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This past week, from Monday at noon to Wednesday at noon, I spent what felt like every waking moment texting, emailing, and reminding people in person to vote in the USG elections for Referendum Question No. 1, which I sponsored on behalf of the Princeton Student Climate Initiative. The week before voting opened, my group and I spent hours tabling in Frist Campus Center, posting flyers on lampposts, and folding table tents.
In a recent column, Hunter Campbell argues against the current model of Princeton’s liberal arts education. He suggests that the current system of distribution requirements fails to accomplish its own goals, because it encourages students to take courses so far out of their comfort zone that they end up learning nothing from them. Campbell correctly claims that many students end up taking easier courses which, in combination with the pass/D/fail (PDF) option, provide no intellectual challenge.
Hoboken announced on April 3 that the city would be the first in New Jersey to introduce an electric scooter sharing program. A six-month pilot program was introduced after an ordinance was passed, allowing Lime and P3GM — which operates JerseyBike — to provide rental scooters within city limits. Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla stated, “I am thrilled Hoboken is leading the way for the rest of the state to implement an additional mode of green transportation. Electric scooters will help residents easily travel around our city, reduce congestion on our roadways, and improve access to transit stations and business districts.”
France particularly, and the world generally, suffered a tragedy on Monday as the Cathedral of Notre Dame caught fire. Construction on the cathedral began in 1160 and has since become a defining symbol of both the Catholic Church and the French nation as a whole. While the damage seems to have been contained, the main spire of the Cathedral did collapse, and only in the coming days will we realize the total damage done by the conflagration.
“Do you ever feel imposter syndrome?” asked the prospective student that I was hosting for Princeton Preview. It saddened me that instead of celebrating her acceptance, she was thinking about how she may have been a fluke in the admissions system. I immediately thought about the weeks following my Princeton acceptance when I also felt inadequate and worried that admissions made a mistake by accepting me.
Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood, recently spoke at the University about her newly published memoir. I, along with hundreds of students and community members, jumped at the opportunity to listen to her speak. At the end of the question and answer portion of the event, a student in the first few rows of Friend 101 raised her hand and asked a question that was markedly different than the previous ones.
On March 15, a gunman killed fifty people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in a horrific act of white extremism that struck the heart of the country and the world. The country’s swift and decisive reaction to the attack has thrown into sharp relief the shortcomings of America’s responses to gun violence.
This semester’s USG referendums and elections have been a hot-topic in recent columns. Columnist Claire Wayner urged students to vote, noting that the referendums can push the University to adhere to certain policies or take certain actions supported by the student body. Another column by Liam O’Connor argues that “the sophomore and junior class president races are the two most important offices,” since “those officers sit on the Honor Committee.”
On Tuesday, April 2, racism once again walked onto the soccer field.
About a month ago, Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook was told by two Utah Jazz fans to “get down on your knees like you used to.” A few weeks ago, English soccer players Danny Rose, and Callum Hudson-Odoi were subject to racist abuse from Montenegro fans while playing for England. And last week, Italian striker Moise Kean faced racism from opposing fans while playing for Juventus versus Cagliari.
Over the past year and a half, students have clearly expressed their desire to reform the Honor System. Beginning with the four referenda passed during the 2017 USG elections cycle, students have repeatedly called for increased transparency, improvements in communication practices, and changes to the elected composition of the members of the Honor Committee, among other things. Students have thoroughly engaged with administrators and faculty members on these topics in numerous forums since the University initially halted the implementation of the referenda’s proposed reforms in January 2018.
I was not particularly surprised to hear that the University recently updated its policy regarding consensual relations between faculty and graduate students, though I was somewhat dismayed. The decision of the Office of the Dean of the Faculty to forbid all consensual relations between faculty (including instructors and lecturers) and graduate students — regardless of whether the employee and student in question have a supervisory or advisory relationship — is a step in the wrong direction. Certainly, the University is right to be diligent in its prohibition of romantic or sexual interaction between faculty members and their own graduate students.
The internet has yielded a golden age of public shaming and callout culture, and the past few weeks have exemplified this trend. After years of online backlash to its owner’s homophobic beliefs and donations to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations, Chick-fil-A was recently banned from opening a branch in the San Antonio International Airport. Multiple art museums such as the Guggenheim are now distancing themselves from the Sackler family due to their alleged profiting off of America’s opioid epidemic, and Representative Steve King has been eviscerated nonstop on Twitter and elsewhere for his blatantly racist comments concerning white supremacy.
On March 21 through March 23, Alex Jones hosted the “Save the First Amendment: Stop Big Tech Censorship 50-Hour Emergency Broadcast” on his website, Infowars, in response to Apple, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter banning Jones and his associated accounts from their platforms. The tech companies say the ban was in an effort to cut down on misinformation campaigns as well as a response to Jones’s clearly violating user policies.