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USG likely out of time to pass budget amendment during spring semester, tabled with one meeting to go

USG members at an April 23 meeting.
Nandini Krishnan / The Daily Princetonian

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) engaged in a spirited exchange over a constitutional budget amendment at their penultimate meeting of the semester on Sunday. 

The proposed amendment would have restructured budget approvals for Lawnparties spending before fall semester. The discussion was ultimately tabled for voting at a later date. USG only has one more scheduled meeting this semester, and two votes are necessary for the amendment to pass. It is possible to still pass the budget amendment this semester if the USG calls for a special meeting, an option USG President Stephen Daniels ’24 mentioned investigating. 


The amendment, if passed, would establish two new regular meetings during the month of June and two meetings during the first 30 days of the Spring semester. These meetings would have the specific purpose of the treasurer presenting the budget for the semester ahead, with the two-meeting structure allowing for the budget to be debated and voted on.

As the USG Constitution currently stands, budgets are presented by the treasurer at the start of the semester.

According to Article 11 of the USG Senate Constitution, “The Senate may amend this Constitution by a 2/3 vote at 2 consecutive meetings.”

The budget amendment was proposed by U-Councilor Daniel Shaw ’25 and USG Senator Braiden Aaronson ’25, who was not present for the meeting. 

While presenting, Shaw noted a misalignment between the academic schedule and the USG schedule, leading to “discussion over funds being spent before they were properly approved by the Senate.” Shaw explained the change as “expanding the fall budget window to include summer spending” — the two summer meetings for spending approval.

In 2022, USG held a meeting prior to the start of the academic year on Aug. 21 in order to approve a number of budget requests, including that year’s fall Lawnparties spending.


The group was split on two matters: U-Councilor Riley Martinez ’23 proposed that the time period for the meetings be changed from the month of June to the summer period Executive Secretary Charlotte Selover ’25 called for more stringent attendance requirements for virtual meetings, saying that attendance has been low historically. Shaw’s amendment would have provided more leeway for Senate members’ attendance for the proposed virtual summer meetings.

The amendment included a number of reasons why a USG member might be exempted from a summer meeting, including travel, time zones, and work commitments.

Daniels raised questions about extending the approval period to July given that student activities fees are approved in June. Treasurer Walker Penfield ’25 explained that “the budget needs to be approved early enough — even if we don’t have an exact number in the student fees, the treasurer should always be in a position to deal with estimates based on past semester,” with calculations considering regularity in Princeton’s attendance and student fees amounts. 

USG is currently considering raising the student activity fees in order to bolster the budget allotted for social programming through the group.

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Shaw and Penfield agreed that given high spending over the summer on Lawnparties, it would be best to examine the budget as early as possible.

The majority of the group ultimately voted for the amendment wording to be changed to summer generally. Shaw said this change meant “there’s a section [in the summer] where we don’t have a budget now, which I feel like was the whole point of this amendment.” 

“What’s the point of the amendment now?” questioned U-Councilor Genevieve Shutt ’26. “If we don’t have to do this by June 1, more than likely we’re going to push it off until August and then Lawnparties money will already be spent, and there’s no point in us having this conversation.”

Penfield explained, in favor of keeping the amendment as limiting meetings to June, that “I understand why this might make sense in terms of flexibility, but I don’t think this is about flexibility because the [initial] amendment is set up in a way that it allows us to have a regular budget from July 1 through the fall semester, which I think was a positive development.”

Daniels ultimately motioned “to take this discussion to the future” citing constitutional questions. Parliamentarian Sebastian Mehrzad ’26, who is responsible for the group’s constitutional interpretation, was absent from the meeting.

Mental Health Committee Chair Noah Luch ’24 brought up limited time for the vote, given that there is only one more meeting scheduled for the semester, and any amendment requires two rounds of voting. Daniels said this could be discussed further, but did not elaborate on what this might entail. 

The vote to table the conversation was also contentious, but ultimately the group agreed to wait. The group then went into executive session.

Earlier in the meeting, the group also approved an additional $2,000 expense for the USG Movies committee to host a student trip to watch “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” at the AMC theater on Route 1. 

USG meetings are held in Robertson 016 on Sundays from 4–5 p.m. and are open for all students to attend.

Nandini Krishnan is a staff News writer for the ‘Prince’ who usually covers USG.

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