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Daniels ’24 elected USG president, gender-neutral bathroom referendum passes

<h6>Annie Rupertus / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Annie Rupertus / The Daily Princetonian

Stephen Daniels ’24 was elected president by a nearly 40 point margin in this year’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) winter elections. The Senate-initiated referendum on gender-neutral bathrooms in dorms passed with 58 percent of the votes, with 27 percent voting no and 15 percent voting to abstain. 

The referendum asked, “Shall the undergraduates call on the Office of the Provost to, in a timely manner, establish a commission to investigate and provide recommendations on how the University may convert the majority of residential campus restrooms to be gender-neutral?”

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Isabella Shutt ’24 and Audrey Zhang ’25 ran in the USG presidential race as well, in which the ballot was ranked choice. Shutt received 523 first-choice votes, or 22 percent, and Zhang received 407 first-choice votes, or 17.1 percent.

The presidential election results come after weeks of campaigning sometimes characterized by clashes between Daniels and Shutt. This election marks the potential emergence of party-like structures within USG, with Shutt aligning her campaign with 10 other candidates and existing USG members under the banner “Further Together.”

These tensions did not seem to lead to any significant increase in voter turnout. According to current USG President Mayu Takeuchi ’23, turnout for the general election ballot was 45 percent — the exact same turnout rate as last year’s presidential election

Daniels currently serves as chair for the U-Council and the Mental Health Resources Task Force. He received 1450 first-choice votes, which tallied to 60.9 percent. Daniels’ running mate, Madi Linton ’24, was elected USG Vice President and received 54 percent of the votes, or 1213 votes. 

The two ran on a platform that focused on expanding community programming, such as Pay with Points; academics advocacy around workload and course opportunities; and ensuring administrative transparency. In a Dec. 5 presidential debate, he emphasized advocating for student mental health, holding the administration accountable, and revamping community spaces like the campus pub.

“I was blown away by how many people were willing to support me and appreciated the work I had done on USG,” Daniels wrote in a message to The Daily Princetonian. “I think Isabella and Audrey ran great campaigns,” he added. 

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Linton also addressed the election results in a message to the ‘Prince,’ writing, “I am incredibly ecstatic to be serving as your Vice President, and appreciate your trust in me to make campus a better, safer place.”

Shutt ran on a ticket with Vice Presidential candidate JJ Scott ’24. Their “Further Together” platform focused on “academic flexibility, strengthened community, and student voice.” The two emphasized issues relating to mental health and academic pressure, and holding the administration accountable for its policy decisions and treatment of students.

“I am thankful for all of those who engaged with the election, supported me, and offered their ideas for making Princeton a better place,” Shutt wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ 

“The Further Together coalition has always been a project that goes further than USG — we were brought together on the basis that students need more effective and meaningful ways to shift the University in response to their needs. We do not yet know what the next move is but we will continue to be in collaboration with other students and supportive staff who recognize that this place has a long way to go to protect student well-being,” she added.

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Shutt and Scott’s ticket also included a number of candidates for other positions, including Walker Penfield ’25 for Treasurer, Hareton Song ’26 for Academics Chair, Sean Bradley ’24 for Sustainability Chair, Uma Fox ’26 for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Chair, Genevieve Shutt ’26 for 2026 Senator, and Braiden Aaronson ’25 for 2025 Senator. U-Councilors Aishwarya Swamidurai ’26 and Dillion Gallagher ’23 also appeared on the Further Together ticket, although there was no U-Councilor election this cycle.

Of those candidates, Bradley was the only one to win a contested election. He won the seat for Sustainability Chair against Greg Arevalo ’25. Bradley received 64 percent of the votes, while Arevalo received 36 percent.

In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Bradley wrote that he plans to emphasize “both programming and policy” in his term, especially by focusing in the areas of dining hall sustainability, the move out and move in resale program, water bottle use, and “holding admin accountable for their Divestment promises.” He added that he hopes to make the Eco-Festival an “annual event.”

In unopposed elections, Penfield was elected as Treasurer, Fox was elected Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Chair, and Aaronson won a Senator seat.

In a comment to the ‘Prince,’ Fox said, “I’m excited to ensure student representation is front and center of all university DEI efforts. Princeton is a space built largely on exclusion, and it’s time for us to build a more inclusive future. I’m looking forward to working with students to make inclusive spaces, funding for affinity groups, and DEI a reality at Princeton.” 

In a message to the ‘Prince,’ Penfield wrote that his top priority for the term will be to “democratize USG’s budgetary process” and include more student voices in USG and University decision-making more broadly. He also noted that he plans to revitalize the USG Reform Project, which was spearheaded by Shutt throughout this semester, and continue to push forward a number of reform proposals that saw varying degrees of success during Takeuchi’s administration. 

Other elected members of the Senate Executive Committee include Srista Tripathi ’25 as Academics Chair, Avi Attar ’25 as Social Chair, and Caitlin McNally ’24 as Undergraduate Student Life Chair.

Tripathi received 55 percent of the votes, with 1227 votes, while Song received 45 percent, with 990 votes. Attar and McNally both ran unopposed. 

The Campus and Community Affairs (CCA) Chair position remains vacant. A graphic included in USG’s official email announcing the election results displays a blank square for the CCA Chair position alongside photos of winning candidates, labeled “You?” and listing “to be appointed” underneath.

The current USG Senate voted to initiate the referendum on gender-neutral bathrooms in a special meeting last month, with only one vote, current USG Treasurer Adam Hoffman ’23, in opposition.

In the meeting, Fox stated that students should be able to “access a bathroom that is pursuant and agrees to [their] gender identity” in any residential college on campus. The full referendum text draws attention to already-existing gender-neutral bathrooms in the newly-opened New College West and Yeh College.

Mariam Latif ’24, Noah Luch ’24, Braiden Aaronson ’25, and Ned Dockery ’25 were all elected Class Senators in unopposed elections. 

Luch, who has worked in conjunction with USG in the past through the Mental Health Initiative (MHI), is the only incoming Senator, aside from the first-year candidates, who did not hold a position in the USG Senate in the previous term. Latif, Aaronson, and Dockery currently serve as 2024 Senator, DEI Chair, and 2025 Senator, respectively.

Quin Freeny ’26 and Jack Ganley ’26 were elected 2026 Class Senators from amongst a crowded field of nine first-year candidates. Freeny received 291 first-choice votes and Ganley received 264 first-choice votes, or 15 and 13 percent of the votes, respectively.

Voter turnout for the first-year senator ballot was slightly higher than the general election ballot, with 49 percent of first-years participating, according to Takeuchi. This turnout rate is seven percentage points higher than the Class of 2025’s Senator election last year.

In a statement to the ‘Prince,’ Ganley said that “As Class of 2026 Senator, I really want to champion lower income voices. As a first generation low-income student, I think that there are definitely places in which Princeton can improve.” Ganley additionally noted that he hopes to focus on accessible detours, expanding late meal, and integrating international students. 

In a message to the ‘Prince,’ Freeny wrote, “I will also make it a priority to improve Tigerhub and foster open networks of communication with the Class of 2026 to accurately represent their interests on voting issues.”

Seven other candidates ran for Class of 2026 Senator, representing the highest number of candidates for a single race this election cycle. Samiksha Gaherwar ’26, Nina Noble ’26, Leah Powell ’26, Aly Rashid ’26, Genevieve Shutt ’26,  Mepa Young ’26 and Laura Zhang ’26 ran in addition to Freeny and Ganley. In last year’s presidential election, the Class of 2025 Senator race also fielded the highest number of candidates for a single race with seven. 

In a statement to the ‘Prince,’ Gaherwar noted, “I was proud to see so many students—especially nine first-years—take on the challenge. Although I hope to see our voter turnout hit at least 50% next year, the Class of 2026 has demonstrated that they may be one of the most outspoken and involved classes yet.”

Looking forward, Daniels expressed excitement about the upcoming task of leading USG. 

When asked about the first action he would take as USG President, he noted that “technically,” he attended a meeting about the Ramadan student experience immediately after finding out he’d won the election; he added that his next step is to “get to work on ensuring USG can accomplish” the goals he and Linton set in their campaign.

Annie Rupertus is a sophomore from Philadelphia, an assistant Data editor, and a staff News writer who covers USG for the ’Prince.’

Sophie Glaser is a news and features contributor, as well as a copy editor for the ‘Prince.’

Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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