When I first applied to Princeton, I never would have thought that it would be illustrated as prime grounds for husband-hunting, but according to President of the Class of 1977 Susan Patton, we would be missing out if we didn’t treat Princeton as such. Just last week, in her Letter to the Editor, Patton advised Princeton women, “the daughters [she] never had,” to “find a husband here before [they] graduate,” suggesting that we female students would never again get to choose from such an impressive “catalog” of intellectually superior men.
My own mother raised me with a completely different philosophy. Going to college, I was told that my academics should be my priority at this particular juncture in my life. Even after I received my admission letter to attend this great institution of higher learning, I never heard her say anything even close to “keep a lookout for those eligible Princeton bachelors!” After all, if marriage prospects were such a huge factor of the college experience, I doubt many parents would be willing to shell out the terrifying expenses that any Ivy League inevitably demands. The money we paid or the financial aid we received was geared toward academic pursuits, not the funding of a “marriage bureau,” as President Tilghman enforced in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ Just think — if Princeton men are to be our handpicked pool of husbands, as Patton seems to suggest, then it seems to me that Princeton’s admission officers would be reduced to the status of matchmakers. And I daresay that is not a responsibility they would appreciate or care to take on. As educated women, we are capable of finding our own husbands, or even wives. By saying that as an Ivy League university, Princeton can act as a fishing ground for prime spouses merely translates into the idea that this institution is better qualified at understanding our emotional needs and narrowing down the options for us. I mean, surely all the hard work on the road to Princeton produced more than an impressive dating profile.
After receiving overwhelming criticism from a number of media organizations, Patton justified her letter by saying, in the ‘Prince’ article “Alumna letter generates national attention,” that “the truth of the matter is, work-life balance means it’s not just work,” and that if we “invest the first 10 years after college doing nothing but developing [our] careers,” we would end up with “a wonderful career and nothing to balance it with.” And I agree — balance is necessary in life, and it would certainly help if we had a bit more guidance for our social lives. After all, I certainly didn’t come here to become a workhorse, blocking out the world for my career. However, after spending four years at an institution that upholds scholarship as well as making friends and finding extracurricular passions, I sincerely hope the part of my life that balances my career wouldn’t just be a husband. Should I never find that “special someone,” my balance would still come from my friends, hobbies and interests — and I would never give anyone the right to say that my life wasn’t full, happy or healthy.
Patton openly claimed that “for most of [us], the cornerstone of [our] future[s] and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man [we] marry.” As someone who wasn’t raised with this belief — that I had to get married and have kids — I have never thought that my husband would be the “man to complete me.” Instead, my husband would be my counterpart — my friend, my partner and sometimes, my opponent. The idea that our spouses are “our other halves” insinuates that we are incomplete to begin with, which I personally resent.
And let’s not forget Patton’s advice that we should pay particular attention to the men in our class, as well as those above us, as early as our freshman year as we will “never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of [us].” I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that any of us have reached an appropriate point in our emotional maturities to find that someone for the rest of our lives. With so many students of different values and emotional development here on campus, to disqualify younger students as potential romantic partners is unjustified age discrimination. And who knows? This may even result in that young female freshman desperately searching for an older male who just may not be in the same place as her emotionally.
This isn’t to say that I don’t gush over the many beautiful couples who exit the doors of Princeton’s chapel, happy to have found their loved one from the same place they earned their degrees. However, I’d like to think that their vows were based on something deeper than a premeditated checklist whose number-one requirement was “Princeton graduate.” I mean, finding true love is hard enough without absurd criteria such as this!
Isabella Gomes is a freshman from Irvine, Calif. She can be reached at email@example.com.