There are two versions of Princeton, and consequently two versions of The Daily Princetonian.
The first is Princeton as a national flashpoint. It’s the Princeton of contentious referenda and protests of guest lecturers. At this Princeton, nothing is more crucial than the pitched debate between the national left and the national right, discussing academic freedom and social justice. The characters are big name professors, the highest level of university administrators, and a few politically prominent students.
Then there’s the other Princeton. In my view, it’s a Princeton where decades of increasing admissions pressure has created a student body that spends too much time on academics to be interested in the first Princeton and the national conversation. It’s a Princeton where the stories are about new courses or events at the eating clubs, struggles for leadership in tiny organizations, and the daily discovery of a new path blocked off because of campus construction. The characters are undergraduates and professors, postdocs and graduate students, and low-level university bureaucrats far from the national news.
The version of the ‘Prince’ that covers the first Princeton is important. We at the ‘Prince’ will continue to cover the stories more likely to make the national news. We’ll try to put them into the context of our campus and present them to our readership in new and interesting ways. We’ll elevate student voices to guard against context-stripped narratives pushed by actors far from campus.
But students — most of them, at least — go to the second Princeton, the one that doesn’t make the New York Times. That Princeton deserves a campus paper too.
I love the ‘Prince’ — I love it as a staffer, and I love it as a reader. But I recognize that the ‘Prince’ has room to grow, and one of the things we must confront is our tendency to neglect the second Princeton in favor of the first. When it comes to campus happenings, there’s no story too small.
If we want to report the news from classes and clubs, students have to engage with us on these stories. To many students, it might feel odd to talk to a journalist, even a student journalist, about what happens in the second Princeton — it may feel like it’s supposed to go below the radar.
But Princeton is in an interesting place right now. The long tail of recovery from the pandemic is bringing to light truths about admissions, academics, mental health, and the concept of the University itself. Campus policy and tradition are changing quickly.
As a student here, I care about those stories. But they don’t always come with press releases. We can only tell them through the anecdotes we hear from our peers. We’re asking the student body for a leap of faith — to engage with us on covering the little stories here on campus.
We’re also making a commitment to you. Over the course of the next year, the ‘Prince’ will ask this question of every story we publish: How does this benefit our student readers and other community members? We’re not always going to succeed. But we recognize that no matter our readership off campus, the ‘Prince’ is first and foremost a community paper.
We can’t and don’t take our campus readership for granted. This paper as an institution has to prove its value in every piece that we publish.
That’s our mission. We hope you’ll help us out.
Rohit Narayanan is the 147th Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at email@example.com.