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Editor’s Note: Due to unanticipated safety concerns that arose after this piece’s publication, The Daily Princetonian took the extraordinary step of taking down this column as of 4 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 3. This decision was made in consultation with the author.
The 2020–2021 season marks the 50th anniversary of women’s sports at Princeton University. The relative newness of the women’s athletic program is a rather striking and timely reminder that women’s collegiate sports are still in their infancy. The fact that such a momentous milestone has landed this year — a year in which it is not clear whether sports at all— demonstrates the fragility of our athletic system, especially the women’s program.
The University proclaims “a longstanding commitment to service, reflected in Princeton’s informal motto — Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity — and exemplified by the extraordinary contributions that Princetonians make to society.” Yet, for most students, classes and meetings will run on the normal schedule during Election Day, rendering democratic participation difficult, if not impossible.
In 2016, at least for a while, America fell in love with Ken Bone — the man in the red sweater. Bone was an undecided voter in that election who had stood up at the Presidential debate to ask a question about energy policy. Part of it was the ludicrousness of the situation. How could anybody be undecided?
In a recent column, Braden Flax argued that while we must call out the Department of Education’s (DOE) investigation into the University as an obvious sham, we can’t take our eyes off the ball in the fight against institutional racism. Yesterday, the administrators confirmed why such scrutiny is crucial.
Editor’s Note: This piece ran in The Daily Princetonian’s Oct. 2020 print issue.
From the moment we heard the news in the spring that studies would be online for at least three weeks, until I boarded my flight home to California, I was in utter disbelief. In a matter of one week, my water polo season, my studies, and my formative first year of college came to an end without any closure. My mental health started declining at a rapid rate as a result, and an impending sense of doom seemed to linger for months.
Princeton attracts the world’s brightest minds like moths to a flame. Fortunately for us, the comparison ends there. While students lucky enough to attend the University can expect a phenomenal education, death awaits real moths that approach a flame. Indeed, insects’ fascination with light is fatal.
This fall break, my family and I took a trip to San Diego — a brief escape after seven months of quarantining in Houston. Our intention was to visit a city we had friends and fond memories in. I wish I could say we had a good time. But the trip was, to be frank, 90 percent a disaster. Mostly because of me.
For those of us taking our coursework remotely, this fall break likely came and went, noticeable only as a two-day reprieve from classes and a moment’s peace from cramming for midterms. But for the 300-ish undergraduate and 1,000-ish graduate students still holding down the Orange Fort, fall break was a gentle reminder that leaving the University is possible, but that doing so comes with a certain element of risk.
Since I saw it for the first time in my seventh grade social studies class, “The West Wing” has been my favorite show. It fed my budding interest in politics, and its good-heartedness stuck out against a television landscape that favored anti-heroes. But as real-life politics strays farther from the idealism of the show, I have revisited the lessons of the show and wondered — can we achieve the change we need through its approach to politics?
In high school, I had a better relationship with civil discourse. I was part of my school’s We the People team, and we competed in competitions centered on debating pressing constitutional issues. At Princeton, though, I noticed that things changed. I began dreading certain classes’ lectures and precepts. It wasn’t until recently that I realized why. My relationship with civil discourse wasn’t fracturing because I was becoming more radical or college-level discussions were more complex (I got deep into constitutional law in high school, studying everything from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to the definition of speech). It was because, in my department at least, I’ve found that “civil discourse” is “no holds barred.” Anything is up for debate, and that includes my right to be in the classroom at all.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing and the ensuing scramble for her replacement have exposed a fundamental flaw in how America designates its judiciary. The partisan process of nominations and confirmations — procedures spearheaded by politicians with competing interests — has become contrary to the ideal of a nonpartisan court. To preserve the integrity of the judiciary, we must divorce appointments from political deliberation and put the people who know best in charge: the Justices themselves.
Mellody Hobson ’91 made headlines and history on Oct. 8: thanks to her donation, the University’s newest residential college will be the first on Princeton’s campus to be named for a Black alumna. Hobson is helping the University take the first step in re-framing Princeton’s narrative, and her actions should set the precedent for how alumni engage with the University after they graduate.
Princeton is rightfully proud of the diversity of its student body, with 51 percent of its undergraduates identifying as people of color. Among these students are those who identify as Asian or Asian American, Black or African American, Native American, Latin American, or of multiple backgrounds. This last category is perhaps the most ambiguous — to the extent that racial identification matters, the concept of “multiple backgrounds” allows students to choose a label that encompasses at least a few different aspects of who they are.
Last summer, I made the dreadful mistake of watching an episode of HBO’s “Euphoria” with my 77-year-old grandmother; during one particularly graphic sex scene, she shielded my eyes and exclaimed, “What is this, pornography?!”
On March 10, my high school announced its plan to cancel classes until the end of April. Little did we know that this would extend into the end of the school year and the fall semester of college.
With less than a month before the presidential election, executives at Twitter and Facebook have made national news for unveiling several measures to combat misinformation, block voter suppression, restrict political ads, and even prevent premature victory declarations. The viability of some of these measures will only be determined after we finish what is going to be a bitterly contested election. Given the flaws within some of these policies, however, there is no certainty they will prevent the disinformation or exaggerated claims that often unduly influence young voters who are increasingly informing themselves via the internet.
When Japan surrendered in 1945, the Nassau Bell rang for three and a half hours. From Nassau Street to Nassau Hall, a “milling crowd” of townspeople, military, and students cheered, celebrating the end.
On September 16, the Department of Education announced an investigation into Princeton’s “admitted racism,” referring to President Eisgruber’s letter that acknowledged and addressed the systemic racism currently endemic in higher education, and Princeton in particular. What followed should remind us that what is at stake in this upcoming election can be a matter of life and death.