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The unfortunate truth is, for most undergraduates, the majority of their time spent “learning” at Princeton is occupied by lectures. Last spring, I argued that professors should stop lecturing us; in other words, Princeton should get rid of lectures completely. Sadly, though unsurprisingly, the University has not ended lectures since the publication of my article. While I wait for the administration to follow my “moderate” and sensible reform for the sake of its students, I will offer a series of moderate and sensible reforms in an (ultimately vain) attempt to make lectures better.
On March 26, the Honor System Review Committee discussed its preliminary findings regarding the three suspended referenda — which were passed with overwhelming support by the student body — at a Council of the Princeton University Community meeting. The Committee took great issue with the first and third referenda, which would reduce the Honor Code’s standard penalty of a one-year suspension to academic probation and exonerate suspected students if their professor claimed they did not violate the Honor Code, respectively. The Committee “revised the wording” of the second referendum, which “originally required two pieces of evidence in order for a case to move forward.”
Donning a pastel pink polo and a fanny pack, Brian Imanuel — who goes by the stage name Rich Brian — became a viral YouTube sensation with his song “Dat $tick”. Much of his initial fame came from the spectacle. Imanuel is a baby-faced teenager from Jakarta, emulating trap music from Black communities in the United States. To many, Imanuel seemed to be a one-hit wonder; audiences were laughing as much at him as they were with him. The world did not take him all that seriously. But Imanuel has proven his naysayers wrong. Two years after “Dat $tick” was released, his debut album Amen took the number one spot on iTunes for hip hop albums.
I did not glimpse the program beforehand, so the Princeton Glee Club concert in March surprised me with its first piece. The music was distinctly non-Western. The singers did not chant or sing in Latin, but in Telugu, Tamil, and nonsensical syllables. The soulful turns of phrase haunted me. The piece unlocked my imagination, evoked in my head images of places I never have visited.
Political divisions are higher than ever in our country. A recent Pew Research Survey found that 44 percent of each party’s membership almost never agrees with their opposition —that’s close to half of both parties. Twenty years ago, the number was less than 20 percent. Congressional gridlock is extremely high: both parties are obsessed with political survival. We’ve already seen the government shut down once this year. If we can’t work together, we'll all lose.
The emotional power of the recent March for Our Lives movement is undeniable — the sheer numbers speak for themselves: at least 1.2 million people marched in one weekend. Although unprecedented in scale, it’s also hard not to see the march as a continuation of the horrific cycle that has occupied the U.S. social and political atmosphere for the last few years: a young boy, usually in a relatively well-off suburban neighborhood, terrorizes the local school, killing innocent young (mostly white) children and tearing apart the sense of safety and protection expected in schools. Then, emotional trauma, outrage, and calls to action ensue. And then nothing else substantive happens, and the cycle repeats.
On a recent sunny afternoon in Princeton, Black Lives Matter and civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson spoke at length on perception and power dynamics and their effect on race. The energy he brought was infectious — and the brutal honesty he carried in every word was equally so.
Before you come at me with accusations of reverse sexism, hear me out. It’s not usually women who express the sentiment that men are always wrong. Rather, this sentiment is loudly and ironically proclaimed by men during arguments in which they feel criticized. When men proclaim that they are always wrong, it is not a tacit acceptance of defeat but rather a joke at the expense of women. After all, women are irrational creatures who will always think than men are in the wrong.
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.