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On March 27, Princeton Private Prison Divest staged a walkout at the Council of the Princeton University Community meeting to show support for divestment from private prisons. The Board commends the University Resources Committee’s refusal to back down in the face of intense political pressure and urges the committee to provide no commitment to divest from private prisons. We echo our editorial from April 21, 2016, in which we rejected private prison divestment, and we contend that private prisons do not meet the threshold of community consensus and moral unacceptability required to justify divestment.
The grading process for midterm and final exams requires careful coordination between students, professors, and the Office of the Registrar. Currently, some aspects of these processes unfairly disadvantage some students or deprive students of information necessary to make course decisions. To remedy this issue, the Board urges professors to be more forthcoming in their regrading policies and encourages the Registrar to work with professors to schedule final exams with regrading in mind. To further increase transparency and allow students to make informed choices during the pass/D/fail election period, professors should release some type of midterm grade prior to the deadline to drop or P/D/F a class.
At the start of each April, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors eagerly make living arrangements for the following academic year through the room draw process. Since there is a considerable disparity in the quality of different housing arrangements, the rules for room draw enhance living choice for some students while restricting it for others. In the past, a limited number of rooms on campus had been designated “gender-inclusive” and thus were available to be selected by mixed gender draw groups. In January, the University lifted this restriction on the number of such rooms available, making all multiple occupancy rooms on campus gender-inclusive. The Board broadly supports this housing policy change; however, we believe careful implementation of the policy is necessary for the well-being of all students.
The recent successes of the men’s basketball team have generated significant excitement on campus. The team's victories over Penn and Yale in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament led to a NCAA tournament bid as the No. 12 seed, and the team was on a 19-game winning streak going into the tournament. The team has experienced tremendous support from students over the past several weeks through a variety of social outlets, such as high game attendance and Princeton filters on Facebook profile pictures to support the team on the road to the NCAA tournament. There was also high demand for tickets to the recent first-round Ivy League Tournament game versus Penn, even though it was an away game taking place during the weekend before midterms. The Board commends both the recent performance of all of the University’s athletic teams and students’ commitment to spectatorship. We encourage students to continue this strong support for all of the University’s athletic teams and encourage the University to expand policies facilitating this support.
Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, the Undergraduate Student Government sponsors a free “Movie(s) of the Week” through its Undergraduate Film Organization (UFO) at the Princeton Garden Theatre, complete with complimentary snacks and drinks. The selection is wide-ranging, including critically acclaimed films, lesser known films, and advanced screenings. It is quite popular as well, with the past two movies, “La La Land” and “Moana,” having at least one sold-out screening. The Editorial Board commends UFO for sponsoring this well-organized, non-alcoholic activity for students, and encourages USG to sponsor similar substance-free events more frequently and to show movies at earlier times.
Every year, 70 percent of undergraduate upperclassmen at Princeton participate in the eating club system. Recently, though, a growing proportion of Princetonians are choosing to be independent; these students often do not know where to get the food for their next meal and whether it will be nutritious, a sit-down affair, or just a slice of pizza scavenged from a campus event. As noted in the Prince’s coverage of independent student challenges, many students choose to be independent for financial reasons, which creates a troubling inequality across socioeconomic lines in the way students eat. The Board supports many of the suggestions brought up by students in the Independent Student Advisory Board survey and proposes other steps the University should take to improve conditions for independent students.
In December 2016, the Princeton men’s swimming and diving team made national news after University officials suspended the team’s season following reports of “several materials” deemed “vulgar and offensive, as well as misogynistic and racist in nature.” This announcement came shortly after Harvard suspended its men’s soccer team over a similar issue. The Board does not condone in any way the actions of either team, yet their suspensions bring up important issues of collective punishment and private speech, especially as they pertain to athletes. Although it is difficult to comment on the individual cases given the lack of available information, the Board believes it is important to articulate general principles about how the administration and teams should act in such cases.
In his recent State of the University letter, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 reaffirmed the University’s intent to expand the size of the undergraduate student body with the hope of “grow[ing] enrollment while maintaining the distinctive character of a Princeton education.” We appreciate the University’s effort to offer the Princeton experience to a greater number of qualified applicants, and we do not oppose the expansion of the student body; however, we urge the University to keep in mind a number of considerations while planning for the expansion. Specifically, the University should take special note of the capacity of upperclassmen residential and dining options, the location of the new residential college, and the effect of student body expansion on the availability of University resources. Such careful planning will ensure a larger Princeton retains the unique qualities that make it “the best damn place of all.”
This month, 1,018 sophomores participated in the process of joining an eating club, whether through bickering or signing in. The annual event sparked controversy, as it often does, yet eating clubs remain deeply ingrained in the Princeton fabric: 56.3% of voting students voted against the 2015 “Hose Bicker” referendum, and the University does not have capacity to feed upperclassmen without the clubs. While this may mean eating clubs are here to stay, the Board believes the substantial stress and unhappiness that the process of joining clubs can create for students should be alleviated by the following recommendations.
On Friday, Feb. 17, Princeton Advocates for Justice will host an Immigration Day of Action in response to President Trump’s executive order on immigration. The event aims to bring students together to contact their respective representatives in order to “show Congress that President Trump’s executive actions are unlawful, immoral, and unacceptable,” according to a statement by PAJ. The Board acknowledges the work of student activists in organizing this event and providing a forum for engagement among Princetonians concerned about the direction of national policy; these are important issues with which students of all viewpoints should respectfully engage. Yet the Board is concerned by the fact that the event’s publicity poster lists the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students as a cosponsor of the event. Because cosponsoring events can create the perception of the endorsement of a particular stance, the Board believes that ODUS should not include its name in the advertisement of political advocacy events (such as the Immigration Day of Action) because it could have a limiting effect on advocacy for counter-stances.
Each year, Princetonians leave campus in mid-December with the knowledge that they will return to campus in early January to complete all written work and final examinations for the fall semester. Additionally, juniors and seniors often return in January to pressing independent work deadlines. However, this prolonged break between the end of classes and reading period is also on occasion used by faculty members as an opportunity to assign additional academic assignments and coursework, such as short papers, lab reports, and problem sets. The Board believes that professors should not use winter break as an opportunity to do so but should rather treat the time off as a true "break" from the semester. Additionally, the Board is concerned about the availability of faculty members and preceptors to students completing end-of-term coursework during reading period.
Last semester, the unsigned editorials featured on this page have discussed issues such as reforming the University calendar, deregulating bathroom codes, and standardizing independent work across departments. The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board, a group of 16 undergraduates, was collectively responsible for writing these pieces. The members of the Board are not the editors of the various sections of the ‘Prince’ but, rather, an independent group of undergraduate students. Instead of taking a stance on an issue, this publication will outline the editorial process to encourage interested freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to apply to join the Board.
On Thursday, Dec. 8, political scientist, prominent libertarian, and American Enterprise Institute W.H. Brady Scholar Charles Murray visited the University to lecture on global basic income. This served as a part of the Future of Capitalism talk series sponsored by the Comparative Political Economy Research Initiative at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. Mr. Murray, whose extensive career includes publication of numerous best-selling books and a stint at the Manhattan Institute, is best known in some academic circles for his 1994 book, “The Bell Curve.” The Board encourages those who disagree with the thesis of “The Bell Curve” or any other theses advanced by Dr. Murray to engage with Dr. Murray’s research methods, or to disseminate information engaging with Dr. Murray’s research methods.
Recently, Housing Operations announced a pilot program under which bathroom locks on women’s bathrooms will be disengaged for the spring semester. This decision, which is subject to evaluation and reconsideration, was made in response to the sentiments of most of the student body, namely, that bathroom locks are unnecessary and burdensome. We encourage students to give feedback on this program through the open forums on bathroom locks taking place this week. The Board also proposes an alternative to this policy of disengaging the locks: instead, the University should install electronic prox locks (“Salto locks”) on hallway bathrooms of both genders across campus.
Continuing our analysis of the General Education Task Force’s recommendations, the Board will comment on the fourth recommendation proposing the standardization of junior independent work across departments through “a credit-bearing junior methods seminar” and a “single, spring JP that counts for 2.0 units of credit.” In addition, we will consider a proposition from the Humanities Task Force calling for the creation of dual concentrations. The Board supports part of the first proposal; we concur with the authors of the report that students are more attentive and dedicated in credit-bearing courses. However, considering the variability between JP requirements across departments, it should be up to the discretion of each department to determine the value of assigning one JP per semester. Furthermore, we urge the Humanities Task Force to clarify their position on creating dual concentrations to allow us to articulate a concise position on the recommendation.
At noon today, voting opens in the Undergraduate Student Government’s Winter Elections and will last until noon on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Each year, the Editorial Board interviews the candidates for USG President, carefully examines their public platforms, and endorses one candidate. This year, there are two candidates for president: Myesha Jemison ‘18 and Rachel Yee ‘19. The Board endorses Rachel Yee for President. Additionally, we encourage a “no” vote on the referendum directing USG to work with the Interclub Council to collect and release demographic information about the members and, if applicable, bickerees of each eating club.
Continuing our analysis of the General Education Task Force’s recommendations, the Board will comment on the third recommendation proposing general education “tags” requiring students to take two distribution requirements with certain tags, one exploring international content and another on the intersections of culture, identity, and power. The Board opposes this proposal on the grounds that any such tag improperly restricts student choice and flexibility. Further, we believe the specific tags proposed cannot be structured in an academically rigorous way that avoids the danger of ideological partisanship.
As a continuation of our series on the Task Force on General Education’s November 14 report, the Board will comment on the second recommendation regarding the foreign language requirement. The task force recommends requiring all A.B. students to take a foreign language class “regardless of any existing proficiency.” This proposal would mean that students who have already met the University’s standards of proficiency, whether by achieving a sufficient score on a standardized test or by taking the University’s placement exam, would have to take one course at a higher level in their known language or begin an entirely new language. While the Board agrees with the many benefits gained from A.B. language instruction, we do not believe that the marginal benefit of mandating an extra class outweighs the limitations it places on students.
In a continuation of a series responding to the November 14 report released by the Task Force on General Education, the Board will comment on the report’s fifth recommendation: calendar reform. The task force recommends changes to the first-semester schedule, whereby classes would begin the final week of August and students would take final examinations in December before winter break. This change would facilitate the introduction of a three-week January term, dubbed the “J Term,” during which students would have the opportunity to explore new opportunities on campus, off campus, or abroad. Participation in a J Term course or program would be mandatory during at least one of an undergraduate’s four years at Princeton. The Board reaffirms its support for calendar reform to move finals before winter break; however, we are opposed to the task force’s recommendation to mandate participation in at least one J Term.
Last week, we learned of the passing of Bill Bowen *58, a renowned economist who served as president of Princeton University from 1972 to 1988. The Board hopes to honor and recognize Bowen, whose tenure turned Princeton into a more inclusive and financially healthy institution, one that would offer more opportunities to students over the decades that followed. Bowen’s efforts to create the residential college system, add four academic departments, fundraise prolifically, and staunchly defend freedom of expression have improved Princeton for the better. Following Bowen’s passing, the Board encourages students to re-examine the ideals of academic rigor and inclusivity that inspired these reforms, and consider how these ideals can further be actualized in the coming years.