From Tuesday, March 1 through Thursday, March 10, members of the Class of 2022 will vote in primary elections for the 2022 Young Alumni Trustee (YAT).
This year, there are 21 members of the Class of 2022 running for YAT. The seniors running are, in alphabetical order: Reade Ben, Francesca Block, Jesse Brewer, Daniella Cohen, Zizi Coleman, Justin Curl, Josiah Gouker, Rebecca Han, Naomi Hess, Sean Horton, Pranav Iyer, Allen Liu, Ashwin Mahadevan, Rachel McQuigge, Christian Potter, Hannah Reynolds, Sally Jane (Sarah) Ruybalid, Will Stocovaz, Keely Toledo, Valeria Torres-Olivares, and Claire Wayner.
The elected graduating senior joins the Board of Trustees, which will include three other Young Alumni Trustees elected from the class of 2021, 2020, and 2019. Currently, Morgan Smith ’21, Jackson Artis ’20, Sarah Varghese ’19, and Myesha Jemison ’18 serve in the position, with Jemison’s term expiring this year.
Established in 1969, the YAT position was created “to ensure that the board would always include four members with recent experience as undergraduates,” as described on the Princeton University Alumni website.
Elected YATs serve a four-year term following their graduation.
“As they have graduated recently, the Young Alumni Trustees are able to provide a perspective on the issues before the Board informed by their experience as students and their knowledge of the needs, concerns and interests of the current generation of Princeton undergraduates,” the website states.
The YAT performs the same duties as other members of the Board, overseeing University finances, admission policies, and campus real estate development projects.
The Board of Trustees cites open-mindedness as a primary quality of those who serve on the board.
“A trustee must be willing to take into account all sides of an issue impartially and to speak candidly on an issue, even if it involves a particularly controversial topic,” the website reads.
As a result, candidates are not permitted by University rules to campaign for election to the board, preventing them from establishing platforms on University matters during the election process. These rules have been criticized by students in the past — including on the pages of this paper — as anti-democratic and harmful.
After the primary election, the top three candidates with the highest number of votes will progress to the general election, where the Classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 will also vote.
“The average number of primary candidates is 25 with the largest slate of 41 seniors in 2012,” wrote Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss in an email to The Daily Princetonian. “Last year, 21 candidates ran in the YAT primary election.”
Members of the senior class who meet the University’s graduation requirements are eligible for election. After meeting this requirement, candidates attended an information session and received 50 virtual signatures from current seniors in order to be placed on the ballot.
Members of the Class of 2022 can vote for the 2022 YAT through the Election Services Corporation website.
Primary election voting ends on Thursday, March 10 at 5:00 p.m. General election voting runs from April 19 to May 11. The elected 2022 YAT will be announced at the Alumni Council Meeting on Friday, May 20.
Meet the candidates:
Ben is a School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) concentrator pursuing a certificate in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. Ben has served as a Class Senator of Undergraduate Student Government (USG), and as a member of the Dining Hall Task Force and the Housing Task Force. He also is a member of the rugby team.
“One of the things I want to be especially graduating is like a guard dog for the student body here. The YAT is in a particular position of power and privilege, I think because you have powers of a trustee but you also have the connection to the student body,” Ben said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’
Block is a SPIA concentrator with intended certificates in journalism and Chinese language and culture. She served as an Orange Key (OK) Co-Chair, the Figure Skating Club President, and a Peer Academic Advisor (PAA) for Rockefeller College.
“I love Princeton and I cannot think of a better way to give back to the Princeton community,” she wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’
Block is an associate podcast editor emerita for the ‘Prince.’
Brewer is a Molecular Biology concentrator on the pre-medical track. She currently is on the Molecular Biology Undergraduate Committee and the Student-Faculty Committee on Discipline, works as a Matriculate Advising Fellow (AF), is the Food Chair of Ivy Club, and is a part of the Princeton Running Club and Cycling Team. She previously served as a PAA for Forbes College, on the Board of Chabad, and has taken part in multiple Jewish Learning Fellowships through the Center for Jewish Life.
“I decided that I was interested in running for the YAT position during the summer after my freshman year when I was able to work as a member of the 60th Reunion Crew,” Brewer wrote to the 'Prince.’ “Witnessing people well into their 80s come back to party at Princeton and reconnect with their classmates so many years after graduation truly showed me the influence that this place has over our lives for so many years to come.”
Cohen is a Neuroscience concentrator pursuing certificates in French and African American Studies. She is the co-director of Princeton Women in Entrepreneurship, a national board member of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, and a member of Rough Draft Ventures.
“I cherish the opportunity to work with Princeton administrators and alumni to implement concrete changes that can promote racial dialogue. Princeton has given me the world and I still pinch myself that I get to be here, but I am also aware that students are hurting,” Cohen wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’
Coleman is an Astrophysical Sciences concentrator with an intended certificate in African American studies. Throughout her time at Princeton, she has served on the Forbes College Council, as a Scholars Institute Head Fellow, as a Freshman Scholars Institute Residential College Advisor, the president of Woke Wednesdays, and Bicker Chair of University Cottage Club.
“I tend to fall into these roles with support from my peers rather than asserting myself as the best ‘leader’, and I think that's a good trait for YAT to have: for their peers to know they're trustworthy and reliable, and always have their best interests in mind,” Coleman wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’
Curl is a BSE Computer Science concentrator with an intended certificate in technology and society. Within his time at Princeton, he has been a politics research assistant, an OK tour guide, and a part of the Princeton Model United Nations Conference and the CONTACT Crisis Hotline. In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Curl explained that the reason that he’s running is inseparable from why he loves the University.
“Princeton has helped me pursue interests I didn't know I had, all the while assured that no matter what I did, it would bring me into contact with outstanding people,” he wrote. “Growing with my classmates has made me more thoughtful, confident, and optimistic, and ultimately, I'm running because I hope to give to this place which has given so much to me.”
Gouker is an African American Studies concentrator pursuing certificates in French Language and Culture and Gender and Sexuality Studies. He serves as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Chair of Tower Club, a Matriculate Advising Fellow, and a member of the Princeton Archery Club and the African American Studies Undergraduate Board of Advisors.
Gouker also works as a Gender + Sexuality Resource Center Intern and as a Residential College Advisor (RCA) at Rockefeller College. In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Gouker explained that his experience in various areas of the University make him compelled to run for YAT.
“Through regular interactions with University community members, from advising students or working with administrators to interfacing with alumni, I have developed a deep understanding of the varying needs of members of the Princeton community past, present, and future, and how these needs exist directly in relation to each other,” Gouker wrote. “I hope to use these experiences to work with the Trustees on building a better Princeton.”
Gouker is an opinion columnist for the ‘Prince’ and sits on the 146th Editorial Board.
Han is a Politics concentrator pursuing a certificate in Journalism. She is the former President of the Whig-Cliosophic Society’s Senate and currently serves as the Co-President of the U.S.-China Coalition, an Outdoor Action Leader Trainer, and an OK tour guide.
“Princeton has given me a tremendous wealth of opportunities and communities. At the same time, it's exposed me to a range of perspectives on how students can be omitted from those communities or fail to have their voices heard in the university's ongoing mission to work in the service of humanity,” Han wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “I want to use what I've learned to give back and increase that representation.”
Hess is a SPIA concentrator with intended certificates in Journalism and Gender and Sexuality studies. She currently serves as a co-chair of the USG Disability Task Force, an AccessAbility Center Fellow, and as a PAA for Butler College. In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Hess emphasized how she will use her previous advocacy work to continue to create and encourage a more inclusive institution for everyone.
“I have dedicated my time at Princeton to making sure all voices are heard, through my work for the ‘Prince’ and my advocacy to improve accessibility and inclusion for students with disabilities,” she wrote. “As YAT, I hope to use my own voice to help shape a more forward-thinking and accessible Princeton.”
Hess is an associate news editor emerita for the ‘Prince.’
Horton is an Architecture concentrator. Throughout his time at Princeton, he has been a member of the Alcohol Initiative Board, a manager of Cyclab, and an Outdoor Action Freshman Trip Coordinator. In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Horton emphasized how his wide range of experiences within the past four years give him a unique and valuable perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the University.
“I hold my commitment to bettering the lives of the people and systems around me,” Horton said. “The students, faculty, and staff of this school have given me so much, and I believe being the Young Alumni Trustee will be the most meaningful opportunity for me to give back to this community and speak for their interests and needs.”
Iyer is a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering concentrator with intended certificates in Applications of Computer Science and Optimization and Quantitative Data Science. Iyer is a member of Engineers Without Borders, NAACHO Dance Company, Cottage Club, Men’s Club Soccer, Princeton Science Olympiad, Princeton University Non-Profit Consulting, and the Kosmrij Research Lab.
In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Iyer wrote that he decided to run for YAT because “the student body’s voice was underrepresented in high-level decisions and the processes were often opaque. I understand there are a variety of stakeholders that are involved in running institutions as large and complex as Princeton, and through my diverse experiences here, I hope to adequately represent the students’ in these matters.”
Liu is an Operations Research and Financial Engineering concentrator pursuing certificates in Applications of Computing and Applied and Computational Mathematics. Liu served on USG as U-Council Chair and created the Mental Health Task Force, serves on the Commencement Committee, is part of the Princeton University Orchestra, and works as a PAA and Dormitory Assistant.
Liu is an opinion columnist for the ‘Prince.’
In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Liu explained that the Board of Trustees has a resounding impact on the lives of Princeton students.
“In my experiences on campus, I've learned about how University policies impact students' well-being, how administrators approach student mental health, and how to be an effective advocate,” he wrote. “I've loved the work I've done and would be excited to continue it as a Trustee.”
Mahadevan is a SPIA concentrator with certificates in South Asian Studies, Vocal Performance, and the History and the Practice of Diplomacy. Mahadevan was formerly USG Vice President, and is currently an RCA in Rockefeller College, a member of the Glee Club and Chamber Choir, and an OK tour guide.
Mahadevan explained in an email to the ‘Prince’ how his experiences on campus contributed to his decision to run for Young Alumni Trustee.
“I already have a deep understanding of how the Board works, and I believe I would be able to jump right into the YAT position if elected,” he wrote. “Through my leadership roles on campus, I believe I have come to intimately understand both the strengths and weaknesses of the Princeton student experience.
Potter is a SPIA concentrator who has served on USG, is a PAA in Mathey College, and is involved in Club Tennis, the Center for International Security Studies Fellow, and SPIA Dean’s Search Committee. Potter was recently awarded the Pyne Prize. In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Potter reflected on the role he hopes to play in Princeton’s future.
“As we embark on campus expansion here at Princeton and exciting new opportunities in higher education more broadly, Princeton has the opportunity to be a leader and an innovator, and I hope to help bring that opportunity to fruition as a trustee,” he wrote.
Reynolds belongs to the Anthropology Department, where she focuses on Law, Policy, and Economics. Reynolds is co-coordinator of Divest Princeton, captain of the Women’s Club Basketball Team, a PAA in Rockefeller College, writes columns for the ‘Prince,’ and is also involved with club flag football, the Office of Sustainability, and Real Food Co-op.
Reynolds is a senior opinion columnist for the ‘Prince.’
In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Reynolds wrote that she decided to run for Young Alumni Trustee because she “view[s] it as an important way to constructively contribute to a better Princeton for future Princetonians and to make changes within the University,” as well as “to gain greater transparency into the Board, how it functions, how important decisions are made, and how power structures work at Princeton.”
Ruybalid is a concentrator in the School of Architecture with a certificate in Urban Studies. Ruybalid is a PAA for Butler College, serves on the Butler College Council and the Butler Residential College Leadership Team, sings in the Chapel Choir and in Acapellago, volunteers as the head manager for the Princeton Women's Basketball team, and works as a videographer for the football team. In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Ruybalid expressed what qualities she believes make her a strong candidate.
“I have a lot of compassion for this university but at the same time am willing to approach matters with a critical eye in order to creatively resolve issues it has,” she wrote. “I am open-minded and really enjoy constructive collaboration; so this sounds like an ideal opportunity for me.”
Ruybalid is also an opinion columnist for the ‘Prince.’
During his time at the University, Stocovaz — a SPIA concentrator — has served on the campus life leadership council, as an RCA in Rockefeller College, as alumni chair for the Princeton University Art Museum Student Advisory Board, and as a coordinator for Whitman dining hall student workers. He is also a member of the heavyweight men’s rowing team.
Stocovaz, in an email to the ‘Prince,’ commented on the different experiences Princeton students have during their time on campus.
“I know I had a positive experience here, but I also know that many of my friends have not. I hope I can change that for the better by becoming a YAT,” he wrote.
Torres-Olivares is a SPIA concentrator with certificates in Applications of Computing and Latin American Studies. Throughout her time at Princeton, she has served as the President of the Princeton Latin American Student Association, Vice President of the Cap & Gown Club, the Community Outreach chair for Princeton Women in Computer Science, and a member of the Más Flow dance company. Torres-Olivares also runs the non-profit Code Equal, which she co-founded.
In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Torres-Olivares explained how her identity as a first generation Mexican-American influenced her experience. “I learned quickly that certain institutions were created specifically for a small subset of individuals, a lesson that extended into my years as an undergrad,” she wrote. “As such, I was taught to advocate for myself and those who did not have the same support system I was lucky enough to have.”
Wayner is a Civil and Environmental Engineering concentrator with certificates in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Energy. She is captain of the climbing team and co-founder of the Princeton Birding Society.
In her email statement to the ‘Prince,’ Wayner focused on sustainability. “After the four years I’ve spent here working with administrators and serving on USG to promote environmental sustainability on campus, I am excited to be running for Young Alumni Trustee as a way to continue to advance sustainable practices at Princeton,” she wrote.
Wayner is a former opinion columnist for the ‘Prince.’
McQuigge and Toledo did not reply to a request for comment.
According to her biography on the voting website, Toledo is an Anthropology concentrator with a certificate in Environmental Studies, and serves as co-president for Natives at Princeton. The biography also states that her most meaningful experience was “returning to Princeton after taking a year off,” and finishing her thesis.
McQuigge’s biography lists her concentration as SPIA, and highlights her strong involvement in varsity women's ice hockey. It also states her most meaningful experience as feeling the “pride of [her] parents when moving in sophomore year” and “embrac[ing] all that this wonderful campus has to offer.”
Lia Opperman is an Assistant News Editor who often covers University affairs, student life, and local news. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Instagram @liamariaaaa, or on Twitter @oppermanlia.
Isabel Yip is an Assistant News Editor who typically covers University Affairs and student life. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Instagram at @isaayip.