In three hours of public meetings and two executive sessions, the Undergraduate Student Government debated hot topics such as Honor Committee referenda, the upcoming USG elections, and a new BDSM student group in its Dec. 3 meeting. 

In response to the four referenda that were introduced in the last week on the Honor Committee, Honor Committee Chair Carolyn Liziewski ’18 and Honor Committee Clerk Elizabeth Haile ’19 responded to proposed changes to the Honor Constitution. The two said that they were unaware of the referenda before the email to the student body announcing the referenda. 

Liziewski said that the Honor System will already be reviewed by a task force of students, faculty, and administrators in the spring semester that would include USG Academics Chair Patrick Flanigan ’18. Both students and faculty, she said, must engage in the review.

According to the agenda, the task force would be considering “investigation and hearing processes and policies, constitutional language, penalties, Honor Committee membership, and the Committee’s relationship to the USG.”

“It would be really wrong for a body to step in and rob students of that right,” Micah Herskind ’19 said on the task force. Herskind previously served on the Honor Committee his freshman year.

Liziewski countered that the referendum comes too soon. Currently, voting on the referenda would take place from Dec. 12 to 14. Liziewski said that, instead, there should be “months of campus discourse” between students and faculty.

“If we want to make a change this big to the Honor Code, it really is our responsibility to know how the faculty will respond and engage in negotiation with the faculty if they disagree with the changes that we want to see to the Honor Code,” Liziewski said.

Liziewski explained that the University cannot issue one-semester suspension due to policies of the Office of the Registrar. She explained that no student, unless they have advanced standing, may take only one semester off. 

The USG also approved six new student groups: Princeton Global Brigades, Finding the Match, Astronomy Club, Princeton Plays, Princeton Southeast Asian Society, and Princeton University Pluralist Society.

Student Groups Recognition Committee Co-Chair Aaron Sobel ’19 drew attention to a group called Princeton Plays, which he described as a group for students interested in BDSM or non-traditional relationships. A potentially controversial issue, Sobel said, is that the group tries to protect its members’ confidentiality. 

“If you’re a member of this group, they tell you that we’re going to try our best to preserve your identity,” Sobel said, “but they can’t 100 percent guarantee that it will be protected.”

The description of the group explains that it “hopes to provide a safe space for students interested in non-traditional relationships … to promote values of sexual inclusivity and affirm that all types of safe and consensual activity between individuals is valid.”

Harvard, Yale, and Columbia all have similar groups.

To join the group, a student must speak to members of the group’s executive board. Events hosted by the group are also color-coded to indicate whether the event is open to the public or open only to members. Events of the latter will not be funded by the USG Project Board.

The USG voted to approve all the new organizations as a package.

The USG also heard two appeals from Michael Asparrin ’19 and Ryan Ozminkowski ’19, who argued that their petitions for candidacy in the Class of 2019 USG election should be considered, despite being late. Asparrin and Ozminkowski admitted that they had turned in their petitions late to the Chief Elections Manager. Several USG members initially opposed the appeals, which were eventually approved after two executive sessions that were not open to the public.

Both Asparrin and Ozminkowski believed that, since the petitions weren’t picked up on time, petitions that may have been turned in late could have been considered valid. 

“I think that the rules and the standards are being applied unequally,” Asparrin said. “The USG asks for all candidates to submit their materials in by the noon deadline and that the USG should hold itself to the same standard.”

U-Councilor Diego Negrón-Reichard ’18 said it would be “hypocritical” of the USG to reject the appeal with the USG’s push to attract more candidates in elections.

Others believed that Asparrin and Ozminkowski should be subject to the rules of the elections handbook and should not have their appeals approved.

“You’re asking that all the candidates are being treated equally, and, in my eyes, there’s a very clear way to do that, which is to apply the rules that are written,” class senator Eli Schechner ’18 said. 

Chief elections manager Laura Hausman ’20 emphasized the importance of meeting a deadline according to elections rules. 

“Whether or not the petitions were collected at 12 p.m. or 12:01 p.m. or 12:37 p.m. has no bearing on the fact that you failed to meet the deadline for candidate registration,” Hausman said. 

Ozminkowski also offered the argument that his campaign believed the noon deadline on Nov. 28 to be in Pacific Standard Time. Ozminkowski said that the time zone was never specified. Several USG members expressed disbelief at that argument. 

After two executive sessions, both appeals were approved.

Social Committee Chair Lavinia Liang also requested internal funding from the USG for an additional $15,000 for a Dean’s Date Celebration that is based on the 2013 Silent Disco operation. The concert, according to Liang, would consist of a live DJ with giveaways and food throughout the night. Silent disco equipment would not be available for the date.

The USG later approved Senate Resolution 7-2017, Senate Constitution Amendment No. 5, which specifies the structure of a USG Subcommittee on Eating Club Relations. The subcommittee will now consist of two USG representatives and seven members-at-large. The members-at-large are also voting members.

Previously, the subcommittee comprised six USG representatives and three members-at-large.

The last issue of the meeting involved the current elections schedule. Currently, the USG cannot vote during winter elections, which would need to occur if the presidential election goes into a runoff. The Senate voted to keep two options open, an instant runoff vote or one that would extend voting into winter break.

The final vote will occur at USG’s next meeting on Dec. 10 in Lewis Library 120.

This article has been corrected to more accurately portray the sentiment of Laura Hausman's  '20 remarks. The 'Prince' regrets the error. 

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