In first speech as Princeton president, Eisgruber discusses honor, campus hazing| Sep 8, 2013
In his first speech as University President, Christopher Eisgruber ’83 briefly acknowledged that dangerous hazing rituals occur on campus while addressing the Class of 2017 at Opening Exercises.
Wearing the special black, gold-trimmed gown that the University President wears – this year with 20 bands of gold lacing on its sleeves to signify that he is the 20thUniversity President – Eisgruber’s comment on hazing amidst the pomp and circumstance of Opening Exercises was part of broader remarks on the notion of honor in society.
This summer, Eisgruber assigned incoming freshmen to read philosophy professor Kwame Appiah's book, "The Honor Code." Entering students, Eisgruber said, should think closely about the concept of honor and how it relates to their own lives and studies at Princeton.
Eisgruber used hazing as the example of an activity that shows how a quest for honor can be destructive. Hazing, he said, is often fueled by a desire for honor, just like duels have been in the past.
"American hazing rituals involve alcohol rather than weapons.But the behavior is equally driven by a desperate desire for social esteem, equally self-destructive and, if anything, more lethal," he said, notingthat studies show that nationally, one undergraduate dies due to hazing rituals each year.
Eisgruber’s predecessor, Shirley Tilghman, had also acknowledged that hazing occurs on campus, especially in on campus fraternities. In her final years, Tilghman put an end to freshman-year rush of Greek organizations, a policy that Eisgruber has said he supports. He did not mention the policy in the speech.
Eisgruber, who served as Tilghman's provost for nine years before assuming the presidency onJuly 1, also said he expected to feel a “special bond” with the Class of 2017, the first class he welcomed to campus as president.
He also called on the freshman class to live a life of fulfillment and service.
“You will find it easier than most people to be successful at whatever you pursue. But being successful is not the same thing as being fulfilled and living a life that matters,” he said.
The addresses at Opening Exercises and Commencement are typically the University President’s two major speeches. Eisgruber named former Communications staffer Eric Quinones as his speechwriter this summer.