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As a continuation of our series on the Task Force on General Education’s November 14 report, the Board will comment on the second recommendation regarding the foreign language requirement. The task force recommends requiring all A.B. students to take a foreign language class “regardless of any existing proficiency.” This proposal would mean that students who have already met the University’s standards of proficiency, whether by achieving a sufficient score on a standardized test or by taking the University’s placement exam, would have to take one course at a higher level in their known language or begin an entirely new language. While the Board agrees with the many benefits gained from A.B. language instruction, we do not believe that the marginal benefit of mandating an extra class outweighs the limitations it places on students.
In a continuation of a series responding to the November 14 report released by the Task Force on General Education, the Board will comment on the report’s fifth recommendation: calendar reform. The task force recommends changes to the first-semester schedule, whereby classes would begin the final week of August and students would take final examinations in December before winter break. This change would facilitate the introduction of a three-week January term, dubbed the “J Term,” during which students would have the opportunity to explore new opportunities on campus, off campus, or abroad. Participation in a J Term course or program would be mandatory during at least one of an undergraduate’s four years at Princeton. The Board reaffirms its support for calendar reform to move finals before winter break; however, we are opposed to the task force’s recommendation to mandate participation in at least one J Term.
Last week, we learned of the passing of Bill Bowen *58, a renowned economist who served as president of Princeton University from 1972 to 1988. The Board hopes to honor and recognize Bowen, whose tenure turned Princeton into a more inclusive and financially healthy institution, one that would offer more opportunities to students over the decades that followed. Bowen’s efforts to create the residential college system, add four academic departments, fundraise prolifically, and staunchly defend freedom of expression have improved Princeton for the better. Following Bowen’s passing, the Board encourages students to re-examine the ideals of academic rigor and inclusivity that inspired these reforms, and consider how these ideals can further be actualized in the coming years.
Each year, many Princeton students must make use of the services provided by Pequod Communications. In addition to thesis binding for seniors, the store sells “course packets” that contain many, or all, of the readings and other written materials for a given course at the beginning of each semester. These course packets allow professors to avoid uploading each individual course reading onto E-Reserves and provide access to materials that cannot be uploaded to E-Reserves for copyright reasons. However, the packets are often expensive and create problems for students who are shopping classes. To remedy these and other issues, the Board suggests that professors minimize the cost of course packets by only including material that cannot legally be uploaded to E-Reserves and by creating addendum packets for newly introduced readings to facilitate packet resale in subsequent years. We also recommend that the University encourage Pequod to implement better buyback and return policies and to increase its hours during peak times.
Mental health issues affect many students here at Princeton, but due to the personal nature of these concerns, many students are unaware of the struggles their fellow students experience and may be uncomfortable seeking help via the available resources. Counseling and Psychological Services and the student-run Mental Health Initiative work together to deal with mental health concerns on campus. CPS, part of University Health Services, provides the actual medical care needed. MHI, a standing committee within USG,works to increase awareness, reduce stigma, and promote constructive dialogue around mental health. Together, they have fosteredimprovements in reducing the stigma around mental health concerns and raising student awareness about resources available to them. Building on these successes, the Board urges a further increase in focused programming, an expanded outreach system, especially in high-stress times such as midterms week, Dean’s Date,and Bicker, and increased publicity of the more specialized care options offered by CPS. These continued reforms will help ensure that students facing these issues are aware of treatment options and feel able to take advantage of them.
Since women first enrolled as full-time undergraduates at the University in 1969, female students have made tremendous contributions to our community. As women continually strive to improve their standing on campus, the Board finds the Women’s Center deficient in its role in this effort, because we believe the Center is neither as inclusive nor as effective as it could be. The Board urges the Women’s Center to refocus its programming to emphasize core issues directly affecting the undergraduate experience that are more inclusive of a politically diverse female student body, as well as of all genders. We further propose the Women’s Center solicit greater input from students in order to facilitate more representative programming.
One of the more trivial events in the life of a Princeton student is being locked out of his or her dorm room. Princeton Housing and Real-Estate Services has recently implemented a new lock-out policy that implements a monetary fine upon the third lockout occurrence. The rest of the system remains the same under the new policy: locked-out students are able to regain access to their dorms through Housing’s two-option system: If students have been locked out of their dorms, they may walk to the Housing and Real Estate Office in the New South Building during regular business hours, or to the Department of Public Safety at 200 Elm Drive after-hours or during the weekend, and receive a free 24-hour loaner prox. Students who fail to return the loaner within the 24-hour time frame incur a $75 fee. In the instance that physically retrieving the loaner prox is unfeasible, the student has the alternative option of calling DPS’s non-emergency phone number to request the next available dispatcher to bring the loaner directly to his or her room. A student incurs a $30 fine in selecting this latter option in return for the convenience of not having to retrieve the loaner prox at the aforementioned locations. The most substantive change within Housing’s new policy is the implementation of a monetary fine if the student has been locked out three or more times. In response to this policy change, the Board calls for a more lenient lockout policy, specifically removing the new three-strike charge. The Board also urges Housing to remove the $30 fine that has been carried over from the original system if a DPS dispatcher drives directly to the student’s dorm room to let him or her in.
Running Princeton’s dining halls, which provide food to thousands of students every single day, is a mammoth operation. The dining hall staff and student employees work tirelessly to prepare diverse and healthy food options at each dining unit. At the same time, because it is understandably impossible to predict exactly how many students will eat at a particular dining hall at a given meal, some food is wasted in the dining halls each day. The Board proposes a program that we see as a win-win: cutting down on food waste by providing leftovers to those without meal plans.
Last week, the Graduate Student Government announced that it would create a committee to conduct research on graduate student unionization. The formation of the GSG committee comes in the wake of the National Labor Relations Board’s August ruling that graduate students who work on campus, such as preceptors or research assistants, have the right to unionize.
As embodied by our unofficial motto, “Princeton in the nation’s service and in the service of humanity,” a core principle of a Princeton education is contributing to our nation and its various communities. Every year, students, faculty, and administrators find many ways to contribute to local and national communities. Similarly, every four years members of the University face the important opportunity of voting in the U.S. presidential elections. This is an infrequent chance to have a direct influence on the direction of the country by selecting a large number of local, state, and national representatives. To capitalize on this unique opportunity, the Board encourages all students to take advantage of the various ongoing and upcoming on-campus activities in preparation for the forthcoming election. Particularly, the Board encourages participation in today’s voter and absentee ballot registration campaign.
At the beginning of each semester, while course enrollment is generally standard across the board, the procedure for enrolling in precepts varies considerably across University departments. Common methods include choosing precepts during course selection or enrolling during a set period at the beginning of the semester; however, some departments have recently adopted a method of random precept assignment based on students’ current course enrollments and their TigerHub schedules. The Board believes that this method of precept assignment is problematic because it restricts the ability for students to tailor their schedules to their own preferences. Accordingly, the Board believes precepts should not be automatically assigned based on student class schedules in TigerHub. However, this should not preclude professors from continuing to exercise discretion in balancing out enrollment levels or merging small precepts. Furthermore, the Board reiterates its call, asarticulated last year, for the Registrar to create an additional add/drop period for non-freshmen prior to the start of classes in the fall semester.
This past summer, the University Office of Human Resources released guidelines on inclusive language for official communications. The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that no gender-based words, such as “chairman” or “businessman,” be used to describe mixed-gendered groups or in contexts in which gender identity is unknown or irrelevant. The University’s commitment to foster inclusivity on campus is commendable, but the regulation of inoffensive vocabulary terms represents a disturbing trend toward restricting the marketplace of ideas, starting with the language that comprises it.
Last semester, the unsigned editorials featured on this page have discussed issues such as anonymizing exam grading, expanding co-op options, and improving career services. The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board, a group of 15 undergraduates, was collectively responsible for writing these pieces. The members of the Board are not the editors of the various sections of the ‘Prince.’ Instead, they constitute an independent group of undergraduate students charged with determining the position of the newspaper as a whole. Instead of taking a stance on an issue, we would like to explain the editorial process and invite interested freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to apply to join the Board.
Recently, University Transportation and Parking Services announced a new policy that allows undergraduate students to have a car on campus only if they have a “compelling need.” This change in policy was released very suddenly to the University community, with no input from the broader student body or opportunity for discussion. The Board finds the policy’s standard of “compelling need” to be too narrow, unnecessarily restrictive of students’ use of cars and potentially intrusive to students’ privacy. The Board condemns the lack of transparency exhibited by University administration, TPS and Undergraduate Student Government on this important issue, and we urge a return to the former policy.
For a vast majority of Princeton students, the transition from sophomore to junior year is marked by changes to living and dining plans. During the spring semester, sophomores must make challenging choices regarding their housing and dining options for the following year. Some sophomores solidify their junior-year dining plans following bicker and the spring eating club sign-in period in February. However, after the bicker and sign-in period, many sophomores are still unsure of their dining plans for the following year. This problem is not isolated to sophomores. Juniors who have spent a year taking meals in clubs, co-ops or residential colleges or as independents may be interested in pursuing alternate dining plans during their senior year. While there is an abundance of dining options available to undergraduates, the Editorial Board believes that rising juniors and seniors are at a distinct disadvantage when establishing or amending dining plans at the start of the fall semester since there is a lack of information on dining options and associated deadlines. As such, the Board calls on the rising junior and senior class governments, in collaboration with the Undergraduate Student Government and the Interclub Council, to compile and publicize information regarding dining options for rising juniors and seniors.
In an email last week, Head of Wilson College Eduardo Cadava announced that he would accept the recommendation of anad-hoc Student Advisory Committeeand remove the mural of University and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, from the wall of Wilcox Dining Hall. The discussion surrounding the mural began after the Black Justice League demanded its removal during their Nassau Hall sit-in this fall, and President Christopher Eisgruber '83 encouraged Cadava to consider whether to remove it. While the Board applauds the process through which the Committee and Head Cadava considered this issue and solicited student and alumni feedback, we disagree with their argument that the naming of Wilson College can be isolated to his vision for the residential college system and ignore the man himself. In our view, there is little meaningful distinction between the reasoning behind naming the college after Wilson and prominently displaying his photograph in the college. However, while we understand why some might find the large, blown-up photo odd, and plenty of other reasons might exist for removing it, this specific reasoning for removing the mural is unconvincing.
For many admitted students, Princeton Preview is the official introduction to the University’s campus. Given the program’s goal of offering admitted students an in-depth look at the life of a Princeton student as they make their decision to matriculate, the Board, as we have previously stated, argues for lengthening Preview to create a multi-day program that would allow students more time to socialize with each other and their hosts.
Last week, USG held its spring elections. They gave students the opportunity to vote on U-Councilors, class government positions and referenda on divesting from private prisons and creating a task force on disciplinary reforms. Neither referendum met the one-third turnout threshold required for the results to be considered, and voter turnout across all elections was low with participation rates between about 30% and 40% for each class in class elections. As a result, the Board calls on USG to reform its referendum policies by informing students of the referendum proposal deadline earlier, extending the referendum campaign time to two weeks and clarifying campaign opportunities for opposition groups and individuals. The Board believes these reforms will help USG promote informed voting and encourage voter participation.
During the Spring Undergraduate Student Government elections this week, students voted on, among other ballot items, a referendum calling on the University and the Princeton Investment Corporation to “divest from corporations that draw profit from incarceration, drug control and immigrant deportation policies.” The Board has consistently argued against divestment of the University’s endowment. Although the referendum did not meet the minimum voting requirement of one-third the student body,the Board urges the University to reject future petitions to divest unless there is substantial consensus and more conclusive evidence. In addition, we believe there are several problems with the proposal. Specifically, Students for Prison Education and Reform and advocates of the referendum conflate issues surrounding the criminal justice system with issues surrounding private prisons. Finally, we believe SPEAR presents inconclusive evidence on the merits or harms of governmental entities employing private companies to incarcerate or detain people.
Last Monday, the University announced that it would discontinue its sprint football program. Having existed on campus for 82 years, sprint football is an alternative version of football for players weighing under 172 pounds with a minimum of five-percent body fat. There are currently nine remaining schools in the country that field sprint football teams, including Cornell, Penn and West Point. The Board believes that the University should have been more transparent in its decision-making process and that its justification for ending the program is inadequate. Lack of communication with members of the sprint football team and the greater Princeton community regarding the details of the decision has also led to confusion and speculation concerning the reasons for the program’s termination. As a result, we call on the University to releasethe statistics and safety concerns used to justify its decision to end the sprint football program.