“For the first half, it was difficult because I had to earn a lot more respect than I might have been given were I elected one year later,” Yaroshefsky said. “Now I have a better understanding of things because I had to work harder.”
In the past year, his administration has expanded dining services and fitness initiatives, launched a new events calendar and the Integrated Course Engine, revised the grading policy letter sent to employers and graduate schools, and increased the number of campus-wide USG events, such as Frostfest and the Nutrition Festival.
The path to the presidency, however, was not an easy one. Yaroshefsky won the election in 2010 by a 41-vote margin, defeating Jack Altman ’11 in a runoff. He previously chaired the USG Information Technology Committee, where he implemented a new online voting system following troubles in an election for the Class of 2012 senators his freshman year.
Though Yaroshefsky ran and received the most votes in that election, Becca Lee ’12 was named a winner due to a computer glitch. He was offered the position of senator after the error was discovered, but instead chose to remain in the alternate position he had taken as information technology chair.
The first term
Out of all the issues he tackled in his first year in office, Yaroshefsky is proudest of internal reforms he made within the USG. He said that he focused on building institutional memory and providing and gathering resources for USG members about the work of past boards.
After reviewing USG correspondences and minutes, he is currently in the process of compiling a digital “internal playbook” in order to promote a more long-term outlook.
“A lot of the things that we’re trying to do, people in the USG have previously done,” he noted.
He also added that he strives to try new approaches to foster familiarity within the USG.
This past fall, Yaroshefsky organized an off-campus retreat to Blairstown, N.J., for USG members. Before then, orientation activities for student government representatives would take place on campus and consist of “a couple of name games and a white board,” Yaroshefsky explained.
The retreat, which was held again this past Friday and Saturday for the upcoming administration, seeks to build teamwork among members of the organization. It provides a bonding experience for the USG, while familiarizing members with their responsibilities.
“Yaro operates under the impression that you not only want a working relationship [with other members], but you want to be comfortable around them,” said Brian Jeong, a senator for the Class of 2011 who has served in the USG under the past three presidents.
“You want to be able to call them and ask for help. You might not be able to do that with just a working relationship, but you can do that with someone whom you consider a friend,” he noted.
Other representatives added that Yaroshefsky’s leadership has promoted cohesiveness within the organization and increased efficiency.
“Yaro is an effective leader who is able to both create and execute projects while helping to guide other USG members to their own successes, supporting their growth as leaders,” Catherine Ettman ’13, USG vice president-elect and current Class of 2013 senator, said. She added that she felt his belief and investment in projects make for a positive working environment.
In an effort to streamline the execution of USG projects, Yaroshefsky created the position of projects manager upon coming into office. The projects manager handles the administrative aspects of project planning and compiles the mid-year and annual reports.
In his role as USG president, Yaroshefsky has also had to communicate student needs to the University administration. One of the individuals with whom he has worked closely is Vice President for Campus Life Cynthia Cherrey, who was selected to replace former vice president Janet Dickerson in May 2010 and took office last August.
Once she had been appointed, Yaroshefsky was one of the first people to welcome her, Cherrey noted.
“He was very helpful in relaying the student perspective and experience at Princeton to me,” Cherrey said.
The pair has met periodically to discuss areas of student interest. They have also collaborated closely on multiple projects, including the USG-funded fitness initiative, which subsidized group fitness sessions at Dillon Gymnasium.
“Yaro is very good at listening to others and formulating goals. He is also great at finding partners throughout campus, and promoting a collaborative effort,” Cherrey said.
For his next term, Yaroshefsky calls academics his “number one priority.” He hopes to create a task force that will examine academic life on campus. The task force’s aim will be to improve precepts, feedback on written work, course reviews and academic discourse outside the classroom.
Upcoming administrative changes, however, have caused Yaroshefsky to examine ways to “modify” and “rethink” his approach to academic issues. He wants to present English and African American studies professor Valerie Smith, the next dean of the college, with fresh ideas. Smith is expected to succeed Nancy Malkiel on July 1.
Additionally, Yaroshefsky said, he has began categorizing the more than 800 ideas that were submitted during the USG’s launch of its digital “Suggestions Box.”
“When brainstorming, you want quantity over quality,” Yaroshefsky said.
For a USG that is “two months ahead of schedule,” according to Yaroshefsky, his re-election will provide a smoother transition. Appointed members of the USG have already started working even though their terms do not begin until February. One of their first goals is to condense the suggestions list into 50 actionable items.
As Yaroshefsky faces the next year, he takes with him a year’s worth of experience but also the pressure of a final year in office. Members of the USG say they are fully confident that his energy and commitment will lead to continued success.
“The kid’s a tank,” projects manager Adi Rajagopalan ’13 said. “I’ve never seen one person devote himself so fully to any organization before.” Rajagopalan is also a member of The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board.
“He will be able to build on last year’s work instead of dealing with an entirely new administration,” Jeong noted. “He can be considered the touchstone of the USG.”