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.

Editor’s Statement | Addressing Conflict Of Interest Within The BSA Muse

Archive, Politics and Activism

By: A. W. Taylor

With the election of Quinn Bryant, an Editor-in-Chief of the BSA Muse, as president of the student government, we felt it necessary to acknowledge this conflict of interest and explain how we will address it. 

Last year, when Bryant was vice president of the student government, she had no control over the coverage and content of the Muse’s political section. We intend to operate in a similar way this year. 

All articles written about student government will be overseen and edited by me. If Bryant is included in the article, the writer and I will ensure to write about her in an accurate and factual manner. Bryant will not be able to remove or edit any quotes ethically obtained from her, or analysis on her derived from fact. 

We hope this statement will give you clarity on our editorial process. Our goal is to serve the students of the Baltimore School for the Arts and provide them fair and accurate news coverage. We hope this statement can contribute to that.

We are open to feedback, suggestions and comments. If you would like to add to the discussion on this topic please email me at ataylor4323@bsfa.org.

The Student Government’s First Town Hall Reveals Its Challenges

Politics and Activism, School Year 2021-22

By: A. W. Taylor

At the beginning of April, the student government of the Baltimore School for the Arts held its first town hall. The event, which consisted of two assemblies, one for underclassmen and one for upperclassmen, revealed the obstacles of this year’s student government. 

At the town hall, students were able to voice issues that they thought the student government should address. Concerns ranging from ant problems to microaggressions were brought up. 

One upperclassman spoke about the lack of communication from a teacher via email regarding grades and questions on assignments. While the student government officers gave advice to the student and spoke about finding solutions, there is very little the student government can do to directly fix the issue. The student government can bring up these concerns with the school administration, but they cannot force the teacher to email the student. 

“One person brought to my attention that they wanted a curriculum change in the Theater department and I just had to say to them ‘I can bring that to the theater rep, but that is probably much out of our theater rep and the SGA’s jurisdiction’”, said Student Government Vice President Quinn Bryant after the town hall.

Student Government President Sydney Lane-Ryer clarified that the student government’s main job is to advocate for the students, which is something they have done. 

In March, the student government sent an email to Principal Roz Cauthen reporting issues they heard from students. Some of the issues that were brought up were the cleanliness of classrooms and the deadnaming of students. In a follow-up email to the whole school, Cauthen addressed these issues and outlined what the school would do to fix them.

Additionally, students expressed interest in selling their art and trying a class in another art form, which the student government delivered on by organizing Springfest and initiating Switcheroo Day, respectively. 

Not every goal the student government set out to accomplish was achieved, however. In an earlier statement, Lane-Ryer emphasized her interest in conducting school-wide trainings on consent and microaggressions. While these trainings happened, they were not well received by both the students and the student government. 

Lane-Ryer was “disappointed” with the quality of the trainings, and the student government’s access to them. Due to time constraints and other logistical issues, the student government was not able to provide the amount and level of trainings that it had hoped to do at the beginning of the year. 

While the student government did not achieve everything they set out to do, they built a solid foundation for future administrations to build on. By being open about their challenges, they are giving the next generation of student leaders an opportunity to improve where they failed.

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

COMMENTARY | SGA: What Went Wrong?

Opinion, Politics and Activism, School Year 2021-22

By: Quinn Katz-Zogby

As I stood in the dusty corner of the Ballroom waiting for the Town Hall to start, frantically typing completely unintelligible notes on my cracked phone screen with one of my editors, Alex, tearing through pages in his faux-leather notepad fast enough to make the Amazon rainforest worry for its safety, the words that came to mind again and again were Winston Churchill’s: “the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” Swaths of sophomores complained of a lack of information in emails they hadn’t bothered to read. Fresh-faced freshmen asked for teachers to be fired because of a lack of communication and our student government again and again bemoaned their own lack of power. “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” It really is a wonderful quote by the stalwart British Bulldog himself, Winston Churchill. The only issue is that he never actually said that.

It is easy to have walked away from watching the proceedings of that day’s town hall and have very little faith in any sort of student administration, to think: “Are those people really worthy to be taken seriously and have power over serious matters?” “Should we let these people sit in on board meetings and make policy decisions for the operation of such an important function of public government as a school?”

These questions are valid, however, that experience, standing alongside one of my editors, documenting the concerns of these hundreds of young people left me questioning this defeatist outlook. These people will grow up to work in all sorts of different industries, vote in dozens of elections, get married, have children, do all of these incredibly human things. Exercise such power over their own lives, and even over my life, but there, in that room, all sitting on uncomfortable plastic chairs, genuinely trying to voice their concerns over their own lives, they are utterly powerless to change much of anything.

Yes, maybe many of their questions are ridiculous or frivolous or whatever derogatory adjective we choose to employ, but at the end of the day, if you have been told that your voice matters, your vote matters, and then have everyone in the room where you’re voicing your opinions utterly powerless to act upon them, I would also be desperate. How are these people going to feel when they go out into the world as adults? Will they have faith in our real elected officials to help them in their everyday lives? Will they be able to trust the government that is supposed to represent them to actually hear their concerns and work to alleviate whatever hardships that can be alleviated?
I hope that the failures of this year’s student government will be remembered by the student body not as the failures of the individuals they elected, but as the failures of the laughably flawed system that they were given. President Sydney Lane-Ryer said herself in an interview that this year’s government simply “didn’t have time or resources to do nearly as much as we wanted to do.” 

President Lane-Ryer went on to acknowledge that the SGA was given essentially no powers outside of asking the school administration for things. When the SGA requested to have a say in board meetings and sit in on staff meetings they were either denied out of hand, given faulty links to Zoom meetings or simply ignored. “SGA has not been taken seriously, but we need to have more official prestige and sound structure. We know that we have to push our way in,” Lane-Ryer said. While faculty advisors Meg Grouzard and Jocelyn Providence have definitely helped in the process, ultimately most of the student government’s plans have been canceled by either the BSA board or the Baltimore City Board of Education. Whether that be greater demonstrations, speeches, and protests have all been either vetoed by higher-ups or canceled due to COVID concerns.

However, there is a solution to this. The BSA Board and Administration need us, the students, far more than we need them. More radical actions like student strikes, walkouts, and refusal to participate in fundraising events like Expressions can all be powerful forms of forcing the Board and the City to take us seriously. While we may currently feel as if we are screaming our legitimate concerns into a void, with petty complaints and important issues all being grouped together, we do have the power to change things. The student government this year has not done all that it was promised to be, but if we come into next year ready to make the changes we want to see, SGA can be even more.

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