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Here at Princeton, we have access to a wealth of information about voting in the upcoming midterm elections. At lunch, you can peruse a flyer with information about the registration and absentee ballots for your state. Have a question about absentee or early voting? Ask someone at the Vote 100 table in Frist Campus Center. But what about the people for whom voting isn’t so easy? Republicans are trying to restrict access to voting, and it is undermining our democracy.
On Tuesday night, we will gather in the Whig Senate Chamber to watch the midterm election results trickle in. Unlike the mock Senate debates held here, this election will have real consequences.
Voting matters. Just last fall, a single vote decided an election that flipped the majority control of my state legislature — not once, but twice. After recounting the ballots of Virginia’s 94th District of the House of Delegates, officials announced a tie, which a three-judge panel later upheld and a draw of lot ultimately settled earlier this year. Yet for many University students, it’s the last thing on our mind this break. And if the dodging eyes I struggled to meet while tabling for voter registration in Frist Campus Center this semester are any indication, it’s the last thing any of us want to think about.
With the University’s gothic architecture, six distinct colleges, elite reputation, and centuries-old history, the fact that we have a train which runs directly onto campus may seem reminiscent of the Hogwarts Express from the “Harry Potter” films. Yet as those of us who have had to make extensive use of the Dinky or other local trains know, New Jersey Transit is anything but magical. In fact, it is quite literally one of the worst public transportation systems in the country, with the second most train breakdowns and sixth most for buses. The New Jersey state government can release as many audits and recommendations as it wishes, but NJ transit’s trustworthiness is broken beyond repair.
How do we measure who we are through the lens of a national tragedy like the shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh? When these disasters happen, we often signal our solidarity by saying, “We are all Pittsburgh,” or Charlottesville, or Orlando, or others of the too many places where unspeakable hatred and ignorance combine to incite murder and mayhem, and to ignite tragedy and horror.
In the past week, my home became a headline. Eleven Jews were shot and killed during Saturday morning services at Tree of Life Synagogue — where my sister taught Hebrew school and I went to my first bat mitzvah. The Squirrel Hill Jewish community, which has been such a glowing and prominent feature of my upbringing, became the victim of the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.
I’ve never been shy about my heritage. I am, loudly and proudly, a first-generation Iranian American, one of anywhere between 500,000 to 1 million passionate people born in this great land after our parents escaped danger.
As I was standing in line to get brunch at Wilcox Hall the other day, I saw my friend from Mathey College come through the door. I asked him why he had come all the way to Wilcox just for Sunday brunch. Wearing the exact same clothes he had worn yesterday, he told me that he had fallen asleep at the Julian Street Library while doing his assignments.
Last week, my fleece jacket moved from the depths of my closet to the back of my desk chair, where its warm linings welcomed the crisp New Jersey fall. The new season has not only confined warm, humid summer to the wisps of steam lingering above hot coffees, but also it has ushered in a new atmosphere on campus. I can’t quite pin down when my lazy Netflix searches turned into frantic keystrokes spitting out an essay, nor when nightly conversations with roommates became groans amid practice exams, accented with the occasional existential howl at a particularly stumping problem set.
I remember walking into Richardson Auditorium during my Princeton Preview visit, my heart brimming with excitement and a pen in my hand to star every group I planned on auditioning for. As the show was about to start, the sound of heels and dress shoes clicking on the wooden stage filled the microphones. A single note was given. Each person took a deep breath, in unison of course, and out came the most beautiful harmony. The smiles never left their faces.
In the midst of midterms here at Princeton, you have likely heard the word “procrastination” casually strewn throughout conversation with ever-increasing frequency.
Last week, I went with friends to see the premiere of “The Hate U Give,” the film adaptation of a book by Angie Thomas. The film centers on the life of Starr, a young African-American girl who is caught between her two worlds: her low-income, black life at home in fictional Garden Heights and her mostly white private school in Williamson. Starr is constantly having to code-switch between being her unapologetic self at home and what she calls “Starr, Version 2,” her quiet, non-threatening alter ego.
You don’t need to wear a ball gown to cram for midterms, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for sweats. Throughout the next week, many students will pull all-nighters and rush to hit minimum word counts. Coffee pots will be emptied and sleepy parents will be called by their tearful, strung out kids.
During this midterm season, let us remember that grades are, of course, important, but if you must choose between your wellness or achieving high marks, choose your wellness every time. In light of a recent report of a student passing out in the dining hall due to stress and being required to go to Princeton Medical Center at Plainsboro, it’s time to say enough is enough; it is only a matter of time before something more drastic happens on campus due to academic stress. I know, I know, I am only a freshman, and I’ve only been on campus for four months (I did Freshman Scholars Institute, which started in July), but even in those four months, I can see that the University is an incredibly high-stress environment, and students all too often choose their academics over their well-being.
Among those who identify as liberal, a certain type of man has emerged: he calls himself a feminist, has many female friends, and has donated to Planned Parenthood. He prides himself in his interest in gender, and shakes his head when another prominent man is revealed as a sexual harasser. He also interrupts the women in his precept, warns against going “too far” with believing sexual assault victims, and mansplains feminism.
In an Oct. 16 opinion piece, Zachariah Sippy ’22 argues that in response to the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh and its implications for the ideological balance of the Supreme Court, the Democrats — whenever they manage to regain control of Congress and the presidency — ought to add two more justices to the bench.
“Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder,” I said with relief to my friend last Friday afternoon. After nervously monitoring the news for days, I felt a calm rush over me as justice was served for the brutal murder of Chicago teen, Laquan McDonald. To my utter surprise, my friend looked at me and asked, “Who is that?”
If you ask the average American to describe the average college campus in the United States, they would probably reply by using adjectives such as “vibrant,” “energetic,” and most importantly, “activist.” The idea of being politically vocal on and off campus has been a predominant theme characterizing college students as a whole.
“Spectacle is the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity”- Guy Debord
“Legacy? What is a legacy?” laments Alexander Hamilton in the self-titled musical. “It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” Though profound, this revelation doesn’t convey all sides of the story — while you may not personally experience the effects of the marks you leave behind, countless others will. The pursuit of leaving an impression on future generations is probably what motivated, and still motivates, so many people to donate to the University, in hopes that a building, or even just a plaque, will preserve their name. But there’s a glaring issue: The people whose names are currently enshrined in brick and mortar do not represent the diversity of today’s student body. Rather, we are living in the legacy of white men.