Princeton University

Candidate Statements 2018

Candidates for President

Sarah James

My name is Sarah James, and I am running for a second term as President of the Lawrence Committee. I hope to continue and deepen the partnerships between the Lawrence Committee and the Graduate School, HRES, Transportation & Parking, and Public Safety. Given my experience representing Lawrence residents to these groups and to the university, I understand the commitment and dedication necessary to be the liaison between Lawrence and the Princeton community. Therefore, I ask for your vote to support my second term as President of the Lawrence Committee.

Candidates for Vice President

Emilce Santana

Hello! My name is Emilce and I’m running for vice president. I’m a 5th-year in the Sociology department and I’m currently the social chair of the Lawrence Committee. My term as social chair has been a great opportunity for me to better understand the range of issues that our community faces, to formulate the most appropriate responses to these issues, and also to create events that encourage a sense of community among Lawrence residents within a reasonable budget. As a committee member, I have worked with other committee members to grapple with problems such as package delivery mishaps and the threat of stray golf balls landing within our complex. Moreover, as social chair, I organized events including an ice cream social, a screening of Stranger Things, a Halloween trick-or-treating event for children, and most recently a Saturday brunch. My experiences with organizing and budgeting for social events speak well to my capacity to carry out one of the main responsibilities of being vice president: to manage the committee’s finances. I never once strayed from my projected budget for each event and overall I stayed within the Lawrence Committee’s general budget. In short, I am well-equipped to take on the responsibilities of being vice president.

Candidates for Secretary

Dominick Reuter

My name is Dominick Reuter, and I am in my third year living in Lawrence Apartments with my wife Tracy as she pursues her doctoral degree. Together with our dog Hazel and cat Blackavar, we have found this community to be a delightful place to live, and I am excited for the opportunity to contribute to the work of making this place a more enjoyable home for all of our neighbors.

I am seeking election to the role of Secretary on the basis of my experience in the following relevant areas: last year’s Lawrence Election Committee; several years as Secretary for the Boston Press Photographers Association when we lived in that city; and finally a career as a working journalist, responsible for gathering and disseminating accurate information in a concise report to a global audience.

My goals for the position include: concise reports of meeting highlights distributed via email and the website; more meeting detail hosted on the website in addition to the summary; and a more active solicitation of input and submissions via email and web-form so that residents may know a clear point of contact for bringing ideas to the attention of the committee.

I ask you to vote Dominick Reuter for Secretary. Thank you for your consideration.

Kat Hyvarinen

Dear Lawrence Residents,

My name is Katja Hyvarinen and I am running for the position of secretary. I previously held this position and was in charge of sending out event emails, reminders for residents as well as responding to most of your questions and concerns. Over the last year the committee has raised residents’ concerns to the university as well as sat on other committees related to graduate students in order to further improve the lives of graduate students at Princeton. There are many further issues I would like to consider this upcoming year including: composting at Lawrence, general maintenance issues as well as bringing more community to the Lawrence Apartments through events. Having had this position for the last year I feel confident that I can fulfill the duties of secretary as well as further improve graduate student living by raising concerns and suggestions to the university. Thank you for your time and please consider voting for me.

Ran Zhang

My name is Ran Zhang, and I’m running for the Lawrence committee secretary position. I have had the pleasure of living in both old and new Lawrence for more than four years, and I’m familiar with the situation of Lawrence housing and related issues. I’ve experienced many issues that have happened in Lawrence (e.g., smoking issues, stolen packages, old Lawrence heating problem, and shuttle schedules) and appreciate many of the changes the committee has made to improve our living. I would like to contribute more to the community by serving as the secretary and be more involved in the process. I believe I am able to do the job as I’m good at documenting, listening, and being patient.
Look forward to your support 🙂

Candidates for GSG Representative

Mia Borden

My name is Mia Borden and I am a third year graduate student in chemistry. I have been a resident of Lawrence Building 1 for the last two and a half years. I love living in Lawrence and I am excited to have the opportunity to serve on the Lawrence Committee in 2018. Having participated both in many of the yoga classes offered as well as having a garden plot for the past two summers, I feel like I have a good sense of the community that Lawrence offers to its residents and that is the Committee’s responsibility to preserve.

I am running for the GSG Representative because I want to represent the interests of Lawrence apartment residents on general university issues. I have experience working within the organizational systems of the university from my work with the chemistry department graduate student organization so I think I am equipped to be an effective advocate for Lawrence. If elected, I look forward to working with the rest of the Lawrence committee over the next year to improve the experience of Lawrence residents.

Joshua Bauchner

I am a fifth-year in the history department and have lived in Lawrence for four years (buildings 1 and now 6). I love Lawrence and want to be more directly involved in making it a better place to live. To that end, I have five specific projects I’d like to pursue on the Lawrence committee and GSG over the coming year:

1. Work with GSG and the administration to spruce up the outside common areas. Both areas are pretty rudimentary and could have some more things for kids as well as some new furniture. Current lighting doesn’t line up with the tables or grills, making it tough to have evening events except at the height of summer.

2. Work with Kim Jackson, the head of transportation and parking, and the GSG to improve Tiger Transit service and its routes. Primarily, the buses need to be more reliable. More specifically, we should alter the “connector” routes that also go to Lot 21 and the Graduate College. These two extra stops are inefficient and inconvenient for us as well as GC residents, and a better service would split them up in a different way.

3. Work with the office of sustainability to install a new walkway along Lawrence Drive going directly to the bus stop and old Lawrence. Currently, most students in old Lawrence just walk in the parking lot or along Lawrence Drive to get to the sidewalk that leads to Alexander. While there is a sidewalk that cuts over to new Lawrence, it isn’t direct, and a new walkway that reduces blacktop coverage would be convenient, environmentally friendly, and safer.

4. Start a centralized Lawrence “free pile.” At Butler, there was a wonderful site to give or take no-longer needed items (e.g., clothes, small furnishings, kitchen stuff). From the current committee, I understand that the main impediment is the lack of a leader. Currently, it is unfair to the maintenance staff and inefficient to leave some things in Lawrence 1. I would establish a group of students to monitor the pile, publicize its existence, and get rid of things that aren’t suitable.

5. Get a larger composting program running with bins by the trash collection areas. I suggested this at a recent committee meeting and the feedback was positive with a recognition that the project would require one person with energy to get it off the ground. I am that person.

As is hopefully obvious, I believe we can make Lawrence an even better place to live with specific improvements. I would bring the same great enthusiasm to your suggestions as to mine. While I only recently became more active at the Lawrence committee, I have been the main organizer of the history of science student organization and our representative to GSG. In addition to my Lawrence specific proposals, I look forward to being involved with GSG, especially as the new plans for graduate housing across the lake are further explored.

Renato Pagliara Vasquez

I am a fourth year Ph.D. student in the MAE department and I would love to be the next Graduate Student Government Representative for the Lawrence Apartments. I have had the pleasure of being a Lawrence resident since my first semester on campus. During the past three and half years I have witnessed the important role of the GSG in improving the student experience at Princeton. From expanding bus lines and hours and working with the administration to secure housing for more students, the GSG provides students with the ability to effect change on campus. I would be honored to serve as the liaison between the residents of our apartment complex and the GSG, and I will work hard to diligently listen and voice your needs and concerns. I have previous experience in student organizations including serving as president of the Latin-American students association and serving as student representative for curriculum enhancement in my previous institution. I look forward to serving you as the Lawrence Committee GSG representative. Thank you for your consideration and support.

Sepehr Shahshahani

My name is Sepehr and I am running for GSG Delegate.

I am running for this position because I believe it is crucial to bring the concerns of Lawrence residents to the attention of GSG so its decisions will better serve us. The GSG is involved in setting University policy that affects our daily lives in important ways; for these decisions to serve Lawrence residents well, we must specifically bring our interests to bear on GSG deliberations and decisionmaking. The same goes for University offices such as Facilities, Housing, and Transportation. I know from personal experiences involving housing that administrators are sometimes unaware of how their policies affect certain students, and that informing them of these blind spots is often a large step toward a solution.

I think I am well qualified to serve as GSG Delegate. Since last summer I have been serving on the Housing Policy Committee, which has given me both a good understanding of this area of policy and valuable experience in dealing with the GSG and University administration. My professional experience will also be helpful in discharging my duties as our Delegate: Before coming to Princeton I was a lawyer for five years, a job that gave me lots of practice in negotiations involving multiple parties with potentially conflicting interests trying to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. Finally, I have been living in Princeton for three-and-a-half years and have been consistently attending Lawrence Committee meetings since I moved here last summer, so I have a good sense of our residents’ concerns and priorities. Thanks for hearing me out, and I hope you will vote for me!

Candidates for Garden Coordinator

Sam Richter

I seek to serve a second year as your garden coordinator. This year I prioritized community-building with new events like five-dozen-donut work days and a gardeners’ field trip. Gardeners also appreciated that I offered a new variety of plot types, and I worked to provide timely maintenance and to expand our tool inventory and on-site composting.

This year I would like to bring the garden to the greater Lawrence community. We’ll have more open house days for residents to see and enjoy the garden and to meet your gardening neighbors. We’ll also host a workshop for all residents who want to learn about the de-stressing fun of house plants (e.g. #gradjungle).

In the garden we will continue to implement ideas to make gardening easier for both beginning and returning gardeners. I hope to contribute an updated gardening info guide, better tool organization, and a low-till system of fixed plots that will make for a faster spring start-up and fewer weeds.

Finally, I will continue to be an active teammate on the Committee, including in the effort to bring full-scale composting to Lawrence. As a resident with a family I am also especially concerned with speaking up for spouses and families. I ask for your vote. Thank you.

Thomas Wilson

Hi everyone! I’m Thomas, a third-year graduate student in Classics from Sydney, Australia, and I’m excited to serve on the Lawrence Committee as Garden Coordinator. Graduate school can be isolating, and we usually spend a lot of our time inside; I think the community garden is a wonderful way to face both of those problems head-on! If you’ve tried to grow a herb garden perched on a Lawrence windowsill, you know how frustrating it can be, and the garden is a fantastic opportunity to get outside and do something productive and not (too) intellectual. But more importantly, I think the garden represents an opportunity to build community (it’s right there in the name), both among the gardeners, and for all residents of Lawrence. If elected, I would particularly like to organize more events for those who haven’t yet discovered their love of gardening to experience what the garden has to offer, as well as pooling even more resources for first-time gardeners to get started on gardening (or gardening in a new climate, for those of us who aren’t from the northeast). I look forward to contributing to the Lawrence community as your garden coordinator.

Many thanks,

Thomas Wilson

Candidates for Social Chair

Kevin Speina

Dear Lawrence Residents,

My name is Kevin Speina. I am a third year chemistry graduate student who resides at 1 Lawrence drive. My motives for running as a social chair are to foster fun and nurturing, stress-relieving events catered towards the Lawrence community.  Most recently, I served as the chair of the Food Committee for our departmental holiday Party. I managed a 10K budget and was able to communicate the graduate needs to the caterer as a means of reducing overall costs. To swiftly gauge the graduate students’ food preferences, doodle polls were sent out and advertised to ascertain their consensus.  Such a task required communication between caterers and the department secretary in a prompt fashion. Moreover, I served as the point of contact to address any graduate students’ concerns/questions pertaining to the food related matters. Given the most recent undertakings, I believe I will perform all the tasks of the Social Chair swiftly and efficiently.

On a more personal level, I describe myself as a kind, humous, and tenacious person. In addition, as a native New Yorker, I am a person who likes to get “more bang for your buck” without losing the fun factor. One foreseeable way of implementing such a philosophy in our future social events is to connect with fellow residents to cook for our events. As an avid cook, there is nothing better than to bond with fellow community members over food and to stretch our budgets for other items we desire for the given occasion. I will strive to develop a network of Lawrence residents who can come together and share the collective experience of catering to our social events, while building lasting memories.

The aforementioned experiences and attributes clearly highlights my ability to serve as the Lawrence Social Chair. My prior experience as chair of the Food Committee will serve me well as the Social Chair; in order to publicize events to our fellow residents and community. I will strive to start new ways of engaging the Lawrence community to foster memorable social events. Lastly, I will always perform my duties as a social chair with promptness and with a smile.


Kevin Speina

Amitesh Datta

Hi Everyone! My name is Amitesh Datta, I am a fourth year graduate student in the department of mathematics, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to run for the position of Social Chair on the Lawrence Committee. I have served on the Graduate Student Government (GSG) for my entire time as a graduate student at Princeton and on the Council for the Princeton University Community (CPUC) for a year. In particular, I have served on the GSG for two years as the representative for my department, and for a year as a member of the GSG Executive Board, where I hold my current position of Social Officer.

As Social Officer of the GSG, I am responsible for organizing a variety of social events for graduate students and their families, such as BBQ’s (in collaboration with Campus Dining), pub nights, and the annual furniture drive (in collaboration with the Office of Sustainability and the amazing volunteers). The organization of these events involve advertisement, catering, and providing entertainment (in collaboration with the wonderful students who make these events possible by performing and showcasing their wide range of talents). The events range from being family friendly/oriented in nature, such as the Frist Summer BBQ’s from June – August each year, or geared more toward graduate students and their friends (such as pub nights). The position also involves attending meetings with the university staff, and thus I feel quite familiar with the bureaucratic side of being involved with leadership positions within the university.

If elected, I would love to use the experience I have gained through my position of Social Officer on the GSG to organize social events for the Lawrence community. I believe the responsibility of the Social Chair is very important but simple in spirit. The goal is to organize fun events with amazing food and give everyone in our community the chance to enjoy time outside work with their family and friends, as well as the fantastic opportunity to meet our neighbors and make new friends. If elected, I would love to organize a wide variety of events, including plenty of family-friendly ones, such as film screenings, baking and cooking events, art events, board games, special events for holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving, as well as any other suggestions you all have to offer!

I have lived in Lawrence Apartments for two years now and I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of our community. The role of Social Chair is one that I am confident taking on; as mentioned previously, I am serving in the analogous position on the GSG already for a year and I have learnt a lot through my experience doing so. If elected, I am confident that I can use this experience to contribute positively to our community.

Thank you so much for your consideration and I look forward to the election!

Daniel Floryan

Hi everyone,

My name is Daniel and I am running for the position of Social Chair on the Lawrence Committee. I am currently a fourth-year graduate student in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. My platform is simple: eating food and possibly burning it off.

With the multitude of social events made available to students on campus (along with the multitude of emails advertising these events), I want to keep things simple. If elected, I plan to make most social events centered around food. Events will range from relaxing BBQs at the Lawrence grills to cook-offs showcasing the worldly culinary skills of Lawrence residents (with prizes for best tasting). All food events will be inspired by the seasons and holidays, and will make great use of Lawrence’s resources (the residents, the grills, and the garden) and the surrounding area. These won’t be your run-of-the-mill “come here and get pizza” events—I think we’ve all had more than enough pizza. What I’m talking about is that good food, the food you want to eat.

To keep Lawrence a lean, mean, fighting machine, I also plan on having some athletic events to complement the food events. These will be fairly simple (e.g. the yoga classes Lawrence already hosts, running groups, intramural sports teams), but will be group-based and open to all skill levels.

If you like to eat food, vote for me. If you like to be active, or at least lie to yourself about being active so that you don’t feel bad about eating all the delicious food that I will offer, you should vote for me.


Daniel Floryan

Candidates for Webmaster

Akshay Yelleshpur

My name is Akshay Yelleshpur. I am a Lawrence resident and a PhD student in the physics department. Over the past year, I’ve witnessed some of the prompt and effective responses of the committee to the grievances of the residents. They’ve resolved the issue of stray golf balls flying over from the golf course by initiating a dialogue with Springdale golf course. They have made driving around the apartments safer by improving lighting on Alexander and visibility of road signs near our parking lot. I look forward to being a part of this committee and contributing towards further improving life at Lawrence. As webmaster, I would like to introduce a separate lost and found section on the Lawrence website. This will also incorporate a message board for missing/misplaced packages and will be more user friendly. It will also serve to separate these messages from other important ones. I would also like to advocate for a slight modification of the election system by introducing online voting. This is currently followed at Lakeside and I feel that it would allow for a more complete representation of the Lawrence population. I ask for your kind support and I look forward to serving on the committee by also assisting other committee members carry out their vision. Thank you!

Bruce Perry

I am a 4th year PhD student in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and this is my first year living in Lawrence. I have previously been active in many other parts of the university, serving on the Graduate Student Committee in my department, helping with GSG and GCHG parties, and hosting trivia night at Dbar, so now that I’ve moved to Lawrence I’d like to be more active in the community here. In particular, I would like to serve as Webmaster for the Lawrence Committee. I think there is a lot of useful information currently available on the Lawrence website, which I would make sure remains accurate and up-to-date, and I would also be happy to add material or make more substantial changes if the community thought it was necessary. In undergrad, I served as IT Chair for my club rowing team, which involved making significant updates to the team website and maintaining email lists, so I would be very comfortable with the responsibilities of the webmaster position. Also, my research is purely computational, so in general I enjoy working with computers and have generally decent related abilities.

Ruth Dannenfelser

Hi there everyone! I’m Ruth Dannenfelser, a fourth year PhD student in the Computer Science department running for webmaster. I love living in Lawrence and want to use my skills to contribute to the community. In the past 8 years I have built several web systems and interfaces for research projects covering a wide range of front-end and back-end technologies. Last year, I worked jointly with another grad student to redesign, code, and generate all content (including photographs) for my lab’s website ( integrating a new content management system, similar to WordPress, for easy control. If elected I’ll be able to not only maintain the Lawrence website but be able to make necessary structural changes and aesthetic improvements to our aging site.

Thanks for your consideration!

Dylan Abrams

Hello everyone. My name is Dylan Abrams, and I am running for Webmaster of the Lawrence Committee. I served for a year on the Graduate Student Organization of the chemistry department as one of the two social co-chairs, and I have experience maintaining the website of the research group I am in at Princeton. This later responsibility requires that I use wordpress to update existing information, maintain and update the aesthetic features of the website, as well as make new pages and posts in a timely fashion. I believe that my recent experience on a committee at Princeton as well as my experience with maintaining a website qualify me for this position. I hope to see you at the election, and thank you all for your time.


My name is Amit Halevi, currently a 3rd year in Applied Mathematics.  I have been living in Lawrence 1 since about 2 weeks into my first year, and have come to really appreciate this complex, whose proximity to the woods and canal, presence of families, and generally quieter atmosphere have become a bit of a refuge from the stresses of work and campus.  Which is not to say that I am unfamiliar with its package theft, its golf balls, its sometimes poor bus schedules, and its massive clumps of lady bugs.  I am running for the position of webmaster, because for most of us, email and the Internet are our primary source of information and method of communication for the important things in our lives.  As webmaster, I would ensure that the current online infrastructure remains excellent, and pursue avenues to making it easier to report grievances, make recommendations, and organize community events via the most convenient method any of us have access to.  Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to serving you in the year to come.