Wednesday, December 1

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Letters to the Editor

On academic, athletic trade-off

When I read John Kuhner's March 3 column "The Crumbling Ivory Tower," I was impressed to see that somebody is finally raising issues about the academic integrity of the Princeton campus.

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I encourage Mr. Kuhner, however, to back up his generalizations (which I expect are entirely true) and focus his arguments in his articles to come, in order to ensure that the University community does not write him off as misinformed. I also think he misses the point when he assumes that this campus should be turning away academically unqualified athletes (or other students who got in for reasons not related to academic prowess) on principle.

It is very clear to me that Princeton is actually two schools in one. The first is an excellent academic institution, the second an excellent athletic institution. I believe that neither, unfortunately, can be called a truly great school. The athletics program will never be the best in the nation until athletes here are allowed to completely ignore their studies and until the school starts to buy its players with money rather than promises of a Princeton degree; the academic programs will never be nearly as excellent as their reputation suggests because they must lower their standards to accommodate those who did not get into Princeton on academic merit (which means athletes and children of alumni, I suppose).

I think the administration of the University, especially those who decide what factors determine admission of a student to Princeton, should realize that there are a lot of students – I would say from experience at least 40 percent of the student body – who are more interested in sports/money/drinking than they are in their studies.

It is hypocritical to claim to provide an incredible intellectual experience and then water it down with students who don't care for academics. Either the administration should admit that it puts equal priority on academic and athletic programs, or it should stop doing so. And if the University thinks it is bringing in the most academically enthusiastic students in America (let alone the world), then there is something seriously wrong with the admissions process. George Showman '99

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