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Princeton’s website explains that distribution requirements “transcend the boundaries of specialization and provide all students with a common language and common skills.”Currently, the University requires A.B. students to complete classes in seven general areas: Social Analysis, Epistemology and Cognition, Ethical Thought and Moral Values, Historical Analysis, Literature and the Arts, Quantitative Reasoning and Science and Technology.Providing a holistic education is the core of Princeton’s mission, and these requirements are a commendable measure toward that end. But Princeton’s formula for liberal education must at times adapt to the world beyond the FitzRandolph Gate.Those students who graduate Princeton with no exposure to computer programming or to basic data analysis leave this school without skills that are fundamental to the world in which we live. Accordingly, the Board urges the University to replace the STN requirement with a data analysis and computer programming requirement.
As students prepare to choose classes for the spring semester, course reviews become increasingly important. Currently, Registrar-administered course evaluations are administered at the end of every semester, after lectures and precepts have ended. However, these evaluations have many downsides. As end-of-the-semester evaluations do not affect the students writing them, they are often rushed or not completed. Additionally, the evaluations of the current system are likely non-representative because they cannot include feedback from students who dropped the course and because students’ responses are influenced by their expected grades. An effective solution to these problems would be the addition of an online mid-semester course evaluation system. Aside from a few professors who ask students for mid-term evaluations, there is no regular opportunity for mid-semester student feedback. As such, the Editorial Board strongly encourages the development and implementation of a mid-semester course evaluation system that should be accessible both to professors and students seeking to enroll in the course in subsequent semesters.
Recently, former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was asked to speak at Brown University about the controversial policy of “Stop and Frisk,” which he had helped to implement during the Bloomberg Administration. Before the former commissioner could speak, however, Brown University students interrupted the lecture and prevented Mr. Kelly from making any remarks whatsoever. With these recent events in mind, the Editorial Board believes that our campus community — both students and administration — should recommit itself to upholding the principles of free speech in accordance with the University’s broader educational mission. In stark contrast to the events at Brown University, a recent event on our campus demonstrates proper academic discourse in line with the principles of free speech.
In August, President Obama announced plans to rate colleges based on their value and affordability and to tie those ratings to the federal grants students receive when attending colleges.
As exams come to a close and many of us head off campus for fall break, the Board would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the structure of this chaotic week that we call midterms. Midterms week is unique, as students carry the burden of exams along with their regular course loads. Currently, there are few policies in place that regulate how midterm exams are scheduled and administered. With a few simple changes, midterms would be more standardized and thus fairer for all students.
Among the difficulties freshmen face when they first arrive at Princeton is meeting Princeton’s high standard for academic writing. Though we understand that Princeton’s mandatory writing seminars aim to prepare all students for this increased rigor, the Board believes that the University should provide more resources for those students who have learned English as a second language in order to help them meet this rigorous expectation.
Last week’s false alarm regarding a reported shooting incident on campus came just months after reports of a bomb on campus during the summer. Both events were covered extensively by the media on and off campus, and though the Board commends the Department of Public Safety and the Princeton Police Department for their thorough response to the incidents, we believe the University can take action to better inform students on how to respond to and stay safe during emergencies. Specifically, the Board believes that the University should more publicly disseminate a detailed action plan concerning appropriate action after a suspected shooting or bomb threat.
Last week, President Eisgruber charged a committee of nine faculty members to review Princeton’s grade deflation policy in order to determine whether the policy has had “unintended impacts upon the undergraduate academic experience that are not consistent with our broader educational goals.” The Editorial Board has repeatedly taken the position that grade deflation is detrimental to Princeton students and the overall mission of the University and is encouraged by Eisgruber’s revisiting of the policy. Today, in light of this announcement, the Board reiterates its disapproval of the grade deflation policy and proposes the potential alternative that grade distributions for courses be reported internally to Princeton students.
With the announcement of rush numbers this week, the Board feels that it is important to discuss the effects of the freshman rush ban. When the ban was initially passed, many observers thought that it would hurt membership in Greek organizations. The thought was that sophomores who were better established would have less of an interest in social organizations than new freshmen who were still looking for friends and for groups to join. However, with the release of the statistics for sorority rush, it is clear that this has not been the case. This year’s rush numbers are almost identical to the number of students who rushed in the years before the ban. While we have written in the past about the ban and still feel that it should be one semester rather than a year, we feel it is important to revisit this topic in light of these new numbers.
Last week, Yale University announced the receipt of a major donation that would help it build two new residential colleges and increase the student body by about 15% to a total of over 6000 undergraduates. The next day, President Eisgruber suggested increasing Princeton’s undergraduate student body at a Council of Princeton University Community meeting. This would be a bad idea.
Princeton has not admitted undergraduate transfer students since 1990. The admission office credits this decision to the 98 percent retention rate and the burden of an increasingly large volume of applications. In a solely economic sense, it is understandable that the University considers it a poor use of resources to make strained admission officers evaluate a large number of applicants for 20 or fewer spots. But the Editorial Board believes that Princeton’s institutional values provide reason to admit transfer students.
Princeton has long been a leader in liberal arts education, and in today’s increasingly pre-professional world, the University stands strongly behind its goal of providing all students with a broad base of knowledge. While students often bemoan distribution requirements, these courses are crucial in guaranteeing that each one of us is exposed to a wide range of disciplines and ways of thinking. Sure, the system is not perfect, but requirements ensure that, by the time we walk through the FitzRandolph Gate, we will have had at least some practice reading literature, conducting science experiments and speaking a foreign language. This is certainly a worthy goal, and the requirements do a decent job of meeting it.
The successful (or unsuccessful) conclusion of fall bicker reminds us that the central element of Princeton’s social experience is defined by our communal eating options. Whether on the Street or elsewhere, meal times offer us a break from our work, a chance to see friends and time to meet new people. For the first two years on campus,the requiredmeal plan allows students to foster friendships within their residential college. However, come junior year, the dining model changes — students join eating clubs, co-ops or become independent. Students who can afford the addedcost of eating clubs are able to continue this traditional communal mealtime experience. However, this benefit is not extended to every student: the roughly 30 percentof students who do not or can not join eating clubs are missing out on an integral part of the Princeton experience; they often do not have the same opportunity to expand their social horizons.
This October will mark the 100thanniversary of the creation of the Graduate College. In 1913, Dean Andrew Fleming West won a battle against then-University President Woodrow Wilson, who had fought to have a newly created graduate program centered within the undergraduate-dominated central campus. While Dean West’s victory created one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture belonging to Princeton, it has left a legacy of separation between the undergraduate and graduate populations—both physically and figuratively. The Board believes that this gulf is detrimental to the mission of the University and the educational enrichment of both undergraduates and graduates.
One of the first things students do upon arriving on campus is purchase their course books. Fortunately, Labyrinth Books has simplified this process by streamlining how University students order their course readings as well as by offering an annual University discount. Yet, some courses require students to venture to the U-Store to purchase bound photocopies of readings through Pequod, which can often be expensive and environmentally unsustainable. The Board believes that University professors and administrators should strive to minimize the use of Pequods by relying on more sustainable and affordable alternatives.
Over the past semester, the unsigned editorials featured on this page have discussed issues such as the nascent Eisgruber presidency, Lawnparties as a benefit concert and University insurance coverage of sex-reassignment surgery. The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board, a group of 13 undergraduates, was collectively responsible for writing these pieces. The members of the Board are not the editors of the various sections of the ‘Prince.’ Instead, they constitute an independent group of undergraduate students who are charged with determining the position of the newspaper as a whole. Today, instead of taking a stance on an issue, we would like to explain the editorial process and invite interested freshmen, sophomores and juniors to apply to join the Board.
Following a trend started in the world’s major cities, at least 33 U.S. colleges now offer some form of bike-sharing program. The Editorial Board believes a bike-sharing program would be beneficial for the Princeton community and recommends that the University build out its own program in accordance with best practices drawn from cities and other college campuses. These benefits include facilitating student mobility, sustainability gains and, possibly, a reduction in bike theft.
As of Thursday, 1,931 Princeton applicants received their acceptance letters and can officially be called “prefrosh.” The tables have turned, as the University must now convince these prefrosh to choose Princeton. An important aspect of this decision process takes place during the two Princeton Preview sessions, which, this year, will take place on April 11-13 and April 22-24. The purpose of Princeton Preview is to provide admitted students insight into campus life through interactions with current students, attending classes and getting a feel for the campus culture.
New Jersey state law prohibits individuals under age 21 from drinking or possessing alcohol in public, and 43 arrests for alcohol possession were made last year, according to the Princeton Borough Police. The Princeton Alcohol and Drug Alliance announced in a meeting on Thursday that it will form a task force to review an ordinance that would prohibit underage drinking on private property. Among other implications, this new ordinance would enable Borough police officers to search the eating clubs, as long as they have probable cause. Underage drinkers would be fined but not obtain a criminal record. This ordinance has been adopted in all communities in Mercer County, aside from Princeton, East Windsor and Hightstown. While the Board sympathizes with the safety concerns of those supporting the ordinance, we believe that the proposed ordinance would actually exacerbate the safety concerns associated with underage drinking.
The Board is responsible for determining the position of the ‘Prince’ on a range of matters that affect Princeton, its campus community and our generation. We meet twice a week to discuss campus issues, solicit input from potential stakeholders and ultimately determine the stance the ‘Prince’ will take on the issue at hand. We work closely with other sections of the newspaper to gather information about editorial topics, but we deliberate behind closed doors and independently determine our own positions to preserve objectivity. The Board answers only to its chair, Ethan Jamnik ’15; the opinion editor, Sarah Schwartz ’15; and the editor-in-chief, Luc Cohen ’14.