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Entrances and exits

At Princeton, entrances and exits are perhaps the most frequently encountered yet overlooked elements in a student’s daily life on campus.

At the start of our four-year journey, we walk in through FitzRandolph Gate, exhausted after a week of orientation activities and ready to get settled in our residential colleges. At graduation, we walk out of the gate, leaving our college experience behind as we embark on new journeys into the real world. FitzRandolph Gate is our first greeting and our last farewell, yet it is not the only gate to imprint on our time here.


(FitzRandolph Gate)

Blair Arch provides a welcome reprieve from the rain as we head to the U Store, and an ideal photo spot that our parents refuse to miss. 1879 Arch is a popular stop for many students heading to the Street on weekend nights, and a top choice for a capella groups’ arch sings.

(Standing at the base of Blair Arch on a winter day)

The grand entrance to Frist Campus Center, often overlooked by students hurrying down the steps to the main level in desperate search for coffee or late meal, stands over us as we hurry to class in the morning or drag ourselves to study in the evening.


(A walk through the rain to Frist Campus Center)

Walking through East Pyne Hall’s double-arched courtyard, which beckons us to Chancellor Green, transports us into a mystical world where we feel connected to ancient times and get inspired just by absorbing the ambience of the space around us.

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(View through Gothic window panels in an East Pyne classroom)

Every doorway might feel like just another doorway after too many days on campus, but your first dorm room always occupies a special place in your memory. The letters carved into the ground outside of Whitman forming a giant “YES!” will never cease to confuse you. That time you saw your crush walk through the doors into Wilcox Hall; that time you stared at the entrance to McCosh 50 before your first Econ lecture; and that time you slipped on the steps where Einstein walked every day and wondered how you, clumsy and disheveled, could share anything with someone like him, will always belong to you.

(Gate near Prospect Garden)

We asked some students how it feels to be in or out of something when entering or exiting a place.

“Being ‘in’ means feeling like my presence is valued. During hell week for Sympoh, I had a sense of purpose that came from being invested in and being part of a larger project.” — Kenji Cataldo ’20

(Entering spring: Prospect Garden)

“When you live in Forbes you always feel ‘inn’.” — David Nie ’19

(Outside of the Orange Bubble: Train station at Princeton Junction)

“Exclusion is temporary — find people who deserve you!” — Pranav Rekapalli ’20

(An example of making people feel “in”: Nassau Presbyterian Church)

“[I felt included] when I realised that I’d found a group of friends with whom I could relax, be completely myself, and who I feel bring out the best in me!” — Lisa Sheridan ’19

(Feeling “in”, feeling welcome: A funny surprise awaits the people entering this freshman hallway.)

“I guess being in Princeton’s campus and feeling the exclusion feels like your body is misplaced and invisible to yourself and others while your soul seems to reside far from your body thinking and living somewhere else unaffected by what happens around you physically.” — Achie Gebre ’20

(In or out? When boundaries become penetrable: Snow falling through the holes of the artistic construction at Icahn)

“[I felt included when] I walked into the dining hall and two different tables called out to me to sit with them at once.” — Jonah Herzog-Arbeitman ’19

(Feeling included at Princeton: This freshman ’zee group in Rockefeller College surprised each other on Valentine’s Day with cute little notes on every door.)

We have all had a moment in an arch, or a gate, or a doorway that we aren’t soon to forget. So keep second-guessing whether you are walking out the wrong gate when you leave for Starbucks in the morning, facing a twinge of doubt that you might not graduate — we have all been there. And that moment of hesitation you experience as the flash of memories from Orientation comes back to you when you see the crest on FitzRandolph hovering above Nassau Hall? I bet you remember that long after graduation.

(Entering the courtyard of Holder Hall in Rockefeller College)