Editorial: New kids on the Street
There are 11 eating clubs on campus, lining either side of Prospect Avenue (collectively referred to as the Street). During the spring of our sophomore, junior and senior years and the fall of our junior and senior years, Princeton undergrads have the choice of bickering or signing in to eating clubs. Bicker clubs are selective and comprise roughly half of the Street. On the other hand, sign-in clubs accept any students who wish to join, unless the club reaches capacity. By day, they are primarily used as dining areas for upperclassmen; rather than eating in residential college dining halls, many juniors and seniors have meals at their eating clubs. The clubs also serve as small social gathering areas where friends can hang out and study together during the week. By night, however, the clubs become central to the University’s social scene. Though clubs are open on most nights, Thursdays and Saturdays are the main “going out” nights. Depending on the day and event, clubs allow entry to members, guests or any Princeton University student with an ID. Parties include live music (Terrace Club is famous for the bands they bring in.), student as well as guest DJs, themed parties and semi-formal/formal events. The clubs also host music artists who perform during Lawnparties, which is another unique Princeton tradition. Every fall and spring all classes dress up in their best preppy, pastel clothing and hit the Street for live music, free food and drink, and in addition to the artists that perform at the eating clubs there is a featured artist that performs for the entire student body. Past years have included B.o.B, Wiz Khalifa, Rihanna, Maroon 5 and Lifehouse.
Underclassmen often wonder what degree of involvement they will have with the Street during their time at Princeton. There are stereotypes stamped onto each of the clubs, and some students worry about not fitting into any. Though one of the main reasons students join is because they want to be in the same club as their friends, each eating club represents a wide variety of students with diverse backgrounds, interests and personalities. The friendships that are forged during your time on the Street can follow you through college and the rest of your life.
The eating clubs certainly are not perfect, and there are alternatives. They generally have a high cost of membership, often asking for more in fees and dues than financial aid can cover. Additionally, all of the clubs on the Street hold parties involving a large amount of alcohol, which may not appeal to some students. However, those who do not wish to consume alcohol are not pressured to do so and more often than not have an equally enjoyable time as their friends at parties. Additionally, those who choose not to join a club still have a wonderful social experience at Princeton. Those choosing to go independent often form tight-knit food co-ops with other students or live in the independent community of Spelman — an on-campus dorm that has rooms with full kitchens, common rooms and spacious bedrooms. Upperclassmen may also choose to stay in the residential college system, continuing the sense of community created there during freshman and sophomore years.
The clubs are considered a vital asset to a school community that thrives on a work-hard, play-hard mindset. Yet, just as Princeton Preview will most likely not be able to convey all there is to know and love about Princeton in a few days, we will not be able to expose you to all parts of the eating club system in a few words. The surefire way of getting to understand the heart of Princeton’s social life is by attending and experiencing it all yourself. Best of luck in your decision! We hope to see you here next year.