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There is a university that exists where everyone says hi to each other. They greet one another with a warm embrace, arms outstretched and welcoming. Most of the time, the hugs aren’t hollow. Everyone eats together. They live together. Community is more than a euphemism. Apartness is elided.
Last week, the administration released a draft of a new dining proposal for undergraduate students that was greeted with swift backlash. Since the draft has been circulating, students have angrily contested the removal of options fostered by the proposed policy. The proposal essentially forces students to buy a meal plan from the University, which undermines student agency and causes a significant financial burden.
The first time I met the Class of 2019, I was Anna in the SHARE play. I met the Class of 2020 the following year, as a director. A funny thing happened to me when I did that. When I told people, “I’m directing the SHARE play,” more often than not, they would tell me their opinions about misconduct on campus. Sometimes, people would share a personal story. I learned that lots of people don’t know the University’s definition of sexual misconduct. I learned that many people, more than I originally thought, have dealt with misconduct, but would never dream of talking to the University’s Title IX committee and couldn’t handle the stress of an investigation. Moreover, I learned that people don’t talk so much about misconduct after freshman year. One RCA went so far as to say that juniors needed to see the SHARE play again — that they were the ones who needed it.
For the past two Mondays, gaggles of elated high school seniors have been wandering around campus with their bright-orange folders for Princeton Preview. They’ve been admitted to Princeton and are now seeing what the University has to offer. Despite the myriad activities — ranging from a cappella shows to public lectures — Preview is missing a significant aspect of Princeton which no prospective student should leave without knowing about.
Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing was undoubtedly one of the most culturally relevant testimonies of recent American history. On April 10 and 11, the Facebook CEO sat down with legislators in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in response to the scandal of Cambridge Analytica — the political consulting firm that used the personal data of almost 87 million Facebook accounts in the spreading of Russian propaganda during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The Princeton University Board Plan Review Committee has been reviewing dining hall options for the past two years, and this week released a memo detailing possible changes for both under and upperclassmen. This proposal replaced the current options available with a mandatory “Unlimited” package for first-years and sophomores, and a mandatory “Community” meal plan for juniors and seniors not involved in the eating club system. This plan is less considerate of the diverse needs and wants of students than the current system and is out of step with undergraduate life.
Last winter, the passage of the four referenda concerning the Honor Committee made it clear that students wished to reform the Committee. The implementation of the fourth referendum opened the door to changing practices of the membership without changing the Committee’s current institutional framework. While we may not be able to change the “rules” of the Committee, we can and should ensure members are “playing by the rules.”
As we enter room draw and draw times are released, many will find that their draw time(s) are at inconvenient hours, specifically from 9 a.m. through 7 p.m. on weekdays. During these hours, most students will either be in lecture, lab, precept, or another prior commitment, creating a high likelihood of conflict. Facing this inconvenience, many students feel forced to get proxies to cover for them during their draw time. A proxy is another University student who can select a room for you during your designated draw time. Finding a proxy can be inconvenient and stressful, and it is only necessary because of the larger issue of room draw taking place during the middle of the week. But as I will show, this nuisance can be prevented through simple policy changes.
Here at the University, “changing the world” is a glamorous affair. From the opening exercises of our first year, we undergraduates are praised as future world leaders, or, in the words of President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, “pilots of the rafts on which we travel.” Everyone is a member of the Great Class of Twenty-something, and we’re all presumably in The Service of Humanity. The implication is understood. In order to make the world a better place, one must be intelligent, successful, and powerful — in short, one must necessarily be Great.
The University administration circulated a survey to collect feedback on the Proposed Meal Plan Changes for 2019–20. The Princeton University Board Plan Review Committee’s plan includes compulsory meal plans for upperclass students, but only independents and co-op members. This proposal apparently came from the “first comprehensive review of board plans since 2005.” My phone-typed response soon had the length of an essay, and I’m sharing part of that here. As an engineering major focused on sustainable design, and a health-focused individual who treasures the interpersonal warmth of a great meal, I’ve long taken issue with the required meal plans at this university. The forced predetermination of one’s food and eating place is incomprehensible to my friends and family, in Germany and across the globe.
Native English speaker or not, you have an accent. So does the girl sitting next you, and so do I. We all vocalize our thoughts with different rhythms, intonations, percussiveness, and inflections. Even within the United States, people speak English differently. Despite this natural tendency, we are keen to point out the “accents” of those who speak differently from how we do. We understand accents to be collective ways of speaking, unique to certain populations. This perception creates space for “us” versus “them,” and leaves room for us to value certain accents over others. We should struggle against this hierarchy.
The Board Plan Review Committee’s draft of proposed changes to the University’s dining plan claims they will create “more flexibility, affordability, and efficiency for an increasingly diverse community.”
This week, the USG election ballot includes yet another referendum to amend the Honor Constitution. Unlike the referenda from the fall, however, this proposal does not touch on the committee’s penalties or procedures. Instead, it focuses on the leadership of the committee itself. The referendum, if adopted, would create a procedure for a member of the Honor Committee to challenge the incumbent chair or clerk for their position. Regardless of your views on the Honor Committee and the fall referenda, this proposal should concern every student. It will create turmoil and uncertainty, not accountability, harming the interests of students who interact with the committee. All disciplinary bodies at the University should be held accountable, including the Honor Committee, but the model proposed by the referendum is deeply flawed. I strongly urge students to vote no.
I love when new courses come out, and I hate choosing between courses, sentiments which I think are shared among my fellow undergraduates. Despite the inordinate amount of time I pour into course schedules every semester, it was only this semester that I realized something odd. Go into ReCal, the student-developed scheduling app, start adding courses in: soon you’ll realize that you’ve ended up with a few conflicts. And most of them will be at 1:30 p.m.