On Dec. 3, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) conducted a virtual debate between its two candidates for 2022 USG president: Jasman Singh ’23 and Mayu Takeuchi ’23.
Singh, a junior returning from a gap year, concentrates in the School of Public and International Affairs and was a USG senator for the Class of 2022. Takeuchi is a junior concentrating in the School of Public and International Affairs and currently serving as the USG Sustainability Chair.
The debate began with a one to two-minute introduction for each candidate to highlight their platforms and plans for the presidency,
Singh began by stating that there were “lots of low-hanging fruit on campus” or problems that could be easily solvable.
Singh’s platform is divided into three main positions: strengthening campus mobility by improving access to rental scooters and bicycles, making prox swipes applicable for use in off-campus establishments, and with food delivery services such as DoorDash, and bringing more gender-neutral bathrooms to campus.
Takeuchi stated that [Princetonians] are ready to learn and progress as a class and student body, and she is ready to enact long-lasting change.
“I’m ready to learn and ready to listen, and most importantly, ready to serve you regardless of your background, beliefs, and identity,” Takeuchi states.
Takeuchi also emphasized a desire to lead with compassion and understanding in her statement, particularly during the challenges of COVID-19. Takeuchi noted that she will be a “people first” president, and said that members of the student body are people before they are students.
After introductions, the candidates responded to questions posed by previous USG leadership, as well as questions submitted by members of the student body.
Each candidate had two minutes to answer each question. Once each candidate answered, they had the opportunity to pose a follow-up question to the other candidate who had 30 seconds to respond.
The first question, posed by moderator and current USG president Christian Potter ’22, asked: “What have you learned throughout the pandemic, and how will this inform your leadership — especially with future classes experiencing long-term effects?”
Takeuchi responded first, saying that she will include more transparency about how decisions are made around COVID-19, seeking for “all of us to be part of the conversation.”
Singh stated that, like Takeuchi, he finds benefit in setting up expectations and establishing transparency through issues surrounding COVID-19 on campus. In this way “students will know when certain numbers of cases will cause certain restrictions and perhaps shutdown.”
Later on, an audience member asked about the perspectives that the candidates had gained outside of USG that are useful in leadership.
Singh mentioned his background in technology, which enables his ability to craft efficient solutions to various campus needs, often asking himself, “What is the most effective, least effort way to solve a problem?”
Takeuchi noted her experience working in the entrepreneurial space and stated she has visions toward the future in regards to how students can make Princeton a space that will transcend generations to come. Takeuchi also mentioned that her experience as USG Sustainability Chair allows her to have a more diverse perspective on issues, as she dealt with race, gender, and identity and their relationship to the environment.
Singh questioned Takeuchi’s statement by asking, “How would you intersect your work as Sustainability Chair as president?”
Takeuchi replied that she will incorporate environmental justice-related work. As Sustainability Chair, she argued that she has experience in erecting a confluence of ideas surrounding campus environmental endeavors.
Later in the debate, another question was asked on how the candidates would improve mental health on campus.
Takeuchi stated, “I would want to extend the quality and capacity of CPS [Counseling and Psychological Services], as well as ensure a wide diversity in counselors.”
She also noted her advocacy for removing the expected student contribution for financial aid in order to lower the burden of first-generation, low-income students. She asserted the importance of tackling mental health in a systematic manner.
Singh argued that offering options for outpatient care through CPS — so that students do not have to be subjected to the long wait times at University facilities — was an important step towards reform.
The candidates were then asked about their experience maintaining administrative relationships.
Singh noted experience as a first-year on the USG Senate where he tried to bring two-ply toilet paper to campus. He discussed having conversations with University Facilities and brought the plan to fruition in the Forbes and Whitman residential colleges. Singh also mentioned previously sitting on the Committee for Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid, where he corresponded with high-level administrators like Dean of the College Jill Dolan.
Takeuchi reflected back to spring 2021 when disposable food receptacles and utensils were frequently used. She stated that the USG Sustainability Committee faced many questions regarding what to do with excess trash. Takeuchi said that acting within her position as USG Sustainability Chair, she went on a “goose chase” to find an administrator willing to take responsibility.
In doing so, Takeuchi believed the Sustainability Committee formed a strong rapport with various administrative outlets and showed that “we [students] do have this knowledge of the student experience, … bringing that to the table and bringing together these conversations. With that, we were able to collect two cartons of non-perishable food items and utensils that we could donate to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.”
Voting will begin at 12 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 6 and end at 12 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9.