Committee defines role
The Feb. 5 article entitled "Committee Supports Safe Bicker Amid Sexual Harassment Concerns" was misleading and represented a fundamental misunderstanding of the commitment that has been made by the eating clubs and the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. As the chairperson of the committee's Student Task Force, I am dismayed that our efforts have been misconstrued.
This article and the corresponding staff editorial misrepresent the two most important parts of the commitment: 1) The commitment addresses issues of concern in all eating clubs, not just in Bicker clubs. 2) The commitment was initiated, implemented, and supported by students.
It would be naive to suggest that inappropriate, demeaning and even dangerous behavior occurs only in clubs that use the bicker process. Our commitment stems from an understanding that the 'Street' is often an uncomfortable place for women to socialize. This is the result of a variety of factors including the focus on alcohol, the dynamics of gender relations at Princeton, the inherent power imbalance in any selection or initiation activity and general disrespect for individual comfort levels. These factors can appear in any venue, regardless of whether it is a room party, team initiation, sign-in club initiation, or Bicker club.
Our commitment addresses these issues as part of the social activity that occurs at the 'Street' and not as exclusive to the Bicker process. I hope that Princeton students are intelligent and honest enough to admit that the problems with Princeton's social activities extend far beyond a handful of eating clubs. It is easy to say that inappropriate behavior occurs everywhere except our own club. I hope that we are strong enough to admit that this is simply hiding from a problem that threatens the integrity of our community.
The commitment was also presented in Thursday's editorial as part of an effort by the University administration to improve relations with the eating clubs. The administration had no role in the commitment. Out of concern for each other, female students initiated this project and worked with representatives of the eating clubs to draft and publicize it. One of the essential parts of the commitment is that it represents support of students by students. While I am sure that the administration supports the project, they did not play a role in it. It weakens the power of this commitment among students to present it as part of the relationship between the administration and the eating clubs.
I hope that all undergraduates can understand and support the ideas behind the commitment. We have a responsibility to respect each other and to make all of our social activities comfortable and enjoyable for all students. I hope that we, as students, can continue to honestly discuss and address the shortcomings of our social system, and that we can commit ourselves to creating a community that supports and respects every Princetonian. Colleen Shanahan '98
An alternative view of the 'Street'
I would like to add another perspective to Thursday's cover article about minority issues at the 'Street.' I realized something as I read comments like the following:
"Where I come from, sitting around drinking beer is not the idea of a good time,"; "Many Chicanos don't like going out to get drunk,"; "I don't understand drinking for the sake of drinking."
I realized that I think the exact same thing. The article touches on important issues involving the alienation of minorities at the 'Street.' I would propose that there are also plenty of white, middle-class males who feel alienated by the type of drinking that can occur at the 'Street.'
I, admittedly, am about as waspy as they come. I belong to an eating club just like my father did thirty years ago and I have no problems with most of Princeton's past and current traditions. I participate in much of the drinking that goes on at the 'Street' but not when it reaches the level of boot-and-rally and Beirut tournaments. I grew up with the idea that drinking could be part of a good time, just like dancing, talking, or singing– and not with the beer-equals-fun mentality.
I cringe when I realize that I am included in the 'Street' stereotype that was presented in articles like Thursday's race at the 'Street' piece. There are students – at Princeton and at other schools – who see the 'Street' as a stomping ground for all the rich white kids B who won't ever have to worry about reality because there will always be a 'Street' in their lives where they can throw away responsibility and drink all they want. I would argue that some of those rich white kids may actually have a decent grasp on reality.
I don't disagree with anything Thursday's article said but I think it's important to realize that such views on drinking are not restricted to minorities. I hope any minority who feels alienated because of drinking realizes that such feelings are not unknown to whites and I hope that everyone who ever goes to the 'Street' doesn't place a disproportionate emphasis on the actual alcohol. Will Holt '99