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“You were never the problem, but you are so much the solution,” said Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman after she gave her heart-wrenching testimony at Larry Nassar’s sentencing. Aquilina allowed more than 150 women to speak their truth and reveal their scarring experiences with Nassar, who had abused his power as the USA Gymnastics national team doctor and Michigan State University physician to molest young girls during treatments. She went on to directly tell Nassar, “I just signed your death warrant” after sentencing him to 40 to 175 years in prison. Many people have criticized Aquilina, accusing her of crossing a line by overtly showing support for the Nassar’s victims and harshly condemning Nassar. However, I believe Aquilina’s statements were not only acceptable, but also necessary, providing more hope to the gymnasts, as well as to the current #MeToo movement and Time’s Up initiative. By allowing the women to gain the closure they might need to heal and criticizing Nassar face to face, Aquilina set a precedent in the courtroom that demonstrates complete intolerance of sexual assault. This is especially important considering the outcome in many other high-profile sexual assault cases. In 2016, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner, a former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious girl, to only six months in jail, worried about the effects prison might have on Turner’s psyche. In 2013, before sentencing former bishop Keith Vallejo for rape, Judge Thomas Low called Vallejo an “extraordinarily good man.” When judges show sympathy for men who have hurt women both physically and mentally, they send a message to other victims that their stories do not carry much weight and they are better off silent. By giving all Nassar’s victims a platform to speak and thanking them for their bravery, Judge Aquilina told victims everywhere that their voices matter and are welcome. Instead of silencing the victims, she silenced the perpetrator, throwing away Nassar’s letter expressing his difficulties listening to the women.
I had just hopped on the treadmill when three of the TVs in Dillon Gymnasium lit up with the exact same press conference. President Trump’s doctor had just started answering questions about the President’s mental and physical health, and all of the major cable networks gave this press conference priority over other news.
“That sucks.” “Thank you for sharing that with me.” “I’m really sorry you’re going through this.” “How can I be here for you?”
A few weeks ago, I came across the first hard copy of The Daily Princetonian that I’d saved. (For reference, my bookshelf is now overflowing with copies.) It was from October 2014; I was a first-year, and I’d written my second-ever column for the ‘Prince.’ It was a piece on the official repeal of grade deflation, and a columnist from the Yale Daily News had even quoted me, complimenting my writing. The Prince had been the first extracurricular I’d joined, and I already had two print bylines. I was so proud.
The backlash to the University’s decision on the Honor Constitution referenda has been growing since the January 4 announcement. There are now calls for protests in February by the Honor Code Reform campaign, and the USG Executive Committee has vowed to “[actively pursue] other avenues of action available to us.” These responses demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding both of how the University operates and of the relationship between the faculty and the Honor System. The University’s decision is consistent with its authority over academic policy and was a prudent response to a highly flawed attempt to alter the Honor System. Going forward, students should focus on participating in the work of the Honor System Review Committee, not protesting a legitimate exercise of authority.
So your administration decided to shoot down your school referenda. Now, I’m sure much analysis and frustration will follow the referendum rejections; we’ve already seen some of it. But there is one silver lining to the whole debacle. After all, there are four referenda, and the fourth made it through the gauntlet. In my opinion, the fourth referendum is the most important: This is the referendum that required the Honor Committee to tell you if you are under investigation or not. Ultimately, this is a really good change; other Princeton students ought not be able to lord it over their peers with power in situations that affect their peers at a fundamental level. In the real world, the police are required to tell you if you are under arrest. Why shouldn’t we have the same policy here?
Five months, three days, and 22 hours after I got into college, I realized that I had not written a single poem. There was one exception: a night when I wrote what it meant to be a young, young 18-year-old waiting for 19 and all of its independence to rocket me away from my parents. That night, words poured forth in a tirade. I remember one word I had used, a sweet word, corpuscle (which means minute particle) that I realize now should have been crepuscule (meaning twilight).
In our conversations about the University’s suspension of Honor Code referenda, we have overlooked one crucial fact: The administration has offered no timetable for its internal deliberations. Although we cannot change the decision to stay the referenda, we should press administrators to establish an operable time frame to which they can be held accountable. As citizens, we would expect nothing less from our government. We should hold our University to the same standard.
Holiday party small talk can be summed up in three questions: Do you love college? Do you know your major yet? And how long are you home for?
A majority of the undergraduate student body voiced the need — not the desire, not the want, but the need — to reform a broken Honor Code system through democratic processes. But the administration of President Eisgruber, along with Dean of the College Jill Dolan, Dean of the Faculty Sanjeev Kulkarni, and Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun, pulled the rug out from under Princetonians. For all the debate and discussion that appeared on the pages of The Daily Princetonian, nothing happened. Recently, Micah Herskind, one of the loudest voices for reform, advocated for student mobilization in response. The HC Reform movement naively thought that a majority vote would work, but embracing the University’s processes, as one can learn from the history of the Black Justice League and minority student activism on campus, doesn’t do a damn thing.
On a campus like Princeton’s, which teems with tranquility, socioeconomic insulation, and seclusion, it is often too easy to lose sight of the profound troubles facing the outside world. Over winter break, the isolating impact of Princeton’s campus became all too clear as I began to fully reengage with the political, social, and cultural crises that are plaguing American society. I realized through this reengagement that the isolation of Princeton life inadvertently limits the off-campus sociopolitical activism of Princetonians, which prevents Princeton students from making a more substantive difference in the outside world.
The Republican tax bill that President Trump signed into law just before Christmas is a disaster for millennials. While the wealthy and major corporations get a massive tax cut, millennials will get saddled with a new inflation tax, trillion-dollar deficits, and higher healthcare and housing costs. If Democrats want to win back Congress and the White House, they need to talk to millennials about repealing the Republican tax bill and replacing it with programs that truly help young people get an affordable education, earn a livable wage, and save for their future.
I hate doing laundry at Princeton.
Around this time every year, it is a solemn and holy tradition for Princeton undergraduates to start complaining about a peculiarity of the University academic calendar. Exams after break? Ew. But I argue that if you closely examine the arguments for both having exams before break and having exams after break, it is clear that having exams after break is the superior — if counter-intuitive — choice. Princeton students should not be so hasty to wish away one of the great structural advantages Princeton gives us.
I only learned what “Netflix and chill” meant after I once suggested to a guy I liked that we do so sometime. He quickly texted me back to say that he was shocked by my honesty. “You’re usually pretty shy,” he said. “Are you sure?” I couldn’t understand why he was so hesitant. “What do you mean?” I responded. “I’m only inviting you to watch a movie.”
New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait called liberal speech on campuses a “war on the liberal mind.” Conservatives frequently decry “snowflake liberals” on our college campuses. President Trump threatened to cut off federal funding to the University of California, Berkeley, over its alleged suppression of conservative speech. Here at Princeton, some go so far as to allege that the University has become a haven of left-wing groupthink. For its part, the left seems like it will tear itself apart over ideological differences — just look at the Ta-Nehisi Coates and Cornel West feud, or the continued battles in the Democratic Party between the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton wings.
Everyone has a right to arms under the Second Amendment. It is therefore immoral and illegal to deny our most vulnerable citizens their right to self-protection. Squirrels, who are people too, live in a precarious balance of life and death. We can only improve the balance on life’s side by providing more firearms. Everyone knows that more guns equals more life, and we love our squirrels, so why would we not want them to have more life? In my belief, officers in the Department of Public Safety should not have guns, but the squirrels should. Why? Frankly, I trust squirrels more than police officers. Also, they are cute and fuzzy, so how could they possibly take life unnecessarily? The only way to protect our second amendment rights is to make sure that the government can’t take our guns. That will be significantly easier if we also arm our wildlife. This is a good idea and has no problems.
Princeton undergraduate students and alumni: You should be absolutely furious right now. We just had our (honor-) constitutionally-endowed rights obliterated by a short email sent by several administrators. These rights were guaranteed to us 125 years ago with the establishment of the Honor Constitution and yet, one well-timed email was enough to dismantle them.
Last month, a USG subcommittee introduced four referenda to make the most sweeping changes to the Honor Constitution in a generation. After a riveting election, they passed in a landslide victory. Last week, administrators rebuked three of the four referenda. But a complete review of the Honor System by a University task force will occur this spring.