For incumbent USG president Shawon Jackson ’15, reelection would mean “moving forward” and building on his current term.
“Essentially, the message that I want to get across is that now that I’ve been on USG for about a year as president,” Jackson said, “I don’t just want to stay stagnant, but I want to learn from the mistakes that I made this past year and learn from the successes and then carry that forward into the next year.”
Headded that he is running for president because he has enjoyed this past year and would like to continue working on projects in the future now that he has an understanding of what the USG can do.
Originally unopposed, Jackson faces a challenge from Class of 2015 senator Zach Ogle, whowon his appealto run in the election Sunday evening.
“Even though I’ve been president this past year, if I am reelected, it doesn’t mean that I would do my term the same exact way as I did the past year. Instead, I would build on the successes and learn from the failures,” Jackson explained. “Ihave a Google Document where I track major mistakes that I made on USG, and that way moving forward, I can say, ‘How can I change that for the future?’"
When asked about some of his mistakes,Jackson noted that his experience as president taught him that he should use track changes to keep track of the original wording when working on USG amendments. He also said that he had learned not to format his student body emails so they would favor one athletics team over another when noting their achievements.
Jackson's priorities for his next term include creating a comprehensive report of students who took time off of school and using it to make policy recommendations to the administration, Jackson said. He said he would also like to work on external relationships with organizations like the Ivy Council, which includes the student governments from the Ivy League schools, as well as further developing and evaluating the upcoming Wintersession program, which will offer workshops for students during Intersession.
“I know that his energy will carry through to his next term,” communications director Richard Lu ’16, who has endorsed Jackson’s campaign, said. “And the fact that he has specific goals and projects that he wants to work on makes me confident that he will have a direction for where he wants USG to go next year.”
U-Councilor Mallory Banks ’16, who has also endorsed Jackson’s campaign, added that she does not think Jackson will “stay static and stay complacent” in his second term.
“I think he’ll continue to push forward with the things that he’s started,” Banks said, “and then even mold those and form those into things that are even better than what he at first envisioned them to be.”
Banks is a former staff writer for the Street section of The Daily Princetonian.
Jackson’s first term was highlighted by his theme of “access, accountability and approachability.”He cited USG office hours andhidden links in his emails that led to ice cream dates as two initiatives that have allowed him to reach more students.Likewise, Jackson said he was successful in becoming more internally accountable by cutting unnecessary appointed positions and being more efficient with managing projects.
“What I admire the most about him is the way he really cares about the student body and getting to know everyone,” Class of 2016 senator Eduardo Lima said. “Oftentimes, it's easy to find candidates who are running for self-interest, and I think Shawon very much always has the interests of students and generally wants to get to know people.”
Lima is running for social chair against Logan Roth '15.
Jackson explained that he thinks one setback for the USG is the difficulty of having members “buy in” to a project, even though he said they can execute projects well once they start them. In his next term, he said he would want to meet with project teams to get members energized about the project from the beginning.
“I think what sets me apart from the other candidate is the fact that I have experience as president this past year,” Jackson said, adding that it has given him the opportunity to develop internal management skills and external relationships with student leaders at peer institutions and administrators.
“Since I’ve already established all of those relationships with administrators, in the coming year, I would be able to more comfortably talk with them about projects, get their feedback, et cetera,” he added.
When Jackson isn’t working on the USG, he is also a residential college adviser in Forbes College, a Breakout trip coordinator with the Pace Center for Civic Engagement and a member of diSiac Dance Company.
“What I appreciate about my other activities is that they’re very diverse, and so I’m able to see different pockets of campus, and because of that, I’m able to talk to different students and administrators on a weekly basis,” Jackson said. “So whenever I come to USG and when I’m making a decision, I have different opinions that are constantly in my mind because of my day-to-day interactions and my other activities.”
Jackson is a Wilson School major from University Park, Ill. Voting for president, committee chairs and class senators start on Monday at noon.