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In September, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education would formally rescind Obama-era guidance on how schools should handle sexual assault accusations under Title IX, a federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools and programs that receive federal funding. Interim guidelines written by the Department of Education reflect DeVos’s concern that previous guidance denied proper due process to those accused. After soliciting feedback from universities and other stakeholders, the Department of Education plans to release a new set of guidelines.
There is no greater power discrepancy in all of academia than between a Ph.D. advisor and their advisee. Sure, professors can determine course grades, but a course grade is one among many, so the influence of any one professor is diluted. An advisor-advisee relationship, on the other hand, is one that spans many years, and an advisor’s voice can make or break your career. Students must be able to trust that their advisors will treat and evaluate them fairly. It is impossible to have a functional system built on these relationships if violations of this trust are not met with the severest of punishments: termination.
During a talk on campus last spring, Eric Schmidt ’76, the executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., glowingly described how technological solutions and big data will soon remedy virtually all societal problems. It is a tantalizing idea — that all the human suffering we see in the world can be eliminated by predictive algorithms, powerful analytics, and global interconnectedness. As a computer science major, I can attest to the allure of Silicon Valley, and Princeton alumni no doubt can too. According to a Career Services report, 15 percent of the Class of 2014 pursued jobs in science and technology, up from 12 percent the year before. While it’s easy for a billionaire entrepreneur to put technology on a pedestal, I am wary of the triumphalist narrative surrounding the powers of technology and the assumption that technological progress is always inherently good.
New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof came to campus in October to discuss his work on global poverty and to advise students on how they can get involved. He explained that every student has the capacity to help, as every “drop in the bucket” provides an important contribution. But he also mentioned a huge downfall of university programs: the tendency to study the world without actually seeing anything beyond campus. Kristof’s 2014 article “Go West, Young People! And East!” emphasized the importance of study abroad as the most effective way to broaden perspectives and understand other cultures, lamenting that “fewer than 10 percent of college students study overseas during undergraduate years.” Students study international poverty and history and politics and brainstorm international solutions, but they rarely apply these lessons outside of Princeton during their college years.
Princeton graduate students could see their tax bills skyrocket to $11,000 or more if the Republican tax bill currently under consideration in the House of Representatives becomes law.
After reading Jessica Nyquist’s column on her perception of Princeton students’ risk-averse culture and its effect on their career paths, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own Princeton experience. As a pre-medical student, a goal of mine — as for practically all other Princeton pre-meds — is to eventually go to medical school. Were I risk-averse, I guess I’d be spending most of my time in a hospital, or in a research lab, or maybe rebuilding clinics in developing countries. But, my intellectual curiosity, as Nyquist puts it, has pointed me in many other directions including, but certainly not limited to, journalism, FM and internet radio, and even competitive poker! By no means am I confined to this single path to medical school, and from my experience, neither are most Princeton students.
I’ll admit that my first impression of Amazon’s HQ2 was very cynical. I was stuck with this image of Amazon’s current headquarters sprawling across Seattle like a cancer, inflating housing prices, pushing people out of their homes — and then, the most hackle-raising image of all, constructing a homeless shelter to shuttle those people away. In a sense, a corporate entity had become a vast, sovereign force that had the power to relocate people like chess pieces.
Eight years ago, the U.S. economy was in freefall with no end in sight. The stock market crashed to its lowest point since 1997. Unemployment skyrocketed to 7.2 percent as 2.6 million more Americans lost their jobs. Foreclosures were up by 225 percent as banks took back people's homes. No one had seen a crisis like it since the Great Depression.
We’ve learned a lot over the past few weeks.
I remember when I was accepted to Princeton. It was a Friday, the infamous Ivy Day, to be exact, when all Ivy League schools send out their decisions, leaving thousands of high school seniors feeling extremely ecstatic or extremely inadequate. After other college rejections, I opened each Ivy League letter with low expectations.
In an age of expansive building renovations, from the new Lewis Arts Center to the restoration of the University Chapel’s roof, one building stands out for its sheer obstinate age, lack of comfort, and indelible presence in the academic careers of most undergraduates. I am referring, of course, to McCosh Hall. My simple question is, why does McCosh suck?
More and more, the political environment of the United States has become concerned with symbols. In this environment, great questions of morality, justice, progress, and even philosophy are infused into national dialogue through symbology. Symbols appear on both sides of the political spectrum, emanating not only from the leaders in our democracy, but also the voices of the people. The symbols are not pictures or logos, nor insignias or crests; these symbols are the actions, the decisions, the conduct, and the ultimate successes and failures of our political system entirely. We are influenced by the symbols that vividly come to us through the actions and representations of our political system. Both for the good and the bad, we pay much attention to and place great importance on the symbolic nature of our leaders. But the true symbolic power actually lies with us – the people.
President Eisgruber argued earlier this year that “petitions emphasize conformity” because “their logic suggests that since so many have signed, nobody should think otherwise.” He expressed reticence about taking stands on the University’s behalf that could “chill discussions that it is our responsibility to promote.”
When accusations against Harvey Weinstein were first brought to light this October, it seemed like another stand-alone case. After the media cycle moved on to another story, the film industry would return to its normal ways, waiting until the next Weinstein was revealed.
“I choose now to live as a gay man,” Kevin Spacey solemnly acknowledged in a tweet. By "now," he means the crucial first moment after he was accused of sexual assault by a man who was, at the time, a minor. By "now," he means when it is most opportune. After reports surfaced of Spacey allegedly molesting Anthony Rapp in 1986, when Rapp was 14, the world awaited Spacey’s statement with bated breath, wondering how the notoriously private actor would respond to the explosive allegations. The answer, perhaps, is best summed up by comedian Billy Eichner on Twitter, “Kevin Spacey has just invented something that has never existed before: a bad time to come out.”
I write to solicit nominations for the Pyne Prize, the highest general distinction the University confers upon an undergraduate, which will be awarded on Alumni Day, Saturday, February 24, 2018.
I affectionately joke that the small community living in my Wilson basement is a nudist colony. Despite our limited interaction as nearly strangers, my dorm neighbors and I have a healthy sense of platonic camaraderie when it comes to accepting the unintended consequences of living with members of the opposite sex in tight quarters. If we accidentally bump into one another wrapped in towels having just left the shower, or see one of our ranks sleepwalking in their pajamas or folding laundry in the hallway wearing nothing but boxer shorts, we still manage a neighborly “hello” sans prudish judgement.
Princeton has been patting itself on the back a lot lately.