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Over the weekend, I read the New York Times exposé regarding President Donald Trump’s finances. I learned about the remarkable and shocking truth of the ill-begotten means of his fortune, which he had acquired only through the help of his father, as well as his criminal actions and continual avoidance of the law by not paying his taxes. However, instead of feeling outraged or angry, I could only feel numbness. Sometimes I go days without checking the news, simply because everything that comes in is a constant cycle of depressing stories.
Last week, I nervously waited for an allergist to prick my back with 37 possible food triggers, any one of which could cause my skin to react in hives. I couldn’t help but laugh at the Atlantic article that popped up on my phone, entitled “Pimples Could Be Good for Your Grades.” The too-good-to-be-true title speaks for itself. Although writer Alia Wong takes a fairly balanced approach to discussing evidence for the correlation between acne and strong academic performance, her words still project a patronizing tone of faux sympathy for acne sufferers. By positing the correlation — that is inconclusive at best — as some sort of boon for the acne-plagued, her words diminish the debilitating trauma that acne causes its victims.
I slid the word “empowerment” into a conversation I was having with a friend this summer about feminism. She rolled her eyes and groaned, “What does that even mean?” After getting tossed into a few too many headlines, buzzwords have a way of losing their kick. But we should still care about this one.
The buzzwords “Brett Kavanaugh” have been ubiquitous as everyone outspokenly offers their own opinions and insights on what is happening and what will happen and what should happen. We talk about the hearings not like an issue of partisan politics but instead as an issue that is intensely personal. Of course, the hearings are part of a monumental, impactful, and semi-permanent decision regarding one of our nation’s highest positions. But why are we, Princeton students, really watching?
“It’s my fault.”
Sometimes, the bravest thing I’ll do all day is put my arm on the armrest of my chair. Surrounded on both sides, I often feel forced to make myself as small as possible. I don’t want to bother them. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to take up space. But I’m a living, breathing human being, and I have no choice but to do so.
Have you seen the zombies walking around campus? As workloads begin to escalate, I’ve noticed more and more students turning into sleep-deprived zombies, staying up all night to try and finish their readings and p-sets. In high school, I tried to sleep eight hours every night. The least amount of sleep I could get to still function the next day was about six hours, and if I got any less than that, my productivity level would drop drastically. Honestly, I am terrified for what the next four years hold in regards to my sleep schedule. I have only been at Princeton for about a month, but I have noticed that staying awake until the early morning is something fairly typical for students here, even those students who excel in time management. So why exactly are Princeton students sleeping so little, and why has no one confronted this issue?
Like many students, I spent Sept. 27, the day of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the U.S. Senate, on edge. I checked my phone at every break between classes, opened my laptop at every chance, and tried to decipher which professors would let me watch the hearing while sitting in seminar. At the end of the day, despite the evidence that Kavanaugh was not fit to be a Supreme Court justice, the national conversations surrounding both of the Kavanaugh hearings were not as punishing as one might have expected.
The last time a Democrat won any statewide election in Texas was 1994 — the longest stretch for Democrats to go without winning an election than in any other state. For 24 years, longer than I’ve been alive, my home state of Texas has been under a sea of red. While the metropolises of Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas consistently support Democratic mayors and candidates for president, the tides of the state of Texas rush to the right and continue to support Republican congressmen, elect Republican senators, and electorally back Republican candidates for president. For over two decades, the Democratic Party in the state of Texas has been a powerless straw man, one that falls time after time at the hands of its conservative counterpart. But this political cementation crumbles today because of one man.
As an Outdoor Action leader, I am a devout believer in name games. My personal favorite is asking the frosh for their names, along with spirit kitchen utensils. Although at first they might be confused or weirded out, by the end they can’t contain their laughter as they matter-of-factly say things like “I guess I’d like to be a spatula,” or “Maybe an egg whisk would be nice?” In a small group setting in which people are meeting for the first time, these personal introductions, or “ice-breakers,” serve a critical function of setting a precedent of openness and encouraging friendly relations among participants. Failing to do so creates the opposite: an unwelcoming and impersonal atmosphere — which is why I was appalled during the first week of precepts, when many of my preceptors didn’t even bother asking for names.
On Sept. 27, Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly attempted to rape her at a 1982 high school party in suburban Maryland. Thereafter, Kavanaugh furiously denied the allegation in his own testimony before the committee. Kavanaugh has also been accused of sexual misconduct by two other women: Deborah Ramirez alleges the judge exposed himself to her at a college dorm party at Yale University without her consent, and Julie Swetnick claims Kavanaugh was involved in a scheme to gang rape women at multiple suburban-Maryland parties in the early 1980s (although Kavanaugh was allegedly at the party, Swetnick does not claim that Kavanaugh took part in her gang rape). Kavanaugh has denied these accusations as well.
This past summer I had an innocent conversation with one of my relatives who happened to be struggling with connecting to the internet on her newly purchased iPhone. When I told her she needed to either use data or to connect to WiFi in order to do so, I was met with the response, “Isn’t WiFi how they hack your information?”
The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 was intended to support victims of domestic violence legally, financially, and culturally by raising awareness of the issue and strengthening the judicial response to violent crimes against women. Current amendments attempt to limit gun access to abusers, increase funding to rape-prevention programs, and offer eviction protection to victims of domestic abuse. Despite its myriad benefits, Republicans don’t want to reauthorize the bill.
Despite reports of bikes and jackets being stolen on campus and the occasional flashing event on the towpath, Princeton feels like the safest place on earth. So safe that laptops and phones are left alone at Frist Campus Center for hours, and 5-foot-2-inch girls like me don’t even think twice about going for a run at night. But should we?
Legal and accessible birth control has been a perennial topic of debate between the feminist movement and its opponents. Reproductive health access is often treated as a binary — you either can access it, or you can’t. In reality, each woman’s experience navigating an insurance and medical system that demonstrates anywhere from casual disregard to active hatred of women falls along a dramatic spectrum. In some cases, access is circumstantial, stressful, or unduly expensive. Yet, this variation in birth control accessibility is ignored in most discussions of women’s reproductive rights.
If someone asked you, off the top of your head, to describe the wildlife you see at our University, you would undoubtedly think of the seemingly ever-increasing squirrel population. From day to day we tend to pay them little mind, unless of course you happen to spot a black squirrel on your way to class. You may be surprised, however, to learn that our little neighbors are quite literally living in trash. The culprit of their dangerous and unsanitary housing predicament is clear: uncovered trash cans around campus.
Princeton students are infamous for meticulously structured free time — get coffee with Amanda 10–10:30 p.m., call a friend from home 4–4:15 p.m., hang out in Carly’s room 9–9:50 p.m. With demanding schedules as well as academic, extracurricular, and career pressures, students often feel anxious about wasted time or un-optimized schedules. But in the first few days on campus before our workload escalated, we let ourselves reunite with friends and settle in slowly. Without a routine, we let our days fill up — or not — without the commanding Google Calendar notifications dictating our every minute. And we need to do this more often. Princeton students need to let themselves be spontaneous.
This year, for the eighth in a row, the University has put up an exhibit in the Friend Center on the “Art of Science.” These exhibits display images of scientific phenomena — cells, computer simulations, chemical reactions, the like — and assign them the magnificent and ambitious classification of “art.” In a proverbial pat on the back, the curators — all scientists, no artists — claim these exhibits form a new “synergy” between art and science.
Every year, when Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, rolls around, I find myself staring at a list of people I’ve offended. It takes me hours to put it together; I go through my phone contacts, Facebook, and even class rosters to mark everyone I’ve annoyed, hurt, or disappointed. The process has become automatic at this point, but it’s nonetheless unpleasant. I don’t enjoy being reminded of all the times I’ve screwed up.