While the faces at the top administrative levels of the University are well-known, some of the most important decisions on campus are made by or in consultation with certain committees whose membership and inner workings are more of a mystery.
The Daily Princetonian analyzed the leadership and impact of three significant campus committees — the Honor Committee, the President’s Advisory Committee on Architecture, and the Committee on Naming. The first has long been a part of broader campus debate surrounding the Honor Code. The latter two committees have taken on increasingly important roles on campus, as it enters a transitional period with the myriad construction projects and discourse around renaming certain campus buildings and monuments has become more prevalent.
The Princeton University Honor Committee is a student-run committee responsible for violations of the Honor Code, specifically in regards to written exams, tests, and quizzes. Violations pertaining to work done outside of the classroom are mediated by the Committee on Discipline. The Honor Committee consists of 15 members, three of which are leadership roles.
According to their page, the Committee “consists of one member of class government from the sophomore, junior and senior classes and undergraduate students selected from the student body at large,” Matthew Wilson ’24 serves as chair and Caroline Schuckel ’25 serves as clerk.
Wilson is a columnist for the ‘Prince.’
The election process occurs after spring USG elections, when the Honor Committee begins to solicit applications. According to Rights, Rules and Responsibilities, a subcommittee is responsible for selecting all the appointed members, which are then approved by USG.
Newly elected members join the Committee at the start of the fall semester following approval, and members can seek reappointment after a one-year term.
According to Wilson, the typical applicant that meets qualifications is one who understands and maintains the Committee’s values of “integrity, honesty, forthrightness…[and the] keeping [of] the University’s spirit of truth-seeking, and genuine scholarship.”
If a member neglects their duty, a vote of twelve can be used if dismissal is deemed necessary. A new member will be appointed in their place. Anyone who becomes unable to serve or is dismissed must reapply as a new member if they wish to rejoin the Committee.
The Honor Code has faced criticism in the past, including in recent years when the number of cases sent to the Honor Committee tripled over the pandemic. Some students who spoke to The Daily Princetonian in 2020 reported deteriorating mental health before, during and in the wake of their hearings before the Committee.
“No one on the Committee kids themselves that it’s anything less than a deeply unpleasant process,” Dylan Shapiro ’23, former Honor Committee Chair and then Committee Clerk, told the ‘Prince’ then.
Another complaint has been that students receiving financial aid who are found to be in violation of the Honor Code lose their financial assistance if required to repeat a semester.
Wilson told the ‘Prince’ that maintaining transparency around the workings of the Committee is imperative to ensure students maintain trust in a both the Committee and the Honor Code, which he described as “perennially institutions of great scrutiny on campus.
“I don't think the honor committee ought to be seen or ought to behave as if it's some secretive secluded committee,” he said.
Wilson noted that support is available to students being investigated by the Committee.
“We always also refer students to Counseling and Psychological Services, and in hearings, there will often be a CPS staff member on standby in case a student needs to talk to them,” he said.
President’s Advisory Committee on Architecture
A small number of students serve on the President’s Advisory Committee on Architecture (PACA), a group that advises President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 in the very early stages of certain construction projects. The committee has a limited scope: it only deals with capital projects, which are architecture projects that exceed a certain financial threshold, and it serves in an advisory capacity, so it doesn’t directly make any decisions.
Students on the committee generally have the same responsibility as the faculty and administrator members. The committee is called together on an as-needed basis, just once for each capital project, according to Jack Green ’24, one of two student representatives. Green told the ‘Prince’ that the collective mainly aims to generate ideas and make sure the Office of Capital Projects (OCP) and the Board of Trustees aren’t missing any key impacts of a project.
Because the timeline of the committee’s work is so far-reaching, Green noted that it tends to have “less direct relevance to students’ lives.” The committee has only met once since he joined — to discuss a facility that likely will not finish construction until the early 2030s.
These projects “just have timelines that are longer than a student's time on campus,” Green said.
Green told the ‘Prince’ that although he does feel that his perspective and input have been taken seriously, especially compared to other channels he’s seen that aim to collect student feedback on construction — forums, he said, where it seems that feedback is collected “once all the design decisions have been made,” but in a way that made “students feel like they had more decision-making ability than they actually did.” PACA, he said, meets before any decisions have been made.
Green added that he doesn’t necessarily believe that “there’s a consensus on campus that students really should be at the center of decision-making when it comes to campus planning,” because of factors like construction timelines and interest. “I was maybe one of three or four [undergraduate students] who applied to be on this committee,” he said.
Committee on Naming
According to its website, the Committee on Naming “provides advice to the Board of Trustees with regard to the naming of programs, positions and spaces at Princeton,” and “considers significant questions or concerns about names or iconography on the University campus and, when appropriate, makes recommendations to the Board about renaming and/or changing campus iconography.”
The committee has 10 members: four professors, one graduate student, two undergraduate students, one alumni representative, and two administrators. Three additional administrators sit with the committee. The two undergraduate student representatives are currently Okezie Eze ’25 and Aishwarya Swamidurai ’26.
It was first established in 2016 following a campus conversation around former U.S. and University President Woodrow Wilson, sparked by the activism of the Black Justice League and its 2015 Nassau Hall sit-in. The Committee on Naming was implemented in 2022 as a standing committee of the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC).
This spring, CPUC heard a presentation from the committee which mainly addressed a petition calling for the removal of the statue of John Witherspoon in Firestone Plaza. The committee had previously hosted community listening sessions about the statue and organized a symposium called “John Witherspoon in Historical Context.”
In 2022, the Committee also notably recommended changing the name of Marx Hall, which houses the Philosophy Department to Laura Wooten Hall, after a long-time Campus Dining staff member and the longest serving election poll worker in the United States.
Annie Rupertus is an associate News editor for the 'Prince.'
Louisa Gheorghita is a staff News writer for the 'Prince.'
Please send any corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.