Students voted against the referendum calling for the end of Bicker this week, Grant Golub '17, the Undergraduate Student Government's chief elections manager, said.
The referendum would have called on the Bicker clubs to end Bicker by the 2019-20 academic year and on USG to create an ad hoc committee to facilitate ending Bicker.
Voting took place fromMondaythroughWednesday, and 1,988 students voted during that time.In comparison, 2,015 students voted on the referendum about the length of winter break earlier this year.
Of the students who voted this week,1,120, or 56.3 percent, voted against the referendum and 868, or 43.7 percent, voted in favor of the referendum.
There are currently no plans for USG to examine the Bicker issue, Golub said.
Golub is a former staff writer and former staff copy editor for The Daily Princetonian.
Rene Chalom '17 said the outcome of the referendum was surprising because it was reasonable to assume people who were against Bicker would have turned out more. He noted, though, that the number of people who voted in favor of Bicker shows how ingrained the system is at the University.
"As someone who's not in an eating club next year," Chalom said, "I found the whole idea of dropping [$9,000-$10,000] to hang out with your friends a little silly, and that this institution is so popular that people are rushing to defend it is a little surprising."
The referendum was valuable for starting a wider conversation on Bicker, Ryan Low '16, who proposed the referendum, noted.
"If this referendum were held a week or two immediately after Bicker, the results would have been different," he said. "Turnout would have been different. Conversations on campus would have been different. This is a controversial issue on campus that affects all of us and that we need to continue working on in the future."
While Low said he was disappointed by the results, he was not completely surprised.
"The proponents of Bicker and the proponents of the status quo more generally have found a way to take away the voices of anyone who disagrees with them," Low said. "If you take Bicker as a case study, ... if you were in a Bicker club, you couldn't oppose Bicker because then you're being hypocritical, if you got hosed you couldn't be hypocritical because then you're just being salty, if you're never bickered then you can't be opposed because you don't understand the process."
Underclassmen sometimes don't express disapproval of Bicker because they don't want their chances of getting into a Bicker club to be affected, Low said. He added that students should continue to challenge the systemin the future.
"At least people know that there is a substantial number of students at Princeton who think there is something wrong with Bicker," he said.
The conversation surrounding the referendum was positive and made people think about why Bicker exists and how it should change, Joe Margolies '15, former Interclub Council president, said, noting that he was not speaking for the Interclub Council or the eating clubs.
Jean Carlos Arenas '16, the current Interclub Council president, and other eating club presidents either did not respond to a request for comment or declined to comment.
The ICC discusses Bicker extensively before it occurs every year and follows up with students who bickered, Margolies said, noting the most common comment received is that there should be more transparency surrounding how the process works and decisions are made.
"There are definitely legitimate critiques to Bicker felt by Bicker club officers,such as wanting to accept more people than there is room for, or having to run a process that is very stressful and political," Margolies said. "I don't think anyone thinks Bicker is perfect, even in a Bicker club."
While 57.8 percent of the freshman class, 58.7 percent of the sophomore class and 58.2 percent of the junior class voted "no" on the referendum, Margolies noted that only 51.2 percent of the senior class voted "no" on the referendum.
"The Class of 2015 has more experience with the process," Margolies said. "They would have gone through it two times, rather than just one. The second thing is that the Class of 2015 is less affected by this referendum than other classes are. If a member of the Class of 2015 didn't like Bicker but wanted to join a Bicker club, they might have had a higher estimation of Bicker before that."
The difference might also have just been due to random chance, Margolies noted.
The vast majority of students who took the sophomore survey about Bicker said they enjoyed the process, Thomas Fleming '69, chairof the Graduate Interclub Council and of the Cap & Gown Club graduate board, noted.
While this referendum was an important part of the larger conversation about eating clubs, serious critiques have been made of Bicker at least since the 1950s and 1960s, Sandy Harrison '74, chair of the Terrace Club graduate board, noted.
"Students are still opting for Bicker clubs, knowing it's there, and knowing they might not get in and could be hosed, and recognizing all that, it's a willingness to live with the fact that it's pretty exclusionary and elitist and discriminatory," he said. "Every four years, there's a complete turnover of the student body, and [Bicker's] a good thing to be talking about."
The results were more balanced than one might have expected, Undergraduate Student Government president Ella Cheng '16 said, adding that the campaigning of Low and others might have been responsible.
Cheng is a former staff writer for The ‘Prince.’
While USG administered the referendum, it did not endorse it.
"The momentum largely died out by this week, so I was expecting a more one-sided vote," Cheng said. "I don't have a personal opinion on either side, because it's such a complicated issue, but [Bicker] is a good thing to think about."
While USG will not be required to create an ad hoc committee to facilitate the end of Bicker due to the referendum failing, Cheng said one of her priorities coming into office this year was to increase accessibility to the eating clubs and that USG would work with the ICC and the University to institute a more streamlined eating club financial aid process. A report on eating club accessibility is in the works, and USG is pushing for more PUID nights instead of having students rely on passes or membership as much, she added.
"It's much more complicated to deal with things regarding the social aspects of eating club life, because a lot of that is out of University and definitely USG control," Cheng said.
"The sort of banter you heard on Yik Yak and other anonymous sources tended to be on the 'no' side," he said. "I think the [results from the senior class] show that the more people think about Bicker, the more they realize it is a bad system."
Some clubs historically had members threaten to drop when they were refusing to admit women, and that pressure resulted in some success in allowing women into the clubs, he said.
"I'm hopeful that next year's sophomores will exert that kind of pressure [on the Bicker system]," LoPresti said.