Seventeen of the 29 students running for Undergraduate Student Government (USG) positions this spring will be doing so unopposed.
On April 3, USG announced this year’s U-Council and Class Government candidates via email. The spring election will also include a referendum question on whether or not undergraduates should “call on Princeton University to limit the widespread printing and distribution of the physical copy of the ‘Rights, Rules, [and] Responsibilities.’”
Nine students ran for 10 positions on the U-Council, according to the USG announcement. Of the 15 total elected Class Government positions, eight races are unopposed and one position — freshman social chair — was not sought after at all.
Ayush Alag ’23, Peter Colvin ’21, Sarah Elkordy ’21, Julia Garaffa ’23, Sahil Jain ’23, Sarah Lee ’22, Allen Liu ’22, Riley Martinez ’23, and Juan Nova ’23 will all serve as U-Councilors. This will be the second year out of the seven years of available data with under 10 candidates for U-Council. During that time frame, on average, 13 students ran for the positions each year. The 10th U-Councilor slot will be filled via application.
“Andres Larrieu ’22 (USG Vice President) and I will be sending out a call for applications and interviewing candidates in the coming weeks after Elections are completed,” USG President Chitra Parikh ’21 wrote in a statement to The Daily Princetonian.
The races for Class of 2021 President, Vice President, and Secretary were all unopposed as well. Emma Parish ’21, Sanjana Duggirala ’21, and Arielle Mindel ’21 will serve in each of those positions, respectively.
Similarly, Santi Guiran ’22 and Mansi Totwani ’22 will serve as President and Treasurer for the Class of 2022. Melissa Chun ’23, Noah Maxwell ’23, and Fatinah Albeez ’23 will serve as Treasurer, Secretary, and Vice President respectively for the Class of 2023.
Taryn Sebba ’23 and Sophie Singletary ’23 are running in the only contested presidential race.
In an interview with the ‘Prince,’ Singletary explained that she sees herself as uniquely qualified because she is “a friendly face” who is involved in various dimensions of campus life and can be “in tune and in touch with large portions” of the Class of 2023.
Sebba also said that she sees herself as “a really good representation” of her class.
“My mom is from Guatemala, and my dad is actually from South Africa, so I grew up in a really multicultural household,” she said. “I’m also from Colorado, and so I have sort of a modge-podge of all of these different experiences, and I really value diversity and inclusivity.”
Singletary and Sebba were both elected Class Representatives in the fall and have served in class government for the majority of their time at the University.
Sebba said that she is proud of her work spearheading a lot of the “formals events” — communicating with vendors for the Orange and Black Ball and the Freshman Formal this year. She has also taken the lead in creating a Grandparent Class mentorship program with the Class of 1973, meeting with alumni “to pilot programs [and] find perfect web interfaces to best get ‘grandparents’ connected.”
“I’m really excited about this program because I think it helps foster community and add more traditions to our already incredibly tradition-rich community,” she said.
“More than anything I want to make sure people are being heard,” Sebba added. “And I think that actualizes in all of the work that I’ve done — whether it's something as small as sticker designs and having all our classmates vote on their favorite ones, all the way up to creating this revolutionary Grandparent Class mentorship program based off of the ideas of my peers.”
Singletary also spoke on how her past experiences qualify her for the presidency. Having served on an “honor committee” at her high school, she says she is prepared to fulfill that responsibility of the class president position. She also cited her work this year planning a food truck study break, helping design gear, helping run a Zoom raffle, and sending stickers to students’ homes across the globe.
Many of Singletary’s campaign ideas center around creating community through event planning.
“I’m proposing tailgates and game day giveaways at athletic events, as well as other attendance incentives for many of our great art performances, which I think would be great ways to further build community around our class’ array of talents and interests,” she said.
Singletary also discussed another initiative she would like to pursue this summer, where Class of 2023 members would record short, encouraging messages of gratitude to send to restaurant workers and health care professionals throughout the town.
“I also had an idea of potentially using our budget to buy gift cards from local restaurants in the Princeton area that are suffering enormously right now,” she added. “To support them economically now and organize [...] some sort of study break when we’re all back together.”
Both candidates for Class of 2023 President said that they have enjoyed working alongside each other thus far, and Sebba said she is excited to see “two strong women” running for Class President.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with her,” Singletary added. “I feel completely sure that whoever it is between the two of us will use our experience and energy to further create bonds among the Class of 2023.”
In the class of 2021, Kavya Chaturvedi ’21 and Calista Lee ’21 are both running for Treasurer. Sisters Phoebe Park ’21 and Debby Park ’22 are both running for Social Chair of their classes, against Lane Mahoney ’21 and Nafisa Ahmed ’22, respectively. Gabe Lebeau ’22 and Josh Haile ’22 are running for Junior Class Vice President, and Mariah Crawford ’22 and Aydan Çelik ’22 are running for Secretary for the Class of 2022.
Since no first-year student petitioned to run for Class of 2023 Social Chair, this position will “be selected via application by the newly elected Class of 2023 officers,” according to Parikh.
“These processes are outlined in the USG Constitution,” she added.
Including this Spring’s upcoming election, none of the last 10 USG elections have seen over half of the races contested. Elections Manager Lehman Montgomery ’22 said USG is working on increasing participation — trying to drive up the number of people running for USG positions as well as general voter turnout.
Right now, he said USG is working with the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS) to try and identify groups on campus that do not generally participate in elections and cater to these individuals. With USG currently dominated by individuals interested in politics and policy — with many students from the Woodrow Wilson School and the American Whig-Cliosophic Society — Lehman says they hope to potentially draw in more science and engineering-focused individuals.
“It’s kind of just looking at ways we can bring in the entire student body and really engage the entire student body — and make sure people see USG as a means of doing work that not only caters to individuals who are extremely focused on policy,” he said, “but also individuals who have other interests that are not as prominently represented.”
For the six contested elections, campaigning began on April 6 and voting will begin on April 13. With students unable to campaign in person, the election rules were adjusted during an April 4 meeting. In an effort to prevent candidates from “spamming” people’s inboxes, each candidate will only be permitted to send two emails during the week to the undergraduate student body.
“That way, we kind of kept it from overloading individuals on the listservs with things concerning elections and referenda,” Lehman said. “We just didn’t want individuals at Princeton to have 50 to 100 emails in their inboxes coming from candidates that are running, but we also wanted to be aware that people need to get their message out.
USG also extended voting until April 16, one day longer than usual. Candidates will additionally be able to campaign using their personal social media accounts, through Facebook, Instagram, private messaging, and other forms of outreach — so long as they follow the limits and guidelines spelled out in the USG Elections Handbook. Candidates who do not abide by these guidelines may have virtual campaigning privileges revoked.
“You are running your entire campaign virtually, so it would probably hurt more if you have those privileges revoked,” Lehman noted. “So perhaps candidates will be a bit more cognizant of making sure that they follow every single rule, just because that their only means of campaigning is through electronics.”
Online voting will open at noon on April 13 and extend until noon on April 16.