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Leading in unprecedented times: A response to the Editorial Board’s endorsement

<h5>The entrance to Frist Campus Center.</h5>
<h6>Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
The entrance to Frist Campus Center.
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

I’m so grateful for the generous support I’ve received over the past weeks in my Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Presidential campaign. No matter the outcome, your acts of kindness, from checking in with me to telling others about my campaign, have meant the world. 

I’ve received a number of questions about my views on The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board’s endorsement. While I have made my views clear to my supporters and the many people who have reached out this week — and have asked ‘Prince’ staffers for these views to be reflected in the endorsement piece — I do feel the need to be publicly transparent about what I’ve shared quite widely by this point. 

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I am thankful for the Board’s endorsement. However, I take issue with several parts of its statement, particularly regarding the handling of academic policy in the spring. The endorsement piece suggests that USG’s leadership waited for the “administration’s verdict” on grading policy. I know that Christian Potter ’22 and Chitra Parikh ’21 (among other USG members) solicited feedback and collected and synthesized input even before the “verdict” through social media, petitions, articles from the ‘Prince’ and peer institutions, personal outreach, a COVID-19 specific “Students Concern Form for USG” e-mailed to the student body in March, and the USG Feedback Form, and that this feedback influenced both USG and the Academics Committee’s advocacy in the spring from the week we were asked to leave campus. This work continued after the initial grading policy announcement on March 19, as USG pushed to successfully change the decentralized “patchwork policy,” which as the article falsely states, Christian’s committee did not “go along with.” It’s also misleading to suggest that “no outreach” was done, for those same reasons above. Despite not being a quantitative survey, the other feedback channels provided breadth and depth in input. In short, the article ignores or misconstrues details of the extensive work that USG did. 

I am not trying to suggest that any of USG’s work was perfect — we are, by no means, perfect. We all share responsibility if, in any situation, our advocacy fails to create the best outcome for your circumstances or to reassure you that your concerns are being heard, and I speak on behalf of all of USG when I say that we take your feedback seriously and want to continually improve and learn. However, I do believe that it’s misguided and inappropriate to indict Christian and Chitra, particularly within the context of an endorsement, for their handling of a semester that, needless to say, was unprecedented for anyone — and in which the Academics Committee successfully advocated for a much fairer policy than initially announced. Criticizing in hindsight is easy, but being in leadership during a time like this is certainly not. I hope that the Editorial Board does better in the future.  

Allen Liu ’22 is a candidate for USG President. He can be reached at afliu@princeton.edu.

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