IN PRINT: Not too preachy about the planet

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PRINCETON BOROUGH — Though he had been concerned about the environment since his childhood, Derek Gideon, now a sophomore at Princeton University, never thought he could have an impact on it.

“I read a lot about environmental issues but I always thought about it as something scientists and engineers would need to worry about,” he explained. “It never occurred to me that someone interested in writing could be involved.”

Then, in high school, Gideon went to a writing workshop in Vermont, where he learned about the environmental themes in “The Lord of the Rings” and discovered non-preachy ways to write about the environment.

“I realized that everyone can have a reason to care about the environment and everyone can contribute in some way,” said Gideon, who now edits a Princeton student environmental blog.

This is precisely the message environmentalist students at Princeton hoped to convey to their peers on Earth Day. More than 10 environmentalist student groups joined together to showcase student performances and bring sustainable food and merchandise to campus with the hope of engaging students who are not environmentalists….

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Weekend Arts Roundup: Waves of Mercy, Quipfire, and More

26842_585367371942_1111746_34068285_6197783_nWe know everyone’s getting pumped for Lawnparties (watch our complete coverage here on The Ink this weekend!), but if you’re looking for something to supplement your pastel-hued reveling, look no further than this week’s arts events.  Kick back, enjoy your blessed freedom from classes, and fear not…Dean’s Date is nothing more than a distant mirage.

First up: The Waves of Mercy Benefit Concert, sponsored by Manna Christian Fellowship.  Created in support of Whitman College’s employee Josue Lajeunesse (of The Philosopher Kings fame) and Generosity Water, the concert aims to “end the clean water crisis” in Lasource, Haiti through performances from up-and-coming groups.  Generosity Water’s mission is to “inspire people to think globally and live generously,” and they’re bringing in artists like Sho Baraka, Manifest, Time Be Told, Clara Chung, and Lyricks.  Prepare to start the weekend off with a bang!  It runs from 9-11:30pm tonight in Dillon Gym; it’s free with PUID, but a $10 donation is encouraged. Tickets for non-Princeton students are $10 apiece.

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The fabulousness that is Cornel West



From “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” a 2003 Esquire article by Tucker Carlson on an unlikely peace-negotiating trip to Liberia led by Al Sharpton:

Cornel West, the writer and scholar, led the prayer. “Lord, keep us safe,” West intoned as we bowed our heads. “But more important, keep us soulful.”No one looked more soulful than West himself, who was dressed, as always, like a slightly flashy undertaker: white shirt, black three-piece suit, silver pocket watch and chain. He could have been on his way to meet the next of kin. In fact, he was coming from a jazz club. West had stayed in the city until 4:00 A.M. before returning to his “crib in Jersey” (Princeton, New Jersey, where he teaches), then catching a ride to the airport. Along the way, he’d neglected to pack. West boarded the flight for Ghana with two books and a tiny carry-on the size of a woman’s cosmetic case. That was it. He had no suitcases or garment bags or luggage of any kind. Nor did he have any real idea where we were going or how long we might be there. “When are we coming back?” he asked me as we walked down the ramp onto the plane.

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Piece by Piece: What the Guys Should be Wearing for Lawnparties

I crack up at the outrageous looks that line the Street on Lawnparties. What we all wear on this day of debauchery is a unique way to display school spirit and overall solidarity, without donning the black and orange.

And yet, if I may, I’d like to throw the gents of Princeton some sartorial tips. Looking outrageous and looking cool need not be diametrically opposed. Contrary to popular belief, you can throw on a ridiculous seersucker jacket with a plaid shirt beneath, and still look pretty awesome. So, pulling from a weekly special that we do over at Prepidemic, called “Piece by Piece,” here’s an outfit I’ve arranged that I’m digging for this Sunday.

Brooks Brothers Slim Fit patchwork oxford

Brooks Brothers Slim Fit patchwork oxford

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21 Questions With… Eric Salazar ‘11


Name: Eric Salazar
Age: 20
Major: Religion
Hometown: Carmichael, CA
Eating club/residential college/affiliation: I’ve been spoiled, Mathey then Quad.

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
The guy from Legally Blonde, you know, the one who had his fourth grade paper plagiarized by Stephen Hawking.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
Too easy, any Formal dinner at Quad.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
Dream about playing better golf.

What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

What’s the last student performance you saw?
The Triangle Club’s Store Trek … A-Mazing.

Do you know all the words to Old Nassau?
Not yet … but I’ve been saying that since freshman year.

Biggest fear?

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In which we issue a correction.

UPDATE: After some discussion, we decided that our judgments were rather more unsophisticated and flippantly worded than we think desirable.  For example: We should probably make it clear that IvyGate doesn’t hate Princeton.  And we don’t hate IvyGate.  And BLOG WARS!!! are, like, totally lame.

I used to really like IvyGate.

Now, I won’t go so far as a lot of people who say “it sucks now.” I mean, I still read it, but it’s just not what it used to be. You might remember their coverage of Aleksey Vayner (still one of the more hilarious things to happen at an Ivy in recent history), or their coverage of pre-frosh Facebook groups. Just, lately, it seems it’s lost that spark, or that particular cheeky wit that used to really pull me in.

Or it could just be that the whole thing reads like a Yale playbook.

Alex Klein, a Yale sophomore who’s one of the site’s current editors, reports on even the most minute of Yalie news. It’s understandable we’re going to get in-depth coverage from a school an editor attends, but the fact remains that not everyone’s down to read the Yale elections’ nitty-gritty. (Also: Something about gnomes, half of which I don’t understand.)

So I kind of miss the good ol’ days of the Gate, because the Princeton coverage has been, let’s face it, a little disappointing lately. Like, after the Lawnparties acts’ announcement, IvyGate threw up this short post:

The Undergraduate Student Whatever over at Princeton just announced that none other than Jimmy Fallon’s backing band will be performing, next Sunday, at an event called… “Lawnparties.” At a club called… “Quadrangle.”

I’m not sure what this “means” but something “tells” me it’s being “sarcastic” without any indication “why.” Does IvyGate hate Princeton? I think IvyGate hates Princeton.

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So you want to be a Supreme Court justice (PART 2)

It's always a party in the Supreme Court lobby

It's always a party in the Supreme Court lobby

Earlier this week, we gave you some helpful advice on what not to do if you plan on becoming a Supreme Court justice. But what sorts of things should you do as a Princeton student if you want a lifetime appointment to the nation’s high court?

An exhaustive (i.e. cursory, superficial, dumb) examination of the Princeton careers of both Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’76 and leading contender (and Solicitor General) Elena Kagan ’81 reveals some startling similarities between the two. (We, um, conveniently ignored Justice Samuel Alito ’72 because he was just too different.)

Here are some important steps to take before you walk out of FitzRandolph Gate:

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Spotted: John Legend




We just spotted John Legend on the steps of the Architecture building, dressed in black, posing for a photo with a huge group of students. We hear he’s on campus for AAS 348/ENG 348: Black Popular Music Culture.

After the “Ordinary People” crooner signed autographs and took photos, he disappeared toward Frist, leaving behind him a trail of awestruck Princeton students. “John! John!” they yelled as he retreated, signing course packets all the way. We saw one sophomore shake his head slowly, a smile of disbelief on his face, as he walked to class.

No, really.

UPDATE: Some more details from his visit after the jump, courtesy of a student in the class.  Turns out he’s been working with this weekend’s USG Lawnparties band, The Roots:

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21 Questions With… Justin Knutson ’11


Name: Justin Knutson
Age: 20
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Orting, Washington
Eating Club/Residential College/Affiliation: Charter Club

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
Either Joel Goodson, Tom Cruise’s character from the 1983 film Risky Business or General David Petraeus of the United States Army; I’d like to think my personality falls somewhere in between those two

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
Formals dinner at Charter, Spring, 2009

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
Generally I sleep; nights are another story

What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
80s Music

What’s the last student performance you saw?
John Veras laying down phat beats at Terrace

Do you know all the words to Old Nassau?

What is your biggest fear?

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USG Proposes New Grade Deflation Policy Letter

The latest weapon in the fight against grade deflation (and some lovely shag carpeting)

The latest weapon in the fight against grade deflation (and some lovely shag carpeting)

Do you know what our first, and to date only line of defense is against the fire-breathing academic dragon of grade deflation?

A form letter. A piece of paper that earnestly explains why Princeton GPAs are lower than other GPAs, and encourages potential employers and graduate schools to visit the helpful online booklet Grading at Princeton: Frequently Asked Questions. The University mails out a letter with every transcript.

It may not be much, but it’s what we’ve got, and the USG hopes to propose a new draft of the letter to Dean Malkiel.

So what’s better in the new letter?

“The new letter is much shorter,” says Becca Lee, Academics Chair. Lee co-wrote the new draft with USG President Mike Yaroshefsky and 2012 Class Senator Julie Chang.

Brevity! Makes sense–who’s really going to read two pages about Princeton’s grading policy? What else are we telling the world?

“Its most important message is that grades at Princeton [are] earned differently than at other schools,” says Lee. “GPA does not necessarily provide a reliably standardized point of comparison.”

Amen! Now let’s hope someone (anyone) takes the time to read it.

Wanna see what the letter looks like? Full text of the new draft after the jump!

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So you want to be a Supreme Court justice…

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[from left to right: Kagan ’81, Sotomayor ’76, Alito ’72, and Obama ’85]

Do you plan on becoming a Supreme Court justice? Do you plan on becoming famous?

If so, do yourself a favor: Write your thesis on the most mundane, non-controversial topic possible.

Specifically, don’t write about:

  • Scary foreign lands (i.e. Puerto Rico)
    • Last year, Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’76 got a lot of flack for some of the views she espoused in her thesis, La Historia Ciclica de Puerto Rico. The Impact of the Life of Luis Munoz Marin on the Political and Economic History of Puerto Rico, 1930-1975, which came in at a whopping 178 pages.
    • And if you think you’re out of the woods after getting your final thesis grade, think twice. The National Journal had another professor regrade Sotomayor’s thesis 33 years later! The professor’s conclusion?: “the thesis would probably receive an A/A minus or an A minus.”
  • Scary topics Americans are scared of (i.e. socialism)
    • As we mentioned last week, Solicitor General (and leading Supreme Court nominee contender) Elena Kagan ’81 is also getting criticized for her senior thesis, To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933. The Weekly Standard stated last summer, “Her political sympathies (at the time) seem quite clear — and radical.” Uh oh!
    • No word yet whether anyone will regrade Kagan’s thesis, but then again, she hasn’t been nominated yet.
  • Minority groups (i.e. Princeton-educated blacks)
    • And don’t you remember the media storm over the thesis First Lady Michelle Obama ’85 wrote? (Full text here.) Her thesis, Princeton Educated Blacks and the Black Community, compared black Princetonians’ identification with the black community while at Princeton and afterwards as alumni.
    • While Obama’s thesis wasn’t regraded, some pundits criticized her writing anyway.’s Christopher Hitchens wrote, “To describe it as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be ‘read’ at all, in the strict sense of the verb. This is because it wasn’t written in any known language.” Ouch.

Seriously, after all the flack Obama ’85, Sotomayor ’76, and now Kagan ’81 have received for their theses, it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble! So I implore you future-famous Princetonians: Write about really boring stuff.

Just look at the nomination (and confirmation) of Justice Samuel Alito ’72. His thesis, An Introduction to the Italian Constitutional Court, was apparently sufficiently boring enough to preclude any media circus in 2005. Of course, there was that whole CAP (Concerned Alumni of Princeton) thing. So if you want to become a Supreme Court justice, try not to join any racist/sexist organizations, too.

Click here for Part 2.

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Lewis Center Living: Day Two

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Forty-seven hours (and one ginormous peanut butter cream pie) later, we’re officially movin’ on out of the Lewis Center at the end of our class’s communal living experiment.  It’s been a mad race to the finish line, and after a frantic midnight T-Sweets run, two fourteen-hour days, and three cockroach fatalities (from which we escaped mercifully unscathed), we’ve made it to the other side with a sizable performance piece in hand.  Our piece uses three original scenes from the 1967 script for The Serpent, with one important addition–a new scene based on our experiences with 9/11, which was compiled and written during the course of the weekend.  The experiment has definitely been an emotional roller coaster, but we all agree: it’s hands-down one of our most memorable academic experiences at Princeton thus far.  “What an amazing way to end my time here,” said Sara Shaw ’10.  “This kind of opportunity comes along once in a lifetime, and I’m so glad we made it happen.”

Talk about something to cross off your Princeton bucket list!  We’ll be performing our final piece at 2pm this Thursday in the Matthews Acting Studio at the Lewis Center; admission is free and all audiences are welcome.