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Among Princeton’s general education requirements is foreign language proficiency, which, according to Office of the Dean of the College, encourages students to “become literate in another culture and gain another perspective on the world.” Though the A.B. minimum requirement calls for the completion of a beginner’s language track (three or four courses up to the 107/108 level) or the demonstration of proficiency via Advanced Placement, SAT Subject or departmental placement tests, many students go beyond the minimum requirement by pursuing additional languages at Princeton. These ambitious students, however, face significant disincentives to their budding polyglotism: students cannot take most beginner’s language courses on a pass/D/fail basis, and the University does not give credit for taking a 101-level language class without the subsequent 102-level course. These two barriers counter the intellectual spirit of Princeton. All students should be able to receive credit for 101-level language classes, and, as the Board has previously advocated, students who have already completed their language requirement should be able to take introductory level language courses on a P/D/F basis.
No liberal arts education is complete without a solid grounding in the Western intellectual tradition. In the past, students were assured a rigorous foundation in the humanities via a core curriculum; today, with the core curriculum replaced by malleable distribution requirements, students who yearn to drink deeply from the Pierian Spring must cobble together their own curriculum. Fortunately for such Princetonians, each year the University offers HUM 216-217 and HUM 218-219: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, commonly known as the Humanities Sequence. Unfortunately, this renowned course comes with an application and an enrollment cap. We humbly propose the application and enrollment procedure be reformed in hopes of expanding the program.
Last Monday, University faculty members voted to revoke the policy of grade deflation implemented in 2004 and to move towards a grading system based not on numerical targets, but on standards determined by each individual department. As administrators and individual departments work to develop new guidelines for monitoring the general distribution of grades, the University community has an opportunity to reflect upon the priorities of its grading practices and to address the culture that surrounds grades on campus. In speaking to Monday’s faculty meeting, Dean of the College Valerie Smith recognized that “meaningful [grading] standards should be course- and discipline-specific.” In order for grades to be meaningful in the way that Dean Smith envisions, students should be able to privately view the breakdown of grades in courses they have completed and, additionally, the University should publish the general distribution of grades by course level (e.g., 200-level, 300-level) in each department.
The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Princeton, as this year’s Undergraduate Announcement states, aims to teach “fundamental engineering principles” and their “applications to modern problems.” While the Engineering School has served B.S.E. students well, the Editorial Board believes that two major changes should be made to improve engineering offerings in fulfillment of these goals. Specifically, the board believes that electrical engineering and computer science departments should be combined into one department — EECS — and materials science and engineering should be made into a full engineering major.
Over the past two years the Wilson School has seen large changes to its programs. As the school has moved away from its status as Princeton’s only selective major, students have seen requirements added, task forces changed and the end of the certificate program. Many of these changes were initially necessary to accommodate the shift away from selectivity. However, the Editorial Board believes that some are no longer needed. In particular, the Board believes the Wilson School should work to create a new certificate program that would allow students to obtain a certificate in a specific policy area and participate in a task force in that policy area.
The Office of the Registrar’s add/drop deadline marks the time when students begin to reflect on their course load, thinking about what courses they should take in the future, and what they would have done differently if they could return to the first few weeks of September and re-enroll in classes. The University works to satisfy students by offering a rich selection of courses, academic advising and a two-week shopping period. The Editorial Board acknowledges the University's efforts to make course selection easy, but believes there is a major area in which the University can improve: the availability of courses with a regional focus addressing current events. The Board believes that the University should do more to encourage faculty with regional expertise to design courses that, while still exploring historical factors, analyze current events.
Two weeks ago the University’s Office of Career Services organized the first-ever HireTigers Meetup, a development of the previous career fair recruitment model. This meetup, in addition to a series of Career and Life Vision Workshops, is part of Career Services’ ongoing effort to reevaluate their performance and improve the quality and relevance of their services. The Editorial Board lauds the initiative to develop new ways of providing students with effective professional assistance and encourages the program directors to remain responsive to students’ concerns as they shape the Office’s direction. In the spirit of this collaborative evaluation, the Board would like to bring several issues to attention as well as a possible means of redress. Among the concerns are the sizeable demand for services, especially for practice interviews, and the fact that students’ many industry interests require specialized experience. To improve the current strength of Career Services’ performance regarding these issues, the Board suggests instituting a program of peer fellows, similar to that already in place at the Writing Center.
Over the past few weeks, a petition has circulated asking that the University reinstate course offerings in Sanskrit. The petition identifies a present dearth in alternative language programming, noting the far broader range of options available at our peer institutions, and demanding that Princeton expand its own course offerings.
Though the start of the semester marks most students’ first time on campus since May, many students remained in Princeton over the summer, conducting research or working at other on-campus jobs. The vast majority of students remaining in Princeton in the summer stay in dormitories, as other housing is expensive and in short supply. Though the availability of this option makes remaining in Princeton easier, the Editorial Board believes that the summer housing system could better accommodate students staying on campus over the summer, especially considering that summer housing students are working at the University or participating in University-related programs. In particular, the Board recommends that students be given greater access to air-conditioned rooms, as well as the option to remain on campus through the start of the school year.
Over the past semester, the unsigned editorials featured on this page have discussed issues such as increased transparency in forced mental health withdrawals, defining a University marijuana policy and investigating gender pay discrepancy at Princeton. The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board, a group of 15 undergraduates, was collectively responsible for writing these pieces. The members of the Board are not the editors of the various sections of the ‘Prince.’ Instead, they constitute an independent group of undergraduate students who are charged with determining the position of the newspaper as a whole. Today, instead of taking a stance on an issue, we would like to explain the editorial process and invite interested freshmen, sophomores and juniors to apply to join the Board.
Last spring, The Daily Princetonian reported on the last USG Senate meeting of the year. While nominees for the Honor Committee and the Committee on Discipline (COD) were being approved, concerns were raised about some of the Honor Committee’s practices. Currently, according to "Rights, Rules, Responsibilities," “when a report of a suspected violation of the honor system is received, the Honor Committee immediately conducts an investigation.” Yet the exact procedure of the investigatory process is unclear, especially in regards to at what point in time after initial contact students are notified whether they are witnesses or suspects. Since the constitution of the Honor Committee emphasizes students’ rights to representation and a fair trial, the Editorial Board believes that the suspicion of a discrepancy in the Honor Committee's investigatory practices merits a transparent review. It is important to note that a similar line of inquiry exists for COD investigations, and the student body should also be aware of the level of promptness in which students are made aware of their positions in COD investigations.
Before the academic year began, the University administration made important progress in strengthening the University’s stance against sexual assault on campus. Chief among these is the recent recommendation by the internal Faculty Advisory Committee on Policy that the University lower its standard for the burden of proof in cases of sexual assault from the policy of “clear and persuasive” to that of a “preponderance” of guilt. Additionally, the University announced that students would no longer serve on committees handling sexual assault cases.
A recent piecepublished in Nassau Weekly detailed the lack of female officers in the eating clubs. Though the definition of an “officer” varies from club to club, most clubs have a president, vice president, social chair, house manager and treasurer. Less than one third of these positions are currently held by women. Of the 11 eating clubs, only Colonial has a female president, Nassau Weekly reported.
On April 29, the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault released its inaugural report on sexual assault on college campuses. The report comes after a series of widely publicized sexual assault cases at our peer institutions like Harvard, Columbia and Brown, in which students have charged their administrations with failing to provide justice for sexual assault survivors.
The beginning and end of the academic year bring one of Princeton’s most cherished traditions: the biannual Lawnparties concert. As an integral part of the Princeton undergraduate experience, it is imperative that the USG continues to improve the day-long event. And so it has tried, creating controversy through its choice of artist and major change in donating a portion of proceeds to charity. The Editorial Board would like to address aspects of this spring’s Lawnparties, particularly these controversies, and offer potential solutions.
As the college application season draws to a final close and the May 1 deadline for matriculation waits just around the corner, we hope to provide you with one final summary of the reasons why you should consider coming to this great University.
Recently, the American Association of University Professors released its 2013-2014 Faculty Salary Survey. The survey investigated “trends, gender breakdowns, and comparisons of faculty salaries” at over 1000 colleges and universities. The survey found that while on the whole, Princeton pays its full professors more than most institutions, the average pay of female professors is just 89.9 percent of their male counterparts. This statistic parallels a similar discrepancy that pervades nearly all careers at the national level. This national gender pay gap was recently addressed by the Obama Administration with two executive orders meant to improve transparency of pay at federal contractors and businesses. While the discrepancy at Princeton may not be the result of intentional discrimination, the Board believes that the University should investigate the source of this difference and ensure that equal pay is given in return for equal work.
Recently, in response to criticism about unfair grading, some courses have implemented a system of blind grading for problem sets and papers. In these courses, students are either required to submit a copy of their paper without a name in addition to a copy with a name or are assigned a number to write in place of a name. In both systems, the professor or preceptor grades the nameless papers and then matches grades to students. While this policy may be unrealistic for some courses such as seminars and independent work, the Editorial Board supports this trend and encourages more University departments and classes to adopt this policy.
Every semester during course selection, students are faced with a difficult yet necessary task: deciding on only four or five classes. Even with four years, it’s difficult to take all classes of interest while trying to balance distribution requirements, prerequisites and departmental courses. Thus like many other institutions, the University allows students to audit courses, which are reflected on the transcript by "AUD." While the official audit policy requires “successfully pass[ing] the final exam or complet[ing] some major component of the course,” professors and departments do not enforce this uniformly. Some professors give audit credit for only attending lecture while others require completion of all components of the course. The Board believes that while auditing can clearly enrich a liberal arts education, current audit rates at Princeton are too low. In order to make the system more clear and accessible, the University should standardize course audits by requiring either a minimum attendance rate of 85 percent or a passing grade on the final exam/paper.
As course selection approaches, students are again faced with the issue of academic advising. The courses students take at the University are integral to their Princeton experience. These important decisions are best made with knowledgeable and experienced advice, but such advice is not easily available. Though the University has some competent resources in the assigned faculty advisers, peer advisers through the residential colleges and contact information and databases such as Major Choices or course reviews, the Board believes that these resources fall short of their effectiveness due to their fragmentation, lack of publicity and near-sighted focus on just the next semester. We believe that increased training for faculty advisers and a focus on a long-term comprehensive path through Princeton academics, along with improved awareness of already available resources, will enhance the benefits of academic advising.