IN PRINT: NYT On Grade Deflation

2499892047_1c7b743272_oThe Times gives its take on the policy most Princeton students love to hate (or just hate):

WHEN Princeton University set out six years ago to corral galloping grade inflation by putting a lid on A’s, many in academia lauded it for taking a stand on a national problem and predicted that others would follow.

But the idea never took hold beyond Princeton’s walls, and so its bold vision is now running into fierce resistance from the school’s Type-A-plus student body.

Read the full article here, and then email it to everyone you’ve ever met.  Whether you’re for deflation or against it, as Princetonians we should all agree: the more people who know about the policy, the better.

True Life circa 1880: I am a Princeton student & need quarters for my servant!

[caption id="attachment_3670" align="aligncenter" width="483" caption="Overheard in Witherspoon: "Yo, where my man servant at?""]Overheard: "Yo, where my man servant at?"[/caption]

Wouldn’t it be nice, especially during exams, if someone would just take care of life’s little things? Apparently, Princetonians of yore had just that: private servants.

The Princeton Alumni Weekly recently posted on its blog a University tuition bill from 1910 (you can see it here), and one of the expense lines reads “Private Servant”–though it appears the person to whom the bill belonged did not have a personal Jeeves.

And where did these servants reside? In the dorms! Ever wonder why Witherspoon Hall is so goddamn nice? According to a history of Princeton’s campus, the school began to draw wealthier students after the Civil War, and the existing dorms just wouldn’t do for them:

The spartan facilities of many of the college’s dormitories were simply unpalatable to this new type of undergraduate. With amenities such as waterclosets on every floor, dumbwaiters, and special corridors and rooms for servants, Witherspoon was tailored to meet the needs of these wealthy students.

Built in 1877, Witherspoon was called “the most beautiful and luxurious college dormitory in the country.” Because Princeton charged varying rents for different dorms, it soon faced a problem of another sort: where would it put students who weren’t rich?

Just two years later, the University built another dorm to solve this problem–a building with the most spartan accommodations. Ever wonder why Edwards Hall is so goddamn drab? Indeed, Edwards was considered “the poor man’s dormitory.” The Prince back then had a less-than-flattering opinion of Edwards:

…Naturally dark and dirty, the Hall is made the object on many contemelious [sic] remarks, and the general opinion is that it takes courage backed up by more or less impecunious circumstances to spend a year or more in those dark and dusty entries.

Of course, both Edwards and Witherspoon have subsequently been renovated–Witherspoon lost its servants’ quarters and Edwards lost its poverty-chic status. But despite what the University tells us, it’s clear not all Princeton dorms are equal–at least they weren’t back in the 19th century.

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Alito ’72 & Sotomayor ’76 attend SOTU; Alito not an Obama fan

[caption id="attachment_3662" align="aligncenter" width="399" caption="(source: AP Photo; Yahoo News)"]Obama Court Justice[/caption]

If you were watching last night’s State of the Union address, you might have observed six of the nine Supreme Court justices in attendance, sitting directly in front of President Obama.

Justices Samuel Alito ’72 and Sonia Sotomayor ’76 were sitting next to each other, which we thought was cute. Perhaps, we daydreamed, they’re good friends who reminisce about their times at Old Nassau. Highly unlikely. What would they talk about? Alito’s membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton (the now-defunct conservative group that opposed women and minorities at Princeton)? Awkward! Instead, they were probably forced to sit next to each other, since it appears the justices sat in order of their seniority, starting with Chief Justice John Roberts.

Of course, unless you’ve been living under a rock, Alito made more news than that last night when he shook his head vehemently and appeared to mouth “Not true. Not true.” as Obama criticized the recent Citizens United v. FEC decision, which ruled that corporations can use unlimited money to influence political elections. Reactions have been varied: some are calling it an unprecedented breach of decorum (one liberal blog refers to it as Alito’s “Joe Wilson” moment), while others say that Obama was out of line by criticizing the Court. You can check out the YouTube clip below to see for yourself.

Perhaps the incident shouldn’t be such a surprise. Alito and Obama famously don’t get along. As Jeffrey Toobin from The New Yorker writes:

What makes Alito’s reaction even more delicious is that it’s further evidence that the Justice just can’t stand Obama. As a Senator, Obama voted against Alito’s confirmation, which the Justice does not seem to have forgotten. When the President-elect Obama made a courtesy call on the Justices shortly before his inauguration last year, Alito was the only member of the Court not to attend. (Obama voted against Roberts, too, but the Chief Justice managed to spare the time to welcome Obama.) The first law that Obama signed as President was the Lilly Ledbetter Act—which reversed a decision by the Supreme Court that had erected new barriers to plaintiffs filing employment discrimination cases. The author of that now-overruled decision? Samuel Alito. These two guys have a history.

A Tiger’s Guide to the State of the Union

Shot Glass MirrorPlanning on getting hammered for tonight’s State of the Union Address, but not sure about the best way to go about it?  Try the official State of the Union Drinking Game.

Created by Princeton alums Marc Melzer ’02 and Howard Deutsch ’02 during their senior year in college, the game has become an annual tradition for our more alcoholic patriots.  It’s also become something of a media darling — the New York Post had a big writeup on it this morning, and just fifteen minutes ago I heard a news anchor on CNN suggest that viewers play along.

According to the Post, Melzer and Deutsch have included a shoutout to our tigress of a First Lady in this year’s version of the game: “A camera shot of First Lady Michelle Obama earns a [shot], and if the camera shows the first lady’s well-cut arms, players take another step towards getting well-cut themselves, in both meanings of the word, because that shot has to be delivered using a bicep curl.”

Full rules at .  If you must drink, drink responsibly and legally.

[UPDATED] Krugman on Bernanke: Meh! (Could Blinder Be Next Fed Chair?)








When President Obama reappointed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in August (who was a Princeton economics professor and department chair before his 2005 appointment), his second term seemed almost assured and his Senate confirmation appeared to be smooth sailing–until, of course, this month.

Public anger over bank bailouts and bonuses has made Senators nervous, and Bernanke has been on the receiving end of the resulting political backlash. With Bernanke’s Senate vote suddenly put in doubt, the market has plummeted in recent days in the face of uncertainty.

Princeton professor and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has weighed in on the issue this week: he supports Bernanke’s reappointment…barely.

Where do I stand? I deeply admire Mr. Bernanke, both as an economist and for his response to the financial crisis. (Full disclosure: before going to the Fed he headed Princeton’s economics department, and hired me for my current position there.) Yet his critics have a strong case. In the end, I favor his reappointment, but only because rejecting him could make the Fed’s policies worse, not better.

Bernanke, according to Krugman, has been too complacent on financial reform and unemployment, and too prone to seeing the world “through bankers’ eyes.”

According to the Wall Street Journal and Foreign Policy magazine, several names have been thrown around as possible Bernanke replacements, with Princeton professor (and Press Club alumnus) Alan Blinder ’67 as a top contender. Krugman, too, mentions Blinder (who was Vice Chair of the Fed during the Clinton administration) as a good candidate for Bernanke’s job.

Still, Krugman offers his lukewarm support for Bernanke because he believes appointing someone else would create unneeded political turmoil. Krugman says the country would also risk getting someone who lacks the influence and sway to prevent the other members of the Fed (who, he says, are worse) from ignoring unemployment and financial reform.

UPDATE 1/28/10:

Who said Princetonians don’t look after one another? First it was Krugman (albeit half-heartedly), and now it’s Blinder. Two Democrats supporting a Republican? So post-partisan!

Blinder’s thoughts after the jump!:

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Cornel West Does Laundry & Course Readings All Night Before Class. Do You?

[caption id="attachment_3602" align="alignleft" width="140" caption="Cornel West at his freshest!"]Cornel West at his freshest![/caption]

If you’re taking one of Professor Cornel West *80’s two seminars this coming semester make sure you do your reading! Because he will be “real fresh”! That, apparently, includes clean clothes–an aspiration that is a constant struggle for Princeton students.

West was recently featured in The New York Times‘ “Sunday Routine” series. On the subject of class preparation, he said:

I try to shoot to be home by 8 or 9 at night. I like to get home and wash my clothes. I have to read all night; I have to be real fresh for class. I like to read two or three hours every night. Right now I’m reading Robert Brandom, one of the great pragmatic American philosophers. I read until 2, 2:30 a.m. I don’t really need that much sleep.

Curiously, West also said he has never spent a weekend on campus:

I’ve never spent a weekend in Princeton. I would like to be at home, but my calling beckons me.

Instead, he usually visits four cities each weekend! And he does all this on DECAF coffee, which is the craziest thing we’ve ever heard.

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37 Years Later: On Roe v. Wade, Emergency Contraception, & Princeton’s Office of Population Research

Rep. Albert Wynn and Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt rallying on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (SOURCE:

Rep. Albert Wynn and Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt rallying on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (SOURCE:

So unless you’re a virtual Rolodex of historical dates, Supreme Court decisions, or sexual health statistics (any of which would be commendable and—in the true Princeton spirit—somewhat marketable personality traits), the thought of January 22 most likely conjures up nothing more than that warm glow in the bottom of your belly that accompanies the end of the final exam period.

But January 22 holds significance that extends far beyond that infamous orange bubble. January 22 is about abortion.

Participants in the 2009 March for Life (SOURCE:

Participants in the 2009 March for Life (SOURCE:

As we reached the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this week–and watched the pro-life, pro-choice, and the annual March for Life rallies in DC–something was just a little bit different this year. This year, after all, is the year of health care reform and of fears (or hopes) that the conservative high court may overturn the landmark 1976 case–that the strides made by women may be slipping away.

But here at Princeton, a voice rises above all of this. In 1994, Dr. James Trussel, Princeton’s current Director of the Office of Population Research, began The Emergency Contraception Website, a site free from pharmaceutical or for-profit affiliation that’s designed to provide a comprehensive and clinical examination of emergency contraception (EC) options and providers both in the United States and abroad. The site has grown, and in 1996, a corresponding hotline was introduced (1-888-NOT-2-LATE). Although this resource has expanded tremendously–now offering personal stories, FAQ’s about emergency contraception, and information for providers–it remains under the auspices of Princeton’s Office of Population Research and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.

More on abortion and EC after the jump.

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The Emma Watson Effect

Emma Brown at Brown orientation, surrounded by giants. (From

Emma Watson at Brown orientation, surrounded by giants. (From

After only a two percent increase in applications for the Class of 2013, Princeton University has been pushing its hefty financial aid package–and it’s working.

The 19 percent jump in applications to Princeton this year was greater than that of Harvard (5 percent) and Yale (Not really a jump, more like a…tiny step backward.), prompting Bloomberg News to proclaim to the Internet: “Princeton Surge Beats Harvard, Yale as Applications Soar.” Hahaha, we won!

But why the competition? Why not some Ivy League bonhomie? Why must we always be bickering like over-privileged siblings in a race to be Mom’s favorite? Am I even allowed to use bicker in this context this time of the year?

So instead, let’s talk about Brown.

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Orange Key Fact #926: Princeton Is Just Kind of Bizarre

Easy to get in! Just present six passes of any color. SOURCE:

Easy to get in! Just present six passes of any color. SOURCE:

In light of a recent visit from two friends from high school, I realized, as one is wont to do, that it’s the little things that make Princeton so special. Everyday musings aside (“Gee, I chugged a possibly hazardous number of Red Bulls to get me through Dean’s Date!” or perhaps “The competitive, back-stabbing nature of that intro class is just so invigorating!”), there are some things we simply forget are unique, interesting, or downright bizarre.

While by no means a comprehensive list, what follows is a collection of those things we take in stride, those things that fall under the heading “Only at Princeton…”

  1. We are so taken with the benefits of flexible logic that we enforce trayless policies in several campus dining halls and eating clubs, but often force Rocky/Mathey students to use disposable plates, cups, and bowls at weekend brunch. Here’s to a marriage of green dining and fiscally-responsible employment models!
  2. We have a bubble tea joint on Nassau that serves—get this—exploding boba. “Would you like regular boba or exploding boba?” (As if that were even a question.)
  3. Many of us live in beautiful residential college buildings in which we have to ascend two flights of stairs to reach the nearest bathrooms (ahem, Holder). We even convince ourselves that the “It’s 5 a.m., so I refuse to believe that my bladder is about to pull a Tycho Brahe” game is normal.
  4. We can’t do the usual student bouncer thing on the Street. Nope, we go all out, ensuring that only those possessing an ever-changing rainbow of passes (or a great color printer) can get into those exclusive eating clubs.

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21 Questions With… The Princeton FML Moderator


Mr(s). Anonymous

Mr(s). Anonymous

Name: Moderator ’11
Age: 21
Major: FML
Hometown: “Chicagoland”
Eating club/residential college/affiliation: Campus Club
Activities on campus: The 61 Club

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
Bruce Wayne, as portrayed by Christian Bale.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
On-campus: Pan-seared scallops at Charter. Off-campus: Breaded veal cutlets at Sotto.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
Eat lunch, attend precept, take a nap, eat dinner, FML, FML, FML.

What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
Lady Gaga. (RAH)² (AH)³ + [ROMA (1+MA)] + (GA)² + (OOH)(LA)²

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Sports Illustrated on Princeton Fans…

In 1965:

“Princeton people do not toast their football team’s weekly victories—they examine them as specimens. They check them for flaws, as a schoolgirl does her complexion, and then they brood over them. Last week Princeton gathered in its 16th straight specimen, a not-quite-comfortable 14-6 decision over Harvard, and the fans immediately did not begin to shout, “We’re No. 1!” and they did not dance and they did not sing and laugh it up into the night, and they did not break out all in gooseflesh anticipating the glory of Old Nassau.

What Princeton people do when they win is wonder. Pretty good, all right, pretty darn good, but this is the Ivy League, correct? An insulated league. That wasn’t UCLA we knocked the barium out of, that was another Ivy League test tube. How good is that? And in the Osborne Field House at Princeton on Mondays the team and the coaches sit down to their strip sirloins and speculate on how the national polls will purposely slight them this week and how the Lambert Trophy people will root around for some team like Syracuse that has lost only two or three games and rate it No. 1 in the East over Princeton and unbeaten Dartmouth.

Well, brothers of the Cannon Club and the Tiger Club and you old grads who get the seats on the 50-yard line in Palmer Stadium, brood no more. Do not believe those polls. Do not listen to the dirge. The Ivy League may not be what it used to be, but it is doing all right, brothers, and the Princeton Tiger is definitely not in the tank. It is the genuine article, hard and quick and slickly turned out in its single-wing trappings, and if somebody tells you there is a team in the East that is as good it must be on the tip of his imagination, brothers, his imagination.”

The times, they change.

Yale’s musical? Try Princeton’s 3D period seriocomedy

"And that!, my friends, is how you make George Bush cry."

"And that!, my friends, is how you make George W. Bush weep."

If you haven’t heard of it already, Yale’s Admissions Office recently released a new video called “Why I Chose Yale.” Here it is.

Insane, right? Some blogs have called it “Why I Didn’t Choose Yale,” others are scratching their heads as to why this was created, and, naturally, Yalies are up in arms about it over at the Yale Daily News.

All that said… It is kind of cool, as far as university-created videos go. It’s incredibly well produced, obviously took a lot of effort to put together, and is, well, kind of enjoyable, in a way that most college admission videos aren’t. For those of you who’d rather not sit through the 16 minutes of High School Musicalinspired camp, here are some of the highlights:

  • Everything looks good. Seriously, put the video on mute and just see how nice Yale’s facilities are. (Residential colleges have their own gyms? What?)
  • Brian Williams completes a rhyme at 6:45. Damn. It’s cool.
  • At 6:15, a professor sings over a really awful “hard rock” guitar riff. It makes me uncomfortable.
  • 9:49 starts the worst part of the video, with the “academic” section. Imagine if all those people who brag about their internships and majors got a chance to sing their boasts over a cheesy guitar-and-strings pop riff with verses like, “Last year I spent the summer abroad / I helped to monitor a foreign election / And now I volunteer at a law school clinic on human rights protection” and “I came to Yale from across the world because I wanted a global education / Now I’m bringing cleaner water to the countries that need it through the H20 Africa Foundation.”
  • Just read the above point again, because it’s hilarious and so gruesomely corny, and not in the way that Yale intended. It’s more like intellectual masturbation, set to awful music.

So, you’re thinking, Yale made a video that’s effectively tarnished their storied reputation with a level of self-congratulatory kitsch unseen in the Ivy League’s long history. Big whoop…

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