I generally keep a low profile on campus. I’m not really involved with much outside of my team, eating club, close friends, classes, etc. I apologize for the very personal nature of this piece as it is not something I am naturally inclined to do nor something I take any pleasure in. However, I feel the need to speak up due to the questions of the character of Ryan Ozminkowski ’19 in the current Undergraduate Student Government presidential election. To be completely transparent, I will be voting for Ryan, but I think Matt Miller ’19 and Rachel Yee ’19 seem like great people and candidates, and I encourage my fellow students to vote for whomever they think will make the best president. This piece is not an attempt to persuade your vote, rather a defense of the character of my friend.
I was recruited to the track team’s 2018 class, and running was my favorite thing in the world, the centerpiece of my identity. It was what got me up and excited in the morning, and gave my life purpose and structure. However, a series of injuries and eventual surgeries at the very end of high school and in my first semester at Princeton essentially derailed my athletic career (I’m still on the team but have not run in any races). To put it lightly, I did not handle it well. I became seriously depressed, unstable, and at the encouragement of my very legitimately concerned parents, I had to take a year off school after finishing the first semester just to get my life back together. Thus, I’m glad mental health is so prevalent in this year’s campaign, because I know all too well how serious an issue it is. The friends I made in my first semester were wonderful, but they were mostly track people, and I didn’t know if I was going to stay on the team for long, and had left campus feeling isolated and disconnected. So, when I came back to campus in the spring of 2016, I was seriously concerned that I would find myself alone, unhappy, and unable to re-assimilate.
Thank God for Ryan. He was a fellow track guy and Wilsonite, and he immediately went out of his way to connect with me, inviting me to a slew of movie nights, hangouts, meals, etc. It was largely through him that I met many of my closest friends in my new class. He was my roommate both this and last year, and has never been anything but kind, attentive, and enthusiastic, always willing to talk with and support me. There’s no question in my mind that he is one of the biggest reasons I’ve been able to have a positive Princeton experience and that he understands the seriousness of mental health on a more general level. Whenever I’ve been irrational or unreasonable, he hasn’t shot me down or antagonized me, but instead gently tried to reach a solution or help me out. Beyond our personal relationship, he constantly organizes little events for his friends and peers, and constantly talks about the impact he wants to have upon the school before he graduates. He is creative, imaginative, friendly, and compassionate.
Partially as a compliment and an insult, I often call him a Golden Retriever, and if there is a serious fault in his personality, it is that he can get too excited or carried away with some of his ideas (example: “No, dude, I don’t think it’s a good idea to have a mini trampoline in our room.”) I think this is the main reason his campaign has been somewhat controversial and rustled some feathers so far. I completely understand if some people don’t like his campaign style or tactics or have interpreted them as inappropriate; USG is serious business after all. I still think he is serious enough to make a great president. But as one of the people here who knows him best, I can promise you that Ryan is not malicious. I truly believe that his intentions are to get more students involved in USG and make this a more enjoyable experience for everyone, as he really does care about this community and the people who comprise it. Questioning the legitimacy and end results of this unconventional style is certainly fair game, and if people are turned off by this and prefer another candidate, I disagree but think it is a very valid opinion to have. However, I hope we do not extend this line of thinking towards bringing down the morality of someone who truly has the best intentions. Whether or not you like his campaign or think he would be a great president, he’s a great kid.
Liam Mullett ’19