After the crying, hugs and strained friendships snatch yet another block out of your Jenga tower of faith in humanity, take solace in knowing this: The juniors are bickering next week. Not an eating club, no. But you will behold a sea of roaming pinstripe suits and tightly clutched black leather folders overflowing with spare resumes rolling with the tides to Career Services.
Following a week of idly judging others, juniors will transform into angst-ridden, sleep-deprived finance and consulting beggars. Heavily trained to answer on cue, they share fun facts about themselves. They schmooze. There are feeder groups. Some even make their way to the third floor of the Nassau Inn. And somewhere, some poor soul weeps softly in the rain.
Seniors have been doing this same relentless Bicker all year. And freshmen, you may see similarities to the Princeton admissions process. We all do it, and it never gets any more fun.
As an economics major, I’m inclined to assume the Bicker market is already efficient. But recently, I’m told, there has been some sort of “trouble” in world non-Bicker markets. It got me thinking: Could a Bicker market “fail?” Maybe Bicker creates a problem of asymmetric information. You know much better than the interviewer how much you really love the food. Or perhaps the process wastes too much time and emotion, called transaction costs. As critical and particularly good-looking thinkers, we should ask if there isn’t a better way to do things.
What, then, is a good Princetonian to do? Well, in the interest of serving the nation and all other nations — America is too small to hold us! — I surveyed several prominent professors on ways we might intervene to create a better selection system. After literally minutes of intense brainstorming, passionate ideological arguments, bittersweet tears and hugs, we settled on a few simple modifications to create a more informative and less taxing system. Allow me to outline our proposals:
Decimation (for dedication): Line up 10 candidates against a wall and have them count off according to their favorite clubs. Anyone who stumbles or answers too slowly is eliminated. Nonviolent means are preferred, but of course one cannot conceive of all organizational needs in advance. This exercise tests both mental and oral agility. Repeat to satisfaction.
Veritaserum (for truthiness): Why do you want to be in my club, young lady? “Because of the amazing people!” If such pat answers sound all too common, offer up a goblet of J.K. Rowling’s magical honesty potion. This week, answers including “social status,” “I’m a follower,” or “because I can” will help expose the most insidious applicants in the pool. This tool will also make you an unstoppable winning machine at your next “two truths and a lie” party. And finally:
Am I Hot or Not? (for desirability): No, no, no! Not what you’re thinking. Not at all. God! Don’t be so superficial. This method consists of a three dimensional scale on which to rate hotness: physical hotness, personality hotness and what I like to call “ineffable” or “zen” hotness. Do you have two candidates of equal sociability and visage? Well, then, rank their zen! How? Well … it’s called ineffable for a reason. But you’ll know it when you zen it.
Now, I’m not going to claim that any one of these tools would be perfect in itself. But I do claim that together, they can’t possibly steer us wrong in any bicker, ever. We will launch our “Bicker 2.0” patented process in the eating clubs, then convince the Office of Admission to hop on board and finally license our Princeton-branded methodologies for general use. Just imagine how gaga Nassau Hall will go over the endowment-replacing revenues. We’ll be back to $16 billion in no time. President Tilghman will e-mail an exceptionally long thank-you e-mail. And oh, how they’ll spoil us. Big-screen TVs and new BMWs for all juniors in a four-year residential college! Hooray!
Of course, universities are sluggish institutions, and we probably won’t see this brave new world until well after the implementation of Grade Deflation: Phase II (limit B-range grades to no more than 25 percent). In the meantime, practice your faux smiles, ponder how your friends would describe you, and get ready to bicker like an all-star.