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USG approves six new members, discusses progress on mental health initiatives in summer meeting

At its first meeting since the end of the spring semester, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) confirmed new members, reviewed progress on ongoing mental health initiatives, and discussed goals for the coming fall.

At the June 26 meeting, Vice President Hannah Kapoor ’23 highlighted a referendum authored by Stephen Daniels ’24, the co-chair of the Mental Health Task Force. The referendum, which passed by a wide margin on the student ballot this spring, called for the creation of a mental health working group to have open discussions between students and University administrators about mental health on campus. 

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“There will be several themed meetings ranging from telehealth to academics to identify gaps and then the goal at the end of the semester is to publish a report and a series of policy recommendations for mental health on campus,” Kapoor said. 

She said that USG plans to “routinely update the student body with meeting notes and send out feedback forms,” emphasizing that the group’s hope is the process will be “collaborative.”

Kapoor also discussed a USG survey that was sent out to the student body during the spring semester and is currently under review by USG members. Kapoor noted that the results will shape USG advocacy in the fall semester and she plans to pass the results along to administrators when the review is complete.

The USG Senate also confirmed six new members: Director of Communications and Public Affairs River Reynolds ’24, Movies Committee Chair Addele Hargenrader ’24, TigerApps Chair Nicholas Padmanabhan ’23, and Sustainability Committee Members Kutorkor Kotey ’24, AJ Lonski ’23, and Cindy Li ’25. 

The Senate also voted to confirm new Committee on Discipline Member Georgia Souleles ’24 and new Honor Committee Member Caroline Schuckel ’25. 

With Reynolds’s confirmation as the director of communications, the USG discussed plans to place greater emphasis on communication with the community going forward. 

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“I’m hoping to expand our presence on Instagram [and] overhaul our website so that it is more transparent and make meeting agendas more accessible,” Reynolds said. “Also I know that we had a lot of town halls during the pandemic and I know that those have tapered off as the urgency of them has disappeared, but my goal as communication chair will be to make sure that people can come and participate as much as they need to or want to in USG.”

The final portion of the meeting focused on the USG Reform Project, which Kapoor described as an initiative “to build a better, more efficient USG to engage with the student body more effectively.”

The project was originally introduced by Chief of Staff Dillion Gallagher ’23 during a Senate meeting in March. According to Kapoor, by proposing constitutional amendments and adjustments to policies and practices, USG hopes to create a series of reforms to improve the organization “without repeating the mistakes and confusions that have happened in the past.”

Gallagher is an opinion columnist for the ‘Prince.’

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Gallagher presented on the progress his team has made since March.

“We’re identifying problems that we’ve experienced, that you all have experienced, and developing solutions for those problems, as well as solutions that can expand USG’s capacity or potential,” said Gallagher. 

Although much of this work is being done behind the scenes by the reform project team, Gallagher also stressed the importance of student input. 

“We plan to communicate with the student body the issue areas we focused on thus far and the ones they can expect. We don’t want to surprise students, so we want to make sure that they have just as much opportunity for feedback as all of us do,” Gallagher said. “And that means we may need to wait to hold votes until we’re back on campus and students get the chance at town halls to give us feedback on reforms.”

The meeting was held via Zoom on June 26 at 7 p.m. A subsequent meeting of the USG Senate has not yet been scheduled.

Alison Araten is a news staff writer for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at aaraten@princeton.edu and @alisonaraten on Instagram.

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