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Last semester, the unsigned editorials featured on this page have discussed issues such as electing Honor Committee representatives, encouraging students to take the WeSpeak survey and altering the academic calendar. The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board, a group of 16 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. Today, 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.
In a Letter to the Editor on September 7, 2015, Luke Koppisch, Deputy Director of the Alliance Center for Independence noted that while Princeton seeks robust academic freedom, it also requires that all of its members show each other mutual respect and understanding. Koppisch went on to criticize Peter Singer, the Ira W. Decamp Professor of Bioethics, for publishing views Koppisch likened to hate speech. He isolated Singer’s publications as endorsing non-voluntary euthanasia of severely disabled infants and the elderly.
The start of classes is an exciting time, offering students a chance to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and explore varied interests. But for some students, this is overshadowed by schedules not yet finalized due to University policies related to add/drop period for non-freshman, precept selection and access to course syllabi. The Board proposes three reforms to the start of the fall semester: allow upperclassmen to add or drop courses when Academic Year Sign-In begins, improve the process of precept selection and require that professors post course syllabi on Blackboard two weeks prior to the start of classes. We believe these changes will ease students’ transition to the fall semester and create more choice and flexibility.
This academic year, Princeton’s undergraduate student body voted in a series of contentious referenda. While Undergraduate Student Government elections are governed by campaign finance regulations outlined in the USG Elections Handbook, students involved in referendum campaigns are only bound by Princeton’s “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities,” as well as New Jersey law. As a result, referenda become an electoral free-for-all during which student advocacy organizations have the ability to spend unlimited funds in support of their causes without listing their donors.
Commencement marks the end of of the undergraduate careers of Princeton seniors and includes four days of events for the members of the graduating class and their families. This is a time for great celebration that is meant to be shared with friends and relatives; however, given the differing capacities of the events’ various venues, seniors are given limited numbers of tickets for invitees. The number of allotted tickets is the same for all seniors, and those who want more are not allowed to buy them. The Board believes that the University should create a formal system for commencement ticket redistribution.
Princeton Preview has come and gone, and the University is preparing to welcome the Class of 2019 in September. For incoming freshmen, orientation week is a turbulent transition into a new social scene, and residential college advisers serve as guides to University policy and culture, including sexuality on campus. Next fall, RCAs will distribute a copy of “You’re So Sexy When You Aren’t Transmitting STDs,” a comic book meant to provide freshmen with information about consent and safe sex. Additionally, all freshmen will watch the play “The Way You Move,” which addresses campus sexual climate. While presenting this material engagingly is commendable, the University fails to treat the subject matter with the gravity it deserves and to include those who choose abstinence.
Princeton Preview is the University’s premier outreach event for admitted students. Prior to the meningitis B outbreak that occurred a year and a half ago, Preview was a three-day event that included extensive exposure to student life and overnight stays in the University’s residential colleges. Last April, we agreed with the University’s decision to shorten Preview to a daylong program in response to the meningitis outbreak. However, given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now consider the University’s meningitis B risk equivalent to that of other colleges, the Editorial Board advocates that the University return to its overnight model for Preview.
Last week, The Daily Princetonian reported on an initiative by Princeton Hindu Satsangam and a number of both Hindu and non-Hindu students to advocate for the creation of a Hindu prayer space on campus. Though the University Chapel hosts Hindu events and Murray-Dodge Hall, which houses the University’s Religious Life offices, contains an interfaith prayer room, supporters of the proposal have pointed out that the establishment of a space geared specifically towards Hindu worship would offer a meaningful recognition of Princeton’s large Hindu community. Additionally, a new Hindu prayer space would contribute to the mission of fostering diversity and cultural awareness which lies at the core of the University’s educational goals. The Editorial Board endorses this initiative and commends the students who have expressed interest in a prayer space for their efforts to enhance Hindu life at Princeton.
Club sports are an integral part of university life for many students. At the University, the more visible varsity sports teams, which accommodate only a small fraction of the student body, are complemented by the large number of club sports. According to the Campus Recreation website, the University has 37 different club sports, rangin from fencing to ultimate frisbee. Open to all University students, regardless of skill level, club sports contribute to the physical health and well-being of the students who participate, as they emphasize peer leadership and student development outside the classroom. Thus, the Editorial Board recommends that Campus Rec better support clubs with start-up funding and fundraising assistance.
From noon today through noon on Wednesday, voting will take place in the Spring USG Elections. The ballot includes a referendum to determine if Princeton students will call on the Trustees “to divest [the University’s endowment] from multinational corporations that maintain the infrastructure of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.” The Board urges students to vote no on the divestment referendum. We believe that the University should not directly insert itself in heavily politicized issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially when such issues have been the source of widespread disagreement on campus. Further, we consider the specific condemnation of Israel’s actions without similar condemnation of worse conduct exhibited by other nations to be a philosophically inconsistent show of ‘selective outrage.’
Princeton is not perfect. We have persistent problems with race, gender and class that affect members of our student body every day. Far too often, it falls upon the most affected groups to work alone to combat these problems. The fact that the University shares this dynamic with the rest of society does not make the situation excusable. We can do better, and we should do better. Being in the service of a righteous cause, however, does not exempt activists from criticism. We, the Editorial Board, disapprove of the misconstrual of the words of University President Eisgruber ’83 during the protest at the Chapel on Sunday and commend Eisgruber for his thoughtful response to the discussion surrounding Urban Congo and Big Sean.
A university is a stage for the clash of ideas through reasoned discourse between those of diverse points of view. Princetonians are diverse in many ways. We differ academically, politically and culturally. Diversity of thought inevitably yields disagreement. But despite our differences and deep personal investment in various debates, we pride ourselves on the ability to engage with one another and develop ideas and values through healthy participation in the University’s intellectual community. We therefore commend the University faculty and President Eisgruber’s administration for passing a motion to include a more comprehensive statement protecting freedom of expression in the University “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities,” and we strongly encourage our peer institutions to follow suit.
Since it went live on Sunday, the petition to have Big Sean dropped as the Lawnparties main act has fueled an intense debate within the student body. The Editorial Board supports the discussion about misogyny in music and the role the campus community has in perpetuating it; however, the Board thinks that the petition’s focus on the Undergraduate Student Government should be expanded to a more holistic critique of campus culture in general. Instead of looking to blame USG president Ella Cheng ’16 and social chair Simon Wu ’17, the Board thinks that those who have signed the petition should look at the campus community and the choices that have led to his invitation, as well as the role that music with derogatory lyrics plays in our social lives.
Last week, an opinion column was published in The Daily Princetonian by members of the Faculty-Student Committee on Sexual Misconduct urging the student body of the University to participate in the "WeSpeak: Attitudes on Sexual Misconduct at Princeton" survey. According to an email distributed to students by the committee, the objective of the survey is simple: to learn about the prevalence of sexual assault at Princeton and to more effectively address issues related to sexual violence and sexual assault. The Editorial Board recognizes the critical importance of accurate data related to instances of sexual assault and sexual violence at the University, and the Board is concerned that an initially low response rate may have caused the University to extend the survey deadline. Consequently, we urge every student to participate in the survey before its April 7 deadline.
The Daily Princetonian recently published an article, as part of a four-part Women’s History Month feature series, on the rise of female visibility and leadership in major campus organizations as well as on the Street. While many women have been elected in recent years to ‘visible’ positions such as president of the USG, chair of the Honor Committee and editor-in-chief of the ‘Prince,’ Princeton has yet to fully bridge the gender gap. After all, while these elections demonstrate progress, many Princeton undergraduate women continue to face barriers to leadership positions. For example, when an organization’s officer corps or membership body is predominantly male, female members may drop out if they feel uncomfortable or if they do not see opportunities for leadership in the future. This creates a cycle of low female retention rates and low female visibility in leadership roles. Thus in order to better facilitate and encourage female leadership on campus, the Board urges campus organizations such as the Women’s Center to change their outreach campaigns in order to foster more inclusive dialogue. Furthermore, the Board encourages all University and student groups to push for more diverse representation and female visibility, especially at recruiting events.
The Continental Army fired cannonballs at Nassau Hall during the Battle of Princeton, and Albert Einstein taught in what is now the Frist Campus Center. These moments in Princeton history figure prominently in the typical Orange Key campus tour attended by many undergraduates when they were prospective students. Less well-known is that the world’s first telegraph line was set up between Joseph Henry’s Princeton home and his laboratory in the University’s Philosophical Hall or that Pete Conrad '53, commander of Apollo 12, brought small Princeton flags to the moon in November 1969. Currently, no outlet for sharing these aspects of Princeton lore with interested Princeton students, community members and other campus visitors exists. To address this programming gap, the Editorial Board proposes that Orange Key creates and advertises a weekly Historical Tour focused on Princeton’s architecture, history and traditions. Furthermore, we recommend the Admission Office offer tours of this nature during the upcoming Princeton Preview days for admitted students and their families.
Campus Dining is managed with remarkable skill and efficiency. Even while serving thousands of students, staff and visitors each day, the award-winning residential dining program makes it a priority to offer nutritious and sustainable menus. The retail dining system, meanwhile, provides quality services in a number of easily accessible locations. However, there is still significant room for improvement, specifically in the area of waste reduction. The University could do much in the way of small adjustments to dining operations in order to promote financial and environmental efficiency. To that end, the Editorial Board offers two proposals. First, Campus Dining should gradually reduce the size of plates in the residential dining halls. Second, make the Princeton University water bottles currently sold in Frist Campus Center ineligible for the Late Meal allowance.
With midterms week, today begins the period during which students can elect to use the pass/D/fail grading option for one class in lieu of receiving a letter grade. According to the University’s 2014-15 Undergraduate Announcement, the P/D/F option is in place in order to “encourage exploration and experimentation in curricular areas in which the student may have had little or no experience.” The P/D/F option allows students to take classes that interest them in areas outside their comfort zone without the added pressure of the usual grading system and its effect on their GPAs. Despite the many merits of the P/D/F option, however, the Editorial Board proposes that University’s existing policy could be improved by extending the P/D/F deadline to the beginning of reading period and allowing students to rescind but lose a P/D/F selection after seeing their final grade in a class.
By the time University freshmen reach their spring semester, it is assumed that the rich experiences and individuals they have encountered in the first few months of college will allow them to decide with ease where and with whom they would like to live the following year. And, although the process of choosing housing is no longer a novelty once students reach sophomore spring, finding upperclassman housing can still be daunting. Room draw policies play a major role in students’ lives each spring, and in order to create the most efficient experience possible, the Editorial Board offers three proposals: (1) institute an internal review system of dormitory conditions, (2) release statistics relating to upperclassman housing earlier to coincide with eating club decisions, and (3) arrange University-wide socials for students seeking roommates during the hectic draw process.
In three weeks, the University will extend admissions offers to the newest batch of Princetonians, and if the trend displayed in recent years holds true, the pool of accepted students will be the most diverse in the University’s history. All prospective students will have demonstrated strong academic capacity and diversity of experiences to the admissions committee — hence their admission to the University — but not all are necessarily prepared for some aspects of Princeton’s unique academic environment. Accordingly, the University hosts multiple programs meant to support first-generation students, students from high schools with fewer resources and students who will face particularly rigorous coursework during their first year. One such program is the Freshman Scholars Institute (FSI).