Follow us on Instagram
Try our daily mini crossword
Play our latest news quiz
Download our new app on iOS/Android!

Number one in the nation, but students always the last to know

I think it's fair to have high standards for the number one school in the United States when it comes to really simple things like giving students enough information to live in their rooms. I don't exactly understand why Princeton is so incapable of communicating with the undergraduates in a timely fashion.

We shouldn't have to show up to campus to find out that our phone numbers are all 986 (not 258) and be left to our own devices to figure out if U-CALL still works. The freshmen probably don't have much faith in seniors who haven't learned to use the phones yet. Many of us had, in fact, figured out sneaky ways to learn our 258 phone numbers at the end of last year or during the summer, but now all that information is wrong. Why not tell us our correct phone numbers after room draw or at the beginning of the summer?


I've started research on my thesis and given the wrong number to various engineers in Italy who — despite Princeton's international reputation — probably aren't aware that they should replace 258 with 986. Other people I know have to inform all the medical schools they applied to about the switch. You'd think the University would be able to keep up with the three-digit change and give more than a week's heads-up to those students who like to receive occasional phone calls.

Same goes for addresses. I received notification about my new address in September. But I was still one of the lucky ones. Lots of people had already left for school and probably weren't even home the week that innocent-looking letter arrived. Princeton sent just one piece of paper — it looked suspiciously like junk mail — to let us know that it had turned the mail system upside down. The University didn't even post any signs detailing "how-to-look-up-your-new-address" near the Frist mailboxes.

The notification was more than a bit late, especially for those of us who were abroad during the summer, attempting to establish ways to communicate with people during the year. I'm somewhat surprised that it never occurred to the number one college in the country to let its students know about the new system while they were building more than 2,000 mailboxes in Frist.

The Frist architects also forgot to include a package room in the building where any oversized shipments could be matched with mailbox unit numbers. Now thousands of our friends and family members will have to learn the "is-it-bigger-than-a-breadbox?" test for sending mail. We're really not being greedy when someone asks for our address and we counter with: "How much stuff are you sending me?" We're just being practical. (Note to Princetonian parents: A care package is only real if it's large enough to merit a room address.)

The housing department was also too busy being numero uno to let my suite know we were getting a new roommate last semester. We figured it out on our own when she showed up on our doorstep with all of her stuff. Our surprise roommate had requested a single, but the housing department never informed her of the change. The identity and quantity of one's roommates seems like simple information to communicate.

Unfortunately, Adam Rockman was busy running the housing department single-handedly. Everyone I know who has ever had a housing question has been referred to Adam Rockman. The housing department's voice-mail connects you directly to Adam Rockman's. And he's actually very helpful — if you can get hold of him. He's Princeton's secret weapon that must be unleashed. We should clone Adam Rockman about a dozen times. Each department that deals with students could have a couple Rockmen.


Until then, we'll all just scratch our heads wondering if our subscriptions to U.S. News and World Report are safe and sound, inside the fancy new Frist mailboxes that no one can seem to get open. Deborah I. Kobes is a civil and evironmental engineering major from Bethesda, Md. She can be reached at

Get the best of ‘the Prince’ delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe now »