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USG potential referenda include change to P/D/F policy, standing Sustainability Committee

<h6>Photo Credit: Ans Nawaz / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Photo Credit: Ans Nawaz / The Daily Princetonian

Two Undergraduate Student Government (USG) referenda have been announced, one regarding a change to the current pass/D/fail (PDF) policy, and another calling for the implementation of a standing Sustainability Committee. Students will be able to vote for them from Dec. 9 to 11 before they can be presented to the appropriate administrations.

The referenda will appear on the ballots with the USG winter election voting. USG does allow for a single opposition party to campaign against one of the proposed referenda during the campaign cycle, an option students had until Dec. 2 to apply to do, according to an email from the USG.

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The PDF referendum, sponsored by Chukwuagoziem Uzoegwu ’21, calls “on the Faculty and the Committee on the Course of Study to reform the current PDF policy by allowing students to remove a PDF that they have placed on a class within a week of the end of the same semester that they chose to PDF.”

The current PDF policy states that after electing to PDF a course, “No further changes in grading options will be permitted after 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the ninth week of classes.”

The proposed change will allow students to remove the PDF from the course within the last day of the semester, as defined as the last day of the finals period.

“As the policy currently stands, while students are being encouraged to take classes whose concepts they are not familiar with, they are not being encouraged to continue trying in such classes (or any given class) after PDF-ing which defeats of the existence of the policy in the first place,” wrote Uzoegwu in an email to The Daily Princetonian. 

“I hope it provides further encouragement to students to venture into courses in which they are not familiar with the topic as well as to continue trying in any course that they PDF,” Uzoegwu wrote. “I hope that students and faculty find that the change has positively impacted both groups' academic experiences particularly with regards to how students use PDFs and how they interact with classes that they have PDF-ed.”

The referendum to create a standing Sustainability Committee would ensure that the committee outlasts changing administrations, since USG’s semester-long task forces are subject to change with the election of new Senate members who may have different agendas from their predecessors.

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According to the USG website, a current semester-long Sustainability Task Force “aim[s] to increase environmental sustainability at Princeton both by implementing more sustainable campus practices in partnership with the university administration and by cultivating a spirit of environmental stewardship among the student body.”

The task force has recently worked with University Facilities to promote a new app, “Recycling on Campus,” and, according to a USG announcement on Dec. 4, they have been “investigating ways to institutionalize sustainability within USG, including for the events USG hosts and in the way USG provides funding and support to student groups.”

“I realized USG could, and should, do a lot more for sustainability. Every member of the task force had great intentions, but by nature task forces are only efficient for small, specific policy changes, not for long term goals,” the referendum’s sponsor, Andres Larrieu ’22, who is part of the task force, wrote in an email to the ‘Prince’.

“This referendum would create a permanent committee that would bring a lot more people into USG to only work on sustainability, lead [sic] by a chair that will prioritize sustainability on campus as their main goal,” he added.

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According to Larrieu’s referendum, Senate task force members are currently affiliated with different task forces and have separate responsibilities, which limits the amount of time and energy that can be invested in sustainability. Establishing this chair will provide the Senate with a Sustainability Committee, which students can join to work exclusively on sustainability on campus.

The referendum seeks to have a sustainability representative on the Senate’s Executive Committee (ExComm), which would allow the chair to “use their position on ExComm to report on USG activities to the Princeton Sustainability Committee,” according to the referendum proposal.

“This chair and committee will change campus culture to make sustainability more salient in every student's life,” Larrieu hopes.

For a referendum to pass, at least one-third of the student body must turn out to vote.

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