ODUS Communications Fellow Jalen Salmon ’23 brings us a report on the efforts of the Senior Class to connect their classmates while supporting establishments that help make up the fabric of the Princeton community.
The disconnect from the Princeton University community felt by the student body is not solely a product of the separation of students from their peers, university facilities, and services, but also a separation from the local businesses that service the region. In an effort to mitigate this, the senior Class Government has begun an initiative called “Taste of Campus” that aims to bring an aspect of campus home to students by partnering with local businesses including, Small World Coffee, Jammin' Crepes, LiLLiPiES Bakery, Olives, and The Bent Spoon.
To learn more about this initiative I spoke with Arielle Mindel ’21, secretary of the 2021 class government who gave me a more detailed explanation of how the initiative is functioning. Arielle explained that this is one of the many initiatives that the class government has organized to “reach a virtual audience while still connecting us in some way.” Arielle went on to explain that the initiative will send packages to students containing a t-shirt, a small food item from the business, a 2021 sticker, a Nassau Street coloring page, as well as a small letter from the glass government commenting on how the students are missed by the community. The initiative provides support, through class government funding, to the local businesses in these difficult times for the service industry and also reminds students that they are still connected to the broader Princeton community.
The partnership between the class and local businesses is not an entirely foreign concept for the class government, as it was not uncommon for local businesses to cater University events, host families, and serve as regular lunch or weekend treats but it takes on a new meaning in the context of the current situation. As businesses face the unique difficulties of operating during this pandemic, the broad support of the community, including a significant portion of the University community that may not be present shows a high degree of solidarity between both parties. Arielle described the balancing act of the partnership between the class government and the partnered businesses, not only trying their best to remind students of their connection to the University community, but also trying their best to support these businesses through the difficulties of our current situation.
In my discussion with Arielle, I was told about the unique challenges of organization in a remote environment, including the increased hurdles of communication between the businesses being partnered, such as being unable to just walk into the business and talk to workers, managers and owners, and instead having to organize through more formal means like e-mail and Zoom. with as well as difficulties in communication between those organizing the initiative.
The packages were scheduled to arrive during Thanksgiving break, bringing a taste of Princeton into students homes. Arielle explained that the class government hopes that packages remind the community that even though they may be unable to meet with each other in person a community exists both from student to student, but also between each student and the wider community of Princeton. As the first semester of the academic year approaches its conclusion this initiative serves as a pleasant reminder to the senior class of the close bond shared by students and the Princeton community at large.