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USG approves referenda calling for Election Day holiday, fossil fuel divestment

Caitlin Limestahl / The Daily Princetonian
Caitlin Limestahl / The Daily Princetonian

In the weekly Undergraduate Student Government (USG) meeting, the Senate approved two referenda to appear on the winter election ballot: one calling for the University to recognize Election Day as an official holiday and the second calling for the University’s divestment from fossil fuels.

Referendum Question No. 1 was sponsored by Joseph Shipley ’22, and the condensation, or ballot question, is “Shall the undergraduates call on Princeton University to designate Election Day an official University holiday?” 

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The referendum’s explanation notes that “[s]hort of a University holiday, on which normal academic operations are suspended or significantly curtailed, there is no way to guarantee every member of the Princeton community enough time to vote. We expect that a voting holiday will broadly increase turnout among members of the Princeton community by reducing time and scheduling barriers on Election Day.”

The second referendum was sponsored by Anna Hiltner ’23 on behalf of Divest Princeton. 

Hiltner is a contributing opinion columnist for The Daily Princetonian.

The condensation of Referendum Question No. 2 is “Shall the undergraduates call on Trustees of Princeton University and the Princeton University Investment Company (“PRINCO”) to divest its endowment, as quickly as possible, of all direct and indirect holdings of fossil fuel companies and phase out all research and formal associations with fossil fuel companies that 1) spread or facilitate the spread of climate disinformation and/or 2) develop or make plans to develop fossil fuel resources whose emissions would exceed Science Based Targets adopted in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) global goals (i.e., Paris Climate Agreement)?”

Representatives of Divest Princeton emailed the student body on Monday to ask undergraduates to sign their referendum petition. “We need 500 signatures by Friday to put a divestment referendum question on the USG Winter Elections ballot,” they wrote.

Former Vote100 fellow Ana Blanco ’23 called on students to sign a petition in support of the Election Day holiday referendum, also by Friday, Nov. 13.

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Voting for the winter election will begin on Nov. 23 and end on Nov. 25.

In other news from the meeting, Program Coordinator for Wintersession and Campus Engagement K. Leanna Jahnke presented an update about Wintersession 2021. There are a total of 140 facilitators, with administrators and staff members contributing 78 proposals and undergraduate students contributing 29. By the end of pre-registration, 779 students had registered for 2,498 spots and 35 percent of workshops were full. 

Jahnke observed several trends from this first wave of Wintersession registration, including a low level of interest in diversity and inclusion workshops and high interest in hands-on courses like cooking, knitting, and origami sessions. She also noted that the introductory coding course had the longest waitlist.

Regular registration for Wintersession began today.

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The Senate also confirmed two new members to the Committee on Discipline — Jesse Brewer ’22 and Alex Hunter ’23 — and approved four new student clubs: Acts of Kindness, Princeton ResInDe, Tigers in Product, and Output. 

The meeting was held via Zoom at 9:30 p.m. ET.

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