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In February, Professor Lawrence Rosen decided to cancel his course on hate speech after receiving criticism for his use of the N-word in a lecture. Defenders of Rosen claimed that he wasn’t using the racial slur intentionally, only using it to prove a point, while his critics said they believe the word was avoidable in the teaching of his lesson. Although many people are aware of this incident, Princeton is not the only community in which the N-word has been said in a controversial context.
We don’t always say hello. The worst part of it is that we know each other — and maybe in a different context, we would say hi, pretend to be excited to see each other, and engage in a polite, boring small talk ritual. When not at a back-to-school barbeque, however, I pass probably dozens of people on campus without acknowledging them. It’s not that I don’t like them (except in some rare cases). It’s usually that I don’t feel like I know them well enough, or that I feel I’m not invested enough in our relationship for me to make an effort.
The University needs to be more willing to cancel classes in the event of inclement weather. Waiting until the weather is so bad that it is dangerous to navigate campus poses a great risk to the safety of students and faculty alike. The University’s Emergency Management website tells students to stay indoors during a winter storm, but we cannot do that if it means missing mandatory classes, nor should we need to choose between attending non-mandatory lectures and our safety.
Too often, Princeton students remain silent on the most important issues affecting both our country and our world. We tend to shy away from activism of the most demanding kind; we tend to remain quiet on the issues that demand pressing reactions from us — the student body and the youth. Especially in this cultural era, students and young people are taking charge as the leaders of national movements for change. In this societal context, Princeton students must become more passionately positioned on the front lines.
In his annual State of the University letter, President Eisgruber discussed his choice of “Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech” as the Class of 2022’s Pre-read book and criticized last year's protest at Middlebury College, which prevented Charles Murray, a conservative sociologist, from speaking. Last week, in an article titled “What do you mean by 'academic freedom?’”, columnist Cy Watsky chastised President Eisgruber's allusion to this event, saying he has a "flawed perspective into what academic freedom really is."
All throughout school, I always knew when the substitute teacher arrived at my name based on a pause and a somewhat sheepish look on their face. Once in a while, the teacher would ask me how to correctly pronounce my name. Most of the time, though, they’d give it a half-hearted attempt and move on, not bothering to learn how to say it as long as I was present to say “here,” even though I always made it a point to politely but adamantly demonstrate the pronunciation. They were, after all, substitutes. Why would they need to learn my name, if they were never going to see me again?
Going to Reunions my junior year of high school catapulted Princeton to the top of my college list. From catching a glimpse of the P-rade to seeing 85-year-old men raise their walkers in laughter around the crack of dawn, the internationally known affair impressed me with its enduring and effusive spirit.
In an article published last week, the Sexpert responded to a question posed by a “Curious Sub.” The article does an excellent job emphasizing communication, consent, and respect, and offers good practical advice on limits, safe words, and check-ins. As Princeton’s kink and BDSM club, we at Princeton Plays believe that the article falls short in other areas. It mischaracterizes BDSM (bondage, dominance/discipline, sadism/submission, masochism) dynamics that do permeate into day-to-day life. It also casts as harmful the wide variety of BDSM practices that exist completely apart from sex.
The COS 126 lecture on Mar. 6 was unorthodox to say the least. At the end of the lecture, the instructor directed our attention towards a stranger wearing a blue zip-up hoodie and jeans, who ascended the platform at the front of McCosh 50. The man was neither a professor nor a TA, but identified himself as a grad student. Speaking rapidly, he mentioned something about “student events,” then proceeded to explain that he was selling heavily discounted paintballing tickets to Cousins Paintball. He offered two tickets for $10, which wouldn’t expire for two years, and he said that we could buy paintballs on site which were “pretty cheap.”
In March 2017, the Dean of the Faculty charged a newly created Ad Hoc Committee on Calendar Reform with developing a proposal for changing the University’s academic calendar to move exams before winter break, start the fall semester earlier, and create a new Wintersession period in January with additional opportunities for students. For the past year, we have served as the undergraduate members of this committee. With the faculty considering the committee’s proposed calendar at its April 2 meeting, we want to provide students with an explanation of calendar reform. The proposed calendar addresses the challenges created by holding fall final exams in January while still preserving many positive features of Princeton’s current calendar. Most notably, the new calendar would move fall final exams to December and create a two-week, non-credit bearing “Wintersession” in January before the spring term.
On March 23, marchers around the country and the globe gathered for the “March for Our Lives” to protest for gun control in light of the shocking number of recent school shootings. I attended the march in Los Angeles, walking with an energized crowd in the area surrounding City Hall. I have marched in other events before, but this was the first time when young people made up (in my estimate) almost 50 percent of the crowd. The protestors I saw seemed to be generally middle school-aged, but I also watched young children and toddlers carrying signs they had made begging politicians to implement gun control. One notable sign I saw, carried by a boy who seemed to be in fifth grade, said “When I said I’d rather die than go to math class, I didn’t mean it literally.” The humor of the sign and the age of the boy carrying it made the overall message, a statement about the boy’s fear of death at school, even more heartbreaking.
In an op-ed published in the Yale Daily News last month, staff columnist Adrian Rivera claims that honesty may not exactly be the best policy. He recounts a predicament where reporting on an event at the law school, as a good journalist would, caused him to miss an economics pop quiz. Although Rivera was honest with his professor about his reason for missing class, he was not allowed to make up the missed quiz and ultimately dropped the course. Although the reason for dropping the course isn’t explicitly stated, it is likely not a direct consequence of missing the quiz. Now, I can’t say that honesty is always the best policy because it worked for me in a particular scenario, but I can say that honesty is the best policy because the alternative — dishonesty — cannot possibly be.
American politicians on Twitter have made determining what is and is not satire quite difficult lately. Former Vice President Joe Biden has insinuated on multiple occasions that if he were still in high school, he would beat up President Trump. Trump recently fired back on Twitter with the quip:
I’ve spent a lot of time in Utah throughout my life, including this most recent spring break. I’ve gone back to visit family and hit the slopes of Park City every year for as long as I could remember. Though this tradition has fallen to the wayside since coming to Princeton, it only took a few days in the mountains to remind me of Utah’s unique value, with all of its wild and natural spaces.
Do you ever feel like you’re on an episode of the Truman Show? Following a rigid, agonizingly repetitive script that you aren’t sure you wrote? Like, Eisgruber is secretly some major Hollywood producer and there's an entire audience at home, sick sociopaths filled with joy while watching the pain of your struggling to hand in your paper on time? Ever feel like you’re not really alone as you pull that all-nighter? Perhaps you’ve experienced some form of existential dread while walking from your dorm to Frist, feeling glued to the pressures of student life? If you answered yes to any of these questions, welcome to the abyss of routine.
In his recent letter regarding the state of the University, President Eisgruber pointed to this year’s pre-read on free speech as an extension of the important conversations on campus surrounding academic freedom. He used Charles Murray’s failed attempts to speak at Middlebury College as an example of the breakdown of intellectual spaces for the free exchange of ideas. Eisgruber calls the incident “outrageous and unacceptable,” pointing to how Murray was “prevented from speaking and assaulted.” There is a problem with this example, though, and I believe a recent event on campus provides insight into Eisgruber’s flawed perspective into what academic freedom really is.
On March 13, a group of fundamentalist Christians from Open Air Outreach protested against homosexuality, feminism, and Islam, among other subjects. They called several students “whores” and “snowflakes” while threatening us dissolute Princetonians with hellfire. While this ruckus transpired, I was running from McDonnell Hall to McCosh Hall for precept, and happened to chance upon the group. Without a second thought, I strode through the congregation with my headphones on and my gaze forward. I was late, after all, and could not be bothered to care.
The first week of freshman year, I remember my residential college head repeatedly telling the same anecdote about a student who came to him regarding her coursework. Over the course of their discussion, she complained to him “I have too many advisers!” Princeton ostensibly has an excellent support system for incoming freshman. RCAs, PAAs, DSLs, and a slew of other acronyms all remind us that, as hard as academics at Princeton are, there will always be structures in place to set our feet on the right path and bail us out if necessary.
When my friend group eats at a restaurant, one of my friends almost always asks to be seated by an outlet. I’ll admit that I have tanked an Uber driver’s rating because she did not provide a charger in the car. Members of my family have paid nearly the cost of a second phone for a charging cases. Some of us have become so dependent on our phones that panic ensues whenever their battery level falls to a measly 50 percent. We’ve come to tend to their batteries like they are our babies.
The University website flaunts the vibrant extracurricular life available to students through student organizations. With more than 300 clubs, as well as the option to create your own with University support, the website proclaims that “whatever your interests are now, or whatever new ones you discover once on campus,” you will find a corresponding club on campus. But after the initial excitement and compulsive netID distribution at the club fair, club involvement is often not all that it’s advertised to be. Despite our over-involvement in high school, at Princeton our student organizations suffer from a lack of commitment.