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This semester’s USG referendums and elections have been a hot-topic in recent columns. Columnist Claire Wayner urged students to vote, noting that the referendums can push the University to adhere to certain policies or take certain actions supported by the student body. Another column by Liam O’Connor argues that “the sophomore and junior class president races are the two most important offices,” since “those officers sit on the Honor Committee.”
Compared to other universities, Princeton takes a unique approach toward student alcohol consumption. Although “Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities” makes clear that underage drinking is illegal, the University does not penalize inebriated students who are checked into McCosh Health Center. Instead, the University reserves disciplinary action against students who fail to “McCosh” one of their very drunk peers.
Princeton, as one of the uncontested “best” universities in the world, is renowned for rigor, with the assumption that such difficulty will whip our minds into their intellectual prime. Indeed, the majority of alumni emerge from the University as future world leaders. However, it is crucial to consider the physical implications of the stress Princeton places on us: is such stress necessary for us to succeed? Or is it an abuse of our minds and bodies, ultimately shortening our lifespans?
My day begins with a scan of Facebook and national news (and, of course, a paper copy of ‘The Prince’). Checking the news reassures me that I am an informed student and citizen — but should it? We’ve all been on Facebook and seen the angry political rants permeated with one-sided, inflammatory propaganda. And these posts are more than just frustrating: they subconsciously define the way we see other people. When we see a person make one of these posts, that person comes to represent that single thought or emotion.
“What’s your name? What year are you? What’s your major?” Every Princeton student is now prepared to robotically answer these three standard questions. The first two answers are, thankfully, easy enough, but the third gives me grief. As a prospective classics major, I face a lot of confused looks and raised eyebrows. Either after I’ve stated my intended concentration or explained what it is, I am frequently met with the more dreaded question: “What could you possibly do with a concentration in that?” I have lied in the past about my intended major — saying I want to study law or something of the sort — to avoid these questions. It’s possible I may turn towards these career areas with my background in classics, but still, that answer is not entirely truthful. However, if I have the time or if the inquirer is genuinely interested, I will give my spiel for the weight of classics. In fact, I believe that Latin or Greek should be a mandatory element of the high school or college education, regardless of career plans. The education system would benefit from a mandatory requirement of — or at least a greater emphasis on — the classical study.
As Princeton students, we are surrounded by noise. Whether it be unintelligible drunken shouts outside your window late at night or the patter of your roommate typing away, our lives are rarely quiet. Campus is abuzz with the cacophony of life: it is nearly impossible to sit beyond the range of some conversation or cars or distant organ music. As social creatures, we feel awkward sitting with someone and not maintaining a conversation. Silence somehow implies a lack of appreciation for the company of others and is perceived as rude. We are forced into prolonging a never-ending chatter which, for some reason, is apparently preferable to no conversation at all.
As a Princeton freshman, the Pre-read “Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech” was one of the first campus-wide memes I encountered — the smirks of students when someone asked if they had actually read the book, the (redacted) ominous message that all non-freshmen would be receiving a copy placed on their bed, and finally, a viral picture of the Pre-read functioning as an effective door stopper. Despite the brevity with which the subject was discussed during orientation, author Keith Whittington illuminates myriad vital questions concerning free speech and how it should be upheld or restricted in the best version of society. He also underscores the ambiguity of the “line” which has yet to be established between upholding the First Amendment and keeping hate speech at bay.