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USG creates Lawnparties Review Committee, hosts Q&A with VP Calhoun

<h6>Andrew Somerville / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Andrew Somerville / The Daily Princetonian

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Senate has created a Lawnparties Review Committee to serve for the remainder of the current USG term. 

The purpose of the committee is “to gather information, deliberate internally, report to the Senate, and develop recommendations around relevant issues within its scope,” according to the committee proposal.

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The proposal cites USG’s decision to change their headliner act from LANY to A$AP Ferg as one of the reasons for the charge. However, the proposal explains that “[i]ssues related to day-of safety and risk management” will be handled in collaboration with an outside University working group.

The committee was proposed by Senate President Christian Potter ’22 and was unanimously approved by the Senate. 

Members of the committee from USG will include Potter, as well as the Senate Vice President Ashwin Mahadevan ’22, Social Chair William Gu ’23, Treasurer Turquoise Brewington ’22, and two members of the Social Committee yet to be chosen by the committee. 

Gu said that members of the Social Committee should consider applying if they “have concerns or opinions or want to represent this cause,” and did not indicate any age or experience requirement.

Potter added on to this, pointing out that only half of the classes on campus had experienced an in-person Lawnparties prior to this fall. Many first-year and sophomore students had high expectations for the event, he said, some requesting famous artists like Doja Cat as the headliner. 

“If you were [in the] Class of ’22, you would have never said something with such high expectations,” Potter said, noting that Lawnparties has “never” had budgets high enough to support big-name artists. 

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Class of 2024 Senator Sean Bradley asked why the proposed committee would only consist of current USG members, rather than involve the student community at large.

Director of Communications Hannah Kapoor ’23 responded that students “should not have to run for USG to have their voices heard.”

Mahadevan also brought up that the committee would engage with the undergraduate student body in other ways and that they are aware of many student opinions.

“All of the concerns, thoughts, and ideas that students have make their way to us,” he said. 

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The committee will also have representation from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS), with ODUS Advisor to the USG Social Committee Lexy Parrill Sarstedt and Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Students Thomas Dunne serving on the committee as well.

Parrill Sarstedt and Gu will serve as co-chairs of the committee.

Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun also attended the USG meeting to offer a Q&A session for those in attendance.

Of the several topics discussed, one of the most prominent was international travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The good news is that our Global Safety & Security team … has reviewed our travel guidelines and has revised them so that international travel can be approached quite differently as we go forward,” Calhoun said.

Students should expect an announcement sometime this upcoming week, according to Calhoun, and that the new guidelines will “definitely” be in effect before fall break.

The guidelines currently in place have not been updated since July 21, 2021, and currently prohibit all international travel for undergraduate students, whether sponsored by the University or otherwise, unless approved by a student’s Director of Student Life.  

Class of 2022 Senator Reade Ben brought up concerns on disciplinary policy surrounding COVID-19, especially in the spring semester.

“There seems to be a disalignment from precedents leading up to COVID … and the separable disciplinary process as well,” he pointed out, claiming that students being questioned by private investigators for violating the spring 2021 Social Contract was out of the norm.

Calhoun’s response emphasized the University’s priority of bringing students back to campus in the spring, noting that the University “needed to be really clear about expectations [regarding Social Contract compliance], because they were going to be different than what we usually expected.”

She also pointed out that the Social Contract “was stricter than it had been on this campus,” and that “it has strained a lot of relationships.”

For this reason, she said, Calhoun advocated for the removal of the Social Contract for the fall 2021 semester. 

“I trust the students; they know what our expectations are. They know that we are governed, as always, by Rights, Rules, Responsibilities,” she said. 

In response, one USG senator presented an anecdote to Calhoun wherein his friend was disciplined for having one extra student in his room last semester. 

According to the senator, the student is now considering applying to the Rhodes Scholarship, but is struggling to receive endorsements from the University to do so because of the disciplinary action he received for the infraction. 

In response, Calhoun emphasized that many offices that deal with student endorsements take circumstances into consideration when considering individual situations.

“We do not want a disciplinary action … to define [a student] for the rest of their life,” she said. 

When asked about an instance of sexual assault that occurred during a Social Contract violation, Calhoun said that the situation was handled “very seriously” and students who are concerned should “stay tuned.”

Sustainability Chair Mayu Takeuchi ’23 asked about progress related to anti-racism initiatives. Calhoun cited an “upcoming report” that will detail systemic changes made within the University community.

“It is about what role Princeton can play in the world, or in our community,” she added.

U-Councilor Isabella Shutt ’24 asked Calhoun about the University’s plans and progress on handling the student “mental health crisis” during the spring semester and how they plan to avoid more in the future. 

Shutt is a News staffer for The Daily Princetonian.

Calhoun referenced a conversation with other administrators about the structure of grading on campus.

“Is there a different way to think about evaluating learning and progress?” she said. “I want to think not just about grading but about the actual environment.”

At the end of the meeting, the Senate voted to approve the appointment of three new members to the Committee on Discipline and five members to the Movies Committee, three of which were returning.

USG Senate meetings are held in Robertson Hall 016 at 8 p.m. on Sunday evenings and are open to all.

Andrew Somerville is a staff writer who corresponds with and covers USG happenings and other campus news. He can be reached at jas19@princeton.edu.

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