Christian Potter ’22, who currently serves as Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Academics Chair, will serve as USG President this year. Referenda calling for fossil fuel divestment and an Election Day holiday also passed overwhelmingly.
Fifty-two percent of students voted in the three-day election, making this the highest Winter Elections turnout since 2014, according to a message sent to students. Potter received 1212 votes, while U-Council Chair Allen Liu ’22 received 859. Over 350 students who filled out ballots abstained from voting for a presidential candidate.
Potter served as the Academic Chair this past year, leading the Academic Committee through decisions regarding academic policy during the remote semester.
“I’m still the Academics Chair, so I’m focused on academic policies for next semester, and I’ll be supporting the upcoming USG-administrative town hall and USG focus groups,” Potter wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian. “Beyond that, I look forward to incorporating the strong ideas of many candidates from this cycle into USG’s goals for the next year.”
His platform included making progress toward allowing students to opt for pass/D/fail (P/D/F) grading retroactively, as well as making a P/D/F option available for all classes within the next semester.
“This next year will bring new opportunities and challenges, and I can’t wait to work with students and administrators to effect positive change,” he added.
Liu told the ‘Prince’ he intends to remain in his position as the U-Council Chair and continue his work with the Mental Health Task Force, hoping to be active in the Executive Committee moving forward.
“I congratulate Christian Potter on becoming the next USG President. It's a well-deserved victory, and having worked with him this year, I know that USG will be in good hands,” he wrote in a statement to the ‘Prince’. “I look forward to continuing my current advocacy and supporting Christian’s administration next year.”
Fossil Fuels and a Day Off School
Both referenda on the ballot passed overwhelmingly, with well over the required 33 percent of students participating.
The first, which called for the cancellation of classes on every Election Day, received support from 89 percent of votes. 2,181 students voted in favor, 180 voted against the measure, and 77 students abstained.
Joe Shipley ’22, who sponsored the Election Day referenda alongside Ana Blanco ’23 and Abigail Poten ’23, said the results made him “proud to be a Princetonian.”
“With all the distraction of the past couple days – the University just announcing our return to campus, the aftershocks of the 2020 election – people could easily have sat this one out,” he wrote in a statement.
“They didn't,” Shipley added. “This is the biggest turnout we've seen in a USG election in a long time, and with almost 90% of students voting in favor of Referendum 1, we showed that there is a real mandate for change.
The second, which called for the divestment of the University’s endowment from fossil fuels, passed with 82 percent, or 2,011 voters. 283 students voted against the referendum and 144 abstained from voting.
Anna Hiltner ’23 sponsored the second referendum based on the University Resources Committee’s request to gauge student support for divestment.
“The resources committee wanted to know whether undergraduates are committed to divestment and the undergraduates have spoken loudly and clearly,” Hiltner wrote to the ‘Prince’. “The University has the opportunity to do the right thing here.”
The referenda “will move on to the next stage in the process,” according to a message to students.
“Based on the process outlined in the resolutions of both referenda, the next step in the referendum process is for the USG Senate to draft a report sharing the official position of undergraduates,” wrote Chitra Parikh ’21, the current USG President. “We’re looking forward to working closely with the sponsors to draft this report!”
The USG Executive Secretary will also work to transmit an official copy of the resolutions to relevant administrators, according to Parikh. The Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) Resources Committee is also currently discussing a proposal from Divest Princeton.
Several candidates endorsed one or both of the referenda on the ballot, showing great support for the changes expressed in each.
Executive Committee results and a close Senate race
Ashwin Mahadevan ’22, who has served as Vice President since September, will continue in that role for the next year. Mahadevan wrote in a statement that he looks forward to “facilitating the town halls and focus groups on the spring decision in the upcoming days.”
Fifty-eight percent of students who filled out ballots voted for Mahadevan, 24 percent elected to abstain, and 18 percent voted for Juan Nova ’23.
Potter told the ‘Prince’ he is “thrilled to continue working with Ashwin.”
“He stepped up during challenging times this semester, and he has proven himself a compassionate leader,” he wrote. “I am confident that we will make a great team, along with the other candidates elected.”
Turquoise Brewington ’22 and Mayu Takeuchi ’23 won the elections for Treasurer and Sustainability chair respectively, while Austin Davis ’23 ran unopposed for Academics Chair.
Brewington’s platform was focused on the creation and funding of a Princeton Affiliate of the Textbook Exchange Network (TEN) and focus on funding events such as Anti-Racism Book Initiatives.
Takeuchi’s platform prioritized inclusivity at the center of sustainability for the University.
In light of the University’s recent announcement inviting all undergraduates to campus, Takeuchi hopes to get started with this work immediately, “to make sure that we can return to campus safely and sustainably.”
“In the coming days, I will be meeting with student representatives and staff at the Office of Sustainability to develop plans for how we can work with students and the University to reduce waste from unnecessary single-use items while ensuring safety for our entire campus community,” she wrote to the ‘Prince’.
Sean Bradley ’24 and Mariam Latif ’24 won the six-candidate race for Class of 2024 Senator, with Lauren Fahlberg ’24 coming within one percent of the top two candidates. Latif received 258 votes, Bradley received 240, Fahlberg received 226, in a narrow contest for the seats.
Sean Bradley wrote, “I know that we are all ready to tackle the issues facing our class and our student body as a whole, and I look forward to setting our agenda in the coming weeks.”
Reade Ben ’22 and Bradley Phelps ’22 ran unopposed for the Class of 2022 Senate seats, and Senate seats for the sophomore class will be filled by application.
Liu told the ‘Prince’ that there is “a lot to be optimistic about” following this year’s election.
“The next administration is in a good place to continue critical conversations about Princeton, and with both referenda passing, we can push the University forward on making Election Day a holiday and divesting from fossil fuels,” he wrote.
Potter also told the ‘Prince’ he is grateful for Parikh’s work and “the example she set for what a beyond-dedicated student body president looks like.”
“Chitra is a tireless advocate for the student body, and it is truly an honor to continue her tremendously successful work,” Potter noted.
This story is breaking and will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.