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The winter is the most dangerous time of the year — not just for chapped lips, bitter finger tips, and icy ground, but for a University student’s pride. Whether it’s applying to internships and spring classes or approaching someone on the Street to initiate cuffing season, rejection looms in the air. Hearing “the applicant pool was more competitive than ever” and “it’s not you, it’s me” hit similar soft spots.
It took me far too long, but I recently acknowledged an experience of sexual assault while at the University. It was a textbook incident: the type that almost every University student hears about in campus-wide trainings or orientation programming. It was “typical” in that way, but I have come to learn that coping with a sexual assault is not nearly as simple as some programming makes it out to be. What they don’t tell you in the trainings is that the processing that has to occur in order to truly heal goes far beyond the moment at which the assault is reported, if it is reported at all.
“I would dissuade people from attending Princeton just because of the Honor Code.”
This month, Google and the University will open their joint artificial intelligence (AI) lab at 1 Palmer Square, mere steps from Nassau Hall. Everyone who stands to benefit from the project — Princeton professors, Google officials, even New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy — has lauded the decision. By entangling scholarship with Google’s sponsorship, however, the University has failed to protect its professors from plausible ethical dilemmas.
As the semester wound down (or, more fittingly, wound up) to a close, I could not help but feel tight-limbed, frustrated, and constantly in need of a nap. That third coffee hadn’t done anything but add a tremor to my fingers, the work hadn’t gotten any easier, I’d taken my third nap that day with no extra bursts of energy — and, gosh, that paper wasn’t going to write itself. My body was quite literally shutting down; I couldn’t keep my eyes open. What should I have done?
Every month or so during the past couple years of high school, my dad would take my sister and me on a 20-minute drive from our home in Wellesley, Mass., to the Harvard bookstore in Cambridge. As soon as he unleashed us in the vast expanse of the store, we would scour the shelves to look for the perfect book to hold us over until the next trip. I remember the thrill of discovering all the possible books I could read, the painful process of deciding which book to get — “All the Light We Cannot See,” “Evicted,” or “Stamped from the Beginning”? — and the joy I felt walking out of the store with a new challenge to tackle.
Following the campus-wide winter election season, I think it is important to ask ourselves how much we know about the students who ran to represent us, and the actual purpose of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) elections. This is especially relevant for the candidates who sought the Class of 2022 senate positions. When looking through the freshman candidate statements and campaign materials, there seemed to be a few common themes, which included keeping students informed, improving the overall Princeton experience, and, predictably, supporting policy changes that “reflect [our] interests.” However, none of these statements were groundbreaking or particularly informative. As a representative of the freshman class, a candidate is expected to act in the interests of their constituents. A candidate running for a student government position doesn’t have to explicitly state that they won’t be corrupt, as I highly doubt USG gives enough opportunity for there to be an individual who is trying to consolidate power for personal gain. Thus, purely based on the multitude of almost identical candidate statements, it’s hard to distinguish what makes each individual unique. I ultimately found myself asking: “Why should I vote for you?”
“College students are just so clean and tidy!” said no one ever. Just take one peek at any shared bathroom on a Sunday morning — there are crumpled paper towels overflowing trash bins and many on the floor as a result of poor aim. There’s hair on the shower walls, paint from last night’s big party splattered on the ground, and weird gunk in the sink that you really shouldn’t think too much about. That’s not even the worst: Butler, Forbes, and Rocky Colleges struggle with keeping human waste contained in the toilet — having personally lived in Campbell Hall last year where the “Campbell Crapper” reigned, I can attest that the whole situation was ludicrous.
On Thursday, Nov. 29, Congresswoman-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez began livestreaming on her Instagram Live Feed. She showed her 978,000 followers one of the many rooms in the Congressional office buildings, nondescript except the fact that most citizens would never have seen it otherwise. She and Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar leaned into the camera and discussed how cold it was. “The AC is set to man!” Ocasio-Cortez quipped, while Omar agreed, pulling her hijab around her face. The next day, the same Instagram Feed showed the process by which Congressional representatives pick their offices. She joked, “Someone light a vela and someone palo santo for me.”
Two years ago, Leila Clark ’18 proposed a referendum that would require the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) to create a committee with the Interclub Council (ICC) that would collect demographics of eating clubs’ memberships.
Across the United States, the utility and worth of a college education is being called into question. The tangible gains that it may afford seem increasingly fleeting; as the prospects for sustaining what remains of the relative prosperity that accompanied America’s dominance after World War II fade and recede swiftly into a morass of political nonsense, young people are rendered more dependent on their families for longer periods and denied the opportunities that seemed so abundant to our parents. Some among the older generations blame us for this retrogression, while others recognize, to varying extents, the deeply rooted forces at play.
In his recent conversation with Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor of the African-American Studies department, Ta-Nehisi Coates, an author and former national correspondent for The Atlantic, made a strong distinction between writing and activism.
With the release of the dire new National Climate Assessment over Thanksgiving break and the beginning of COP24, the latest round of international climate negotiations, this week, the topic of environmental protection has never been more timely. Even on campus during the recent Undergraduate Student Government elections, many candidates stressed their commitment to sustainable practices, and I can attest to one Senate candidate’s giving me a detailed pitch as to just how he would revamp the University’s recycling program.
Last week, I noticed a giant Red Bull display in the Frist Campus Center C-Store that included the message: “Shaping up your GPA? Red Bull gives you wings.” This statement was accompanied by an image of a student papier-mâchéing essays and tests into the shape of an “A+” while drinking a Red Bull. I was shocked. Although the University claims to be committed to the mental and physical well-being of its students, one of its convenience stores clearly promotes unhealthy habits and unrealistic expectations.
A few years ago, I was sitting in my high school journalism class, writing about the protests at the University and other schools challenging the legacies of historical figures on their campuses. At the time, I thought that if I ever had the privilege to attend the University, Harvard, or Yale, I too would be among the students fighting to establish a community welcoming to all of its students.
A recent column, “On #StandUpToHarvard and club purpose,” addresses the recent lawsuit filed by Kappa Alpha Theta and Kappa Kappa Gamma against Harvard, following the University’s ban on single-sex Greek organizations. The column argues that Greek organizations are failing to keep up with the progressive movements in gender and women’s empowerment, and thus need to rebrand themselves to maintain their places on university campuses. The author states, “Greek organizations will have to do better in defining their missions and objectives to the public eye and the schools around which they operate. Simply appealing to concepts of tradition, opportunity, and brother or sisterhood in a more critical and mindful world becomes less effective each day.”
I am an okay student. Not exceptional. Not extraordinary. Just okay. While much of the university culture discourages this honesty through fueling a competitive spirit, I’m here to tell you it’s okay to be okay.