I often tell the story of how a club I helped found commissioned me to put together a logo, which I did at 2 a.m. one random morning. That became the official symbol of the group, and it stuck, and now it is on all of our folders and stickers and pencils and posters. I like to say that after hundreds of hours working on my thesis and thousands of hours devoted to theater on campus, the only thing that will outlive me here is an early morning creation with MS Paint. And though I like this story, I don’t think it’s true at all — that’s not all I’ve left here.
I began the fall semester as an engineer, but I soon switched to A.B. and promptly set my eyes on joining the Wilson School. However, the more I thought about what major I wanted to choose and which classes I wanted to and needed to take, the more I realized that choosing WWS is a risky path to follow, especially for those of us who really don’t have any idea what we truly want to major in. Now that admission to the department is non-selective, it becomes even more important that prospective social science majors truly think about why they are choosing to join the Wilson School.
President Obama’s brilliant speech and Kerry’s urgent warning have made it clear: The window for a two-state solution to the conflict is closing, and if we care about Israel or Palestine, or about the very cause of peace itself, we must act now.
Inspired by Street’s series on Princeton’s favorite eateries, I figured I would give my opinion on Princeton’s less frequented non-Street places to drink. The greater University area, that is Nassau and Witherspoon streets, includes six bars. Each has its own flavor and unique clientele and are all mostly devoid of a Princeton student presence.
This is why we attach so much importance to food. We select eating clubs based on which ones offer the dietary balances we need. We catalog our food choices so that we can remember every meal we had in the last week. We balance our campus food selections with meticulously scheduled outings to eateries on Nassau whose menus are paragons of culinary virtue.
No? Yeah, I don’t do that either.
We label a group as a majority and another as a minority, but honestly, as a Brazilian immigrant, I have never felt like a minority. Oftentimes (though clearly not always), segregation is a self-fulfilling prophecy; we expect to be discriminated against and therefore deter ourselves from other social groups and only end up causing ourselves to be more segregated. If there is one place where different racial groups can stand together, while also maintaining their individual cultures, it is here at Princeton.
A university president’s life is not a happy one. True, it comes with a high salary, a splendid residence and even a really good cook — the latter, perhaps, more of a rarity in Princeton than the other advantages. But the president of Princeton is confronted by unreasonable demands on every side. He or she must range the world in search of lavish donations and strategic alliances and deal with local crises that are as all-consuming as they are unpredictable; support a faculty, a staff and a student body who treat their access to extraordinary resources as ordinary, even banal, and constantly want more; make strategic decisions while wise guys scoff; and stay affable and accessible to everyone in our community.
I remember hot summer days of strolling through the French Quarter, just far enough from the familiarity of my small town, with a quiet sense of home and peace running through me. My inner contentedness could not help but show outwardly. I won’t lie and say everyone always looked and smiled back. But an overwhelming number always did. And it was comforting, a sort of affirmation of both self and community. Even though I didn’t know most of the people I looked and smiled at, there was an intangible connection between us.
I just cannot find that here.
And then I got to campus. Sitting in the passenger seat of a car I barely knew, we rounded the traffic circle and billowing above the road was a giant, orange and black “Welcome” banner. Maybe I’ve watched one too many romantic comedies, but if there has ever been a moment of love at first sight, it was then and there.
There’s a tendency to focus on the different, the obvious, the engrossing. The slow burn of small arms violence in American cities fades into the background after we hear about it enough times. In a quote whose variants should be attributed to German author Kurt Tucholsky, “The death of one man: That is a catastrophe. One hundred thousand deaths: That is a statistic!”
You have reaped the benefits of privilege by seizing an uncommon opportunity to rant in one of the nation’s largest newspapers in circulation because you didn’t get into the colleges that you wanted. Do you not realize that there are millions of other students in this country who are not even given a platform to voice their concerns when they are not accepted into any university, let alone afford to matriculate at one after being accepted due to financial constraints?
Princeton is an imagined community, to use author Benedict Anderson’s term. It is not about the buildings, and it is not built around face-to-face contact. It is a community built around something we believe in. Something we believe in strongly enough to leave our homes, leave the families that have raised us in the hope of understanding or fulfilling some higher cause. It’s all in our heads.
The unconscious mind may be more powerful than the conscious one — not just as a deep cavern of primal, unpredictable emotions, but as a finely tuned processor and synthesizer of information. It may be a bridge builder and calculator with a much higher capacity than our active reasoning processes, which are very limited.
It was the quintessential act of terror, meant to tear apart and shake the foundations of one of America’s oldest cities. The brothers Tsarnaev emerged from a cloud of breaking-news paradoxes, “talented” and “angelic” yet also capable of massive atrocities. They brought out in Boston what CNN called both the best and worst of America, a reminder of Boston’s resilience but also a blur of ethnic profiling. Much has been said about the strength of American solidarity, yet the impact of the bombings on international students has been overlooked. With the Senate debating immigration policies following the tragedy, international students are potentially facing an even greater tragedy of sustained discrimination.
A century ago, swelling numbers of immigrants poured into factories and built the country’s manufacturing base. The American economy no longer relies on the production of tangible products, but rather on the unleashing of immaterial innovations.
In my new world, it seems that everyone can be associated with one culture or another, more specifically, the majority culture and any number of minority cultures. Based on my experiences at Princeton, it feels as though people who are categorized along these lines of separation do not mix, and any effort to mix comes from the person of the minority culture.