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Since the beginning of the academic year, the Princeton community has engaged in lively debate surrounding the name of the Wilson School, Princeton’s school of public and international affairs. Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, is a former president of the University, who went on to become Governor of New Jersey and the 28th President of the United States. He instituted long-lasting changes on campus, including the creation of additionalacademic departments and the precept system. However, he also left behind a troubling legacy on race relations, such as re-segregating the United States Civil Service; he also had a history of making racist statements. The Board commends students who have expressed their concerns on both sides of the issue. We recognize, however, that in the end, the Trustees of the University must decide whether to change the way the University honors Wilson’s legacy. In order for this decision to properly represent the diverse viewpoints of the Princeton community, the Board urges students to engage in discourse with the trustees and the administration through all available channels.
Many Princetonians, mainly sophomores, spent the first week of this semester concerned primarily not with finalizing their course schedule or buying books, but rather with the process of joining an eating club. We acknowledge the Interclub Council (ICC) and the Class of 2018 officers for their efforts to make this process more transparent by, for example, releasing a graphic explaining the various upperclass dining options and their costs. However, there remain areas for improvements to make this process clearer and less stressful for students. The Board recommends three reforms: 1) include as part of eating club registration on the ICC website a step requiring students to acknowledge and accept the spring dues for their clubs of choice, 2) like in years past, release the numbers of first-round sign-ins, and 3) encourage sign-in clubs to defer their initiations until the week after bicker.
Princeton University prides itself on its undergraduate focus and especially on the incredible availability of its world-renowned faculty to work with undergraduate students. With a student-faculty ratio of 6:1, students have a remarkable proximity to some of the most outstanding minds in today's academic disciplines. All University professors engage in teaching as well as research, and students interact with their instructors in various class formats such as precepts, seminars and lectures, but oftentimes the most valuable interactions come from outside of the classroom. Professors are not just technical experts; they are also individuals with tremendous experience in academic life and passions for intellectual pursuits. Students seeking out professors beyond the lecture hall can expand their knowledge of class material, discover new interests, bear witness to relevant wisdom about finding a career path and receive advice for navigating University life. While University professors already hold office hours for facilitating student-professor interactions outside of class, the Editorial Board proposes better promotion of that system as well as popularizing programs that support meals between students and professors.
Last semester, the unsigned editorials featured on this page have discussed issues such as anonymizing exam grading, expanding co-op options and improving career services. The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board, a group of 15 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 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.
Princeton’s Office of Disability Services provides resources and opportunities to help students with disabilities overcome significant obstacles and works to ensure that all qualified students can attend Princeton regardless of physical or psychological disability. As reported this week, Princeton has seen an 80 percent increase in the number of students registered with ODS between 2011 and 2015. As more students with disabilities enter Princeton, there remain several steps that the broader University community can take to further its commitment to students with disabilities. Specifically, this Board has two key recommendations in support of Deaf students on campus: allowing American Sign Language to satisfy the foreign language requirement and pursuing further options for the study of ASL or ASL-related topics.
Following reading and final examination period, the most pressing event for the University’s sophomore class is making the decision of where to dine as upperclassmen. We are all familiar with the various options for upperclassmen dining: eating clubs, co-ops, residential college dining hall meal plans and independent dining. With nearly 70 percent of upperclassmen claiming membership in one of the 11 clubs on Prospect, there is a significant amount of social pressure placed upon underclassmen to join an eating club during sophomore year. The Board understands this social pressure and encourages the University’s Office of Financial Aid to increase the upperclassmen dining allowance, which is currently set at $2110, to a higher figure in order to prevent financial constraints from impeding students’ access to eating clubs. The Board similarly encourages a smaller increase in the dining allowance for students in their fourth semester at the University.
Nothing further exemplifies the University’s decline in prestige than the recent Class Day speakers, such as Al Gore, Brooke Shields ’87 and Jon Stewart. These people are total losers. They are all talk and no action. For too long, Princeton’s Class Day has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. When Princeton invites Class Day speakers, they do not invite the best. They do not invite people like you. They invite people who have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us.
As the last week of the fall semester wanes and students return home for the duration of winter recess, we would all do well to remember how truly fortunate of a position we enjoy. We attend a world-class university. As a consequence, we are frequently afforded academic and social opportunities, of which many others may only dream. And while we are diverse in our backgrounds, traditions and troubles, there is an undeniably lucky, wonderful and exciting quality that characterizes all of our admission to and experience of the University. The Board encourages students to express their gratitude for the opportunities available at the University to those who make them possible, including University staff, professors and teaching assistants.
Currently, the Undergraduate Student Government is considering a series of changes to the rules governing student referenda. Among the proposed changes is the creation of a $500 cap on campaign expenditures by groups supporting or opposing a referendum. Following the Divestment Referendum last spring, the Editorial Board argued that USG should reform referendum spending by requiring the disclosure of donations and expenditures by student groups involved in a referendum campaign. The Board believes that the current USG proposal is misguided, and we again urge the USG to require student groups involved in referendum campaigns to disclose donation amounts and expenditures.
As the Office of the Dean of the College states, “Princeton University is committed to fairness and transparency in assessment of students’ work and grading practices.” With this admirable goal in mind, the Board believes that the University could take more steps to ensure fairness in grading student work and to improve the overall academic experience. First, the Board urges the University to adopt anonymized grading for exams, while maintaining regular grading practices for papers and written work. Second, we recommend that professors and preceptors utilize multiple criteria, in addition to talking in precept, to assess participation for students less inclined to speak up.
The University’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning provides undergraduate students with multiple opportunities to find academic assistance outside the classroom. Among these opportunities is the Center’s free study hall and individual peer tutoring program, staffed by fellow students who are well-versed in a given subject. While the Editorial Board commends the McGraw Center for providing tutoring services, we encourage the McGraw Center to improve coordination between course staff and McGraw tutors.
On Nov. 24, The Daily Princetonian reported the circulation of a petition for a student’s future readmission to the University after incarceration for drug offenses. The former student, Julian Edgren, was arrested for drug possession and distribution. After pleading guilty to 13 counts of possession and intent to distribute controlled substances and prescription drugs, he was sentenced to five years in jail.
The Black Justice League’s sit-in in the office of University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 has reignited an important discussion on race and inclusion at the University. The BJL made three principal demands during the sit-in, most notably that the Wilson School and Wilson College be renamed. The Board believes that the University should not rename the Woodrow Wilson School and Wilson College. Additionally, we oppose mandatory cultural competency training for faculty and staff and cultural affinity housing. In place of the BJL’s proposal for a distribution requirement on the history and culture of marginalized groups, we propose a more general “global thought” distribution requirement.
Beginning at noon on Monday, Princeton’s Undergraduate Student Government will be holding elections through Wednesday in order to elect its leadership for the coming calendar year. USG has the potential to improve students’ experiences on campus, but it requires strong leadership in order to do so. This year there are three candidates for president: Aleksandra Czulak ’17, Grant Golub ’17, and Simon Wu ’17; and two for vice president: Jeremy Burton ’18 and Shobhit Kumar ’18. Every year, this Board endorses one candidate for the office of president and one for vice president. This year, we endorse Czulak for president and Burton for vice president.
Since the University pioneered a loan-free financial aid program in 2001, the University has acquired a reputation for its generous financial aid program that now includes approximately 60 percent of undergraduates. A standard part of Princeton’s aid package, however, is the summer savings requirement. Currently, the University will cover up to half of this component of a financial aid package if a student cannot earn enough money to meet it; however, the other half must come from an alternate source. The Board calls on the University to waive the summer savings expectation completely for students who pursue internships or other opportunities that are unpaid. Students who earn income insufficient to cover their obligation should have the shortfall covered in full. Additionally, the University should better publicize the availability of summer savings replacement grants to students on financial aid both in the spring and fall.
Recently at Yale, there has been considerable controversy surrounding an email urging students to think about the messages being sent by their Halloween costumes and the Silliman College Master’s response to the email. The email stressed the difficulty in determining offensive cultural appropriation and encouraged the students to either ignore or confront those wearing costumes that strike them as offensive. Many Yale students felt that the response was inappropriate and made them feel unwelcome in Silliman College. Applying this controversy to Princeton, the Editorial Board continues to support free speech and dialogue on Princeton’s campus; however, in order to be consistent with those goals, we urge University officials to maintain neutrality in official communications related to campus controversies where open debate exists.
This Monday marks the start of the second half of the fall semester. For many students, the weeks between fall break and winter break are associated with paper deadlines and winter formals on Prospect Avenue. Deadlines and festivities aside, the entire Princeton community will experience increasingly cold and wet weather in the coming weeks. Poor drainage on campus exacerbates the effects of rain and snow on the experiences of students and faculty, alike. The Editorial Board recommends that the University take action to decrease flooding on or near high-traffic sidewalks and walkways on campus.
On Sept. 20, the Undergraduate Student Government’s University Student Life Committee and the Princeton Hidden Minority Council hosted a winter coat giveaway at Campus Club. The USLC had collected between 50 and 60 coats to distribute during the giveaway; however, according to USLC chair Kathy Chow ’17, at least 100 students arrived at Campus Club between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to claim coats. Students reported arriving at Campus Club when the event was scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. to find no coats left for collection. The Editorial Board applauds the organizations and individuals who organized the event for their good intentions and notable effort; however, in light of logistical challenges and demand which outstripped supply, the Board recommends improvements to future winter gear collection and distribution drives. Accordingly, the Board also calls on the University community to contribute to future winter gear collection efforts.
According to the latest announcement by the Interclub Council and the Community Service Interclub Council, Princeton’s 11 eating clubs will participate in an initiative called ‘Trick-or-Feed’ during this year’s Princetoween, which falls on Oct. 29. In order to enter an eating club on Thursday night, students must have a special Trick-or-Feed sticker which can be acquired at Frist Campus Center or the Bendheim Center for Finance.
Each day, engineering students make the long trek from their residential colleges to the Engineering Quadrangle for class. Students often have classes from morning to afternoon, sometimes with no more than 30 minutes between each class. Given that the closest dining hall — the Center for Jewish Life — is at least 10 minutes away, many students with meal plans are left with insufficient time before their next class to eat lunch. As a result, many students elect to spend their own money at the E-Quad Café. The Board believes that the University should support students who cannot easily access dining halls during lunchtimes and recommends that the E-Quad Café accept late meal swipes during normal lunch hours.