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No Lawnparties this semester; USG to focus on small-group programming

Last semester’s virtual concert received backlash over its $80K price tag

<h6>Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) will not be hosting a Lawnparties concert this semester — virtually or otherwise — according to a report released on Wednesday.

Last semester, USG received backlash from students for spending $80,000 on a virtual Jason Derulo performance. This semester, after surveying students about social programming, USG determined that the student body would not be interested in a similar event.  

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The report released today details the findings of the recent Spring Social Engagement Survey, which received 635 complete student responses over 11 days in March. 

The results showed a clear lack of enthusiasm for any event similar to Lawnparties, with a total of 69 percent of respondents indicating that they were disinterested in “a larger virtual social event with an external performer and/or artist,” and an additional 21 percent indicating that they were indifferent. Additionally, the survey showed that of all social engagement types, “a larger virtual social event” consistently ranked the lowest in student priority. 

“Small group activities” were ranked as the highest priority engagement type, on average, indicating the desire of the student body to participate in socially distant events on or around campus.

Consequently, the report indicates that further programming for the spring semester will include an increase in the number of events offered under the Tigers in Town initiative. Tigers in Town allows for student groups, including USG, to host events in partnership with local businesses to offer participants free food items. 

When asked about how students and businesses have engaged with the program, USG President Christian Potter ’22 told The Daily Princetonian that “So far, it seems that Tigers in Town has been received really enthusiastically by all parties involved.”

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“We've heard this anecdotally as well as directly through our Survey,” Potter wrote. “[The Campus and Community Affairs Committee] will seek further feedback from participants, but so far, the most consistent bit is the desire to have more Tigers in Town events.”

The report also includes a section addressing concerns about engaging with students that do not live on or immediately near campus. While this section did not list any specific programming, it outlined general plans to “develop further social initiatives for Princeton students living off-campus.”

“We understand that students living off campus may feel disconnected from the social atmosphere,” wrote Social Chair William Gu ’23 in an email to the ‘Prince.’ 

“The social committee is actively developing new social initiatives for students living off campus, ranging from a mix of virtual events as well as allocated Princeton merchandise for off-campus students,” Gu added.

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The final portion of the section titled “USG Action Items” describes efforts to develop and distribute free merchandise to Princeton students, with the hope to “work quickly on this action item because of the logistical complexities of ordering and shipping in bulk.”

In the “Background” section of the report, USG described restrictions on funding allocated to it this semester and addressed concerns about how the money is able to be spent. Because the USG Senate’s social budget comes from central University funds this semester — rather than student activity fees — “funds cannot roll over into next semester,” the report notes. 

“Therefore, we hope to structure our spending in ways that best meet the various needs of the community throughout the spring,” the report reads. “However, due to tax and other restrictions placed on student-group expenditures, we cannot, for example, directly donate funds.”

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