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Princeton officials talk fall COVID-19 policies, future of tuition, resources for survivors at final spring CPUC meeting

<h5>Frist Campus Center</h5>
<h6>Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Frist Campus Center
Mark Dodici / The Daily Princetonian

At the final Council of the Princeton Community (CPUC) meeting of the spring semester, held on May 2, University officials said that separate isolation dorms would be eliminated heading into the fall semester. 1967 Hall will no longer be reserved for COVID-19 isolation, and students who test positive for COVID-19 will be encouraged to isolate in their dorms, marking a shift from the spring semester’s guidelines.

At the meeting, University leaders also addressed a faculty committee’s report on new legal resources for sexual assault survivors on campus, the Undergraduate Student Government’s (USG) plans to provide more accommodations for students without air conditioning, and new graduate student programs designed to create community. Officials also indicated that the University has no plans to reduce tuition, instead intending to continue to expand access through financial aid.

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In all, the meeting, open to the public and held at Frist Campus Center, included presentations from administrations, four University committees, USG President Mayu Takeuchi ’23, and Graduate Student Government (GSG) President Andrew Finn GS.

COVID-19 policies

Derek Ziegler, Assistant Director for Emergency Preparedness, provided a COVID-19 semester recap at the CPUC meeting. He noted that this spring, there have been two positivity spikes: at the beginning of the school year with the omicron variant and in February with the BA.2 subvariant.

Since the University testing protocol was changed in March from mandatory weekly to monthly testing, Ziegler said the positivity rate is “not comparable to what we’ve seen before.”

The University is meeting its goals of testing at least 25 percent of the campus population weekly, he stated.

Additionally, Ziegler announced that there will be no more campus vaccine clinics for the time being. He said the University plans to revisit this protocol in the fall.

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“Based on CDC and FDA recommendations, the University has no plans to require a second booster, but will continue to require the primary series of the booster to start for those who are elderly,” he said. “But we’ll keep a close eye on it, depending on the conditions, the variance and we'll look at that throughout the summer.”

Isolation policy is also changing for the fall of 2022, as students who test positive will generally be required to isolate in place.

Ziegler also said that there should be an announcement in the upcoming weeks regarding a new University visitor’s policy. He explained an app is in the works that classifies visitors into three different categories based on screening questions.

Students involved in sexual assault adjudication process to have access to attorneys through University funds

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Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun updated the community on the Joint Committee on Sexual Misconduct, which was first created in the spring of 2019 out of the University Student Life Committee and the then-Student Faculty Committee on Sexual Misconduct.

Of the committee’s 17 recommendations, 15 are already in place or ongoing, she explained. One recommendation, Calhoun noted, pertained to creating a four-year curriculum through the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education (SHARE) office. Another was to increase SHARE office staff.

The committee also reviewed the support for complainants and respondents, as well as the adjudication and appeals process. As a result of their findings, students going through this process can now access legal representation on the University’s dime. 

“Both complainants and respondents have the opportunity at the expense of the University to have an attorney work with them if they’re going through an investigation,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun also noted that the committee continues to engage in a wide range of conversations with various campus stakeholders, including student government.

Tuition to ‘keep pace with the cost of education’

Provost Deborah Prentice addressed questions on the University’s plans for adjusting tuition, confirming that the University will continue to increase the price of tuition to “keep pace with the cost of education.”

She added that the University remains committed to affordable education, as shown through its financial aid. 

“We’re always concerned about Princeton being affordable to everybody,” she said. “But we pursue that on the undergraduate side through financial aid, so we’re always looking for ways to make our undergraduate financial aid more generous.”

The University has recently made efforts to increase the affordability of education for graduate students. In January, the University increased funding for graduate students by an average of 25 percent.

Prentice explained that tuition is a “critical piece” of the University’s budget, and therefore will not be greatly reduced.

Prentice also gave updates on the CPUC Priorities Committee, the group that produces University budget recommendations that go to the President and then the Board of Trustees for approval.

Prentice described this year as a “fairly normal budget year.”

Exceptional changes in the budget include the previously mentioned 25 percent increase on average for graduate stipends to bring “stipend rates up to a competitive level across all disciplines,” as well as the costs of an increase in the faculty and staff salary pool.

The revised budget goes into effect on July 1. 

Lew-Williams discusses Naming Committee’s criteria

Professor Beth Lew-Williams, chair of the Naming Committee, gave updates on the work of the committee, which “provides advice to the board of trustees on naming of programs, positions and spaces at Princeton,” as well as campus iconography.

The committee provides advice on proposed names, often in the form of donor names, and generates a proposed list of names for undesignated spaces and positions.

Lew-Williams addressed the three guidelines the committee uses.

“The first is that the individual that we’re naming something after should have an evident connection to Princeton University,” Lew-Williams said at the meeting. “The second is that this naming would help to diversify our iconography or names on campus. And the third is if this is still a living person, that they’re beyond the most active portion of their career.”

As of now, the committee’s projects remain confidential.

Undergraduate, graduate student government initiatives

Takeuchi emphasized student well-being on campus during her presentation, stressing the “holistic approach” of USG.

“While we tremendously appreciate the work of UHS and CPS [Counseling and Psychological Services], we also recognize that they’re not the only ones who are responsible for student well-being,” she said.

USG is looking to make attendance policies clearer by requiring courses to have an attendance policy tab on its Canvas page, and will also examine disciplinary processes and consequences “with an eye towards reducing the undue and disproportionate financial pressures that may affect students especially on financial aid,” according to Takeuchi.

USG is also working with Housing & Real Estate Services to provide fans or other cooling measures for dorms without air conditioning, a new website with maps displaying detours due to construction, a formalized community dining program, and a more sustainable move-out and resale process.

Takeuchi expressed concerns from students regarding mental health resources on campus, including long wait times to see counselors.

“We’ve been working with VP Calhoun and Dr. Chin [director of CPS] and others to first identify and get a clear sense of where there are gaps and unmet needs in mental healthcare across campus, whether they be gaps in resources, or in awareness or a combination of both, which is likely,” she said.

Finn, a PhD candidate in the English department, spoke on behalf of the 13 members of the Graduate Student Government (GSG), expressing excitement over the increase in graduate student stipends and potential for collaboration with the new dean of the graduate school, Rodney Priestley.

The GSG’s goal for this year is to make the University more navigable to graduate students by “providing further ways for graduate students to become more informed, as well as involved in conversations about academic advising, support systems, norms and goals, healthcare, administrative practices, and university infrastructure,” Finn said.

Finn expressed how social events will continue to play a role in fostering connectedness through programs like the graduate student Buddy Program and weekly happy hours.

Like Takeuchi, Finn emphasized the importance of mental health to the GSG and explained their plans to increase TigerHealth funding and the parameters of these resources. He also addressed how the GSG will attempt to ensure graduate students’ perspectives are represented in the opening of Lake Campus. 

“Our facility chair will work to ensure that graduate students' voices are heard during the launch of Lake Campus, and in the shift to new management for Lakeside,” he said.

The meeting ran from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, May 2, in Frist Campus Center’s Multipurpose Room.

Isabel Yip is an Assistant News Editor who typically covers University Affairs and student life. She can be reached at isabelyip@princeton.edu or on Instagram at @isaayip.

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