would make it very hard for an alternative candidate to run. This is compounded by the fact that the board by practice nominates only as many candidates as there are open slots, so the members who take the time to vote in the “elections” effectively have no choice at all.
4. Who can participate in CSA?
Anyone affiliated with Stuyvesant High School who has a Facebook account can participate in CSA, including directors and employees of SHSAA. You can request to join the CSA / Concerned Stuyvesant Alumni (v2.0) Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/stuyvesantians/. Replying to the Contacts page on this website can also be used to participate and contribute.
5. What roles have CSA members played in the SHSAA?
Many of the participants in CSA have long been active in the leadership of SHSAA, including former employees and board members. Participants in CSA include individuals who actively support the Stuyvesant alumni community, for example, by planning their class reunions, raising endowments for scholarships, etc.
6. What are the Campaign for Stuyvesant and Friends of Stuyvesant in relation to SHSAA?
The Campaign for Stuyvesant (CFS) was a separate non-profit organization that was founded in the late 1990’s by then-principal Jinx Perullo to build an endowment to support Stuyvesant. After a falling out in the early 2000’s between the leadership of CFS and the leadership of the high school, then-principal Stanley Teitel helped form Friends of Stuyvesant (FOS) as a separate organization with similar goals.
Several years ago, the leadership of SHSAA started an effort to merge CFS and FOS with SHSAA and for the first time include building an endowment as one of the goals of SHSAA. While that merger appears to have been completed, the details of the merger have not been shared broadly with Stuyvesant alumni community. SHSAA now has a Board of Trustees, separate from its Board of Directors, which is responsible for managing this endowment. The Board of Trustees includes several of the leaders of the former CFS.
For some additional history on this, see this New York Times article from 2003: Dueling Fund-Raising Campaigns Undercut Efforts at Stuyvesant.
7. What are the goals of CSA?
CSA is not a formal organization with a strictly defined set of goals. That said, most participants in CSA seem to agree that SHSAA needs to be more transparent with and accountable to the broad community of Stuyvesant alumni. CSA has promoted discussion of ways by which SHSAA can better represent this community.
8. What actions have members of CSA taken to date to achieve its goals?
Members of CSA have met with and talked to members of the SHSAA Board of Directors and Board of Trustees to request detailed information about the CFS/FOS merger and about the finances of the organization. They have attended SHSAA board meetings — which are open to all members of the SHSAA — and pushed for additional transparency in the organization’s governance and for a more open process for nominating board members. Unfortunately, some of these efforts have been met with indifference and even outright hostility by behalf of some members of the current SHSAA leadership. In 2015, Beth Knobel, an early participant in CSA, was elected to join the SHSAA Board of Directors. She worked tirelessly, including imploring other CSA members to join her good faith efforts. In short order, she found a board culture that seemed to view transparency and accountability as impediments and inconveniences. Beth resigned from the Board of Directors in November 2016.
9. What specific steps could the SHSAA take?
The current friction could all go away — disappear — if the leadership of the SHSAA were to take a few simple and reasonable steps to make the SHSAA more transparent and accountable to its members. We believe that this would result in a larger, more engaged, and more supportive membership of the SHSAA:
10. It feels like there’s a lot of negativity in online discussions about SHSAA, some of it coming from folks associated with CSA. Why can’t we all just get along?
Many participants in CSA are individuals who have demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to the community of Stuyvesant alumni, including serving in leadership positions within SHSAA and/or by organizing class reunions. It is this commitment has caused them to advocate passionately on behalf of Stuy alumni. To the extent that negativity surfaces at times, it reflects the frustration that individuals may feel having spent years advocating for change only to be met by SHSAA's deaf ear. CSA is motivated by a strong desire to act in the best interests of Stuyvesant alumni and to have a representative and responsive alumni association to sustain this important community.
11. What is CSA’s position on whether SHSAA should be raising funds for an endowment?
Participants in CSA have a broad range of opinions on this issue. For example, among CSA participants are people who were early supporters of and contributors to the Campaign for Stuyvesant and those who oppose the creation of an endowment. If there is a shared position about an endowment among many CSA participants, it would be that efforts to build an endowment be done transparently and accountably.
12. What is CSA’s position on whether the entrance guidelines for Stuyvesant should be preserved or changed?
This is an important issue but is outside of the scope of CSA. The discussions in CSA have focused on the governance of SHSAA and not on the policies and administration of Stuyvesant High School.
13. If I want to make a monetary contribution in support of Stuyvesant High School but don’t want to contribute to the SHSAA, what other options are there?
CSA does not have a formal recommendation on this. Examples of some ways participants in CSA are supporting Stuyvesant include: Donating to the SHS Parents Association, raising money at their class reunions, and honoring members of their class in personal ways. Some CSA supporters have decided to withhold dues and contributions given the current leadership's proven unwillingness to address important issues of governance.
14. What actions can I personally take to make SHSAA more transparent and accountable?
Attend SHSAA board meetings to listen and ask questions. The schedule for these events is posted at http://www.stuyalumni.org/events/.
Join the boycott of SHSAA and encourage your fellow Stuy alumni to do so as well.
Participate in the discussions on Facebook. It's great when people comment to support or argue against ideas that a CSA member has posted, either on the CSA page or on the SHSAA page. (Note that posts about SHSAA governance may violate the policies of the SHSAA FB page and, if so, will be removed by that page's administrators.) Some CSA Members have contacted — by email, phone, and in person — members of SHSAA Board to gain better understanding of an issue or to make their thoughts known.
Whether you agree with CSA positions or not, getting informed and having your voice heard by the SHSAA leadership — who are your peers — is the best practice.
Please contact us if your question is not addressed above.