In reaction to recent events, Tiger Inn underwent an internal dialogue and survey to determine how the environment of the eating club could be improved, and particularly how it could be made more welcoming to female members. The Editorial Board is glad to see renewed conversation about the culture of the Street, not only within the TI community, but also on the pages of The Daily Princetonian and national media, as well as at dinner tables and in classrooms. Nevertheless, the Board believes that this conversation should be expanded to all eating clubs. A great place for each of the clubs to start is by conducting internal surveys and dialogues about their own Bicker, pickups and initiations traditions. In general, steps ought to be taken to sustain this conversation, which has, in the past, often dissipated before it could produce any sustained effort towards cultural reform.
Many students tend to remain silent on the issue of Street culture, even if they wish it would change. In many cases, this silence stems from the assumption that speaking out will not lead to any noticeable improvements or that voicing dissatisfaction might unsettle relationships with fellow or potential club members. Students can feel that they are not close enough to club leadership (officers and graduate board members) to make their voices heard, that there is no credible forum for expressing their concerns or that there is enormous pressure to perpetuate a harmful culture. Above all, Bickerees are frequently stifled by the social demands that accompany application to selective institutions; they are unlikely to challenge the practices of those who are weighing their admission prospects. Once they have been accepted or turned away and no longer invested in the club, Bickerees become less directly invested in scrutinizing Bicker and initiations customs.
To rectify this problem, eating club graduate boards should issue surveys through which students can speak out (anonymously, but by name if they so choose) on such matters as Bicker and initiations practices that make them uncomfortable; which events, games and rituals were agreeable and which were troubling; and how clubs can cultivate environments that are more welcoming to current and prospective members. These surveys could give students the option of volunteering to speak directly with graduate board members and undergraduate officers to follow up on whatever thoughts they expressed in writing. Furthermore, the surveys should be accompanied by (a) the production and circulation among members of honest and thorough reports on the direction members wish to go and (b) meetings at which members and leaders could present and discuss their graduate board’s findings. Such measures would have the benefit of encouraging club members previously apathetic or uneasy about getting involved in the criticism — or defense — of their clubs’ cultures to reconsider.
While many have dwelt primarily on punishments for the egregious transgressions at TI (and while such consequences may well be appropriate), the Board firmly believes that meaningful changes to the culture of the Street must ultimately come about through dialogue by encouraging students who disapprove of the ways their clubs operate to make themselves heard. For students who do not currently feel able to do so, anonymous surveys would provide a much-needed outlet. For students who are more comfortable about publicly sharing their positions, surveys and conversations would provide an equally valuable catalyst for reflection and dialogue. We are hopeful that the conversation instigated by the events at TI will continue and that, through such, Street culture up and down Prospect Avenue will become more respectful and inclusive.
TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinionsseparately from the regular staff and editors of the ‘Prince.’ The Board answers only to its chair, the opinion editor and the editor-in-chief.