Op-Ed: Jamir Lawson and Chloe McNeill Are Made Co-Presidents of BSA in Bizarre Election Outcome

Opinion, Politics and Activism, School News

By: Ronan O’Comartun

In my last election coverage article, by saying “Student Government at BSA is still in its infancy, and there is a glimmer of hope that one day it will evolve into something impactful,” I did not mean some weird co-parenting cop-out allowing both Chloe McNeill and Jamir Lawson to take office. 

Former President Quinn Bryant made a loudspeaker announcement the afternoon of May 25th revealing that Jamir Lawson and Chloe McNeill will be Student Government Association co-Presidents.

The decision was reached after a 45 minute discussion between Lawson, McNeill, former President Quinn Bryant, and the two SGA advisors Meg Grouzard and Jocelyn Providence. 

One of the two opponents won by four votes (this counts as one percent).

No one besides Grouzard and Providence knows the final results concerning who came out on top. 

Four votes is a small margin to win by but it still means that someone won.

While the ratio of the victory may have been small, that does not diminish the fact that this outcome does not benefit the students, but rather McNeill and Lawson’s personal interests. 

By acting as co-President to each other, both McNeill and Lawson get what they want: a small amount of influence and a nice line on their college resumes. 

The SGA, advised by Election runners Meg Grouzard and Jocelyn Providence, refusing to release the official ballot results creates suspicion among the student body and undermines the process of free and fair elections. 

Why is there not a student representative looking over the final votes? Why is the SGA administration keeping the winner secret?

By allowing McNeill and Lawson to co parent BSA, the SGA diminishes its role, making whoever holds office look like the winner of a sad participation trophy. Everybody wins! What’s even sadder than winning a participation trophy is not winning a participation trophy – my thoughts and prayers go out to Day’Shaun Barrett. 

How can you expect to make the administration and foundation that already does not take student government seriously have an ounce of respect for the student body when they have Bert and Ernie representing them?  

“I also pushed for our SGA to be more serious…damn… a lot of members who were elected, …damn, this actually sounds crazy. A lot of members… damn. A lot of members that were elected kind of took it as a joke at first, and only a handful of students, in my opinion, took it seriously. So I wanna bring more seriousness and more officialness to our SGA,” Lawson says of the BSA foundation not taking SGA seriously.

Lawson continued, “because when people take it as a joke, and take it as like, you know, like, oh, blah, blah, blah, it kind of loses its value. And especially from an adults’ point of view. They’re reluctant, because they think, oh, these are kids, they can’t sit in on these meetings.”

I did not edit these quotes: Lawson felt so strongly that he needed to say “damn” three times. 

These two individuals sat down in a room and decided that instead of taking political responsibility over who lost and who won, they would rather the winner remain unknown so that they could both take office.

McNeill says, “Fear of the lack of political influence wasn’t ever a personal issue for me. If I lost, then I lost. I feel like this way we can both address the things that we were campaigning for while also having the support of each other for working and for reflections. I think we can tackle more issues with both of us there.”

I personally believe that it will prove more difficult for both candidates to navigate their political duties whilst having to agree or compromise on everything. 

There are two ways to fix this political disaster, both that were decided against by the candidates. 

  1. A runoff between McNeill and Lawson takes place.
  2. Whoever won by four votes takes office. 

These are not my original ideas, but the ideas presented at the sit down between Lawson and McNeill by Grouzard and Providence. 

A runoff would yield similar results because of how few votes Day’Shaun received, but that is still no reason to not have one as it sustains principles of democracy and allows the voices of all students to be heard. 

It’s somewhat bizarre that one of the solutions to this problem is actually the very outcome we initially anticipated – the logical and intended result of this event – yet here we are. 

What will happen next time when a candidate wins by seven votes instead of four, will their opponent be outraged that there wasn’t some sort of co-president seance?

Lawson and McNeill’s reluctance to have a runoff or simply allow the real winner to be revealed makes it clear they would rather have this political calamity take place than face the idea that they might lose. 

I have respect for the SGA and its advisors, and I want to emphasize that this article does not intend to criticize them personally. However, I strongly believe that democratic procedures should be upheld in a democratic election.

The bottom line is that no matter how little SGA actually matters at BSA, students voted under the assumption that one president would be elected and represent them and that is not the way things played out.

To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at musebsa@bsfa.org.

Featured photo: Jamir Lawson and Chloe McNeill, the two SGA presidents. Photos by Asad Ali for the BSA Muse.

SGA Presidential Candidates: A Deep Dive commentary

Politics and Activism, School Events

By: Ronan O’Comartun

There are three candidates in the running for Student Government Association (SGA) president: junior musician Jamir Lawson,  junior visual artist Chloe McNeill, and junior visual artist Day’Shaun Barrett. 

With a deep dive into the psyche of each candidate, proactive members of the Baltimore School for the Arts student body can make up their minds on which presidential candidate to vote for. 

Jamir Lawson

Among the rush of hungry BSA students filing into Cafe Fili at the end of the school day was candidate Jamir Lawson. Lawson sat down prepared to defend his candidacy and explain his validity as a possible president.

“I think our biggest issue facing our school right now is lack of communication,” Lawson explained. “Across the board there is an extreme disconnection between not only arts and academics, and if I am elected president, I plan to bridge those lines of communication.” 

Lawson elaborated that he intended to fix this “by being more involved.”

According to BSA’s SGA interest meeting, one of the SGA’s goals for the next school year is to be more involved, something that couldn’t happen last year due to scheduling. 

To combat this, the elections are taking place in May of the prior year, an initiative pushed by Jamir Lawson in his SGA position this year.

“I think, in the way that our school is ran, This is a big reason why I push for spring elections because a lot of our issues in our school and a lot of things that get resolved and a lot of planning that happens happens we were told in the summer and the days leading up to when school started.” Lawson says, “So if there’s a student leader in those meetings such as calendar meetings, when concerts are planned, this will bridge the gap between students not knowing things beforehand and administrators knowing them.”

Chloe McNeill

In the hallway of the 6th floor at BSA, Chloe McNeill was interviewed while on break in her painting class.

This is not the first time McNeill has taken interest in Student Government. Since the existence of BSA’s SGA, McNeill has been Visual Arts Department Representative. 

Why should people vote for McNeill? “I feel like people should vote for me because I’m a trustworthy candidate,” McNeill explained.

But how trustworthy? Is McNeill only running to pad her already very hefty college resume? Or is her political pursuit a genuine concern for the student body? 

McNeill clarified, “I was more thinking about college when I ran for a second time for visual arts because I felt like that would show my dedication but this time, it was more for the school because I had more control over what goes on.”

A common theme the voter will pick up on is that for the majority of the candidates, communication is very important and one of the main running promises. 

McNeill went on to add “One thing I want to do as president is further communication with BSA because right now the communication… it sucks.”

“And so there’s a bunch of different schedules that go on,” McNeill elaborated. “Like people are having department shows, we have showcases, we have presentations, and then they’re all bunched up. People aren’t getting the recognition they deserve, the work isn’t shown the right way, and then everything goes askew. So I want people to be able to recognize the work that we have.” 

When asked what can realistically get done while in office, McNeill says, “people were like I want to get vending machines I want to get sports, realistically we’re not going to get that this year like with sports you need more teachers and we’re already here from 8 to 4 and with vending machines that’s a whole city thing that the school itself can’t do.”

“I feel like we have to keep it realistic with like issues between students issues within the school scheduling stuff” McNeill says. 

When asked about her opponents McNeill quietly replied:

“Not that I don’t trust Day’Shaun, but because I feel like he wouldn’t take it as seriously. I trust Jamir with it. We were both going to ask each other to be the other’s vice president. That’s why we’ve been cool throughout the whole campaign. And I feel like he’s very passionate about it, with all the work he did for the Black history Showcase, I feel like I can trust him with it if I were to lose.

McNeill and Lawson were considering running together but ultimately decided to campaign separately for the position of president. 

McNeill explands, “Jamir doesn’t know a lot of the people, I feel like it’ll take long for him to gain their trust. And then, like, people who say they were voting for me, I feel like they won’t go to him if they have a problem. They’d probably go to me.” 

Despite all this big talk McNeill is confident in her ability to stay sane in complete solitary confinement. 

“Yeah. I’d give me a couple weeks.” McNeill said solemnly.

Day’Shaun Barrett

Our final contender in the presidential arena is Day’Shaun Barrett, who possesses a refreshingly unfiltered approach. When questioned about why he is drawn to a leadership position, he responded with a brazen declaration: “The power.”

While this may instill fear into the hearts and minds of the few students who care about their student president representative, fear not, as when Barrett was asked if BSA were to take on a capitalist, socialist, communist, or fascist regime, he did not choose fascism. 

“I know what capitalism is, I don’t know what the other two are.” He stated bluntly, “socialism is good. I’ve heard it’s pretty good. I don’t— I think it’s like just being nice to people, just being cool with people. I think that’s a good thing. Being social? Yeah, being social and just working with people and making sure that they have the best of each other.”

Despite saying “The power”  as one of his main motivators Barrett also believes, “I feel like most of it is just mostly for everybody else. I’m a team player, I get stuff done when I feel like it. When I feel like it most of the time, because I’m just like, I’m free.”

This is Barrett’s first time participating in SGA, when asked how he knew what he was doing he responded with, “No clue. No clue. I was going to talk to Quinn about like how she did it because I think that’s integral to like talk to the former president about this.” 

Barrett’s main policies revolve around the visual arts department and making zoom meetings mandatory for coach class. In Barrett’s words: “Make, like, Zoom mandatory, like if you’re going to have coach class, have that be mandatory for students that want to come.”

Along with this, Barrett wants to garner more coverage of gallery openings. “Most of our stuff is just put on the back burner. And I just want people to be like: ‘oh there’s nice art here.’ Like, they got visual artists at school” he adds. 

Readers may be scratching their noggins wondering why Day’Shaun Barrett did not choose to run for Visual Arts Representative, Barrett says, “ I probably should have ran for visual artist representative, but I feel like I want the power, I love the power… I think there’s some things that could change…” 

Barrett kept his views on his opponents brief, “I don’t know who Jamir is. I’m different from Chloe because I’m just iconic. I’m saying that she’s not iconic, but I’m iconic.”


Are you unwittingly succumbing to a grand conspiracy that gives the illusion of control within the chaotic corridors of our school? Or are you seeking someone with the strength and determination to truly make a difference? 

Student Government at BSA is still in its infancy, and there is a glimmer of hope that one day it will evolve into something impactful. But for now, your vote determines who will sit in those meetings, fighting to be heard amidst the constant dismissals.

To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at musebsa@bsfa.org.

RENT Tech Photo Series


Photographed by: Paz Posada-O’Malley

A Mural for Unity Strikes Back at Hate Speech

School News

By: Micah Berger-Sollod

In the face of hateful and demeaning graffiti earlier this year, some students at the Baltimore School for the Arts have decided to take an artistic approach to combating intolerance.

The Jewish Student Group, in association with other student groups like the Student Government spearheaded a new project to create a mural that celebrates diversity and highlights the importance of unity. As the project nears completion, the student groups are eager to share their message with the wider community and inspire others to take action against hate and discrimination.

After a series of swastikas appeared in school bathrooms early on in the school year, Senior Eliyah Burg of the Jewish Student Group and Senior Quinn Bryant of the Student Government began brainstorming ways to take a proactive approach to combating hate. Bryant said, “At a Jewish Student Group Meeting, they had invited club reps, and from that meeting, we decided to have a big collaborative mural that all students could work on.”

The driving idea for the mural was simple, create a mural that could be worked on by all students regardless of painting ability and have it be prominently displayed as a symbol of unity. 

The process of choosing a location for the mural was lengthy and the team considered many locations including the lobby but eventually went with the fourth floor to the ease of creating it there and because people constantly walked past the area.

“They wanted it to be something everyone could work on and add their own touch but because we have obviously had issues with people writing hateful stuff we didn’t want it to be too free.” said Bryant. The solution was a paint by numbers concept.

Originally, a Purple Chair member began possible sketches of the mural; eventually, Bryant was assigned as the main designer. The original approach she took was basing her sketches off of various words that other club representatives wanted the mural to represent. “Some words that I could use to brainstorm, unite, collaboration, community, equality,” Bryant said.

Over winter break, Bryant began sketching possible designs for the mural. Early designs included six heads of diverse ethnicities and a background of flowers or a big text that reads “Unity” in the center, surrounded by symbols of each department.

After winter break the committee of club representatives came together and chose two of Bryant’s sketches hoping to combine them for the final mural.

Over the next weekend, Bryant made a much larger sketch combining the two ideas and began working with faculty members Ayanna Freelon and Archie Veale on coloring and the paint by numbers concept.

The original idea was that each club representative would come in on different days and work on the mural but then Freelon, the artistic assistant to BSA’s director, had the idea that it could be a Spring Fest activity that anyone could participate in to make it a unifying effort.

“That was really beautiful,” Bryant remarked. 

Spring Fest was incredibly successful with tens of different students coming together to work on the mural along with members of the Jewish Student Group and Bryant. After Spring Fest, a cohort of various visual art students came together to paint areas off limits to the normal student.

Today the mural remains in the fourth floor hallway as a lasting legacy of Burg, Bryant, and a coalition of other artists devoted to the honor of all students.

“We communicate most clearly through our art, and so because the art came from us, it said what we didn’t have any other way to say, and spread the message we wanted to spread in our unique BSA way,” said Burg.

To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at musebsa@bsfa.org.

Photographs captured by Quinn Bryant and Sophia Richardson for the BSA Muse

BSA’s Crew Period finds some successes, still building the program


By: A. W. Taylor

In the 2021-2022 school year, a new period was added to the schedule at the Baltimore School for the Arts. The advisory period—known to BSA as the “crew” period—aimed to give students a space to debrief, talk about the challenges of life, and get to know their classmates better.

Editor’s Note: For the purpose of this article, the terms “advisory period” and “crew period” will be used interchangeably. 

According to the Baltimore City Public School System, the idea of the advisory period came out of the feeling of isolation students felt during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, BCPSS implemented some virtual activities in hopes of improving students’ social-emotional learning. 

But, when it came time for students to come back to school, City Schools realized that they had to redefine what schools and students would need.

To do this, they put in place their Reconnect, Restore, Reimagine plan, which outlined different strategies to accommodate student’s social and emotional needs, one of which was the advisory period. The plan stated that the advisory period would include “wellness activities, opportunities for individualized learning, and college and career exposure.”

“The year 2020 really peeled the layer off of what our students, teachers, and school communities value as necessary and important,” said Monique Crawley, an educational specialist at City Schools, in an email. She expressed that many students felt like they were missing a sense of community due to schools being closed. 

At BSA, the advisory period took the form of the crew period, a 36-minute period where students got together with their “crew,” a group of around 20 students from the same grade level, and two faculty advisors. 

In an email announcing crew to the student body, Thomas Askey, the assistant principal for academics at BSA, wrote that crew was a chance to “meet new adults, peers in other art areas, and build a community within a community.”

Ileana Imhoff, a Spanish teacher at BSA, recalls the introduction of crew being unclear. During those early days of crew Imhoff and fellow BSA teacher Jocelyn Providence volunteered to design the format and curriculum for the period. They helped develop announcements and guiding slides for advisors to use during the crew period. 

Imhoff, who has previous experience in advisory and crew-like activities, is an enthusiastic supporter of crew. She believes that students should have a space to talk about the happenings of the world, process moments of crisis, and a time to just “play.” She also enjoys guiding her group of students throughout their four years of high school.

Senior Brayden Hamilton, the vice president of BSA’s student government, enjoyed Crew when it was first introduced last year. She liked the opportunity it gave her to bond with other students. 

The crew period at BSA is not just used for bonding. The school administration, the student government, and other groups use the crew time to host all-school performances, town halls, assemblies, and other events of the like. 

Imhoff expressed that, while she hopes crew can be a time for students to connect to their peers and advisors, there is not much time to do that.  

“In reality it’s a very short period of time. We, I think this month, only had one meeting,” Imhoff said. “I think the building up or the cohesion of the curriculum or the values or the things that we want to do it’s just not there because I don’t remember when we saw crew last time, but it won’t be until maybe April or after spring break.”

Another criticism of the crew period is that it disrupts the schedule. In order to fit the crew period into BSA’s 10-period day, every period is shortened. Hamilton feels that this disturbance is hard on students.

“I feel like when we’re ripping and running that fast sometimes we could miss things or we could overlook things, and that’s not one hundred percent good for the student mind. So, I think we could slow down just a little bit sometimes,” expressed Hamilton.

Hamilton also believes that there should be set guidelines for crew, as she feels that the activities in each crew change from group to group. 

Imhoff also mentioned that there are differences between the crews, but she feels that this is natural.  

“Some teachers might want to be low key and do a homeroom kind of thing, like where everybody does their homework, others are more community-building oriented, others may be social justice or sports-oriented, so I think we always have these suggested activities, but it really is subjective because groups have to evolve in a way that feels organic,” said Imhoff.

Even though there are some students and staff that are skeptical about the crew, Imhoff believes that more people will buy into it. According to her, “Everybody should have somebody.”

To contact these writers email Muse Newspaper at musebsa@bsfa.org.

Photographs taken by Audrey Weiss for the BSA Muse.