The following piece represents the views of the undersigned Editorial Board members alone.
Despite the lack of choice for voters in selecting the next president of Princeton’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG), there are a plethora of other races in which students can make their voices heard as we collectively envision a better campus. In addition to attending the Vice Presidential debate on Nov. 28, The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board sent questions to all candidates running for Committee Chair positions to better understand their platforms. Below, the Editorial Board lists our endorsements for candidates in every race in which the entire student body can vote.
Vote Tripathi for a year of realistic USG goals
When one of the two candidates for USG President dropped out of the race on Monday, all interested eyes on campus turned to a race of less notoriety and seemingly indirect impact on campus: that of the Vice President. Candidates gathered in Whig Hall after less than 48 hours of notice that they would be called forward to proffer their ideas for change in a public forum. Warren Shepherd ’27, Chase Magnano ’25, and Srista Tripathi ’25 all admirably defended their platforms, discussing shared interests in raising student activities fees and debating the feasibility of changing the academic calendar. Yet Tripathi’s extensive experience in USG and knowledge of the processes through which change can occur clearly makes her the candidate that will best serve the student body in the year to come.
Shepherd’s proposals to add Wawa to the Pay with Points program and to integrate upperclassmen on eating club plans to the University dining hall system over breaks would certainly improve the well-being of the student body. However, he was unable to cite avenues through which these changes could be implemented.
Furthermore, while Shepherd spoke extensively about supporting changes to upperclassmen life, Tripathi pointed out quite rightly that as the only non-upperclassman candidate, his ability to represent the needs of this population seems inadequate. While Shepherd’s willingness to make his voice heard on campus in his first semester demonstrates courage, his lack of knowledge on key policy issues such as the dining pilot and the proceedings of the Honor and Disciplinary Committees shows that he is unprepared to take on this role.
Making space for promoting “intersectional communities” was the central campaign promise Magnano made during the debate. However, this was not a point upon which he was able to expand, nor did his policy proposals seem to support this goal. Magnano was most passionate about reforming meal exchange to foster greater community, expanding the Pay with Points program, and making real efforts to bring back the campus pub. Yet he did not give specific examples of how any of these programs could be accomplished, perhaps because his only experience in USG is serving on the Campus and Community Affairs task force.
This lack of experience comes through clearly in Magnano’s further comments on hot-button issues: he cites reforming the disciplinary process and changing the academic calendar to begin and end earlier in the year as “$0 changes,” even though the administration has been consistently resistant to such changes. Magnano brings confidence and largesse in plans to the table, but not enough evidence that he can accomplish anything he promotes.
Tripathi’s platform centered largely around her joint ticket with presumptive president-elect, Avi Attar ’25, as well as her experience as Academic Committee Chair. Throughout the debate, she highlighted her desire to listen to student voices and serve as a point of connection between administration, committee chairs, and the student body. She also responded to many of the ideas that her fellow candidates brought up, citing the difficulties surrounding larger administrative changes, even if changes could be beneficial to the student body. While it can be demoralizing to speak to the obstacles to change, Tripathi’s willingness and ability to do so demonstrates her biggest strength: experience in dealing with the student body and University administration.
Throughout the debate, all candidates spoke to a variety of concerns including mental health, disciplinary processes, dining plans, and more. Tripathi seemed comfortable engaging in discourse around many of these issues, though she may have exaggerated or misunderstood the powers of the Vice President of the USG, or the USG in general. She claimed that she could work to resolve financial burdens faced by students found guilty in Honor Committee or Committee on Discipline proceedings, even though there seems to be very little that USG could do to resolve that issue. Further, her knowledge on this issue appears questionable, as her claim that those found guilty face decreases in their financial aid award is untrue.
Yet perhaps this doesn’t matter quite so much: when working with Attar, whichever candidate is chosen for Vice President is going to have to find ways to align their platform with his, and Tripathi seems ready to support Attar’s work throughout the next year. While Shepherd and Magnano brought interesting ideas to the debate, Tripathi's experience and understanding of the role make her the best candidate for this position.
Editor’s note: Lucia Wetherill recused herself from determining this endorsement due to a conflict of interest.
Treasurer - Uma Fox ’26
For the role of treasurer, Fox is the most qualified candidate — she displays a solid understanding of the intricacies of USG’s budget and a strong commitment to community-building. Fox currently serves as DEI Committee Chair. While Aum Dhruv ’27’s platform raises more promising ideas (e.g. broadening the Passport to the Arts), he cites a “likely surplus” in the USG budget for the end of the semester as the reason he would not increase the Student Activity fee. Since it is inaccurate that there will be a surplus in the budget at the end of this year, it is clear Dhruv lacks the understanding of the budget needed to serve as its chief supervisor.
Fox plans to optimize and reallocate resources to better serve the student body. She also is in favor of another increase in the Student Activity fee, which has been a point of contention among much of the study body. However, it remains to be seen whether her policy proposals are truly realistic. Fox proposes using this funding to support subsidizing regional public transit for students and using a USG grants program to allow students to gain funding for short-term community-building projects. Fox’s knowledge and her commitment to advocating for students make her the strongest candidate for the position.
DEI Committee Chair - Kai Hostetter-Habib ’26
In the race for DEI Committee Chair, the three candidates each identified different communities that they hope to focus on if elected to the role. Joseph Olatunji ’27 referenced directing support to “communities of people with intersectional identities,” and Abby Lu ’26 wrote about her desire to support outgoing seniors who may face “disproportionately harder” employment opportunities due to their backgrounds: certainly communities that should be supported. But Hostetter-Habib, who referenced the transfer student community as one that is overlooked and in need of more support from USG, was best able to back up his proposals.
With both clear ideas about how he can serve the community — using his experience as a member of the committee to work within the “many channels of communication that the DEI Committee must go through” — and an acknowledgment of the many facets of serious debates going on around campus, such as those about the benefits and drawbacks to different communities when building gender-neutral bathrooms, he demonstrates a unique level of empathy and understanding for all the communities he will need to serve. Hostetter-Habib will serve the community the most effectively by considering campus needs reasonably and rationally from multiple angles, and using viable channels to create change.
Academics Committee Chair - Vivian Bui ’26
For the position of Academics Committee Chair, Bui’s past work on the Academics Committee and thoughtful goals make her rise above the other candidates. Bui worked on the Minors Program initiative but acknowledges its shortcomings — she is committed to “smoothing the transition process” using focus groups, academics office hours, coffee chats, and active dialogue with the Faculty Committee on the Course of Study. She also focuses on using student feedback to improve mental health, equity among students, and the Honor Committee.
While Laura Zhang ’26 put forth many ideas, many of them, such as her push for double majors, seemed less feasible. Danny Torres ’27 seemed to have fewer concrete policies to combat the issues he identified, including that of grade deflation and the minors program. Jishnu Roychoudhury ’27’s platform similarly suffered from a lack of detailed and targeted policy proposals. Bui’s knowledge and commitment to creating concrete solutions with student input make her the strongest candidate for the position.
Sustainability Committee Chair - Tom Hobbs ’27
In the race for Sustainability Committee Chair, Hobbs is the greater good for a greener campus. His platform confronts the issue of overconsumption on campus, planning to work with the University to purchase Green Seal certified cleaning products and to reduce “rapid-use culture” on campus. Hobbs recognizes that small changes to already existing processes could be pursued with administrative backing and have tangible benefits to the University. Hobbs already has experience with sustainability initiatives, having worked with a British furniture company to reduce waste and institutionalize recycling programs.
Roosevelt, for his part, proposes bold ideas — but several of these far exceed the scope of the Sustainability Committee Chair position, such as potentially influencing the University's construction choices. He also advocates for a TigerTransit bus along Elm Drive, which seems impractical and pointless. Roosevelt shows promise as a candidate with unique proposals, but needs more experience with the mechanics and processes of USG. Hobbs’s focus on doing what we can, with what we have, where we are is a more reliable strategy to tackle the Leviathan of campus sustainability.
Social Committee Chair - Enzo Kho ’26
For the role of Social Committee Chair, Kho’s experience on the committee, knowledge of relevant stakeholders, and ideas for the future events of the committee would make him the strongest candidate. The other candidates all bring strengths to the table: Caroline Schückel ’25’s two years of experience on the Social Committee shows her dedication to these projects; Alice McCarthy ’27 and Simone Acosta ’27 both have big ambitions for whom they would like to bring as the Lawnparties headliner. However, Kho seems adequately prepared to address the needs of the Social Committee, ODUS, and the student body. Speaking about the accessibility of events like Lawnparties, Kho’s focus on the importance of providing services that will improve the student experience, including food options and physical safety, suggest that he has thoughtfully thought about the successes and failures of past Lawnparties as he thinks through his own role as chair.
Candidates were split on whether to increase the Student Activities Fee: Acosta, Kho, and McCarthy were in favor of an increase, while Schückel seems wary of another increase before the effects of the past ones have been realized. Kho’s experience over candidates with less time on Social Committee would provide him with the knowledge necessary to succeed in this role, while his specific plans and demonstrated understanding of University processes and potential challenges make him the strongest candidate for Social Committee Chair.
Undergraduate Student Life Committee Chair - Jenna Elliott ’25
Jenna Elliott ’25 comes to the role of Undergraduate Student Life Committee Chair with more than two years of experience as an Academics Chair for Rockefeller College. She masterfully balances the needs of students with the concerns of administrators with her idea to explore a single-use 24-hour extension policy in all classes at Princeton. Regarding the general USG desire to work towards a campus pub, Elliott also recognizes the large population of students on campus who are unable to or choose not to drink, and she prioritizes conversations with students in her consideration of how and if to move forward with the initiative.
Her consciousness of student opinions and her willingness to listen makes her a strong choice for chair of the Undergraduate Student Life Committee. William Li is a first-year and doesn’t yet have the experience needed to sit in a role that is so deeply rooted in student life, making Elliott the better candidate for this role.
Editor’s note: Elliot was a former assistant Data editor for the ‘Prince.’ Abigail Rabieh signed on to Elliott’s campaign petition and recused herself from determining this endorsement.
Mental Health Committee Chair - Meera Kochhar ’25
In the race for Mental Health Committee Chair, Kochhar’s plan for specific and realistic policy changes make her the best fit for this role. Mia Jolly ’27, a current member of the Mental Health Committee, aims to focus on education surrounding mental health issues, while Muhammad Elkayal ’27 looks to learn with other students in the role. However, neither platform offers the concrete solutions that are going to be most beneficial to the students on this campus. Aishwarya Swamidurai ’26’s experience as a U-Councilor and a Mental Health Committee Member informed her beliefs on the importance of understanding the role of academics in mental health discussions, and her plans to expand upon work done by the summer 2022 Mental Health Task Force could certainly be fruitful.
Yet Kochhar’s platform best positions her for success in the role of chair: Kochhar has a comprehensive understanding of the current resources provided by UHS and CPS, as well as an understanding of why students may feel like there is not adequate support. As an RCA, she has prioritized elements of community-building outside of USG and may bring impactful ideas surrounding affinity groups and wellness spaces to the student body. Kochhar seems ready to make specific changes informed by past policies, current practices, and student input, making her the best candidate for this role.
Campus & Community Affairs Committee Chair - Shria Ajay ’27
The Campus and Community Affairs (CCA) Committee is responsible for maintaining and strengthening the “layers of connection between Princeton and the local community,” and it is clear that Shria Ajay ’27 has proposals that are the most suitable to pursuing this goal. Her idea for a Small Business Spotlight that encourages interaction with “small and minority-owned businesses in town,” coupled with a commitment to funding community service outings, would add much-needed opportunities for students to meaningfully connect with the communities that serve them. Furthermore, she has concrete proposals to revitalize the Tigers in Town program by encouraging students to actually spend time at the businesses they patronize.
While Genevieve Shutt ’26 has an impressive resume of experience with the USG from collaborating with the current CCA Chair to organizing the Princeton University Farmers Market, she is unspecific in how she aims to accomplish her goal of supporting “social events to be more responsible to the local community.” The other experience she cites, such as planning a trip to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, does not seem to align with that goal, nor with her intention of “supporting local businesses over large corporations.” If elected, we can expect Ajay to promote a CCA that is centered around building conscientious engagement with the Princeton and Trenton-area communities.
147th Editorial Board:
Mohan Setty-Charity ’24 (Chair)
Hope Perry ’24
Abigail Rabieh ’25
Lucia Wetherill ’25
Please send all corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.
Correction: This piece previously stated that William Li went on the USG lighting walk. In fact, it was a different William Li.