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After successful Homecoming event, USG debates its own elections

The back of students walking in the city street, between tall buildings.
Students arriving in New York
Guanyi Cao / The Daily Princetonian

This Saturday, thousands of Princeton alumni and parents flocked to see the Princeton football team reach a surprising victory over longtime nemesis Harvard. To the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), this victory came with a significant achievement for their programming. At the start of their October 22 meeting, USG President Stephen Daniels ’24 spoke about the success of the USG-sponsored Homecoming football game event which included a J.Crew pop-up shop and free food. He estimated that attendance was around 300–400 students. Daniels also stated he was “preparing for the Yale game,” mentioning the potential bonfire that would occur if Princeton also wins the game against Yale on Nov. 11. USG currently has $10,000 budgeted under their bonfire reserve. 

Much of the rest of the meeting was taken up by logistical matters relating to Projects Board expansion approved last week and internal election logistics.

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In a vote before Spring Break, the Senate voted to expand Projects Board to fund club sports and travel for student groups. Members of the Senate got more clarity on the scale of how much projects board funding would be available for travel. USG Treasurer Walker Penfield ’25 made sure to emphasize the importance of existing funding to student groups. He stated that of the $120,000 allocated to Projects Board for the semester, $45,000 had already been spent, indicating a “big appetite for student group funding.”

Daniels said he worked with Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students Ian Deas to estimate that $15,000 would be the cap for student travel funding, saying estimations were based on Deas’ understanding of what would “have an impact on a reasonable number of groups to use this and would be reasonable for travel.”

In last week's meeting, concerns about the expense of the program were front of mind.  In response to a proposal to fund food during travel, Class of 2025 Senator Braiden Aaronson '25 argued that the cost “balloons very quickly after a certain point.”

“[Travel spending] isn't going to necessarily dominate — I don't think the intention is for funding for travel to dominate the entirety of our Projects Board funding. But this is a good start,” Daniels said this week. Daniels said this funding may be expanded in the future, and the current allocation would be “useful as an initial indicator.”

The group spent the majority of the meeting discussing the elections report, presented by Chief Elections Manager Alex Sorgini ’26. Sorgini presented a number of changes that had been implemented by the Elections Team to improve student engagement via feedback forms and expanding information sessions. Initially, the group discussed whether candidates should be allowed to sign their own petitions and how to navigate digital petitioning, which includes petitioning through social media. Members went back and forth discussing budget allocations and students running in unofficial ‘tickets’ or joint platforms, both of which are not currently addressed in the elections handbook. 

USG Presidents and Vice Presidents often run on a ticket. Daniels ran on a ticket with current USG Vice President Madi Linton ’24 as his running mate in last year's elections. In same election, one group went further, with a slate of candidates running for a number of different positions under the “Further Together” banner.

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Sorgini said many candidates come to the “elections team for guidance [on running together], and there's very little that we can tell them except about this third-party expenditure rule.” The rule forbids spending on any item that benefits multiple campaigns, which poses a challenge for two candidates campaigning as a ticket.

Most USG members agreed with the possibility of creating coalitions with some regulation placed on maximum spending. U-Councilor Anuj Krishnan ’27, however, expressed discomfort around this idea, stating “I think at the end of the day, our student government is run by individuals. I think the idea that you could have the people who are already in positions of power in USG gang up for an election and spend the money is scary.” Mental Health Committee Chair Noah Luch ’24 expressed similar sentiments to this statement in the Zoom chat. No conclusion was reached on the rule within the meeting.

Given many members of the group were traveling for fall break, the USG meeting was held virtually. 

Nandini Krishnan is a staff News writer for the ‘Prince.’

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