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A massive hint tucked away in an instructor’s reply to a follow-up on a Piazza post. Eight hours wasted on a problem set because you couldn’t make it to office hours where they told attendees a big clue. Review sessions where the teaching assistant walks through a problem virtually identical to one on the midterm, but you were at sports practice or a job interview or sick at McCosh Health Center. Coding assignments where having beefed-up hardware would have provided a significant advantage. Even in supposedly “objective” STEM fields, grading can be a befuddling, frustrating, and often inequitable process. Add to this the common complaints of humanities students about the subjectivity of grading in their fields — how one preceptor grades more harshly than another, or how some professors use an indecipherably cryptic rubric to assess papers, or even how writing style can shroud a strong argument — and we see that the difference between supposedly good and bad grades at Princeton is often arbitrary.
At one point in time, I wanted to be scientist. I was eight and I really, truly knew what I wanted from life. But to my recollection, that was the last time I was truly sure about anything.
“Conscious of his emptiness, a man tries to make a faith for himself in the political realm. In vain.”
Responsible gun safety legislation — or the lack thereof — is something that dominates my daily thoughts, and those closest to me know not to bring up the topic unless they’re willing to hear me discuss it for the next hour. I repeat the facts and figures on gun violence to classmates, in hopes of planting the seeds of future activism and voting behavior. I forward them articles and hope that, together, we can change the conversation on gun legislation.
In the heat of the current political climate, the upcoming 2018 election cycle is drawing candidates from an unlikely source: natural scientists. According to an article by the Huffington Post, over 60 researchers and technologists will be running for federal office, and more than 200 candidates with technical backgrounds are vying for state-level positions. This comes at a time when many in the scientific community are rolling up their sleeves and channeling their expertise to defend evidence-based policy in an array of efforts to support environmental and social movements.
Professor Lawrence Rosen’s course ANT 342: Anthropology of Law is the reason I majored in anthropology. He commanded the attention of 200 students as if the class were a five-person seminar. Twenty years later, I still remember the examples he used in class and how excited I felt to have found an intellectual home at the University.
The notorious Yale psychology course, PSYC 157: Psychology and the Good Life, has swelled to sizes previously unheard of at the college, beating its own record from earlier in the year with 1,147 attendees at most recent count. PSYC 157, not yet blessed with the kind of snappy name Princeton students would undoubtedly have given it (think “Stars for Stoners,“ or, my personal favorite, “Bridges”). But the Yale course promises “psychological insights into how to live a better life and build a better world,“ as well as “scientifically-validated strategies for becoming happier.” These are lofty claims that raise obvious questions: what kind of psychological insight makes life better? How is science claiming to cure happiness? Although valid, these are questions that neatly sidestep the underlying quandary that this course, like most other manifestations of positive psychology, truly raises. What does “better” mean? What makes one really “happier?” These are questions humanity has grappled with for the better part of its existence, and while I staunchly believe that the answers shall someday be unearthed, I am skeptical that the site of this discovery will be in a lecture hall with nearly 1,200 people.
Tucked into a basement at the corner of Hulfish and Witherspoon Streets is a new restaurant — Lan Ramen. It’s delicious and affordable, and I recommend that everyone check it out. When you hear a name like “Lan Ramen,” you might think that you’re going to a Japanese restaurant — ramen is Japanese, after all. But Lan Ramen isn’t a Japanese restaurant but instead Chinese. “Lan” refers to Lanzhou, the Chinese province famous for “lan zhou la mian” (兰州拉面), a certain kind of pulled noodle. Ramen, in contrast, is comprised of cut noodles. Although the origins of the ramen noodles are perhaps Chinese, apocryphally attributed to a couple of Chinese chefs in the late 19th century, the dish is now distinctly Japanese, with an entire set of cultural rituals dedicated to its consumption. The restaurant aimed to serve these kinds of Lanzhou noodles once it finished its soft opening; in the meantime, though, the restaurant served non-noodle Chinese dishes, hence affirming its decidedly Chinese culinary identity. In light of this, you might ask, why would a restaurant take on an ethnically inaccurate name?
In the first week of the 142nd Editorial Board of The Daily Princetonian, we wrote an article describing an incident in which an anthropology professor used the word “n****r” in his class to make a point about hate speech, blasphemy, and other oppressive cultural symbols. He then used the full word repeatedly, according to a recording of the class obtained by the ‘Prince.’
We are lagging. Here at Princeton, a university devoted to serving the nation and all humanity, an institution with students committed to being change-agents in our world, we are falling behind. While our student body does its part in donating time, energy, winter coats, children’s books, and monetary support, Princeton is running low on blood donations. And with the February blood drive coming up just next week, it’s time for us to think about what that means for us as a community.
On Tuesday, Feb. 6, professor Lawrence Rosen used the racial slur “n****r” in an attempt to stimulate student reactions on “oppressive symbolism.” By this metric, Rosen succeeded. As The Daily Princetonian reported on Feb. 7, four students walked out of the lecture, one of whom returned to confront the professor. The rest of the class argued with Rosen for the remainder of the period, demanding an apology. Since the Feb. 7 publication, there have been four separate Letters to the Editor, defenses which take a variety of sides on the controversy. At least six outside publications have picked up the story, and there have been hundreds of comments on the various articles published in the ‘Prince.’ On Monday, Feb. 12, Rosen cancelled his class. This was without pressure from the University.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t bicker because I was terrified of being hosed. As I wrote in an article earlier this year, I felt rejected by every group I auditioned for and every person I spoke to. I tried out for groups and spent hours waiting for pickups that never happened. I applied for ideal internships, only to receive emails beginning with “thank you for your application” — the classic rejection opener. The idea of having my personality put up for judgment was daunting. I couldn’t put myself through it again. But more than anything, I was scared that I would treat a potential rejection the way I had gone through previous experiences this year: by blaming everything on myself.
As an anthropologist teaching in the Princeton Writing Program whose courses regularly involve offensive material, I would like to weigh in on the recent controversy surrounding Lawrence Rosen’s use of the N-word in his class. In short, I write in support of the students who walked out on Rosen.
In her Feb. 8 letter to the editor, Professor Carolyn Rouse offered a pedagogy for Rosen’s class as contextual background for why certain students should not have walked out. Unfortunately, her letter entirely misses the point as to why the students walked out of class. There is no pedagogical purpose to using “n****r” versus “N-word” or some other euphemism in any class. What are the pedagogical reasons for using “n****r” repeatedly in class if your goal is for students to be able to argue why hate speech should or should not be protected? Can this discussion not take place without the full pronunciation of the most incendiary and racially divisive word in our lexicon? To argue that there is educational value in this line of thinking is at best, disingenuous and at worst, something else entirely. This is one of the many red herrings Rouse offers in her recent letter to the editor. The examples provided regarding a student wiping her feet on the American flag may not elicit the same response because one cannot conflate the 400-year history of the word “n****r” with those upset regarding desecration over the flag. Has anyone offended by flag desecration been oppressed, discriminated against, or systemically denied civil rights? In fact, both flag desecrators and those offended by them have been offered more protections than those called “n****r” by their oppressors. Should we also argue a pedagogical reason for using the word “f**got” or “homo” so that gay people can move beyond their emotions, too, and make an argument about why hate speech should or should not be protected? Certainly not!
Carolyn Rouse, chair of the anthropology department, pictured above. Courtesy of Princeton Alumni Weekly.