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Last week, The Daily Princetonian reported on an initiative by Princeton Hindu Satsangam and a number of both Hindu and non-Hindu students to advocate for the creation of a Hindu prayer space on campus. Though the University Chapel hosts Hindu events and Murray-Dodge Hall, which houses the University’s Religious Life offices, contains an interfaith prayer room, supporters of the proposal have pointed out that the establishment of a space geared specifically towards Hindu worship would offer a meaningful recognition of Princeton’s large Hindu community. Additionally, a new Hindu prayer space would contribute to the mission of fostering diversity and cultural awareness which lies at the core of the University’s educational goals. The Editorial Board endorses this initiative and commends the students who have expressed interest in a prayer space for their efforts to enhance Hindu life at Princeton.
Club sports are an integral part of university life for many students. At the University, the more visible varsity sports teams, which accommodate only a small fraction of the student body, are complemented by the large number of club sports. According to the Campus Recreation website, the University has 37 different club sports, rangin from fencing to ultimate frisbee. Open to all University students, regardless of skill level, club sports contribute to the physical health and well-being of the students who participate, as they emphasize peer leadership and student development outside the classroom. Thus, the Editorial Board recommends that Campus Rec better support clubs with start-up funding and fundraising assistance.
From noon today through noon on Wednesday, voting will take place in the Spring USG Elections. The ballot includes a referendum to determine if Princeton students will call on the Trustees “to divest [the University’s endowment] from multinational corporations that maintain the infrastructure of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.” The Board urges students to vote no on the divestment referendum. We believe that the University should not directly insert itself in heavily politicized issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially when such issues have been the source of widespread disagreement on campus. Further, we consider the specific condemnation of Israel’s actions without similar condemnation of worse conduct exhibited by other nations to be a philosophically inconsistent show of ‘selective outrage.’
Princeton is not perfect. We have persistent problems with race, gender and class that affect members of our student body every day. Far too often, it falls upon the most affected groups to work alone to combat these problems. The fact that the University shares this dynamic with the rest of society does not make the situation excusable. We can do better, and we should do better. Being in the service of a righteous cause, however, does not exempt activists from criticism. We, the Editorial Board, disapprove of the misconstrual of the words of University President Eisgruber ’83 during the protest at the Chapel on Sunday and commend Eisgruber for his thoughtful response to the discussion surrounding Urban Congo and Big Sean.
A university is a stage for the clash of ideas through reasoned discourse between those of diverse points of view. Princetonians are diverse in many ways. We differ academically, politically and culturally. Diversity of thought inevitably yields disagreement. But despite our differences and deep personal investment in various debates, we pride ourselves on the ability to engage with one another and develop ideas and values through healthy participation in the University’s intellectual community. We therefore commend the University faculty and President Eisgruber’s administration for passing a motion to include a more comprehensive statement protecting freedom of expression in the University “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities,” and we strongly encourage our peer institutions to follow suit.
Since it went live on Sunday, the petition to have Big Sean dropped as the Lawnparties main act has fueled an intense debate within the student body. The Editorial Board supports the discussion about misogyny in music and the role the campus community has in perpetuating it; however, the Board thinks that the petition’s focus on the Undergraduate Student Government should be expanded to a more holistic critique of campus culture in general. Instead of looking to blame USG president Ella Cheng ’16 and social chair Simon Wu ’17, the Board thinks that those who have signed the petition should look at the campus community and the choices that have led to his invitation, as well as the role that music with derogatory lyrics plays in our social lives.
Last week, an opinion column was published in The Daily Princetonian by members of the Faculty-Student Committee on Sexual Misconduct urging the student body of the University to participate in the "WeSpeak: Attitudes on Sexual Misconduct at Princeton" survey. According to an email distributed to students by the committee, the objective of the survey is simple: to learn about the prevalence of sexual assault at Princeton and to more effectively address issues related to sexual violence and sexual assault. The Editorial Board recognizes the critical importance of accurate data related to instances of sexual assault and sexual violence at the University, and the Board is concerned that an initially low response rate may have caused the University to extend the survey deadline. Consequently, we urge every student to participate in the survey before its April 7 deadline.
The Daily Princetonian recently published an article, as part of a four-part Women’s History Month feature series, on the rise of female visibility and leadership in major campus organizations as well as on the Street. While many women have been elected in recent years to ‘visible’ positions such as president of the USG, chair of the Honor Committee and editor-in-chief of the ‘Prince,’ Princeton has yet to fully bridge the gender gap. After all, while these elections demonstrate progress, many Princeton undergraduate women continue to face barriers to leadership positions. For example, when an organization’s officer corps or membership body is predominantly male, female members may drop out if they feel uncomfortable or if they do not see opportunities for leadership in the future. This creates a cycle of low female retention rates and low female visibility in leadership roles. Thus in order to better facilitate and encourage female leadership on campus, the Board urges campus organizations such as the Women’s Center to change their outreach campaigns in order to foster more inclusive dialogue. Furthermore, the Board encourages all University and student groups to push for more diverse representation and female visibility, especially at recruiting events.
The Continental Army fired cannonballs at Nassau Hall during the Battle of Princeton, and Albert Einstein taught in what is now the Frist Campus Center. These moments in Princeton history figure prominently in the typical Orange Key campus tour attended by many undergraduates when they were prospective students. Less well-known is that the world’s first telegraph line was set up between Joseph Henry’s Princeton home and his laboratory in the University’s Philosophical Hall or that Pete Conrad '53, commander of Apollo 12, brought small Princeton flags to the moon in November 1969. Currently, no outlet for sharing these aspects of Princeton lore with interested Princeton students, community members and other campus visitors exists. To address this programming gap, the Editorial Board proposes that Orange Key creates and advertises a weekly Historical Tour focused on Princeton’s architecture, history and traditions. Furthermore, we recommend the Admission Office offer tours of this nature during the upcoming Princeton Preview days for admitted students and their families.
Campus Dining is managed with remarkable skill and efficiency. Even while serving thousands of students, staff and visitors each day, the award-winning residential dining program makes it a priority to offer nutritious and sustainable menus. The retail dining system, meanwhile, provides quality services in a number of easily accessible locations. However, there is still significant room for improvement, specifically in the area of waste reduction. The University could do much in the way of small adjustments to dining operations in order to promote financial and environmental efficiency. To that end, the Editorial Board offers two proposals. First, Campus Dining should gradually reduce the size of plates in the residential dining halls. Second, make the Princeton University water bottles currently sold in Frist Campus Center ineligible for the Late Meal allowance.
With midterms week, today begins the period during which students can elect to use the pass/D/fail grading option for one class in lieu of receiving a letter grade. According to the University’s 2014-15 Undergraduate Announcement, the P/D/F option is in place in order to “encourage exploration and experimentation in curricular areas in which the student may have had little or no experience.” The P/D/F option allows students to take classes that interest them in areas outside their comfort zone without the added pressure of the usual grading system and its effect on their GPAs. Despite the many merits of the P/D/F option, however, the Editorial Board proposes that University’s existing policy could be improved by extending the P/D/F deadline to the beginning of reading period and allowing students to rescind but lose a P/D/F selection after seeing their final grade in a class.
By the time University freshmen reach their spring semester, it is assumed that the rich experiences and individuals they have encountered in the first few months of college will allow them to decide with ease where and with whom they would like to live the following year. And, although the process of choosing housing is no longer a novelty once students reach sophomore spring, finding upperclassman housing can still be daunting. Room draw policies play a major role in students’ lives each spring, and in order to create the most efficient experience possible, the Editorial Board offers three proposals: (1) institute an internal review system of dormitory conditions, (2) release statistics relating to upperclassman housing earlier to coincide with eating club decisions, and (3) arrange University-wide socials for students seeking roommates during the hectic draw process.
In three weeks, the University will extend admissions offers to the newest batch of Princetonians, and if the trend displayed in recent years holds true, the pool of accepted students will be the most diverse in the University’s history. All prospective students will have demonstrated strong academic capacity and diversity of experiences to the admissions committee — hence their admission to the University — but not all are necessarily prepared for some aspects of Princeton’s unique academic environment. Accordingly, the University hosts multiple programs meant to support first-generation students, students from high schools with fewer resources and students who will face particularly rigorous coursework during their first year. One such program is the Freshman Scholars Institute (FSI).
Monday begins the notoriously stressful week of midterms. Whereas for final exams the University provides a reading period and a designated exam period, midterms week is hardly set apart from any other week of the semester, and the exams taken often carry significant weight in course grading. Midterms are often treated like other assignments that students should be expected to juggle; in some cases, students have had 150-minute exams on weeknights, in addition to class and precept. Meanwhile, since there is no special reading period or exam week, extracurricular activities still go on; athletes will have regular practice, clubs and student organizations may hold important meetings, campus events will happen, and libraries will operate at normal hours.
Recently, a group of students began a campaign known as the Princeton Sustainable Investment Initiative (PSII), seeking to implement a series of proposals concerning the University’s management of its endowment and environmental impact. Specifically, PSII calls on the University to report on the environmental impact of its investments and ultimately to cease investing in companies that are deemed insufficiently environmentally friendly. Members of the PSII have arranged to meet with the University Resources Committee on March 3. The Board urges the University to reject this effort to politicize the endowment and unduly tie the hands of the Princeton University Investment Company. Caving to such demands would fruitlessly compromise the endowment’s return on investment and, more importantly, doing so would risk the many benefits that a strong endowment affords to Princeton students, especially a strong financial aid program.
Several weeks after its conclusion, Bicker remains the word on the street. Continued campus conversation about Bicker owes much to the recent “Hose Bicker” movement. While dialogue about Bicker reform is certainly worth having, the framing of the current referendum to end the Bicker system is problematic — and harmful — to productive conversation. Proponents of the “Hose Bicker” referendum shortsightedly narrow the conversation by setting the cart before the horse: they set the goal to eliminate Bicker and then propose the formation of a committee to work toward that specific end. The Board urges that the referendum be amended to remove its “end Bicker” formulation and instead simply propose the creation of an ad hoc committee to discuss all eating club member selection processes, not just Bicker.
Last week, the Wilson School hosted former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, as well as Dr. Willie Parker, one of the last physicians performing abortions in Mississippi, to deliver lectures in Robertson Hall. This week, on Wednesday, the Wilson School will welcome last year’s Texan Democrat gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis to campus for another such University-sponsored lecture. In response to the appearance of these high-profile liberal figures, a number of students on campus have expressed concerns over a perceived liberal homogeneity among invited speakers. Whether or not allegations of a liberal campus orthodoxy have merit, the Editorial Board recognizes the value of diversity of thought on campus and encourages the University to take active measures to encourage constructive debate.
The Honor Code Constitution designates as members of the Honor Committee “the presidents of the sophomore and junior classes, former sophomore and junior class presidents, a member of the freshman class to be appointed by a subcommittee comprised of four members of the Honor Committee and the Undergraduate Student Government president, and members to be appointed by a selection committee from the student body at large until the committee consists of twelve members.” The Editorial Board believes that the practice of including current and past class presidents in the Honor Committee membership should be discontinued in favor of independent elections, held simultaneously with class council elections, for Honor Committee representatives. This system would build an Honor Committee membership better suited to the organization’s particular challenges and would enhance the student engagement on which the Honor Code depends.
Earlier this month, almost 40 percent of Princeton undergraduates voted in an Undergraduate Student Government-sponsored referendum to “call on the faculty and administration to provide for a three-week winter recess during the 2015-16 academic year and future academic years.” Predictably, it passed, with over 96 percent of students voting in favor. This highlights an important issue with the way the University determines the start and end dates of winter recess: however, it also presents an opportunity to look at possible changes to Princeton’s academic calendar as a whole. Over the past three years, the Editorial Board has repeatedly called for various changes to the academic calendar, including making Thanksgiving break a full week and moving finals before winter recess. In light of the USG referendum and long-time student complaints about the University’s academic calendar, we believe that the University should always make winter recess at least three weeks long, and we renew our call for finals to be moved before winter break.
Last semester, the unsigned editorials featured on this page have discussed issues such as the construction of a campus pub, increasing the number of beginner-level precepts offered in introduction courses and encouraging activism at the University. 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.