It can be hard to evaluate candidates. Luckily, all undergraduates have access to the USG Winter 2017 Candidate Biographies document online. I will be pulling from this document extensively in the following election special. I will discuss each candidate in turn, starting with my endorsement of Yee, a discussion of Ryan Ozminkowski ’19, and my second choice in Matthew Miller ’19.  

Last year, Jan Domingo Alsina ’20 wrote a scathing opinion piece on the politicalization of USG campaigns. My favorite part and something we all ought to get behind is the following sentiment:

“But there’s just no need to politicize something that is inherently apolitical. What do I mean by this? Despite having the title ‘president,’ despite having the word ‘government,’ this position has absolutely nothing to do with national politics. USG candidates are glorified social event organizers who connect our class to the administration, and that’s it. The only government aspect of it all is that these candidates are elected — but please, enough with the ‘diverse and inclusive community’ narrative. Enough with this illusion of ‘building more class unity.’ This may come as a huge surprise, but hosting ice cream social events and giving away free gear will not change our campus culture to a large extent.”

Now, I understand that Alsina is saying that USG members are nothing more than social event organizers, which is a fair point. So we ought to be looking for candidates that do more than just organize events, which I think we have in Yee. When I endorse Rachel Yee ’19 for USG president, therefore, I submit she passes the “Alsina Test (™)”; she will do more than merely be a “glorified social event organizer.” 

Rachel Yee ’19: The most important aspect of Rachel Yee’s candidacy is her staunch commitment to mental health reform at Princeton. The importance of mental health at Princeton is widely underrated given how dire the consequences of ignoring it can be. Princeton is not immune to suicides, as the tragic case of Wonshik Shin ’19 last year demonstrates. According to USA Today, 1 out of 12 college students makes a suicide plan, and suicide is the No. 2 leading cause of death for those 15 to 32 years old. Given the crucible-like pressures of our ultra-competitive campus, mental health is a serious problem. Waiting periods for CPS can be several weeks long, and only recently was scheduling online an option for people going to CPS for the first time. While CPS reforms do not affect everyone, they do affect Princeton’s most vulnerable, and all of us when we are down on our luck. This, more than anything, wins Yee’s endorsement from me. 

At the same time, I like Rachel’s insistence that she can show USG does more than just Lawnparties through metrics. As a writer and a student, I would love metrics to show me what the student government does for me besides being a “glorified social event organizer.” Yee also suggests she can improve freshman advising. I was not aware that Princeton does an especially bad job matching freshmen with advisers in their major: I entered Princeton as an economics major, and I got an economics professor as an adviser. I certainly would contend that Princeton might benefit from allowing us to switch our advisers to those in different prospective majors as our preferences change. 

Ryan Ozminkowski ’19: At first glance, I made the mistake in thinking that his pledges to essentially “Make America Great Again” on the Candidate Biographies document were serious. Then I realized it was a joke, so make of that what you will. I have three opinions on this. One, he’s not really giving me any reasons to vote for him. Second, I’m not sure someone who makes a joke during an election is exactly who I want dealing with people like Eisgruber and the deans. They say Trump used humor during the election in 2016, and I certainly don’t want him talking to anyone important. On the other hand, you know, I get it. I really do. Maybe we do take ourselves too seriously, and this is a powerful statement against our competitive stress culture. Still, maybe that’s a good guest opinion article and a bad personal statement for an election. 

Besides the pragmatic aspect of whether he’s a good fit for the job, I’m also pretty skeptical about him morally, too. There’s the matter of Ryan’s rather underhanded campaign tactics; for example, buying out both Matt Miller’s and Rachel Yee’s campaign website domains. If he’s really the humorous, fun-loving guy I discussed above, it’s weird that he seems to be taking this campaign so seriously to fight so dirty. Also, is this the kind of person you want to represent you? I think not. I advise we stay away from Ozminkowski this cycle. 

Matthew Miller ’19: Everything I know about Matt Miller is that he’s a terrific guy, and I like a lot in his platform, too. I appreciate his ambition, trying to bring back seriously good acts for Lawnparties. Princetonians deserve something to look forward to before we jump into the year and after we’ve suffered through one. At the same time, it doesn’t seem to pass the Alsina Test; does USG really only do Lawnparties? If so, can’t I trust anyone to try and bring me the best Lawnparties acts they can?

The second major plank in Matt's platform is a better appreciation of student-athletes, something I can get behind wholeheartedly. It’s tough being an athlete at Princeton, and during my time on the men’s lightweight rowing team, I certainly wished that there were points where events were scheduled around my practices instead of during them. I definitely think a better awareness of athletes on campus could do good for student-athletes, which would be a big plus given that they are 20 percent of the student population. In evaluating Miller and Yee, I endorse Yee because while 20 percent of the student population is a lot, mental health affects all of us.

Final Endorsement: Vote Yee for USG. And would you look at that, it even rhymes. 

Ryan Born is a junior philosophy concentrator from Washington, MI. He can be reached at rcborn@princeton.edu. The endorsement for Rachel Yee is given independently of her campaign and does not represent the opinion of the ‘Prince’. 

Comments
Comments powered by Disqus