With the second half of the fall semester in full swing, the race for a new Undergraduate Student Government (USG) president is approaching, with USG President Stephen Daniels ’24 closing out his term with an increased budget and a focus on new student events. The USG President serves as the public face of the student body, organizes weekly meetings, and coordinates all of the Senate’s committees.
Ahead of the winter elections, The Daily Princetonian looks at some of the candidates most likely to run.
Avi Attar ’25
As the member of USG directly responsible for Lawnparties, the raucous campus festival that attracts over 3,000 students every year, social chair is often a launching point for a higher position. Current USG Vice-President Madi Linton ’24 spent a year as social chair. Before Linton, previous social chair Will Gu ’23 mounted an unsuccessful bid for vice president in the previous election cycle.
The artists invited to Lawnparties under Attar’s tenure were rap artist Waka Flocka Flame and EDM duo Loud Luxury. Attar benefited from increased funding for Lawnparties in the second semester, leading to the inclusion of a supporting act, food distribution during the headlining performance, DJing at the SPIA fountain and a new banner for photos-ops.
Attar has never run in a contested election in USG. He was first appointed University Student Life Committee (USLC) chair in 2022 after no candidates ran for the position. He then ran unopposed for Social Chair that December. However, such a situation is not uncommon: Daniels had never won a contested election before being elected USG President, having been appointed a U-Councilor and then mounting a failed bid for Vice-President in 2022. Running unopposed, Attar was unaligned with a major ticket in the last election.
In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Attar said “I am super excited for this upcoming election.” He explained, “The USG presidency presents unique opportunities to drive [a positive] impact and serve the student body.” He did not reference plans to run for USG President.
Gil Joseph ’25
Unlike other potential candidates, Joseph is a member of Class Council, not the USG Senate. The two bodies operate relatively independently, with Class Council focusing on organizing class events and the USG Senate focusing primarily on aspects of University policy and larger events.
Joseph, however, could mount a strong bid from his presence within the class. He came first place in a crowded field for class council in 2021 with 401 votes. The Junior Class President from Haiti often shares his experience as an international student, addressing issues including tax on financial aid and the difficulties of applying to internships on a visa. In a comment to the ‘Prince,’ Joseph said “as of now, my eyes are fully set on finishing the work I have started.”
He noted his commitment to the University: “I am always thinking about ways in which I can have a positive impact on campus. USG President or not, that commitment is something that will not change.”
Still, the jump between bodies would be unusual. In the past ten years, only one USG president has come directly from class council. Joseph may be expected to try to form a ticket with a USG veteran.
However, Joseph did share some hopes for the next USG executive committee. He said “I hope the next USG President is open to collaborating with various organizations. I also look forward to working with the future President on initiatives that promote student engagement and support a healthy campus culture.”
Braiden Aaronson ’25
Aaronson serves as a Class of 2025 Senator, not a member of the USG Senate Executive Committee. He previously served as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) chair, a position he was appointed to in 2022. He drafted the referendum that made it a permanent USG committee. He noted in a comment to the ‘Prince’: “I consider myself lucky in that I have worn many different hats in USG.”
Aaronson recently proposed the expansion of Project Board alongside Daniels. The proposal came under sustained questioning from Genevieve Shutt ’26 and Isabella Shutt ’24, who raised concerns about which campus groups specifically would receive funding under expansion. Aaronson was a member of the Further Together platform in the 2022 elections. The ticket was led by now U-Councilor Isabella Shutt, who came in second to Daniels. Their agenda called for a number of reforms, including extending the P/D/F option to writing seminars and reopening the campus pub.
Aaronson did not confirm any plans for the upcoming elections, but described his work with former USG President Mayu Takeuchi ’23 and current president Daniels, saying that “seeing the work that both of them did and continue to accomplish in the role has certainly been inspiring.”
He noted some priorities the next president should consider.
“I hope the next USG President works to make USG feel less distanced from the student body.” He explained a number of aspects of this, including “focus on the day-to-day experiences of the student body,” and “academics and mental health [as] longer-term issue areas.”
Aaronson stressed the importance of the student voice during elections, explaining that the work done by the USG can have an “especially significant impact on the lives of each Princetonian.” He added “it is worth it for students to set aside some time during our collectively chaotic semesters to pay attention to these elections.”
Leaning against running
Srista Tripathi ’25
Academics Chair is one of the highest profile positions in USG. It was from that position that Christian Potter ’22 successfully ran for USG President. Both Potter and Austin Davis ’23, another Academics Chair, were winners of the Pyne Prize, though Potter’s prize has since been removed from the website.
Tripathi has a relatively short tenure on USG, only serving in elected office for a year. She was an unelected member of the Academics Committee before that. Importantly, Tripathi defeated a candidate in the last election cycle, Hareton Song ’26, who was aligned with the Further Together ticket.
Song is a former staff Copy editor and staff Newsletter writer for the ‘Prince.’
The transition from certificates to minors has been a major focus of Tripathi’s time as Academics Chair. The committee recently endorsed increasing the passing time between classes to 20 minutes and discussed staggering assessment deadlines at the end of the semester in lieu of Dean’s Date.
During her first campaign, Tripathi shared that her key issues included support for first-generation low-income (FLI) students, accessibility, and mental health.
Despite her storied tenure, Tripathi told the ‘Prince’ that “I am not planning on running for president.” She added, “I look forward to [the campaigning process] each year to learn more about those who run.”
She said that her position as academics chair has given her the opportunity to “view the role of the USG President as a very crucial one.” She explained “as a chair, it is very useful [for orienting] our goals for the year when our president has a vision that we are able to follow.”
Walker Penfield ’25
Penfield, the current USG treasurer, was the highest profile victory of Isabella Shutt’s Further Together ticket in the 2022 elections, but over the course of the term has been closely ideologically aligned with Daniels on a key policy: increasing student activity fees to “restor[e] the many projects and initiatives that [USG has] lost over the years due to rising costs.” The activity fee went from $45.50 last year to $95 this year. Penfield defended the policy shift, including in a guest contribution in the ‘Prince.’
Unlike the last two treasurers, Penfield is eligible to run, as he is a junior. Penfield previously served as a Class of 2025 Senator.
However, despite Penfield’s high-profile role, he said in an email to the ‘Prince’ that “as of now, I do not plan on running for USG President.”
Penfield is a former staff Humor writer for the ‘Prince.’
Victoria Davies is a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’
Please send any corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.