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USG discusses Puerto Rico resolution, Verdú statement

At the Undergraduate Student Government’s weekly meeting a week ago, U-Councilor Diego Negrón-Reichard ’18 attempted to persuade the University to house and educate Puerto Rican students displaced by the Hurricanes Irma and Maria. At the Council of the Princeton University Community meeting Nov. 13 — a day after the USG meeting — President Eisgruber turned down the suggestion.

This week, USG sought to respond, and it passed a new resolution recommending actions the University can and should take to address the needs of Puerto Rican students on and off campus.


In addition to the Puerto Rico resolution, USG debated a second resolution regarding the sexual harassment case against professor Sergio Verdú and confirmed new members of committees in its weekly meeting on Nov. 19.

Negrón-Reichard introduced Senate Resolution 1-2017 which advocates that the University adopt a general policy on the effect of natural disasters on the University community and directs the University to engage in direct relief efforts.

After Eisgruber’s refusal to host Puerto Rican students, Negrón-Reichard said he met with other University officials to adjust his resolution’s policies.

The resolution asks the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid and Student Employment, the Directors of Student Life, and the Undergraduate Admission Office to be proactive in reaching out to current and prospective students adversely affected by natural disasters.

“For Puerto Rican students that need financial aid, they haven’t come forward because it’s embarrassing to ask for more money,” Negrón-Reichard said.

More specifically, the resolution calls upon the University to support institutions of higher learning in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.


Senator Eli Schechner ’18 inquired how the University might determine the threshold for harm done by different disasters.

“I think the criteria as evidenced in the substance of the resolution should be in cases where the communities affected are not able to rebuild and rehabilitate by their own power and require a lot of external support,” U-Councilor Ben Press ’20 said.

After amending the resolution slightly for wording, the Senate passed the resolution.

U-Councilor Pooja Patel ’18 presented Senate Resolution 2-2017, urging the University to intensify its disciplinary actions against Verdú, who was found responsible for sexual harassment in a recent Title IX investigation.

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Graduate student Yeohee Im alleges that Verdú sexually harassed her on multiple occasions over a two-month period. In response, the University allegedly required Verdú to attend an eight-hour training session. Verdú remains employed by the University.

“There is just a huge disparity in power between a Ph.D. student and advisor that can affect you really for the rest of your professional career,” Patel said.

Patel also noted that despite additional allegations against Verdú, other women were not willing to publicly accuse Verdú.

“No one was willing to come on record because of obvious personal and professional ramifications involved,” Patel said.

With respect to the broad nature of the resolution’s language, Patel spoke on the necessity of an immediate statement about Verdú that the Senate may revise later. She said the resolution must also allow for the inclusion of the Graduate Student Government’s developing list of policy proposals regarding sexual misconduct.

Other USG members indicated concern about the oblique language regarding elevating punishment for Verdú when USG members are not aware of Verdú’s precise punishment.

“I’m not comfortable with that given that we do not know the precise punishment,” Press said.

Vice President Daniel Qian ’19 responded that the Senate is aware at least of what actions the University did not take.

The Senate decided to pass Schechner’s motion to amend the resolution. Patel will revise the resolution to include citations for the exact magnitude of Verdú’s punishment and for a quote from Provost Deborah Prentice. Voting on the resolution will occur electronically prior to the next meeting.

Social Committee Chair Lavinia Liang ’18 discussed tabling for suggestions and merchandise in Frist on Nov. 27–29, as well as the Jingle Ball tickets giveaway and holiday art sale for charity on Dec. 5.

Additionally, President Myesha Jemison ’18 in her President’s Report and U-Councilor Ethan Marcus ’18 in his review of the CPUC meeting on Nov. 13 spoke of the need for greater publicity for the Campus Iconography Committee, the CIC Portraiture Nominations Committee, and the CPUC Committee on Naming.

The Senate voted to confirm Preeti Iyer ’20 as U-Councilor, Sophie Torres ’21 to the Social Committee as design coordinator, Rachel Hazan ’21 to both the University Student Life Committee and the Project Board, and Zarnab Virk ’20 to the Project Board.

Hazan is also a contributing copy editor for The Daily Princetonian.

The next USG meeting will take place on Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. There will be no meeting Nov. 26, the first Sunday after Thanksgiving break.