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At all stages of undergraduate life, Princeton is challenging. Freshmen take on the difficulty of first-year adjustments to campus life, and the rigorous independent work demands of junior and senior year are well documented. But, strangely, the struggles of sophomores often go under the radar. Many Princeton students who are (unsurprisingly) not sophomores say that sophomore year is the “best” year at Princeton, since there are no formal independent-research requirements, the first-year adjustment period is over, and graduation is far enough away to be out of mind.
I don’t remember when I started to feel guilty for picking up the Xbox controller. For the longest time, this mindless form of entertainment served as a break from a busy day or as a means to simply unwind in times of stress. Now, however, something has punctured that digital bubble of escapism: relaxation, a once acceptable pastime, has been equated to misdoing. This trend is particularly pervasive on this campus.
On Feb. 26, 2018, the University published a “Statement About Applicants’ Right to Protest.” The University has stated that students who “act on their conscience in peaceful, principled protest will receive full consideration in our admissions process,” and that “If students are disciplined by their high school, they will be encouraged to augment their application to Princeton with a statement that addresses why they were moved to protest . . . .” The University is affirming students’ rights to protest in high school. Though the statement was released in response to the protests involving gun control, it seems noteworthy that the University seems to be affirming high schoolers’ rights to protest in cases that meet two criteria: the protest must be peaceful and principled.
March 29, 2017: the inaugural night of the University’s unofficial Bollywood Club. Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi students, among others, flocked to the Wilson Black Box Theater, dragging their roommates and friends along for a taste of samosas and Bollywood. The movie of the night was Karan Johar’s “Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani,” a two-and-a-half-hour romantic saga with all the typical ingredients: drama, romance, and (a lot of) dancing. To me, the loud, pulsing music, sequined costumes, and abundant tears elicited a strong sense of nostalgia, making me feel like I was sitting in my living room with my family in Delhi. The other South Asians probably felt the same, judging by the smiles on people’s faces as they explained the movie to friends.
When President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law in December, one of the most controversial changes to the tax code was the curtailment of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. Under the old system, federal taxpayers could deduct from their federal tax bill all property taxes and either income or sales taxes paid to state and local governments. Going forward, the new law caps SALT at $10,000 per tax return, meaning that only the first $10,000 a taxpayer pays in state and local property, income, and sales taxes is deductible.
A web application called “Alcohol for Guest Swipes” was a short-lived idea I had for a design project in COS 333: Advanced Programming Techniques. More useful than Tigerbook, more certain to get you in the administration’s crosshairs than “Passes for Late Meal” — what more could you want? As an independent, the thought of where my next meal is coming from is never too far from my mind, and I’ve come to appreciate creative solutions to the problem. Despite the apprehensions I had upon first going independent, I’ve found that the independent life is not particularly onerous, and that its positive aspects far outweigh the negatives.
In December 2016, the Princeton men’s swimming and diving team season was canceled following a complaint about “vulgar and offensive” language on the team listserv. This incident came only shortly after the Harvard men’s soccer team had its season canceled for a vulgar Google Doc circulated among members. In light of the these and other past events, universities and students have been especially conscious of inappropriate sexual language.
I am sitting in the back row of Professor Rosen’s anthropology seminar, when a word pierces through the auditorium. “N****r,” he says. This word, for me, triggers a feeling of immediate unease and discomfort, and as he continues to use the word a few more times, I scan the room for reactions. There are some pained faces, hushed words, and a student raises his hand to question Rosen’s reasons for using the word. He responds, saying that it was necessary: He wanted to illicit a “gut-punch” reaction in order for students to understand the power of speech, a power that can be far stronger than action.
Then you should check your bias. When my straight guy friends say, “I don’t want to see 'Call Me by Your Name.' I’m all for gay rights, but seeing two guys together makes me uncomfortable,” they are revealing a societal bias that’s pervasive and problematic.
Somewhere on the walk between stats class and my dorm room, I lost all self-control and began to cry. The misty air outside grew heavy with tears as everything around me faded from view. I struggled to catch my breath in between tears, hiccups, and debilitating fatigue.
The Olympics are just as much about national pride as they are about competition. In the Parade of Nations, the athletes parade around the stadium, holding the flags of their respective countries, as fans across the globe cheer them on. At this year’s Opening Ceremony, Pyeongchang colorfully told South Korea’s history through the perspective of five Korean children, as doves were released and John Lennon’s “Imagine” was sung, signifying a celebration of peace. The Games bring countries together in one place, where athletes from around the world set aside their differences and unite through the passion of sport. Unification is especially important when the politics of sport attempts to pulls things apart.
In a recent Letter to the Editor on Feb. 8, The Princeton Pro-Life group outlined why they participated in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. The theme of the march was “love saves lives,” which they emphasized while protesting Roe v. Wade. The letter made some compelling points, but the overarching goal of denying women the right to choose regardless of circumstance belied a misunderstanding about the meaning of “love saves lives.”
Amid the flood of highly publicized sexual assault accusations in the media industry, the recent accusations toward Aziz Ansari strike a unique and relevant controversy for college campuses. Ansari, an outspoken feminist and supporter of the #MeToo movement, was recently faced with an accusation of sexual assault. The accuser discussed a sexual encounter with Ansari in which she felt pressured to perform sexual tasks, despite her obvious hesitancy and the combination of nonverbal and verbal cues of discomfort that she displayed. The accusation prompted an onslaught of replies targeting both Ansari and the alleged victim. Some criticized Ansari’s hypocrisy, while others questioned why the woman, represented under the pseudonym “Grace,” did not actively remove herself from the situation.
Today we are combating the language barrier by “taking the bull by the horns!” Through tools like Google Translate and relatively accessible community college classes suited for beginners at the English language, there appears to be a “silver lining” to the language barrier that inhibits immigrants’ integration into the American culture.
The day was blustery and the door propped open. The only thing that stood between us and the wind was a curtain of strips of heavy plastic. It was 11 a.m. and the restaurant was virtually empty, so our server brought out a large bowl of dark chicken-bone soup before we had the chance to open our menu. Small tidbits of corn and ligament gyrated gently in the murk at the bottom of the bowl.
This month, over three-quarters of sophomores chose to join one of the 11 eating clubs that line Prospect Avenue. These clubs — which have histories spanning 139 years — open a gateway to new social lives. With their opulent mansions, popularly-ingrained stereotypes, and mysterious names like Ivy Club, Tower Club, and Colonial Club, eating clubs seem to be as uniquely Princetonian as an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.
I had my first encounter with “yellow fever” my sophomore year of high school. As I watched my friend pine after a different girl every month, I could not help but notice the common denominator — they were all Asian. While I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, it reached the uncomfortable point where his choices blurred from having a “type” to having a fetish. Yet, I decided not to intervene — a choice that I have come to greatly regret.
"If you were to die tonight with no further communication to the outside world, what is that last thing that you want people to know?" an Ivy Club member asked me, no more than five minutes into our Bicker interview. I stared around at the glossy wood bookshelves in Ivy's library for a few seconds as I contemplated a genuine response that would not give away too many personal details to a complete stranger.
Since its inception in 2013, the Princeton Pre-read has introduced incoming first-year students to pressing current events, societal, and campus issues. The Class of 2019’s Pre-read, for example, discussed how race affects mobility. It was aptly assigned in 2015 — a year that saw the rise to national prominence of black police shootings, a subject which received significant media coverage and sparked polarized protests across the country. We see from past trends that the Pre-read speaks to the current state of our society and may even serve as a larger symbol of campus events. Hitting on topics like equality, stereotypes, populism, and honor codes in recent years, the Pre-read educates and makes students aware of issues that may present themselves at the University.
This article is part of a reoccuring column on politics and pedagogy at Princeton. For hyperlinks, please see the online article.