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This Board welcomes the opportunity to continue in the tradition of formally endorsing a candidate for President of Undergraduate Student Government. In the Winter 2017 election cycle, the three candidates for President are: Matt Miller ’19, Ryan Ozminkowski ’19, and Rachel Yee ’19. After careful consideration of each candidate's platform, the Board endorses Yee for President of USG.
This semester, a group of graduate students at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs has been working to improve diversity and inclusion at WWS as part of a new organization, Students for Educational Equity and Diversity. This organizing culminated in a letter, signed by 71.7 percent of all WWS graduate students and 79.7 percent of Masters in Public Affairs students, that was sent to the WWS administration and offered several proposals toward SEED's goals. The letter was shared with the Wilson School's Dean, and SEED members are in open and productive communication with the administration regarding the letter's contents. Moreover, over the past two weeks, two op-eds have been published by members of SEED referencing these efforts. In the spirit of openness and accountability, the full text of the letter is available here, and an abridged version is reproduced below. Faculty, alumni and undergraduate allies are welcomed to express their support by signing this support letter.
“I totally got raped.”
Anybody smart enough to be admitted to Princeton should have realized what really ought to have been an obvious fact about cheating at the University: people don’t refrain from cheating because of their impeccable moral compasses. Rather, they do so because they’re scared of the consequences that will follow if they do cheat. People at Princeton are like people anywhere else — they’re selfish. When they think cheating will get them a better grade, they’ll do it barring grave consequences, because a better grade gets them their better consulting job, or better law school acceptance, or better fellowship opportunity. Reform number one, which proposes dismembering existing penalties for cheating and reduces them to mere disciplinary probation — a sad joke of a punishment — is, without any doubt, going to increase the prevalence of cheating at Princeton, devaluing your work and mine.
Editor's Note: As a clarification, the Honor Constitution, as adopted in 1895, determines a punishment of expulsion for sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and recommends a punishment of suspension for first-years who violate the Honor System.
To the Editor,
“As for him who lacks the courage to defend even his own soul: Let him not brag of his progressive view … Let him say to himself plainly: I am cattle, I am a coward, I seek only warmth and to eat my fill.” So wrote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in his essay Live not by Lies, urging resistance to all forms of ideological coercion. Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident-turned-president, stated that authoritarian regimes are propped up by small instances of ideological submission, like the greengrocer who puts up a party slogan in his shop out of fear of nonconformity.
Undergraduate Student Government (USG) elections began with a bang last week when presidential candidate Ryan Ozminkowski '18 bought the online domains to his rivals' campaign websites. Throughout the events and controversies that have ensued, public interest in USG elections has skyrocketed to a new high. One can hear conversations about the candidates and referenda across campus, everywhere from Whig-Clio senate debates to late night common room chats.
As a referendum sponsor who served on the Honor Committee for two years, I write with the hope that my fellow Princetonians will exercise their right to amend the Honor Constitution and seize the opportunity to create a fairer system by voting “yes” on the four referenda up for voting between Tuesday, Dec. 12, and Thursday, Dec. 14. These referenda reflect many frequent student concerns in addition to issues stemming from dynamics that I bore witness to while a member of the Honor Committee.
Editor's Note: The author was granted anonymity due to the risk of harm to or retaliation against the author.
I joined the Undergraduate Student Government as a class senator because I saw a gap in student representation on the Senate. As a first-generation, low-income woman of color, I was not familiar with anyone on the USG Senate who also identified with all three of these backgrounds. I viewed this as an opportunity to bring to the table the visions people of these communities on campus have for Princeton’s present and future.
By now, you’ve likely heard that there are four referenda on the ballot for next Tuesday proposing reform to the Honor Code. Why is such reform necessary? I hope you’ll read this and find out.
“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness…. [O]ne ever feels his twoness — an American, a [Black person]; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” — W.E.B. Du Bois
Academic integrity is one of the core values of the University community. For many of us, it influenced our decision in choosing Princeton over other schools. Maintaining the highest standard of academic integrity is indeed a cardinal responsibility of all Princeton students. However, as a former Honor Committee member, I solemnly believe that the current Honor Constitution is not serving its core objective to the best of its capabilities, and therefore requires immediate reform.
This week, the student body will be asked to vote on four referendum questions that would make significant changes to Princeton’s student-run Honor System. As members of Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and a former member of the Honor Committee (HC), we the undersigned believe that these referenda are the result of a highly problematic deliberative process by certain members of USG. On substance, these referenda would make the Honor Constitution untenable as a meaningful way to handle academic integrity violations on in-class examinations at Princeton. Most notably, the proposal to change the standard penalty for Honor Code violations from a one-year suspension to disciplinary probation would result in an unsustainable disparity between penalties in cases before the Honor Committee and the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline (CoD), creating an unfair system with inconsistent penalties for similar violations. The student body should reject these proposals and, instead, support a more responsible process for potential Honor System reforms already being undertaken this spring by a University Task Force composed of students, faculty, and administrators.
Hey, Princeton! My name’s Matt Miller, and I’m running for Undergraduate Student Group president because I see a whole host of problems with easy fixes. I’m the only candidate that has been on USG this past year (I worked in communications), and while I was on USG, I saw some problems that I wanted to fix but couldn’t. You can read my whole platform on my website matt4usg.com, but here are some highlights:
The Undergraduate Students Government Academics Committee Subcommittee on the Honor Constitution has sponsored four referenda on which students will vote from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14. We write, as students with a connection to the Honor Committee, to express our opposition to these four referenda. We are not opposed in principle to Honor Code reform; indeed, we believe strongly that the Honor Constitution is a living and evolving document with which students should continually engage to ensure that it is reflective of our community values and norms. Our opposition to these referenda pertains to the process by which they have come about, which has not allowed for the kind of comprehensive discussion with faculty, students, administrators, and legal counsel that reforms of this magnitude require. This is the first in a series of articles in which we will outline our concerns about the language and substance of the proposed reforms and advocate for a more thorough Honor Code reform process which effectively engages all relevant constituencies over the coming semester.
There you are. It’s Christmas morning and you’re surrounded by all of your loving family and friends. You’re ready to open presents and nothing can ruin this moment — or so you think. It’s a feeling that a lot of Princeton students inevitably face during breaks. You feel uneasy and you don’t know why. You feel like you should be doing something and then you remember: You should be studying for finals.
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.