On Friday, nearly 2000 students voted to make Ella Cheng the next president of the Undergraduate Student Government. We, as an Editorial Board, endorsed Cheng and are pleased to congratulate her on her success in the election. We wish her the best of luck over the coming year. However, in addition to Cheng’s victory, we think this year’s elections have started conversations that are important to continue. The three presidential campaigns have asked us to consider how to promote women’s leadership, USG's role on campus and the role of humor in our campus culture. For this, the Board would like to thank the three candidates that ran.
If Cheng’s victory is the first thing that comes to mind in the wake of the election, the second thing is undoubtedly the impact of the Gansa campaign. Running as the only male candidate on a platform of waffle fries and dissatisfaction with USG, Gansa has become a polarizing figure on campus. To some, he is a symbol of dissatisfaction with the role of USG on campus. For others, he is a symbol of misogyny and the obstacles female candidates face when running for leadership positions both on and off campus. However, while many are keen to paint Gansa as an example of everything wrong with Princeton culture, we see him as a positive influence. He is a non-incumbent who chose to take his dissatisfaction with USG and channel it into action. While his campaign was centered on humor, he has highlighted real problems with the way USG communicates with the student body and the tendency for many students to feel as though they are not represented by student government. As a Board, we have consistently advocated for students to act on their convictions — and that is exactly what the Gansa campaign did. It takes courage to put oneself in the public eye instead of remaining part of the unactionable majority who complains about campus issues and institutions such as USG, sexual assault, lack of women's leadership and more. While Gansa’s campaign may represent some of Princeton’s faults, it also represents many of the things that should be encouraged.
However, Gansa is not the only one who deserves praise for taking action to tackle institutional issues. Both Cheng and Molly Stoneman were female candidates running in a race in which women have seldom been successful. Both women highlighted important issues in the Princeton community: Stoneman ran on a platform of women’s leadership and Cheng ran on a message of improving USG policy and communication. While the presence of two very qualified female candidates and Cheng’s ultimate victory will not end the gender imbalance that still plagues leadership at Princeton, it is an important step in the right direction that would not have been possible without the courage of both candidates.
While Cheng does not begin her term until February, we hope that both she and the student body continue the conversations this election has started. We hope that, in addition to her own proposed policies, under Cheng’s leadership USG continues to work on women’s leadership initiatives like the ones Stoneman advocated for and the issues of incumbency and representation Gansa raised. This election is as much a triumph of Cheng’s ideas as it is a reminder of the other important issues that remain in our community. We hope that, under Cheng’s leadership, USG continues to work to lead the way.
TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinionsseparately from the regular staff and editors of the ‘Prince.’ The Board answers only to its chair, the opinion editor and the editor-in-chief.