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In the days and weeks after the 2016 presidential election, our campus was witness to waves of intense initial activism and civic engagement. I was proud to see scientists in particular (many of whom had previously considered themselves apolitical or even indifferent to political events) organize together in an extraordinary effort, rapidly educating themselves and others on civic topics. I was impressed at how quickly and effectively groups on campus were able to train themselves in advocacy and activism principles. I was most inspired by how many of us took action in the months following the elections by engaging with our elected representatives, attending or organizing protests, or otherwise participating in the civic sphere. However, as we approach the 2018 midterm elections, I notice that our community is becoming desensitized to our present politics.
As an Outdoor Action leader, I am a devout believer in name games. My personal favorite is asking the frosh for their names, along with spirit kitchen utensils. Although at first they might be confused or weirded out, by the end they can’t contain their laughter as they matter-of-factly say things like “I guess I’d like to be a spatula,” or “Maybe an egg whisk would be nice?” In a small group setting in which people are meeting for the first time, these personal introductions, or “ice-breakers,” serve a critical function of setting a precedent of openness and encouraging friendly relations among participants. Failing to do so creates the opposite: an unwelcoming and impersonal atmosphere — which is why I was appalled during the first week of precepts, when many of my preceptors didn’t even bother asking for names.
On Sept. 27, Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly attempted to rape her at a 1982 high school party in suburban Maryland. Thereafter, Kavanaugh furiously denied the allegation in his own testimony before the committee. Kavanaugh has also been accused of sexual misconduct by two other women: Deborah Ramirez alleges the judge exposed himself to her at a college dorm party at Yale University without her consent, and Julie Swetnick claims Kavanaugh was involved in a scheme to gang rape women at multiple suburban-Maryland parties in the early 1980s (although Kavanaugh was allegedly at the party, Swetnick does not claim that Kavanaugh took part in her gang rape). Kavanaugh has denied these accusations as well.
This past summer I had an innocent conversation with one of my relatives who happened to be struggling with connecting to the internet on her newly purchased iPhone. When I told her she needed to either use data or to connect to WiFi in order to do so, I was met with the response, “Isn’t WiFi how they hack your information?”
I want to thank Rachel Kennedy for writing about her perception of safety on campus (How safe should I feel on campus?, Sept. 27, 2018). The men and women of PSAFE work hard every day not only to create the perception of safety, but to make it real. In fact, Princeton is frequently ranked as one of the nation’s safest campuses.
The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 was intended to support victims of domestic violence legally, financially, and culturally by raising awareness of the issue and strengthening the judicial response to violent crimes against women. Current amendments attempt to limit gun access to abusers, increase funding to rape-prevention programs, and offer eviction protection to victims of domestic abuse. Despite its myriad benefits, Republicans don’t want to reauthorize the bill.
Despite reports of bikes and jackets being stolen on campus and the occasional flashing event on the towpath, Princeton feels like the safest place on earth. So safe that laptops and phones are left alone at Frist Campus Center for hours, and 5-foot-2-inch girls like me don’t even think twice about going for a run at night. But should we?
In 1992, University Trustee Bob Hugin ’76, then in his mid-30s, said that attempts to allow women to join his former eating club, Tiger Inn, amounted to “politically correct fascism.” The New Jersey Supreme Court had just mandated that the Princeton eating clubs accept female members, and Hugin actively opposed the decision. Hugin is now running as a Republican to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, and his remarks on co-ed eating club membership have resurfaced, raising questions about the history of discrimination — sexual and otherwise — at Princeton.
Legal and accessible birth control has been a perennial topic of debate between the feminist movement and its opponents. Reproductive health access is often treated as a binary — you either can access it, or you can’t. In reality, each woman’s experience navigating an insurance and medical system that demonstrates anywhere from casual disregard to active hatred of women falls along a dramatic spectrum. In some cases, access is circumstantial, stressful, or unduly expensive. Yet, this variation in birth control accessibility is ignored in most discussions of women’s reproductive rights.