At noon today, voting opens in the Undergraduate Student Government’s Winter Elections and will last until noon on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Each year, the Editorial Board interviews the candidates for USG President, carefully examines their public platforms, and endorses one candidate. This year, there are two candidates for president: Myesha Jemison ‘18 and Rachel Yee ‘19. The Board endorses Rachel Yee for President. Additionally, we encourage a “no” vote on the referendum directing USG to work with the Interclub Council to collect and release demographic information about the members and, if applicable, bickerees of each eating club.
In deciding whom to endorse for President, the Board considered the priorities and plans of each candidate, as well as their experience and ability to effectively navigate the challenging bureaucracies of both USG and University administrative apparatuses. While both candidates have strong ideas and a wealth of leadership experience, we believe Yee’s vision for USG best addresses student needs through clear ideas and demonstrated operational know-how to implement that vision. Yee’s platform is almost exclusively focused on student services, in particular improvements for CPS and SHARE. In both areas, Yee offers more specific and actionable ideas to increase student access to these important services. We believe this is the right focus for USG, as the only campus body elected by students and as such best suited to serve undergraduates by advocating for and shaping campus policy.
The Board is particularly impressed by Yee’s thoughtful plans for CPS. She advocates satellite CPS offices in residential colleges, as well as office hours in the LGBT Center, Carl A. Fields Center, Davis International Center, Jadwin, and E-Quad. She also hopes to implement mental health training for residential college staff. The Board has advocated in the past for increased access to existing mental health resources, and we commend Yee for going well beyond the existing programs in seeking to implement new initiatives that would give students greater access to professional help. Yee has already met with Calvin Chin, the Director of CPS, to discuss the feasibility of her ideas. This engagement reflects her understanding that USG does not operate alone to achieve its goals but must also coordinate with a variety of administrative partners from the University. She also has shown a positive desire to look beyond just the Princeton community for solutions, speaking with student counseling directors at NYU and Columbia in developing her ideas. Such diligence is a necessary quality for a successful USG president and shows Yee has thought carefully about how to get the job done. We hope the student body will vote for Yee to see these reforms implemented during her tenure.
Turning to the referendum on collecting and releasing information about eating club demographics, we oppose the referendum on the grounds it is unlikely to add value to students as they make their decision about joining a club, while having significant potential to discomfit students being asked to share their demographics. On a purely practical note, the proposal is also unenforceable as eating clubs are independent from the University and USG.
Students in favor of the referendum argue it would help students make more informed choices about joining an eating club. However, the Board believes this demographical information would add little value, as students have had ample opportunity to learn about the clubs through personal experiences both at the clubs and with members during their first three semesters at Princeton. We believe these personal interactions are exactly what should be influencing students’ decisions about where to join. A focus on demographical information could backfire by making some students who do not fit the statistical makeup of a club less likely to bicker or sign-in. In terms of the impact on students being asked to share their demographical information, students should not be asked to state their identities as some, such as gender, are very personal. Because the club memberships are so small, this private information may not be as anonymous as when collected, for example, as part of a larger-scale survey of the whole University. For bickerees specifically, we are concerned that having them state their race, gender, and major as part of bicker could cause them to feel reduced to these sole aspects of their complex identities when they are in the midst of what already can be a stressful and uncomfortable experience. Students should reject this well-intentioned but ultimately misguided proposal.
In conclusion, we encourage all students to take the few minutes required to vote online between today and Wednesday to participate in the many contested races on the ballot. We urge you to vote for Rachel Yee for USG President as well as to vote “no” on the referendum.
William Pugh ‘20 abstained from writing this editorial.
Ashley Reed ‘18 and Allison Berger '18 recused herself from the writing of this editorial.
The Editorial Board is an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of the ‘Prince.’ The Board answers only to its chair, the opinion editor and the editor-in-chief.