Campaign Platform: President of the Graduate Student Government
Princeton has given me much over the past four years; I have seen my social, interpersonal, professional, and academic lives deeply enriched by the peers around me. While my long-term goals involve a career in D.C., my current primary aim is to use my on-campus leadership experience to make Princeton a better place for the wider graduate population: the community that I call home.
I currently serve as the Academic Affairs Chair of the Graduate Student Government and have previously acted as president of Princeton Citizen Scientists and secretary of Princeton Energy and Climate Scholars. Through these positions I have:
- Assembled a guidance document, available here, detailing fellowships, funding sources, the grievance process, medical leaves, vacation time, and support for student events.
- Contributed to initiatives supporting curricular practical training (CPT) for international students, extension of funding for academic travel, and support for post-generals doctoral students.
- Served on the Middle States Reaccreditation Committee, the Committee on Classrooms and Scheduling, and the Sustainability Committee.
- Met biweekly with Dean Geoffrey Hill to discuss programming, individual concerns, and support for neurodivergent students.
- Jointly represented Princeton at the 2022 Ivy+ conference
- Got GSG accredited as a sponsoring institution with the CASE workshop at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
- Led domestic trips, seminar series, events, panels, and Wintersession classes.
My goals for the 2023 – 2024 academic year are severalfold.
Institute weekly GSG office hours with other campus groups
If elected, I would host weekly evening office hours in a central location on campus. These office hours would be catered and would serve as a time for students to raise all issues, small or large, to GSG representatives and other groups on campus. Student leaders across the board would be encouraged to attend; these sessions would serve as meet-and-greets and brainstorming time for all manners of concerns.
One of my favorite parts of my career as chair of Academic Affairs involved working individually with students in resolving conflicts or raising grievances. The student body is strongest when we pool our resources and brainpower: weekly drop-in hours would serve to strengthen student connections and maximize collaborations and creative problem solving for all.
Finalization of plans for an on-campus graduate student center
Virtually all of our peer institutions have dedicated spaces for graduate students. A central building, in the works for years but yet to be finalized, would afford Princeton graduate students a proverbial watering hole to meet and study. A proper building could serve as storage space for student groups and would prevent scheduling conflicts for graduate student events which often have logistic hurdles, particularly for sessions that serve alcohol and thus must be spatially inaccessible to the undergraduate population. Working with deans at The Graduate School for continuation of these efforts would be one of my top priorities for the upcoming academic year.
Improved efficacy of grievance processes
In my time as the chair of Academic Affairs, I walked students facing extenuating circumstances through the grievance process. I poured some of my takeaways from this job into the funding document currently published on the GSG website. Through this individual work, I became intimately familiar with where current grievance processes fall short; students deserve more fully transparent and effective mechanisms.
The first step in protecting graduate students will be publicizing the resources available to them; this is an endeavor I undertook in my GSG tenure for the 2022 – 2023 school year – I would work with the incoming Academic Affairs chair to ensure it continues. I would work with The Graduate School to ensure that surveys filled out upon re-enrollment are fully analyzed for proactive identification of potential conflicts. I would contribute to growing student movements to determine the best means of ensuring student voices are heard, elevated, and protected from retaliation.
Visa support, financial resources, and CPT for international students
International students make up 43% of the graduate student population. These students face a unique suite of challenges that may threaten their legal status / visas under extenuating circumstances. Many departments do not offer the curricular practical training (CPT) courses that international students need in order to teach while on F-1 visas. Some students will be unable to get internships or will need to use their optional practical training (OPT) prematurely in order to get working experience. An inability to access resources unfairly burdens international students and may prevent them from realizing their full potential. Fears over immigration status may threaten the health and wellbeing of international students. If elected, I would contribute to grassroots efforts to support international students, would advocate for International Students with the Office of the Deans of the Graduate School, and would serve as a vocal champion for the efforts of the incoming GSG Chair of International Affairs.
Social programming for better integration of MA, MPA, MPP, and PhD communities.
Through my affiliation with the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), I have engaged in social events, courses, and trips aimed primarily at MPAs and MPPs. I consider many of these students among my closest friends. I have noticed, however, that the social events aimed at MPA, MPP, and MA students seem largely discrete from those advertised to me as a PhD candidate. The Princeton community thrives only when interdisciplinary discourse is maximized; a lack of mixers and social events that specifically target all graduate communities throttles the forming of friendships and connections that would greatly enrich students’ lives. If elected, I would work with the GSG Social Chair to ensure that events explicitly cater to all academic communities on campus.
Funding security for G1 – G5 STEM students and humanities students in DCE status
As chair of Academic Affairs, I spoke to students in all phases of their careers facing concerns or whose positions were threatened due to potential loss of funding. Some of this work involved leveraging grievance procedures, some meant helping students locate fellowships both on- and off-campus. I look forward to passing on this experience to the incoming chair of Academic Affairs.
GSG should serve as a voice for graduate students; elevating and solidifying grievance processes will serve as one means of protecting students in jeopardy. Publicizing resources will prove helpful, as well. The GSG chair of Academic Affairs should have access to historical cases where funding concerns were resolved, in order to maintain precedent / institutional memory to serve future students.
Students across divisions face different difficulties because of distinct funding mechanisms in place at The Graduate School. I would like to work with the incoming Academic Affairs chair to ensure that humanities students are proactively aware of means of banking funding for the later phases of their dissertation work, and that early-career STEM students have access to all tools (fellowships, offices, and procedures) meant to aid their funding security.
Standardization of interdepartmental mentorship
Many recent GSG initiatives have aimed to support departments’ own mentoring programs. Existing support systems vary greatly by department. While the GSG buddy program does a phenomenal job of supporting the health and wellbeing of incoming students, its primary aim is not academic support. I would like GSG to publish formal guidelines, to be shared with departments’ DGS, to help ensure uniform support of graduate students across departments.
Accessibility of resources for neurodivergent learners
Neurodivergent students are innovators, creative problem solvers, and leaders. Ensuring their success means supporting the entire Princeton community, graduate and undergraduate alike. Resources that support neurodivergent students will be further be useful to all Princetonians across campus, regardless of disability status.
If elected, I would work closely with the Health and Wellness chair to identify the greatest sources of need for accessibility of resources. I would meet with members of the Office of Disability Services to determine what requests are most commonly raised with the department and how case-by-case procedures can be expanded to be available to all, even in absence of a formal diagnosis. This may mean rethinking working hours and examinations or expanding time management programs and events run through McGraw.
I would relish the opportunity to advocate for every graduate student at Princeton and would champion tirelessly for the GSG executive board members working alongside me. While there is room for improvement, I believe Princeton stands unparalleled among its peer institutions; I feel honored to call myself a Tiger and would be deeply proud to represent the community that has made me who I am today.
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Anyone enrolled as a Princeton graduate student may vote in the GSG presidential election. Votes can be submitted online, here.