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USG Senate confirms new members, passes position paper for midterm grading referendum

<h6>Photo Credit: Annie Rupertus/The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Photo Credit: Annie Rupertus/The Daily Princetonian

Newly-elected Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President Mayu Takeuchi ’23 and Vice President Hannah Kapoor ’23 held the first USG Senate meeting of the term over Zoom on Sunday, Jan. 30. During the meeting, they confirmed new Senate appointments and discussed the position papers for last winter’s referendum on midterm grading.

“Mayu and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this team with you all,” opened Kapoor, addressing the members of the Senate. “Things are already busy, but our work is only just beginning, and it’s an honor to be presiding over these meetings.”

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Takeuchi provided an overview of her and Kapoor’s vision for the upcoming year in the Senate, emphasizing values of teamwork, trust, communication, and respect across differences in opinions. She stated that her top priority as president is “student well-being, with a special focus on mental health” and implored each Senate member to begin brainstorming ways they can improve mental health and well-being through their specific roles within USG.

Voting members used the thumbs up reaction function on Zoom to vote for and confirm new Senate appointments. The new Senate members include Ceon Sun ’23 as Website Manager, Avi Attar ’25 as Undergraduate Student Life Committee (USLC) Chair, Dillion Gallagher ’23 as Chief of Staff (a new position in this term), Kate Liu ’23 as Parliamentarian, Charlotte Selover ’25 as Secretary, Braiden Aaronson ’25 as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Chair, Sarah Sharma ’25 as Director of Communications, Carlisle Imperial ’25 as U-Councilor, and Caitlin McNally ’24 as Historian.

Austin Davis ’23, who was re-elected as Academics Chair, gave a brief explanation of the position paper he co-wrote based on the midterm grading referendum that was passed by the student body during USG’s winter election cycle

Liu explained that for an advisory referendum (one that makes a recommendation to the University but cannot go into effect solely based on student approval), the Senate sends a position paper to the administration based on the position of the student body.

According to Davis, the position paper is largely based on research surrounding grading policies at peer institutions. 

“You'll notice that Yale has a mandatory reporting policy for midterm grades for all undergraduate courses, and on top of that, we borrowed from Brown’s institutionalized process of gathering feedback for courses,“ he said. “We found similar types of policies both at Harvard and Vanderbilt.”

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The Senate voted to approve the position paper, with 21 members in favor, none opposed, and three members (the co-authors of the paper) abstaining. The referendum will now go to the Committee on Examinations and Standing, after which a faculty vote would take place.

The Senate also heard brief introductions from each committee chair, including Davis, the Academics Chair; Audrey Zhang ’25, Sustainability Chair; Attar, USLC Chair; Madison Linton ’24, Social Chair; Aaronson DEI Chair; and Isabella Shutt ’24, Campus and Community Affairs Chair. 

Takeuchi reminded members that the deadline for students to apply to be a member of any of these committees — except for the Academics Committee, which isn’t taking new members this semester — is Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 11:59 p.m. 

In her first statement as USG President, Takeuchi reported on her conversations with student organization leaders and Dr. Calvin Chin, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), which have led to the establishment of a new process for students to switch counselors via an online form. 

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“This is a very small change, but it does help make the process less intimidating, because sometimes students just go to CPS and don’t find a counselor that is a good fit, but there are many options, and we’re hopeful that this small step can really improve student experiences with CPS, and of course this small step is part of a much broader conversation that’s ongoing,” said Takeuchi.

She also noted that she and Kapoor would be holding weekly office hours on Fridays from 3–6 p.m. in the USG Office located in Frist 204.

Kapoor closed the meeting by expressing excitement that next week’s meeting will be held in-person in Robertson Hall 016. USG Senate meetings are held at 8 p.m. on Sundays and are open for all students to attend.

Annie Rupertus is a first-year from Philadelphia and a News Staff Writer who covers USG for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at arupertus@princeton.edu or @annierupertus on Instagram and Twitter.

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