In the aftermath of the Undergraduate Student Government winter 2017 presidential elections, which fostered impassioned student debates, the student body now asks: Where does USG go from here?
President-elect Rachel Yee ’19, who won the office in a landslide with 72 percent of the vote, expressed her desire to collaborate with her fellow presidential candidates Matt Miller ’19 and Ryan Ozminkowski ’19.
“With all three of us and the coverage that we had combined, we can make a lot more impact working together in the future,” said Yee. “It shows a very high level of dedication to run for the highest office of USG and it shows that you really care and have a commitment to the school.”
Yee also plans on contacting candidates for other positions who were not elected “to get them involved in whatever capacity that they want to serve.”
“You have a lot of qualified candidates who end up not being able to get involved or feeling like they are locked out of the system because they were not elected,” Yee said.
When contacted by The Daily Princetonian, Ozminkowski deferred comment to his campaign manager, Zach Halem ’18, who emailed a statement.
“During the week of campaigning, Ryan and I constantly discussed how the election truly descended into a battle of ideals,” wrote Halem in the statement. “While most previous elections have focused on subtle differences between candidates’ platforms and experiences, this race truly asked students to reflect on their ideal campus culture and values.”
When the ‘Prince’ contacted Ozminkowski again for direct comment, Ozminkowski wrote in a text message that the original statement had, in fact, been written by both of them.
In the email, Halem emphasized that members of the Ozminkowski campaign wanted to bring “a smile, or at least a smirk, to many faces.”
“When freshmen descend through the FitzRandolph Gate during the Pre-rade, they are filled with dreams about their four short years on campus — dreams that are quickly obscured by piles of work,” continued Halem in the statement. “We all started this campaign to reignite those Pre-rade dreams by focusing on ideals of culture, community, and fun, and not letting our platform be circumscribed by a finite set of ideas.”
In a statement to the ‘Prince,’ Miller said that he “talked to [Yee] and congratulated her and wished her best of luck this new year.”
Of Yee’s 1968 voters, several found her goal-oriented platform to be the most impressive aspect of her campaign and have high hopes for how she will “shape USG in the future.”
“I voted for Yee because she was the candidate that had the best vision for USG,” said David Liu ’21. “I hope that she’ll be able to accomplish her campaign goals and prove that USG does more than organize Lawnparties by working to reform UHS and CPS among other things. I have a lot of hope in her and according to the vote tallies, so does the rest of Princeton.”
Joshua Tam ’18, who voted for Miller, said that seeing Miller “so passionate about what he does really struck a chord” with him. However, Tam noted that he support Yee “wholeheartedly” and believes that “USG is in good hands.”
Nicolas Chae ’21 credited Ozminkowski for the attention that his campaign garnered for the USG presidential elections.
“I think for once the student body was more involved with or at least knew more about the elections and none of that would've been possible without Ryan and his drive to make campus a more fun and inclusive place,” said Chae. “I think his campaign is something that's going to be talked about for several years and if it got people to laugh or be more interested in USG then I think it was a huge success.”
Other students echoed these sentiments, but also emphasized the importance of focusing on real issues.
“I think that the elections brought a lot of new energy and turnout to USG elections,” said William Pugh ’20. “But at the end of the day, I’m glad that 72 percent of those who voted were able to look past the rhetoric, publicity stunts, and empty promises and were able to evaluate each candidate based on their platform record and actual agenda.”
Pugh is a former member of the ‘Prince’ Editorial Board.
According to Yee, she will begin preparing for her role as USG president before the end of the break.
“Since it is the third day [after the election results], I am ramping back up and setting a master objective plan for each month,” said Yee. “I’ll starting reaching out to USG members to make sure that we’re on the same page by the time we get to our intersession training as well as reaching out to past USG presidents to more fully understand what the week-to-week is going to look like.”
Yee described herself as “excited, motivated, and happier” than she has been “in a really long time” in regards to the potential that she has to make change through her new position.
“What I would like to see happen is for the momentum that we gained during the elections to continue,” said Yee. “This election cannot be the ending point.”
The newly elected officers will officially take over from their predecessors on Feb. 5, the first day of the spring semester.