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Letters to the Editor

Setting the record straight

In the Monday, Jan. 19 issue of The Daily Princetonian it once again splashed a sensational article across its front page attacking the eating clubs. This time, it tried to expose how arbitrary and subjective wait-lists can be. Unlike most articles, which are for the most part correct but contain rather subjective interpretations of the truth, this article's investigation of Campus Club was completely wrong.

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The article opened with a real illustration of a subjective wait-list. It started with a powerful story about a student, Jay Meisel, who gained admittance to Campus Club through persistence and nagging. Some, like those at the 'Prince,' might call it favoritism. I would too, if it were true. Unfortunately, this piece of reporting was completely and irresponsibly wrong.

So let's review the facts. Fact number one: Jay Meisel was never on the Campus Club wait-list. Jay Meisel was on the top of our club's interest-list. Our interest-list was a list of the students who contacted us about possible membership after sign-ins. A student was ranked on this list according to when they contacted the club's officers. Fact number two: Campus Club had a completely objective wait-list. After sign-ins, the officer board and I drew the names randomly from a hat to determine the order of the wait-list. We then let students off of that wait-list as space became available. Fact number three: Jay Meisel did get into Campus club off of the interest-list. After we let all of the wait-listed students into the club, we then admitted Jay Meisel, and two others into the club. They were the first three people on our interest-list and there was space in the club for them. Fact number four: No amount of persistence or nagging could have gotten a student into Campus Club ahead of anyone else. Campus Club is not a bicker club.

Those are the facts. Unfortunately for Campus Club, none of these facts made it into the article. Instead, Campus Club, which struggled so diligently to be objective, was exposed, through inaccurate reporting, to be the essence and epitome of subjectivity.

I do not know which bothers me more: the fact that the reporter who implicated Campus Club knew all of the facts, but somehow a blatantly incorrect story still appeared on the front page, or the nonchalant and almost indifferent attitude with which some of the editors of the 'Prince' treated my complaints. I do not know how the story came to be so completely wrong, but I hope that the 'Prince' will take this opportunity to reexamine the integrity of their reporters, and to reexamine the editing process through which a story passes on its way to print.

More importantly, I hope that in the future all of the 'Prince' editors, not just some, will respond with horror at the inaccuracy of this article and that they will move, not with indifference, but with both diligent and decisive action to repair the damage they created. This does not mean simply to run a correction box and to pretend as if that solves everything. An incorrect front page article, with large headlines, cannot be repaired by a small correction box on page 2 or even by a lengthy and angry letter on the oped page.

In the future, I hope that your actions and responses will be guided by the fact that your power to destroy is so much greater than your power to repair. Kristopher Smith '98 Former Campus Club President Editor's Note: The Daily Princetonian stands by the reporting of the original article.

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