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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.
On March 4, 2018, The Daily Princetonian published a heartbreaking anonymous column by a student diagnosed with schizophrenia. The student alleges that the University disregarded their psychological and academic needs. In a disturbing anecdote, the student claims, “Two Public Safety officers barged into my room, assaulted me, pinned me down to my bed, handcuffed me, and dragged me out to the ambulance waiting outside my dorm building.” The larger context of this alleged incident is not entirely clear.
Among Princeton undergraduates today, there exists a somewhat paradoxical consensus regarding what constitutes “good” architecture.
Many of you, judging from reports and Facebook, will turn out for the Princeton Advocates for Justice “We Call BS” gun control rally today — I personally cannot, since a 12 p.m. rally neatly conflicts with my entire midterm schedule. I’m going to make the assumption that this rally is essentially PAJ’s event. Now, I am aware that other organizations — for example, Students for Prison Education and Reform, College Democrats, Woodrow Wilson Action Committee, and Alumni of Color — have co-sponsored this rally, but I am not discussing these other organizations because I have nothing but respect for them; moreover, PAJ is generally a coordinating entity between various groups, so it makes sense to place them as heading this. In contrast to other groups, PAJ and its methods deserve serious scrutiny. I once asked PAJ’s leader, Nicholas Wu ’18, what exactly PAJ does. “Advocates,” he told me. But for what do they advocate, and using what methods?
In December 2014, one of my high school classmates, Paige Stalker, was killed in a hail of gunfire on the east side of Detroit. Police reports suggest that this was a case of mistaken identity in a dispute between drug gangs. But the circumstances of the shooting are irrelevant to the outcome of the case. About 30 shots were fired in the course of the altercation. Three other teenagers riding in the car with Paige were injured. Paige was 16 years old.
There has been a recent uptick in gun control advocacy on campus, including a recent spate of opinion pieces, in The Daily Princetonian, such as my own. These articles make it clear that there is significant support for “common sense” gun control on campus. Despite their merits, I am concerned that these pieces stop short of advocating for what is needed to combat gun violence. Specifically, Aaron Tobert GS argues that “it's time to end the gun insanity.” But his traditional “common sense gun reform” goals are inadequate — more must be done to get politicians in office to stand up to the NRA and support comprehensive (i.e. total) gun control. Common sense gun control is not enough to end or substantially reduce gun violence; gun violence is endemic and multifaceted, and, therefore, the issue cannot be solely combated with the superficial, common-sense reforms.
It’s a fight for me to not judge people on their shoes. I’ve even created a sort of rubric for them: leather men’s wingtips indicate intelligence; tennis shoes (especially in less casual settings) show a lack of social awareness; women’s heels generally suggest elegance; boat shoes make me think you’re preppy. I’ve joked before that I refuse to go on second dates with guys because of their shoe choice. I was only half kidding.
Refusing to arm the Department of Public Safety’s Sworn University Police Officers with handguns puts all students, faculty members, campus visitors, and Princeton residents at risk of becoming victims of a mass shooting like that in the recent Parkland, Fla. tragedy. Arming the University police officers with handguns is the only way to ensure that help could arrive in time during an active shooter incident, because every second counts.
Students across the country are planning to walk out of class for 17 minutes this Wednesday to honor the victims of last month's Parkland, Florida school shooting. Princeton students are holding the "We Call BS: Princeton Rally for Gun Reform." Each night when I look at my Facebook newsfeed, it is saturated with political posts, rants, and cartoons about people's opinions on guns or the walkouts. Many of them make incendiary statements, which then devolve into flame wars in the posts' comments. Inevitably, feelings get hurt, friendships are broken, and the issue doesn't get any closer to being resolved. We should stop making and responding to political posts on social media because most people dislike or don’t care about them.
As Princeton students, we read all the time. Whether it’s scientific papers for a molecular biology lab or American novels for AMS 101: America Then and Now, we spend our days here gleaning the knowledge we need for our classes, papers, and exams. Many of us also read journals and some nonfiction for our own respective interests, whether they be in chemistry, history, or music. However, only a few of us read novels for fun. For example, once when spending hours stalking the shelves of the fiction section of Firestone Library, selecting books such as “A Game of Thrones” and “The Little Prince,” I was accompanied by 10 fellow patrons. Out of the 10, I found out, only three came to read novels that were not for class. This disuse of the provided literary resources reflects a key missing ingredient in an undergraduate education in Princeton: reading novels.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of a liberal arts education. The liberal arts model gives students a chance to explore a wide breadth of academic areas, meaning they can decide on a major through experience, rather than through parental pressure or other factors. I don’t envy my friends in Europe who have committed to studying one thing and one thing only, often running into trouble when they don’t find themselves actually enjoying their choice (I do, however, envy their tuition costs).
I attended a small preparatory high school, the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, known colloquially as Episcopal. For about 890 students, ranging from sixth to 12th grade, the school provides a sense of home, safety, and possibility. It’s the type of school generations of families attend with its manicured courtyards and stately brick buildings.
Life is more frail than we often perceive.