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What is a meme? According to Dictionary.com, a meme is “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.” Yet to many of us who have laughed at one or shaken our heads in silent empathy with another, a meme is so much more. It is a source of gentle humor after a long day at the lab or in the library and a way to encompass our never-ending list of complaints about being Princeton students in one image and a few lines of text.
One month ago, sixteen Ivy League professors released a letter that urged incoming freshmen to "think for yourself." In the following weeks, the letter garnered national attention from news outlets ranging from The Atlantic to Fox News.
Racism is more than skin deep.
In a recent article in The Daily Princetonian, author Brandon Hunter offered conservative Princetonians a disingenuous, criticism-laden, pseudo-invitation to upcoming Latinx Heritage Month events. I find Hunter’s invitation to be insincere for a variety of reasons, but here I would like to focus instead on our point of agreement: that we should all be open to hearing from those who differ from ourselves. Situated in the context of an intense national debate surrounding the origins, limits, and consequences of free speech, Hunter’s call for us to listen before we speak is, frankly, refreshing. I must ask myself, though, whether he means for this to be a two-way conversation.
I am not in the habit of reading the editorial page of The Daily Princetonian, and moreover, I am normally inclined to forbear rather than publicly single out an undergraduate for criticism. Nevertheless, an ad hominem reference to me in the Sept. 26 edition came to my attention, and the circumstances in this case are special. In his column, Ryan Born takes umbrage at what he supposes is the vagueness of the term “free speech,” and he goes on to dismiss it as a rhetorical weapon. He then incorrectly imputes sinister motives to others in their defense of freedom of speech. The lengthy screed groans on, column after column, making a series of increasingly bizarre assertions, including the particularly egregious claim that what he calls “the arguments of hate” were “laid to rest at Dachau.” A great many good people were murdered at Dachau. Does Born approve of those murders? Does he approve of the suppression of ideas or religious beliefs held by the people who were murdered at Dachau? Is he simply making a reckless allusion to mass murder and genocide for effect? In any one of these cases, he is within his First Amendment rights to express his appalling point of view, and in each of these possible interpretations of his intent, the rest of us have a moral obligation to condemn what he has said. Shame on him!
Dear Mr. Ryan Born,
The current Washington news cycle and most primetime news shows will lead you to believe that our country is at a point of irreversible and ultimate divide. While this point is true in some ways, it can lead us to forget that in other ways, we are all more or less the same. We all struggle, feel, and experience life in the same way.
Last week, the Spanish police arrested 14 Catalan officials in Barcelona. The conflict between the Catalan and Spanish governments has escalated in recent weeks, ahead of a referendum scheduled for October 1, in which Catalans want to decide whether to remain in Spain or to become independent. Friends and colleagues have been asking, with equal bewilderment: “Why is Spain so adamant in preventing you [Catalans] from voting in the self-determination referendum? Didn’t Scotland vote on independence recently?” But also, “Why is Catalonia so stubborn about holding this referendum? There must be some alternative.”
You’re sitting in class, trying to take notes, but the only thing on your mind is the fact that your family group chat is quiet. Reports then come out with the body count, news articles pop up detailing the damage, and images of a home you once knew cover your feed.
Dear Vice President Calhoun, Dean Crittenden, and Dean Dolan,
“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
When I walked onto the Princeton campus eight years ago, I wasn't sure what to expect. It didn’t feel right to step inside the perfect Gothic architecture in my flip flops and shorts. On my application, I promised to major in molecular biology, but after sitting behind a microscope for year years in high school, cells and molecules were the last thing on my mind. I knew I wanted to empower others in some way and decided that I could figure it out over the next four years.
I applaud the Princeton students who engage in political discourse, those who hold and advocate for their convictions. Yet, when I attended the Political Activities Fair on Sept. 11, an apparent atmosphere of discordance struck me. The students at each table jockeyed for my name and email address. To me, they seemed to embody rigid attitudes towards politics — uncompromising positions not amenable to dialogue. Each table was disparate, seemingly incompatible with its neighbors. A peer remarked to me how the pro-life and pro-choice tables were situated on opposite sides of the room.
During orientation week, Princeton administrators emphasized the importance of a balanced lifestyle. They pressed the Class of 2021 to sleep seven hours a night, participate in extracurriculars, and seek out resources to manage stress. Many Princeton students struggle to balance the different facets of their lives, so this advice seemed well-meaning.
When I first got to Chengdu, China, ready to begin a summer internship where I was meant “learn about a new culture” and “gain perspective,” it became obvious to me how arrogant I had been. I’d shown up to a country that I had very little prior knowledge of, where I knew no one, and where I couldn’t speak a word of the language.
I had just finished a packed summer working in the Frick Chemistry Lab at Princeton and was therefore so relieved and excited to see my parents. I had not seen them in over eight months, the longest I have ever gone without seeing them. Stepping off the plane and walking into the airport lobby, I was warmly greeted by my parents and two shots of flavored Cruzan Rum, a true reminder that I was home and a taste that I missed. We spent the next couple of weeks getting back to our old family life, living life how it was before I went to college.