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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.
I remember when I was at The Daily Princetonian’s pickups party a couple of months ago. There was tangible cheerfulness in the air; after all, everyone was excited to become a part of this grand organization — that is, until the editor-in-chief announced to us that journalism was not something that should be taken lightheartedly.
A common class schedule students will have, based on the structure of most University courses, is two 50-minute classes per day, Monday through Thursday. This schedule features two serious flaws: It creates barely usable downtime between classes, and it can cause organizational issues in regard to precepts. A solution to both problems would be the University offering more 100-minute courses that meet once a week so students could more often have just one 100-minute class per day.
While holidays mean, above all, food and family, trips home often carry the awkwardness and anxiety of reuniting with high school friends. These are the people you shared time and experiences and secrets with, but slowly the relationships drifted from weekly FaceTimes to intermittent texts to obligatory birthday calls. I often get the feeling that I should be so excited to see them again, but I can’t shake a worry that it won’t be what it used to be. While I jump at the opportunity to sit in my friend’s dorm and do nothing on a Tuesday night, it takes a pep talk to muster up the energy to hang out with high school friends the one night we’re all home.
Many of my friends from high school have lovingly graced my social media feeds with #StandUpToHarvard, campaigning to end Harvard’s rules affecting those who are a part of “unrecognized single-gender social organizations (USGSOs),” commonly Greek fraternities and sororities. Beginning with the class of 2021, undergraduates in USGSOs are barred from leadership roles in major clubs and sports, and, perhaps most discouraging, will not be endorsed by the school for prominent scholarships, like the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. Lawsuits were filed Monday against Harvard on the federal level by Kappa Alpha Theta and Kappa Kappa Gamma, and on the state level by Alpha Phi and the Delta Gamma Fraternity Management Corporation, an Ohio-based group that supports the Delta Gamma sorority.
Don’t let the fear of failure dictate your course selections.
Late last night, The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board released an editorial in which it broke with tradition and decided not to endorse any specific candidate in the Undergraduate Student Government presidential election. By citing the relative similarity of the candidates’ platforms and the number of uncontested elections, the Board argues that this year’s USG winter elections are “without consequence.”
The tradition of holding a bonfire to celebrate our victory over Harvard and Yale in football is a beautiful custom rooted in our University experience and common experiences at most colleges in the United States. I say our victory over Harvard and Yale because football games — the game itself, the excitement, and the spirit surrounding it — bring students, faculty, administrators, and alumni together. We all get to share in the football team’s most public display of their talent and discipline. Avner Goldstein’s opinion piece lobs wrongheaded ideological attacks against this much-loved celebration and recklessly smears the football players in the process.
Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students 313 Morrison Hall Princeton, New Jersey 08544