The Undergraduate Student Government Senate approved new appointments to the Honor Committee and Committee on Discipline and discussed referenda and sexual misconduct policies during its last meeting of the semester on Sunday.
The Spring 2016 USG elections saw a relativelylow turnout of only 28.5 percent of the student body, according to chief elections manager Sung Won Chang ’18.
“There has been a constant downward trend [in turnout] since the Will Gansa campaign,” Chang said, adding that the seniors did not have the motivation to vote.
While neither referendum met the third-of-the-student-body threshold, Chang said that the SPEAR referendum came close. About 90 percent of the voters were in favor, whereas a previous referendum on divestment from companies “that maintain the infrastructure of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, facilitate Israel’s and Egypt’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or facilitate state repression against Palestinians by Israeli, Egyptian, and Palestinian Authority security force” had seen 52.5 percent voting against.
“My personal speculation is that people opposed to it just didn’t vote,” Chang said.
He added that there could have been strategic abstentions.
“We shouldn’t be demonizing students,” U-Councilor Miranda Rosen ’18 said.
She noted that if USG is seeking a higher voter turnout, they should not denounce students who abstained.
USG President Aleksandra Czulak '17 added that there was less publicity for the referenda this time around, compared to last year’s referendum.
“There’s a lot of room for troubleshooting,” Chang said, noting that this was the first election with new rules.
Czulak said she wanted to encourage USG Senate members to think about how USG, as a body, could make students interested in elections and help them to better understand what USG is working on.
USG approved a resolution on sexual misconduct policy during the meeting.
U-Councilor Pooja Patel ’18 explained that the resolution recommends that athletic teams, the Interclub Council and Greek life organizations work to improve sexual assault awareness.
Patel is a former staff writer for the Daily Princetonian.
For example, the resolution suggests that athletes participate in SHARE’s Strength in Coaching on Relationships, Respect, and Equality training program, in addition to recommending that the eating clubs adopt a policy to prevent those involved in sexual misconduct cases from joining.
This training is available to any student group, Czulak noted.
When asked why athletes have to do more for sexual misconduct, Patel said that the intention was not to target athletic communities, explaining that the athletes had expressed a concern that they had previously been left out of the conversation.
The Honor Committee added two new members, Elan Sykes ’18 and Elizabeth Haile ’19, while the Committee on Discipline added three members, Abby van Soest ’18, Ananya Joshi ’19 and Caleb South ’19.
Charles Jacobson ’16, chair of the Honor Committee, explained that both committees had actively reached out to potential applicants. According to Jacobson, in addition to the email that was sent to the student body by USG president Aleksandra Czulak ’17, the committees solicited applications by working with deans of the residential colleges, department representatives and faculty.
“We want to make sure we have an applicant pool that is representative of the student body,” Committee on Discipline representative Joshua Pitkoff ’16 said.
He explained that the students best equipped to do the job were selected from a diverse pool.
Jacobson noted that the interview process consisted of two rounds, the first of which was a group interview to analyze several cases; about half of those applicants were invited back for second-round individual interviews.
Pitkoff explained that the selected members demonstrated great analytical thinking and empathy during the application process.
Jacobson and Pitkoff said that while the Honor and Discipline Committees are not policymakers, members would be happy to participate in the conversations about how Rights, Rules, Responsibilities could be better structured.
USG additionally approved a resolution to improve supportfor student groups on campus, particularly their relationships with the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.