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There is a university that exists where everyone says hi to each other. They greet one another with a warm embrace, arms outstretched and welcoming. Most of the time, the hugs aren’t hollow. Everyone eats together. They live together. Community is more than a euphemism. Apartness is elided.
For the past two Mondays, gaggles of elated high school seniors have been wandering around campus with their bright-orange folders for Princeton Preview. They’ve been admitted to Princeton and are now seeing what the University has to offer. Despite the myriad activities — ranging from a cappella shows to public lectures — Preview is missing a significant aspect of Princeton which no prospective student should leave without knowing about.
The Princeton University Board Plan Review Committee has been reviewing dining hall options for the past two years, and this week released a memo detailing possible changes for both under and upperclassmen. This proposal replaced the current options available with a mandatory “Unlimited” package for first-years and sophomores, and a mandatory “Community” meal plan for juniors and seniors not involved in the eating club system. This plan is less considerate of the diverse needs and wants of students than the current system and is out of step with undergraduate life.
Last winter, the passage of the four referenda concerning the Honor Committee made it clear that students wished to reform the Committee. The implementation of the fourth referendum opened the door to changing practices of the membership without changing the Committee’s current institutional framework. While we may not be able to change the “rules” of the Committee, we can and should ensure members are “playing by the rules.”
As we enter room draw and draw times are released, many will find that their draw time(s) are at inconvenient hours, specifically from 9 a.m. through 7 p.m. on weekdays. During these hours, most students will either be in lecture, lab, precept, or another prior commitment, creating a high likelihood of conflict. Facing this inconvenience, many students feel forced to get proxies to cover for them during their draw time. A proxy is another University student who can select a room for you during your designated draw time. Finding a proxy can be inconvenient and stressful, and it is only necessary because of the larger issue of room draw taking place during the middle of the week. But as I will show, this nuisance can be prevented through simple policy changes.
The University administration circulated a survey to collect feedback on the Proposed Meal Plan Changes for 2019–20. The Princeton University Board Plan Review Committee’s plan includes compulsory meal plans for upperclass students, but only independents and co-op members. This proposal apparently came from the “first comprehensive review of board plans since 2005.” My phone-typed response soon had the length of an essay, and I’m sharing part of that here. As an engineering major focused on sustainable design, and a health-focused individual who treasures the interpersonal warmth of a great meal, I’ve long taken issue with the required meal plans at this university. The forced predetermination of one’s food and eating place is incomprehensible to my friends and family, in Germany and across the globe.
Native English speaker or not, you have an accent. So does the girl sitting next you, and so do I. We all vocalize our thoughts with different rhythms, intonations, percussiveness, and inflections. Even within the United States, people speak English differently. Despite this natural tendency, we are keen to point out the “accents” of those who speak differently from how we do. We understand accents to be collective ways of speaking, unique to certain populations. This perception creates space for “us” versus “them,” and leaves room for us to value certain accents over others. We should struggle against this hierarchy.
The Board Plan Review Committee’s draft of proposed changes to the University’s dining plan claims they will create “more flexibility, affordability, and efficiency for an increasingly diverse community.”
This week, the USG election ballot includes yet another referendum to amend the Honor Constitution. Unlike the referenda from the fall, however, this proposal does not touch on the committee’s penalties or procedures. Instead, it focuses on the leadership of the committee itself. The referendum, if adopted, would create a procedure for a member of the Honor Committee to challenge the incumbent chair or clerk for their position. Regardless of your views on the Honor Committee and the fall referenda, this proposal should concern every student. It will create turmoil and uncertainty, not accountability, harming the interests of students who interact with the committee. All disciplinary bodies at the University should be held accountable, including the Honor Committee, but the model proposed by the referendum is deeply flawed. I strongly urge students to vote no.
I love when new courses come out, and I hate choosing between courses, sentiments which I think are shared among my fellow undergraduates. Despite the inordinate amount of time I pour into course schedules every semester, it was only this semester that I realized something odd. Go into ReCal, the student-developed scheduling app, start adding courses in: soon you’ll realize that you’ve ended up with a few conflicts. And most of them will be at 1:30 p.m.
I’ve been reluctant to write this — or anything pinning my issues onto my race. Anything impassioned about racism, to be honest. While I am appreciative of my heritage, I’ve always felt that I’m not defined solely by my ethnicity and, more than just being apathetic, I have found it unrelatable — I’ve been fortunate to never have felt openly discriminated against because of my skin. Yet, I want to write — I am uneasy.
My sister Maddie texted me at 10:41 a.m. “Don’t come to Nassau right now. There’s cops behind their cars with guns I can’t go outside.”
My naïve freshman self was shocked by the avalanche of emails that took over my inbox during the first week of Fall semester. As I scrolled through my new collection, I became increasingly anxious that I was not busy enough. These electronic envelopes all seemed to hold the golden ticket to a fulfilling semester, with their google application forms and open houses. The sea of applications overwhelmed me — they were reminders of how I wasn’t taking the full advantage of what the University was offering me. The University showered me with amazing opportunities but did not offer the guidance I needed to navigate through the complex web of options I was faced with, often for the first time.
The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. is unshakable. As a student, it is difficult to imagine such a situation, such a shadow of grief hanging over a school, a campus.
It only took one less-than-ideal grade to find myself jumping from one fatalistic thought to the next. Within mere moments, I went from seeing a grade on a paper to convincing myself I would never get into grad school. The weather was gray and cloudy. I had a massive headache. Nothing was going right — and it didn’t seem like it was going much better for many of my peers, either. It’s not like everyone around me was getting A’s and enjoying the weather.
When course selection comes out right after the grind and frustration of midterms, it's tempting to seek out the classes whose course evaluations promise an “easy A.” Another semester of all-nighters in Sherrerd Hall sounds less appealing than two hours of lecture a week, one hour of reading, and an in-class midterm plus final. But, as we plan for our limited semesters here, we should keep in mind that it is this academic rigor — the constantly challenging material and ambitious curriculum — that drove us to Princeton in the first place.
Dear Mr. Fingerhut,
On April 12, 2011 — seven years ago today — a much-loved senior Spanish lecturer at the University killed himself. The University had suspended him without due process, and in seeming violation of its own procedures. In the time since, there has never been an independent investigation of what the University did. Whenever I think of my Princeton experience, the University’s actions around the death of a beloved community member is what I remember most of all.
If you told your friends that you were entertaining some controversial view — perhaps that you doubted the existence of man-made climate change, or that you weren’t exactly clear on why stationing guards at schools would make them less safe, or that you could see how lower taxes for the rich might stimulate economic growth — how would they reply? I imagine you would be met with shock, anger, disgust, and, most likely, dismissal. I believe that such reactions are ill-founded. Liberals should instead entertain and discuss the heterodox views their peers hold to maximize the chance that their ideas succeed.
The assault on architectural modernism on campus continues.