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Last week, the University announced that the duration of its annual program for prospective students, Princeton Preview, would be shortened to one day. Traditionally held over a span of multiple days, the changes came in response to links between the strain of meningitis present at Princeton and the recent death of a student at Drexel University.
April is now upon us, which means one thing to the masses of bleary-eyed seniors who fill Firestone Library: Thesis due dates are drawing near. But while some seniors have already finished writing their theses, had them bound and turned them in, others have over a month to go until their due dates. Traditionally, each department has decided its own due date. As a result, due dates range from late March to early May. The Board believes that the lack of a standardized thesis date is detrimental to the thesis writing process, class unity and the senior year experience and therefore proposes implementing one due date for all senior independent work.
In a Q&A published in The Daily Princetonian on March 11, Susan Patton ’77 argued that women who receive unwanted sexual contact after drinking excessively bear a degree of “responsibility” for their victimization. Patton’s remarks came in defense of claims in her recent book, "Marry Smart", that a woman who dresses provocatively or who impairs herself by consuming alcohol assumes “accountability for what may happen.” In response to Patton’s comments, 215 University faculty members signed a letter to the editor of the 'Prince', published on March 26, stating “we do not believe that their [students’] manner of dress or drinking behavior makes them responsible for unwanted sexual contact” and encouraging students to reach out for help if necessary. The Board endorses these faculty members’ position: the Board not only rejects Patton’s claims on face, but believes that the sentiments they embody are counterproductive to serious, ongoing efforts to combat the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment within the Princeton community.
Every spring, numerous articles about Bicker are written both in this paper and other sources. We discuss whether the system is fair, whether it is outdated and what happens to the people who do not get into or join a club. However, one thing often neglected in the coverage is what happens to those sophomores who join and find themselves responsible for dues that they will struggle to or cannot pay. The Board thinks this is an aspect of the eating club system that is underaddressed.
The Daily Princetonian recently published a series of three articles documenting various aspects of the operation of the University’s Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline. These articles explored everything from the number of incidents reported to the Committee to the process the Committee employs when reviewing a case. Concerns were raised about the Committee’s lack of transparency, the conduct of its hearings and the severity of its disciplinary measures. In light of these criticisms, the Board recommends that the University administration review the Committee’s policies as well as the implementation of these policies so as to address many of these complaints.
The University prides itself on its beautiful campus filled with Gothic towers and buildings that serve as the ideal backdrop for a picturesque postcard. For the most part, these facilities are not only gorgeous and brimming with history, but they are also well kept and maintained. Yet, while Princeton revels in the beauty of its century old Gothic buildings, the University has been slow to respond to the more ugly side of aging: pathway deterioration.
Last week, the University’s Students for Prison and Education Reform began circulating a petition, titled the Admission Opportunity Campaign, calling on the University to change its admissions practices. In light of racial and socioeconomic inequalities found in the United States criminal justice system, the petition asks the University to remove all questions about past involvement with the justice system from the undergraduate admission application. University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua wrote in an email to the Board that the admissions office currently uses the information as part of a “holistic review of the applicant.”
In February, The Daily Princetonian reported on a lawsuit filed by a student who was allegedly asked to withdraw from the University following a suicide attempt in 2012. Based on the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, the 'Prince' reported, “Just as the student was leaving the hospital following the suicide attempt, he was informed that the University had evicted him from his dorm room, that he was prohibited from his classes and that he was banned from all areas of campus.” This story, along with recently published allegations of similar occurrences at Yale, has raised concerns among students that individuals experiencing mental health issues could be forced to withdraw from the University. In light of these allegations and the way concerns about forced withdrawal could prevent individuals with mental health issues from seeking treatment, the Editorial Board believes the University should make public and transparent the conditions under which it requires students with mental health issues to leave campus.
Since 1969, one senior from each year’s graduating class has been elected as a Young Alumni Trustee— a position conferring the same rights and responsibilities as a fully installed member of the University’s Board of Trustees. In that capacity, they sit on Board committees, aid in setting the University’s annual operating budget and contribute to the development of Princeton’s long-term strategic vision.
In 2011, the University instituted a single-choice early action application round, allowing high school seniors to receive an offer of acceptance as early as mid-December. In tandem with this new opportunity to attract and enroll prospective students, the Office of Admission created its Tiger Tuesdays program, which designates certain Tuesdays in February for early-admitted students to visit campus and hopefully decide to matriculate at Princeton. The Board believes that Tiger Tuesdays fail to live up to their full potential, and we call for a revamping of the program to further attract prospective students.
Twice a year, anxious juniors and seniors head to Career Services to attempt to find jobs or internships for the next summer or for the following year. For these students, the season consists of attending information sessions, meeting alumni, going to interviews and hopefully getting the job they want. For the most part, Career Services has made this process as easy as possible for us students. Princeton’s status as an elite university has allowed it to require companies to accommodate the needs of students, which makes going through the process remarkably easy and straightforward. However, when it comes to junior year recruiting season the board would like to suggest Career Services work with companies to make the process more compatible with the academic schedule and demands of students.
One in nine people are victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking, defined by Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising Resources & Education as Power-Based Personal Violence, each year. The Board believes that in order to prevent PBPV on campus, assault prevention programs must emphasize “bystander intervention” to overcome the bystander effect. The bystander effect is the phenomenon of individuals not offering help to a victim when others are present. In fact, the probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. Bystander intervention training aims to combat the bystander effect by giving students specific tools to act and prevent potential and occurring instances of sexual assault. In addition to being particularly useful in combating PBPV, bystander intervention training can also involve students, such as males, who have previously resisted involvement in PBPV issues on campus due to the perception that they are not potential victims. Since “bystander intervention” opens up the conversation to all students, the Board supports and encourages the presence of “bystander intervention” programs on campus.
Recently, TheDaily Princetonianreported on the arrest of a University student for the possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana and three Ritalin pills. Almost every year, a small number of University students have the misfortune of being caught with a small amount of marijuana. Given the legal status of the drug, these students immediately face strict University punishments as well as possible legal repercussions. However, when underage students are caught illicitly using alcohol, the University often only issues warnings and generally does not compel students to face the criminal justice system. Given this inequity as well as national trends surrounding marijuana, the Editorial Board believes that the University should modify its current policy and lower the level of punishment for marijuana possession to that of alcohol violations.
In the fall of 1919, the Reserve Officers Training Corps was established at the University. Following on the heels of the “war to end all wars,” the new program struggled to gain enrollment, but, after a push by this very newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, and the University President, John Hibben, participation in ROTC surged. With the Vietnam War, however, student activists pressured the University into effectively banning ROTC from campus. Yet the ban was lifted within the year —well before other Ivy League universities followed suit. Army ROTC was swiftly reestablished in 1972. This past week, the University announced that Navy ROTC will finally return to campus next fall. We, the Board of the ‘Prince,’ once again support ROTC at Princeton and so laud the recent decision. Nevertheless, ROTC programs at Princeton could be better integrated with the University: First, by granting University course credit for ROTC classes, and second, by permitting non-ROTC University students to take those classes.
Over the past semester, the unsigned editorials featured on this page have discussed issues such as the creation of a university bike share program, reforming distribution requirements to reflect the growing importance of big data and President Obama’s higher education reforms. The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board, a group of 14 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.
During their four years of study, every Princeton undergraduate becomes familiar with SCORE, the University’s Student Course Online Registration Engine. The Editorial Board believes that given SCORE’s essential functions, such as enrolling in classes and accessing transcripts, it is currently subject to a variety of shortcomingsand inconveniences that interfere with its efficiency and utility for student users.
When prescribed, psychostimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin can play an important role in aiding students who suffer from the academic difficulties caused by ADD and ADHD. However, given the fact that these drugs have a high capacity for abuse as illegitimate academic aids, the Editorial Board believes that "Rights, Rules, Responsibilities" must be amended to reflect that students who use un-prescribed psychostimulants in an attempt to gain an unfair academic advantage should be regarded as having violated RRR’s academic regulations in addition to its drug policy.
While the Board does not know the amount of material that is humanly possible to read in a week, the Board suspects that many humanities and social science courses assign reading in excess of this amount. Students, in an effort to read as much as possible, sometimes skim through the material and arbitrarily select chapters to read, undermining their own learning. As such, we sympathize with many of the concerns Prianka Misra voiced in a column earlier this semester. Assigned reading is an essential piece of Princeton coursework, but students all too often fail to thoroughly read assigned material, taking shortcuts instead. The Board encourages Princeton professors to enact measures to ensure that assigned reading can be completed by students who are actively engaged in the Princeton community while enrolled in four classes, and then hold students accountable for the assigned reading.
It is an all too frequent occurrence in Princeton courses that professors do not return final exams and papers even after final course grades have been posted. This practice reduces the transparency and accountability of course grading and deprives students of valuable feedback. Therefore, the Editorial Board believes that it would best serve the educational mission of this University to implement a policy requiring faculty to return graded final exams and papers to students at the end of each semester after grades are posted.First, a policy mandating that final papers and exams be returned enhances the accountability of the grading process. When, at the end of the semester, students are only able to see a final course grade posted on SCORE, there is no assurance that their papers and exams have been fairly and thoroughly graded. The proposed policy would ensure that students are able to at least see their exam scores and what questions they got wrong or their final paper grades and any written comments, thus holding professors and preceptors at least minimally accountable in their grading practices.Second, the proposed policy makes it possible for more students to avail themselves of the opportunity to ask for re-grading. The board believes that the opportunity to request re-grading of papers and exams in an important procedure that helps to maintain the fairness and accuracy of grading. Professors and preceptors grading an exam may make mistakes, questions can be poorly phrased or a paper may be hastily misread. Students can only avail themselves of the opportunity for re-grading if they are able to see their exams and papers and dispute any potential grading mistakes. The board believes that the benefit of allowing students to ask professors to rectify mistakes that occur in grading outweighs any potential concerns about abuse of this system.Lastly, a policy requiring final exams and papers to be returned is important in providing students with feedback that helps them to learn from their evaluations. There are clear educational benefits to students of understanding what questions they missed on an exam or learning the strengths and weaknesses of their final paper. While feedback is important throughout the semester, it is particularly significant for final assignments, which are often culminations of students’ learning throughout the course. Without a policy mandating that final exams and papers be returned, students too often do not receive any feedback and are prevented from learning as much as they could.In terms of implementation, the board believes that the University should either mandate that all exams and papers be returned or that exams and papers must be returned at the request of any student in the course. Students should be able to receive their finals as soon as possible after the end of finals period. Recognizing that some professors may reuse exam questions, the board believes it may be prudent for students in some courses to be allowed to see their graded exams for a period of time but not be allowed to keep them. The board further believes that the benefits that accrue from allowing students to review their exams exceed the costs of perhaps compelling certain professors to create new exams each year. In the spring semester, when students may return home before exams and papers are graded, professors and their departments should make reasonable attempts to return finals electronically or by mail, if requested — though exceptions would obviously apply to exams with questions that may be reused. All in all, such a policy would further Princeton’s educational mission by increasing academic feedback and making grading more accountable.
It’s a Princeton tradition to clap for a professor at the end of the last lecture of the year. For students, it’s a way to show our appreciation for the work professors do to teach classes and share their knowledge. As the end of the semester approaches and students prepare to head off for break, the Board wants to suggest that students take some extra time and effort to thank some of the other people who are responsible for the quality of our Princeton experience: the staff. Members of the staff often go unacknowledged, but they are vital to making our time here as special as it is.