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Princeton town council members met at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26, for their biweekly town hall meeting to discuss sustainability, the Civil Rights Commission, and future collaboration with the University. 

University President Christopher Eisgruber joined the council members during the last half of the meeting, as is his annual practice. He commended “the chance to work together.” Throughout the meeting, council members presented several issues to the president for his response.

“We thought that it was important to be able to do this meeting in conjunction with the campus plan, which I think speaks to a number of topics in our interest,” Eisgruber began. “It is very important that we look for ways to make a difference in the world.”

Council member Tim Quinn presented the first topic to Eisgruber, focusing on “retail challenges” that the town is currently facing and suggesting a hotel on Nassau Street as a solution. Although Eisgruber expressed that he could not make guarantees about this plan, he acknowledged that both the town and the University would benefit from this arrangement.

“It will be very important to keep these ideas open about land use and zoning in Princeton so that both of us can benefit,” Eisgruber said.

In addition, council member David Cohen also expressed concern that the University helped faculty with housing but did not contribute this same support to lower-level employees.

“We want them to be part of our community as well,” Cohen said.

Eisgruber acknowledged this disparity and considered other “sustainable and affordable” options to alleviate the burden on such lower-level employees.

Following Cohen’s inquiry, council member Lance Liverman thanked Eisgruber for his efforts in the past year to extend employment opportunities to citizens living in the town.

“Thank you for listening to us and for extending your arm,” Liverman said.

Council member Leticia Fraga also extended her praise and gratitude to the University for providing support to the town in the form of funding and staffing for various initiatives, such as “Send Hunger Packing,” which provides weekend meals to students eligible for free and reduced lunch. Fraga expressed her desire to further “collaborate and mobilize the University’s resources” to create a local laundromat and to utilize a soon-to-be completed house provided by Habitat for Humanity.

In response to Fraga’s concerns about additional human support, Eisgruber suggested that service opportunities could be extended to undergraduate and graduate students through the University Pace Center for Civil Engagement.

Diverging from issues directly effecting the town, council member Heather Howard steered conversation towards Monday's Supreme Court decision not to hear a Trump administration appeal regarding whether the U.S. president can end DACA. Eisgruber said, "I do think this is a modest victory or the avoidance of a loss just today, in that what the government was seeking was a very extraordinary kind of appeal from the district court up to the Supreme Court."  

In light of recent national dissent about gun control and school safety measures, council president Jenny Crumiller sought Eisgruber’s insight on possibly arming University Public Safety officers. Eisgruber speculated that the implementation of guns among Public Safety officers would result in a “different atmosphere” and a “different kind of relationship” between students and Public Safety, and ultimately defended University policy to keep officers unarmed.

“We continue to believe that that is the right policy for us to have as a university,” Eisgruber said.

Eisgruber concluded his update by thanking the town council members for their willingness to work with the University.

“The strength of the University, I think, is dependent upon the strength of the town and the state of New Jersey,” Eisgruber said.

The next Princeton town council meeting will take place on Monday, Mar. 12, at 7 p.m.

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