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USG releases spring election results but holds off on certifying results of Caterpillar referendum

Results for Referendum No. 3 have not yet been certified after Senate members filed an appeal

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Caterpillar machinery near New College East and New College West
Marie-Rose Sheinerman / The Daily Princetonian

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) announced the results of its spring elections via an email to the student body on Friday, April 15, but held off on certifying the results of Referendum No. 3, which has sparked controversy on campus and beyond. 

Class government representatives and U-Councilors were elected in mostly uncontested races, and two referenda regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and mental health were passed by the student body. Results for Referendum No. 3, which proposes a University boycott of Caterpillar machinery, have not yet been certified “due to appeals pending before the Senate,” according to the email.


Initial results indicated that the third referendum had passed, with 43.6 percent of voters voting in favor, 39.9 percent opposing, and 16.5 percent abstaining. Appendix D of the USG Constitution states that the treshhold for reaching a majority excludes abstentions, meaning that of ballots cast either for or against Referendum No. 3, it would pass with a 52.2 percent majority.

Eric Periman ’23, president of Princeton Committee on Palestine and the referendum’s sponsor, declined to comment on Friday’s USG email.

Myles McKnight ’23 filed an objection to USG on Wednesday, April 13, based on text screenshots of a conversation with chief elections manager Brian Li ’24 regarding the counting of abstentions in referendum votes. 

Messages between Li and Tigers for Israel (TFI) president Jared Stone ’24 on March 28 seem to indicate that Li told Stone that abstentions would count towards the total vote tally. In a post-election email exchange with McKnight, shared with The Daily Princetonian by McKnight, Li acknowledged a “miscommunication” but asserted that abstentions are not counted in an overall vote. 


Others, however, object to Li’s characterization of the messages. USG Treasurer Adam Hoffman ’23 told The Princeton Tory that “there was no misunderstanding. Li was crystal clear in his communication. He first said one thing, and then he said another. He changed his mind and so went the election.” Hoffman previously served as vice president of TFI.

According to a document recently obtained by the ‘Prince,’ four members of the Senate have appealed “the actions of Chief Elections Manager.” The letter was submitted by Hoffman and co-signed by 2025 senator Ned Dockery ’25, U-Councilor Carlisle Imperial ’25, and sustainability chair Audrey Zhang ’25. 

Zhang is a contributing Prospect writer for The Daily Princetonian.

Hoffman’s letter argued that Li was “unfair and incorrect” in providing incorrect information to Stone regarding how abstentions factor into the elections and alleged that that information altered the campaign strategy of the referendum’s opposition group. Specifically, the letter claimed that “[i]n private conversations and public presentations, members of the Opposition group argued for students to vote ‘abstain.’”

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McKnight and Stone declined to comment. Dockery, Imperial, and Zhang could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.

The Hoffman letter argued for one of three responses from USG: “a) abide by the representations made by the CEM during the course of the campaign and on the basis of which the campaign was conducted, b) void the referendum, or c) hold a revote with clearly communicated rules and guidelines.”

Hoffman also requested in the letter that the appeals to the referendum be considered at a date after the upcoming USG meeting on Sunday, April 17, due to its conflict with Passover and Easter.

USG President Mayu Takeuchi ’23 confirmed in a message to the ‘Prince’ that pending appeals to the referendum will not be discussed this upcoming weekend.

“Now that the appeal has been filed, it is the Senate’s responsibility to make a determination as to next steps,” wrote Li in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “We all remain committed to fair and equitable elections, and I hope that there will be a mutually agreeable solution to both sides on this issue that will be reached in a respectful and reasonable manner.”

Takeuchi confirmed in a message to the ‘Prince’ that an appeal had been filed but declined to comment further due to its pending status. 

“The USG remains committed to facilitating the elections process in accordance with our Constitution,” she wrote, “and our priority is to ensure a fair process for all parties.”

Out of the 5,215 students who were eligible to weigh in on the referenda on this cycle’s ballot, 2,577 voted — 49 percent of the student body, an increase from 45 percent in the winter election cycle. USG partnered with Vote100 this cycle with the goal of achieving 100 percent voter turnout.

Referenda No. 1 and 2 proposing the institution of the USG DEI Committee as a core committee and the allocation of greater resources to mental health care, respectively, passed by a wide margin. 

72 percent of participants voted in favor of Referendum No. 1, with 16 percent abstaining and 12 percent voting no. 88 percent voted in favor of Referendum No. 2; eight percent abstained and three percent voted no.

“I am elated by the passage of the DEI referendum,” wrote sponsor Braiden Aaronson ’25 in a message to the ‘Prince,’ adding that they “look forward to DEI consistently being a core priority” of USG within the current administration and in the future. 

“With this change,” he wrote, “USG will be able to have a greater long term say in the University’s DEI efforts and initiatives.”

Five candidates ran for 10 U-Councilor seats, so Amanda Branom ’25, Stephen Daniels ’24, Afzal Hussain ’25, Riley Martinez ’23, and Daniel Shaw ’25 all won by default. Daniels and Martinez are the only two returning U-Councilors, despite the fact that the current U-Council only includes one senior. According to the announcement, five vacancies remain which “will be filled by appointment at a later date.”

Regarding the uncontested nature of the election, Shaw wrote in an email to the ‘Prince’ that “we must ask ourselves what it means to govern ourselves when we cannot even muster the interest to involve ourselves in such a government. What right have we to speak on behalf of the student body when less than half of the student body turned out to vote for a series of uncontested seats?”

The Class of 2025 was the only class with contested class council elections. Out of 1,329 members of the class, 759 participated, giving a turnout of 57 percent.

Gil Joseph ’25 was elected 2025 president with 54 percent of the vote. 38 percent of first-years voted for his opponent, Kimberly Cross ’25. Eight percent of voters abstained from selecting a choice for 2025 president.

Declan Waters ’25 was elected 2025 secretary with 41.2 percent support, while Alaa Omer ’25 and Julia Nees ’25 received 36 and 22.8 percent, respectively. 

Class council elections utilize ranked-choice, instant runoff voting. This means that all students rank their choices of candidates for each position and, if in a race with more than two candidates, one candidate does not receive over 50 percent of the vote, the candidate with the lowest percentage is eliminated and those votes are re-allotted to those students’ next choice. This process repeats until one candidate has received over half of the vote.

Stephen Padlo ’25 received 61 percent of the vote for 2025 treasurer, while his opponent, Quinn Haverstick ’25, received 26 percent. 13 percent of participants abstained from voting in this contest.

Diya Kraybill ’25 and Ben Wachspress ’25 were elected in uncontested elections for the roles of 2025 vice president and 2025 social chair, respectively.

Kraybill is a news staff writer for the ‘Prince.’

All elected representatives for the Class of 2025, with the exception of Waters, are returning members of class council.

All other class council races were uncontested, with the candidates as follows:

Class of 2023 Council

President: Taryn Sebba

Vice-President: Fatinah Albeez

Secretary: Eric Sklanka

Treasurer: Emily Trieu

Social Chair: Jake Snyder

Class of 2024 Council

President: Sydney Johnson

Vice-President: Ive Jones

Secretary: Elliott Hyon

Treasurer: Eric Ahn

Social Chair: Lauren Fahlberg

“Being re-elected via an uncontested election is an honor that reminds me of the impact of our work and the class’ satisfaction,” Johnson wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’

Results of the vote on Referendum No. 3 will be certified once official complaints have been resolved, according to the USG email on Friday.

Annie Rupertus is a first-year from Philadelphia, Pa. and a News Staff Writer who covers USG for the ‘Prince.’ She is also a designer for the print issue.

This piece is breaking and will be updated as more information becomes available.