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CPUC discusses dissociation, COVID updates, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report

<h5>Divest Princeton Stand-in at CPUC</h5>
<h6>Angel Kuo</h6>
Divest Princeton Stand-in at CPUC
Angel Kuo

In Monday’s Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) meeting, administrators discussed the University’s plans on fossil fuel dissociation, COVID-19 updates, and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report

Administrators discuss divestment and dissociation

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A group of students from Divest Princeton showed up to the event wearing green and holding posters demanding Princeton divest now.

Dr. Anu Ramaswami, leader of Princeton’s new faculty panel working to advise and inform the dissociation process, said that the panel includes faculty from a variety of fields working to discuss the University’s relationship with fossil fuels. The panel has met fully once and plans to meet once a month.

“[The panel] is working on breaking up the topic into manageable chunks,” Ramaswami said. 

Mayu Takeuchi ’23, the Sustainability Chair of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), asked whether there was any discussion of including student representatives on the committee.

University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 expressed that although the University wants to hear from student voices, the faculty advisers on the panel are “world leaders” in their field. As a result, the University did not feel the need to add students to the panel because of the faculty’s expertise.

Many other students asked about getting involved with the dissociation process throughout the meeting and were met with similar responses.

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Takeuchi also asked if there was any discussion of balancing conflicts of interest within the panel and committee, as some faculty members have been funded by fossil fuels, and others have signed Divest Princeton’s open letter

In response, President Eisgruber said that all of the faculty members will handle their responsibilities with their “scholarly expertise.” 

“They are very diverse and have worked on all sides of the topic,” Eisgruber said.

Later in the meeting, Ramaswami added that the faculty panel will remain transparent and that all of their sources will be documented.

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Hannah Reynolds ’22 brought up how the Ford Foundation apologized for not divesting from fossil fuels sooner and asked what the faculty will do to handle the current climate crisis in a timely manner. 

“How [can Princeton] attract the best and brightest while being one of the last [Ivies] to take action?” she asked.

Reynolds is an Opinion Columnist for The Daily Princetonian.

Eisgruber answered, stating that the process is being handled with integrity, in a way that “assesses values within the University.” 

“It isn’t about what other organizations are doing or saying, but about the values of the University,” Eisgruber added. “Developments at other institutions are not relevant to this committee.”

At the same time, he criticized the divestment efforts of peer institutions.

“Harvard has done less than what meets the eye,” he said.

Eisgruber confirmed that if the University does decide to dissociate from fossil fuels, then that automatically includes divestment, as that is a subset of dissociation. 

“If we dissociate, we must divest,” he said.

Izzo issues COVID-19 update

Robin Izzo, the Assistant Vice President for Environmental Health and Safety, delivered a COVID-19 update during the meeting. 

The risk status on campus remains low. After fall break, there was a small surge among undergraduates, however, there have been none since then, as of Nov. 8. There were four positive COVID-19 cases on campus last week among graduate students, faculty, and staff. When students come back from traveling after Thanksgiving Break, the University will be reviewing the conditions on campus.

“We are planning some relaxation of mask rules now depending on what we see on campus and in the community,” Izzo said.

Izzo also discussed the vaccination clinic in Jadwin Gym, which will now include children aged five through 11. She mentioned how the demand for booster shots has highly increased on campus, and that they will be working on managing lines and appointments better.

Minter leads Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report discussion

Vice Provost Michele Minter led a discussion on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report. This is the first year that the University has released such a report. Minter discussed how the University is implementing institutional accountability, with a focus on systematic racism and inequities. 

There are three main sections in the report: Climate, Inclusion, and Equity; Academic Experience; and Access and Outreach. Highlights include the University formally recognizing Juneteenth as an institution-wide holiday, a new Culture and Difference distribution requirement being implemented as of this year, new climate and inclusion committees, the creation of the Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity (EBC), and the removal of Woodrow Wilson’s name from what is now known as First College and the School of Public and International Affairs.

“We still have a great deal of work to do, and we will be doing it forever,” Minter said.

Erik Sklanka ’23 asked whether the transfer program at Princeton will be expanded or not, considering they only accept around 12 to 16 students out of over 1000 applicants per year.

Elizabeth Colaguiri, the deputy dean of the college, responded that the University is actively planning to expand, and will hopefully double the transfer program as part of the coming expansion of the undergraduate student body.

Dean Jamal is introduced to CPUC board

During the meeting, the new dean of the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), Amaney A. Jamal, was introduced. Jamal, who has been a longtime faculty member in the Department of Politics and researcher at the University, was appointed in June and began her position in September.

“I’m really excited about the new things that we’re going to accomplish,” Jamal said.

Jamal emphasized SPIA’s priority for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that she hopes that an associate dean for this initiative will hopefully be in place by the new year. She has goals to enhance SPIA’s international footprint abroad; augment its profile in Washington, DC; magnify and elevate students’ voices; and enhance the sense of community and belonging around SPIA.

“I’m really looking forward to next steps and to working with all of you,” she said.

Jarvis presents Wintersession update

Director of Wintersession and Campus Engagement Judy Jarvis discussed the upcoming Wintersession during the meeting. This year will be the first year that Wintersession will be held in-person, completely free of charge, from Jan. 10–23. 

So far, over 1,600 students, staff, and faculty have signed up for more than 350 workshops. 116 of the workshops are led by undergraduates. Over 30 of the events are trips, mostly to Philadelphia, New York City, or Trenton. Currently, there are still spots left for students to sign up in at least 150 workshops. Evening event proposals are still accepted and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Housing and dining will be free for all participants.

“Exploration without grades and without stakes is very beautiful,” Jarvis said.

Q&A Portion

During the Q&A portion of the meeting, Mary O’Connor, the manager of the Lewis Center for the Arts (LCA) expressed concerns over a staff member being hit by a car over fall break walking from the intersection at the Berlind Theater to the Dinky Bar. 

O’Connor stated that “many of us live in fear from crossing the road,” and that “it’s impossible to see cars coming from the corner in that intersection.”

O’Connor was told that there is a Pedestrian and Campus Safety committee working on the issue. Considering that University Place, the road where the incident took place, is a municipal road, the town will also pay attention and work towards making crossing the road safer. 

“Exercise caution in driving, wherever you are,” Eisgruber said.

Isabella Shutt ’24 mentioned how the student body overwhelmingly voted last year to make Election Day a University-wide holiday and asked whether or not the calendar change has been considered and what the conversation surrounding it looks like.

“We don’t think a holiday is the right way to approach it, but we do think that it’s important for us to be supporting these efforts to increase the capacity to vote,” Eisgruber said.

Questions can be added to the CPUC agenda by writing to Christine Gage (cgage@princeton.edu). Questions do not have to be added to the agenda material.

The next CPUC meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 13 at 4:30 pm.

Lia Opperman is a news contributor for the 'Prince.' She can be reached at liaopperman@princeton.edu or @liamariaaaa on Instagram.

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