US government delays electoral reforms, approves additional budget allocations
The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) voted to suspend implementation of most of a slate of electoral reforms for the next election cycle at its Sunday, October 30, meeting. He also heard a number of budget updates, approving an increase to the Dean’s Date Celebration budget and an allocation for the upcoming Sustainability Committee Eco-Festival event.
USG Director of Communications River Reynolds ’24, reading a statement from USG President Mayu Takeuchi ’23, began the meeting with a minute of silence in recognition of the recent passing of Misrach Ewunetie ’24. Takeuchi was present at the meeting, but had lost her voice.
“It’s impossible for me to put into words the challenges we’ve faced over the past two weeks,” Reynolds said on behalf of Takeuchi.
“I recognize that there are many questions and various uncertainties and unknowns,” she continued. “I have heard from many fellow students that the campus feels different, including dangerous in ways it has never felt before. I felt it too.
Reynolds added that Takeuchi has been in touch with various university administrators in an effort to address student concerns about campus security and lighting. On Tuesday, November 1, two days after the USG meeting, administrators released an email clarifying a series of new safety measures in light of student concerns, including increased lighting.
USG Vice President Hannah Kapoor ’23 described the introduction of a resolution to delay implementation of electoral reforms as a “last minute” addition to the meeting’s agenda.
Reynolds, presenting the proposal on behalf of Takeuchi, who presented the resolution with Kapoor, explained that the resolution “would make the 2020 version of the [USG Elections H]and reserve in effect for the winter elections.
The resolution detailed in the meeting file clarified that one change – the addition of an expanded definition of abstentions on ballot papers which reads “Abstention – I choose not to vote and therefore my ballot does not will not be added to the total number of votes cast in this election.” – would still be in effect for the next election. come into effect only at the spring 2023 elections.
These delayed reforms include the implementation of the electronic petition to replace paper petitions, a clarification of the rules around campaign email, including a new mandatory disclaimer that must be included in any campaign message sent to more than 10 people at a time, a postponement of the winter election schedule by two weeks, the renaming of pre-election “open houses” to “rules meetings” in the official manual, inclusion in the manual of an already existing rule that prohibits “cash equivalent spending” like gift cards, the elimination of an “unenforceable” 100-sheet limit on paper campaign posters, and adjustments to handbook wording that prohibits the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to verify election results while a complaint or appeal is pending, to better align with the Election Runner program .
“The Chief Electoral Officer and the election team have not had enough time to familiarize themselves with the final rules,” Kapoor said, “and in the interest of giving them enough time to prepare for the election cycle , which starts in a few days, we would like to stick to the pre-existing rules they have run elections with in the past.
According to the USG’s Winter 2022 Election Calendar, the next election cycle is scheduled to begin on Sunday, November 6, the deadline for referendum proposals. Applicants must register by Monday, November 21.
Noting that the Senate passed these handbook reforms unanimously on Sunday, October 9, Reynolds added that “under normal circumstances, the Senate as an institution, including parliamentarians and [the] the Elections team, is obligated to implement these changes within the approved timelines.
“Having said that,” she continued, “more importantly, we need to recognize the unique circumstances and challenges of the past few weeks, and show compassion for ourselves and each other while doing our best to ensure the integrity of our elections”.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Chair Braiden Aaronson ’25, who helped craft proposals for the USG Reform Bill, reminded Senate members that before the adoption of the resolution, “on October 9, almost a month ago, the Chief Electoral Officer was consulted closely for this report.
He added: “In my view, these changes make the job of managing elections much easier.
In response, Kapoor noted that while Chief Electoral Officer Brian Li ’24 had been consulted on the changes before, the election team had not received the official, updated handbook from Parliamentarian Kate Liu ’23 until 30 october. Takeuchi later clarified that the updated text was not completed until earlier that day, so it could not have been delivered sooner.
“[We as USG] don’t run the elections ourselves,” U-Councillor Daniel Shaw ’25 weighed. “We don’t know what the process is, but I think it’s wise to defer to the election team on this particular issue. It’s not like it doesn’t prevent [the changes] to enter into force – it just slightly delays the implementation.
“As long as we solve the problem of abstentions,” he added, “then I don’t think [the delay is] too much to ask.”
Councilwoman Uma Fox ’26 asked if the USG could delay a vote on the resolution to allow more time to ask clarifying questions because no member of the election team was able to attend the Senate meeting, but Takeuchi wrote in the chat that USG would need to vote immediately because “information regarding the 2022 Winter Election will be shared in the coming week with the entire student body.”
The resolution was adopted, with the following vote:
In favour: President of Undergraduate Student Life (USLC) Avi Attar ’25, Senator Ellen Battaglia ’23, Advisor U Amanda Branom ’25, Advisor U Stephen Daniels ’24, Academic President Austin Davis ’23, Senator Ned Dockery ’25, U-Councillor Dillion Gallagher ’23 (Eric Sklanka ’23 voted by proxy), U-Councillor Judah Guggenheim ’25 (Avi Chesler ’25 voted by proxy), USG Treasurer Adam Hoffman ’23, Kapoor, Senator Mariam Latif ’24 , U-Councillor Riley Martinez ’23, Shaw, Takeuchi, and Sustainability Chair Audrey Zhang ’25.
Opposite: Aaronson, Senator Sean Bradley ’24, Senator Walker Penfield ’25 and President of University and Community Affairs (CCA) Isabella Shutt ’24.
The Senate also heard a monthly expense report from Hoffman, which said USG was in “a pretty comfortable position” financially. Hoffman noted that while some budget items, like the Academic Committee, Lawnparties, and Senate training funding ended up costing more than expected, he is confident in the Senate’s approach of allocating money “modestly” and then draw on reserve funds as needed.
The student activity fee is part of the tuition fee and “should be spent on [students] by them for the semester which [they are] planned,” he said, “so I think we should be very comfortable going through our reserves by the end of the semester.
“We are financially in very good shape,” Kapoor agreed.
The Senate also unanimously approved three budget-related requests. First, Projects Council Co-Chair Melissa Chun ’24 and TigerApps President Nick Padmanabhan ’23 applied for $1,000 in funding from the Projects Council to cover expenses, such as site hosting. Web, URLs and database costs for the student application development group. Padmanabhan noted that more than 4,000 Princeton students use TigerApps each semester.
“It’s already budgeted,” Hoffman clarified, noting that it only needed to be voted on since TigerApps previously existed within USG, but is now an official student club that can receive funding from Projects. Board. The USG budget previously included a $1,400 allocation for TigerApps, which will now be channeled through the Projects Council allocation.
The Senate also approved a $10,000 increase in funding for a Dean’s Date celebration, raising the allocation from $3,000 to $13,000. The budget increase includes funding for food and a gift of merchandise, and is in line with the typical pre-pandemic Dean’s appointment budget of about $14,000 to $15,000, according to the Senate meeting record. .
“This Dean’s Appointment is an opportunity to revitalize what was a special tradition before the pandemic,” Reynolds said on behalf of Takeuchi.
Vice Dean of Undergraduate Students Thomas Dunne highlighted the event’s popularity before the pandemic.
“For this winter distribution, there have never been leftover equipment for items that are not sized [including scarves and hats]”since students started the Dean’s Gift tradition in 2001,” Dunne said.
USG members discussed possibilities of allocating more money in the $13,000 budget for equipment instead of food and exploring different branding options for merchandise. At the meeting, USG did not decide exactly how to spend the $13,000.
Additionally, the Senate approved $1,080 in funding for the Sustainability Committee’s upcoming Eco-Festival. Zhang presented a detailed budget and said the majority of funds would be spent on food for the event, which she described as “the crown jewel” of her team’s efforts this semester.
USG Senate meetings are held in the Betts Auditorium of the School of Architecture at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons and are open to all.
Annie Rupertus is a sophomore from Philadelphia, data writing assistant and news writer who covers USG for the “Prince”. Please address any request for correction to [email protected].