Following the University’s first annual Community Care Day, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) met on Oct. 29 to discuss the turnout to the event. USG also discussed the development of the Mental Health Standing Committee, voted on funding events for the South Asian Students Association (SASA) and HackPrinceton and revised election procedures ahead of the upcoming winter and spring elections.
USG President Stephen Daniels ’24 said that “a record” had been broken as approximately 3,000 students, faculty, and staff attended an event during Community Care Day, with 1,000 taking part in the culminating event “Community Gathering” which took place on Cannon Green. Citing the large turnout, Daniels is optimistic that the event will “become a routine event.
Daniels shared that he has an upcoming meeting with Dean of the College Jill Dolan and Academics Chair Srista Tripathi ’25 on the development of a University-wide mental health committee.
U-Councilor Aishwarya Swamidurai ’26 said that the goal of creating a mental health committee is to work towards “institutionalizing the work that was done by the task group [USG’s Mental Health Task Force] that wasn’t there beforehand.” Swamidurai added that the committee will focus on “not just mental health but wellness overall.” She said that now is the right time for this committee to be established, as the Board of Trustees mission statement now incorporates mental health.
USG currently has the Mental Health Initiative Board standing committee, but hopes to create a University-wide committee with both students and admin.
In September 2022, a report on mental health on campus was published by a mental health working group formed in collaboration between USG, the Office of Campus Life, and University Health Services (UHS). The report detailed a series of proposals to increase support and resources for mental health on campus. In April, over six months since the initial release, a number of the action items introduced in the report have progressed, including funding for a counselor outreach program and the establishment of the Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) CaresLine.
USG Treasurer Walker Penfield ’25 said that, in the past, work done by mental health committees faced communication issues where it took weeks to get in touch and meet with the right people in order for action relating to mental health work to be provided to the University community. With the new committee, he’s optimistic that instead of taking weeks, it can take as short as 30 minutes.
“I’m looking forward to streamlining that process. Making sure students and admin are on the same page on mental health work and where we want to go,” Penfield said.
U-Councilor Isabella Shutt ’24 asked Swamidurai if she imagined the committee to be part of the Office of the Dean of the College, the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC), or the Office of Campus Life. Swamidurai said that no decision has been made but will be evaluated in further discussion with VP Rochelle Calhoun and CPS Director Dr. Calvin Chin.
Projects Board Co-Chair Melissa Chun ’24 spoke to the two groups who submitted proposals, including SASA who requested $1,200 for a movie night and dinner, and HackPrinceton who requested $8,000 for meals during their three-day event taking place from Nov. 10 to 12. It was shared during the meeting that $55,000 of the $130,000 Projects Boards Budget for the fall semester had already been used.
The request of $8,000 however was not accepted by the Projects Board, in part because many of the people taking part in HackPrinceton will not be Princeton students. The Projects Board decided that HackPrinceton could request $2,000 initially and thenreturn to the board if the need to cover expenses is still present.
No representatives of SASA or HackPrinceton were present at the meeting, which made some members reluctant to vote on funding.
“It’s just not having them here to explicitly answer these questions that I take a bit of issue with. I plan to abstain on the HackPrinceton expenditure,” said Class Senator Braiden Aaronson ’25.
Genevieve Shutt ’26 was opposed to a potential delaying of the vote and said that student’s organizations making appearances at the weekly USG meeting when requesting funding should not be a big deal.
“I don’t really see the problem. I don’t think it’s helpful for us to delay their funding because it’s going to be cutting it down to the wire,” Genevieve Shutt said.
Following a motion to vote on the funding for SASA, the vote passed with Genevieve Shutt and Roberto Lachner abstaining, in part due to their belief that the government was solely voting on funding for SASA but not HackPrinceton.
Funding for HackPrinceton was eventually voted upon, with Genevieve Shutt and Aaronson opposing, and Daniel Shaw ’25, Mariam Latif ’24, Isabella Shutt ’24, and Ned Dockery ’25 abstaining. The vote did not come until after an extensive discussion on election reform.
Chief Elections Manager Alex Sorgini ’26 presented the board revisions ahead of the upcoming election cycle, including procedures on what happens if a candidate signs a petition, extensions on contested races, and students running in unofficial ‘tickets’ or joint platforms, first discussed in last week’s meetings.
Sorigini planned for all three campaigns to take place in one vote, however Isabella Shutt proposed that two separate votes be made, due to a greater “hesitancy” towards the third issue on joint tickets. Sorgini agreed, but noted that if they didn’t vote on joint tickets during the meeting, it would be a while until they would be able to vote on it again due to the next election cycle beginning next Sunday.
The first two campaigns were voted on and passed with Penfield abstaining.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Chair Uma Fox ’26 said that the “joint campaign discussion needs more time.” Fox said that USG needs to be more clear in election procedures.
“The biggest question I see is really defining who should be able to be part of that joint campaign. If we allow two plus people to join the campaign for any positions, we find ourselves closer than aiming for a single party structure,” Fox added.
USG meetings are held on Sundays from 5–6 p.m. at Aaron Burr 219 and are open for all students to attend.
Justus Wilhoit is an assistant News editor, a contributor of The Prospect, and an assistant Audience editor for the ‘Prince.’
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