21 Questions with … Julia Blount ’12

QUAD PRESIDENT JULIA BLOUNT CARBO-LOADS IN THE LIBRARY, DISLIKES CLASS-BASED HOUSING, INTENDS TO ATTEND EVERY REUNION

jblount_photoName: Julia Blount
Hometown: Washington, DC
Major: History with a certificate from the Center for African American Studies
Club and Residential College Affiliation: The Princeton Quadrangle Club, Rockefeller College

What are you doing this summer?
I am teaching fifth grade grammar at a public charter school in Brooklyn, NY and loving every minute of it!

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
Wendy Kopp ’89, founder of Teach for America.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
I love food! I think it is a tie between Quad’s Thanksgiving Dinner and Teresa Caffe’s Conchiglie Balsamico.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
Check my email, respond to email, go to class, have meetings at Quad, work at Quad, have philosophical conversations at Quad, and sleep…briefly.

Favorite spot in Quad?
There’s no contest. Definitely the Large Library! Despite the name, very few books are ever read in the Large Library. Distraction takes on various forms including Jenga, Bananagrams, impromptu readings of Shakespeare and Cosmo, and intense philosophical conversations. Also, lots of carbo-loading on snacks provided by my wonderful Activities Chairs.

What club did you think you’d be in as a freshman and why?
When I was a freshman I thought I would go independent! I love cooking so I really wanted to live in Spelman where I could have my own kitchen. Then I realized that Quad’s chefs are better cooks than me. And now I get to live two floors above Quad’s kitchen!

What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
Sleeping through brunch and then eating way too much for dinner.

If you could change one thing about Princeton, what would it be?
I would eliminate housing based on class year. I like the residential college system, but as an upperclassman who does not have a shared meal plan, I feel like I’m very inaccessible to younger students and vice versa. Sometimes where you live restricts your social life. Alternately, your social life can restrict where you live.  I wish there were more intermingling.

What’s hanging above your desk and/or bed?
A stuffed panda bear.

What is your biggest fear?
Being pushed through the Fitz-Randolph Gates.

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Residential College Review: Whitman Edition

Whitman

This feels strangely CGI

Ah, Whitman, the newest of them all, whose neo-Gothic arches and towers we owe to erstwhile eBay honcho/gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman ’77. From an aerial view, the college forms a “W”, said to be in her honor (definitely apocryphal). It’s no eyesore from the outside. Though Whitman does seem to be aping the time-earned classiness of, say, Rocky — it’s all like “hay look I’m 4 years old but I can be castle-y and majestic too” — it’s a pretty nice-looking crib overall. And there are some nice things on the inside, too.  I’ll be quick to admit, the Whitman experience is an overwhelmingly positive one. But I’ve still got some pretty serious reservations about the place. It looks good on the surface, but under that perfect veneer there’s something’s just a little … off. If that’s cryptic, good — I’ll take you through the usual tour, and then I’ll explain myself more clearly when we get to the end, because, suspense, or something.

The résumé:

Laundry: Thanks to ridiculously generous laundry room distribution, no matter where you live the nearest washing machine won’t lie more than a hallway’s length away — you’ll be grateful that you don’t have to clamber up and down stairs with a hamperful of misery. But because of the easy access, these rooms are always busy, so to guarantee yourself an open machine you’ll often have to make the arduous (ok, elevator-assisted) trudge to the 1981 basement, where you’ll find a wondrous array of washers and dryers.

Kitchen: Like the laundry rooms, they’re sprinkled throughout, usually two to a floor, and they’ve got all the usual amenities: fridge, stove, oven, microwave, requisite filthy dishes, etc.  Since they’re fairly cramped and devoid of any homey ambiance, the kitchens don’t make for particularly good study or social spaces — I never visited them except to raid someone’s fresh batch of cookies (note: easily sniffed out from afar). Be careful what you cook, though, because air circulation tends to, uh, share your creations with everyone in the vicinity. My freshman year, someone managed to stank up all four floors of 1981 with the thick reek of five-spice. This happened on a regular basis. I will never forgive you, O anonymous purveyor of Asian cuisine.

Computers: Printers on every floor is a godsend, but for usable computers you’ll have to venture to Whitman Library. (We’ll deal with that place in a second.)

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Residential College Review: Wilson Edition

Wilcox Dining Hall

Wilcox Dining Hall

While most argue that Wilson is pretty much the bottom of the barrel in terms of residential colleges—prepare yourself now for snide jokes from those bums who live in the castles upcampus—there are a lot of factors that contribute to Wilsonites’ steadfast pride.  An unbeatable location, lots of singles, great party-ready suites, and computer clusters that actually work help make Wilson well worth it.  Plus, you get the automatic street cred of hailing from the “too-cool-for-kumbaya” residential college, ideal for long-suffering eye rolls to impress fellow froshies.

The résumé:

Laundry: There are two laundry rooms, located on the ground floors of Feinberg Hall and Dodge-Osborn Hall.  Since Wilson’s only a two-year college, there often isn’t a line for laundry, but be warned: Upperclassmen tend to mooch off of the Feinberg laundry room during peak hours on weekends, so plan ahead!

Kitchens: One mythical kitchen in Dodge-Osborn, which I have yet to hear of anyone using.  You need a special passkey to get in, which you can get from your RCA—a bit of a pain, but the fact that it’s locked also means that it’s probably much cleaner than the typical kitchens in Rocky or Mathey.  Who knows, it might be a treasure trove of culinary wonders!

Computers: There are two clusters, including one right above Wilcox Dining Hall that only works once or twice a year.  While most froshies suffer through the Wilcox cluster (its printer was my mortal enemy for my entire freshman year), you’ll be much better off if you use the cluster on the ground floor of 1937, which has two functioning printers, eight computers (both Macs and PCs), and is rarely ever full.  If you live in 1937, Feinberg, Walker, or 1939, don’t even bother bringing a printer—the 1937 cluster will do the trick.

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Residential College Review: Butler Edition

Wavy. Ivy-free. Home sweet Butler.

Telling people that you live in Butler inevitably leads to the follow-up question: “New or Old?” Butler used to have a reputation for being the worst res college to live in, with legendarily horrible waffle ceilings, a long trek to central campus and only meh-worthy food. But all that changed in 2009, when Princeton introduced shiny new, well, New Butler.

Bedecked in wavy red brick walls, bright interiors, modern lines and a trendy sustainable green roof, New Butler is not your typical Gothic, ivy-covered Princeton building. Before you waste any time feeling disappointed, though (“Nooo I wanted to live in a castle!” It’s okay, I thought that way too, until I moved in and saw the light), realize what it means to reside in the newest college: air conditioning. No bugs. Leather couches. Flat screen TVs. Many a mirthful moment has been given to us Butlerites, chuckling at our friends in Rocky as they traverse four flights of stairs to get to the bathroom, with nothing but a meager fan waiting in their circulation-void rooms.

“What? No, I’ve never seen a spider or ladybug or ant in my room before! That’s gross… okay sure you can come hide out in our basement, the A/C is super cool and yeah Studio ’34 is still open.”

Bloomberg is similarly cushy. Of course, 1915 is a different story. But we’ll get to that as you read on…

The resumé:

Aerial view.

Aerial view.

Laundry: There are ample washers and dryers in Bloomberg and New Butler. They’re all as new as the building, so everything runs oh so smoothly. Check out the map here for specific locations.

Kitchens: In the New Butler buildings, there are kitchens around almost every corner. They’re small but  effective, with a big fridge, stove, oven, microwave and sink. There’s also a huge dining room with attached kitchen on the ground floor of Bloomberg, which is great if you want to cook a larger meal with a bunch of friends.

Computers: The main computer cluster is in the New Butler basement. There are about ten computers including a media Mac if you’re looking to do anything digital artsy, plus a scanner and a printer.

There’s also a computer cluster on the third floor of Bloomberg. And the printer in Wu Library is convenient when you’re on your way to class and don’t want to go to the basement. But remember to set up your laptop’s printer connection first, because it’s just a printing station, not a full cluster (although you can easily go to the Wilcox side and use J-Street).

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21 Questions with … Daniel Fletcher ’12

CHARTER PREZ DANIEL FLETCHER SMASHES HOMEMADE CONCRETE, EATS YAK AND CROCODILE, DISLIKES BODILY FLUIDS

dfletcheName: Daniel Fletcher
Hometown: Richmond, VA
Major: Civil Engineering with a certificate in Architecture
Club and Residential College Affiliation: Charter and Butler

What are you doing this summer?
I am doing hydrological modeling of the Princeton watershed in an effort to reduce flooding that occurs during heavy rainfall.

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
Definitely Batman.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
Explorers Pub Night at Charter. We had exotic meats from all over the world, including Yak burgers, pheasant sausages, Crocodile nuggets, and kangaroo meatballs.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
Search for new and exciting ways to avoid doing my work.

Favorite spot in Charter?
The computer cluster. Members go to the library when they actually want to work, but they go to the cluster when they want to procrastinate on their work, so you can always bet on some fun conversations, Sporcling or YouTube videos.

What club did you think you’d be in as a freshman and why?
I knew the most people in either Tower or Terrace so probably one of those.

What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
Tea. I drink it all the time and I help run Tea Time every Wednesday afternoon at Charter.

If you could change one thing about Princeton, what would it be?
I would put it somewhere besides New Jersey.

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Residential College Review: Rockefeller

Congratulations! If you knew what you were doing when you signed up for housing, you made sure to mention your long-standing love of fireplaces and your strong desire to have three roommates. And now you’ve been handed a ticket to two years in Rockefeller College, home to Holder Hall and the Spoon turret rooms and easily the most desired residential college at Princeton. This is Princeton as presented in movies. But actually.

Besides “awesome,” what is it like to live there?

The résumé:

Laundry: Rocky offers basement laundry rooms in Witherspoon, Buyers, Holder and Campbell Halls. Holder Entryway 13, you’re right above the laundry room. If you’re living across the quad, you might find yourself taking a shortcut—and risk exposing yourself to the elements (you know, gently falling leaves)—instead of the long way through the basement. (ETA: No laundry in Campbell! At least not if you’re in Rocky. From Rocky ’14 in the comments: “Campbell’s split up into two sections: the Rocky side and the Mathey side. The Mathey-Campbell side has access to Joline’s laundry rooms through the basement, but the Rocky-Campbell side isn’t connected through the basement. So, unfortunately, no laundry in Rocky Campbell.”)

Kitchens: You can do your lonely Thanksgiving meal preparation or 2 am ramen eating in the basement kitchens of Witherspoon and Holder. The Holder kitchen area is also home to a TV lounge, and its booth-style dining tables are a popular study area. You’ll often find freshmen and sophomores grimly studying at the Witherspoon dining table, which can make cooking kind of awkward. That said, a list of foods I know for a fact have been cooked in Rocky’s kitchens: A stuffed pumpkin, maple syrup snow candy, seitan, and scones. A little tolerance of gross sinks and stains, and anything is possible.

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Residential College Review: Mathey Edition

blairWith its gothic architecture and stately dining hall, Mathey (prounced ‘Maddie’) looks just like Hogwarts. That, and the fact that it boasts Blair Arch, the largest arch on campus and home to regular a capella concerts, means that Mathey is the most featured dorm in Princeton brochures. Mathey-ites also brag about their location right next to Nassau Street, Princeton-town’s main thoroughfare, lined with ritzy clothing stores and restaurants.

The resume:

Laundry: There are laundry rooms in Blair, Little, Hamilton, Joline, and Edwards. Because Mathey has some of the oldest buildings on campus, be prepared to walk 3-4 flights of stairs to do laundry. Otherwise, most of the facilities have enough machines to handle student demand (save weekend evenings).

Kitchens: There are kitchens in Blair, Little, Hamilton, Joline, and Edwards. The kitchens can get pretty nasty, though – and I don’t just mean unwashed dishes (Blair flooded last year). But if you can keep the space clean, kitchen access can be a wonderful thing: nothing brings together suitemates, on-the-rocks couples, and study buddies so much as a baking extravaganza. Keep an eye out for Mathey’s semi-regular cooking club in the Hamilton kitchen: previous menus have featured shrimp risotto, cheese fondue, and mushroom strudel.

Computers: There are printers in Blair, Little and Edwards. The main computer cluster is located in the Mathey-Rocky library, just under the dining hall.

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Admin Bans Freshman Greek Life

More than a year after President Tilghman intimated the possibility of an full-on Greek ban, a few months after the residential and social life working group released their much-discussed report, and with the images of vigorous student/administration debate fresh in our collective memories, the U. has finally announced a policy change. It’s a two-pronged ban: freshman are forbidden from affiliating with Greek organizations, and members of the other three classes are forbidden from conducting rush for freshman. (Meanwhile, the university will continue to withhold official recognition of Greek organizations.) The ban goes into effect in fall 2012, so the upcoming school year will be business as usual. In a letter to returning students, Tilghman justified the decision as an attempt to recenter student life around the residential colleges, the Street, and the “shared experience of essentially all undergraduates living and dining on campus.”

Yet the most interesting ramification of this new policy — exactly how the administration plans to police something as wide-ranging and hazily defined as “rush” — remains to be seen. Later in the letter, Tilghman explained her intention to form a new committee this year, which will seek

to consult widely with interested students; to think carefully about precisely how the prohibition should be described and enforced, and about the penalties that would be imposed for infractions; and to bring forward its recommendations by early in the spring semester so they can be discussed by the broader University community prior to adoption.

The letter also manages to somewhat awkwardly shoehorn in details about an upcoming campus pub, which, although promising, is profoundly benign news, and probably the only one of the working group recommendations that could be deemed completely uncontroversial.

… so we’ll stick with the controversial stuff. To gauge the Greek response to this announcement, The Ink spoke to Jake Nebel ’13, one of the students most deeply (and publicly) involved in the Greek conversation with the adnimistration. A member of the AEPi fraternity, Nebel spearheaded the Princeton Greek Council and drafted a pro-Greek petition that gathered over 700 signatures.

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Residential College Review: Forbes Edition

Hey 2015! If you’ve been spending your last days of summer freaking out in the shower caddy aisle of the Container Store or worried that you won’t be able to find the washing machines in your dorm, The Ink is here for you. In preparation for your arrival, we’ve compiled reviews of each of the six residential colleges to help give you a better sense of what to expect on the big move-in day.

So here it is: the first installment The Ink’s Residential College Review, in which we examine that much-maligned abode, Forbes College.


IMG_5105Most would argue that Forbes is at once the most hated and most beloved of the residential colleges. Depending on who you talk to, Forbes is either that sad, cinder-blocked building in a distant zip code or, alternatively, the best thing that ever happened to them.  For every mainland critic who argues that Forbes is socially removed from the main-campus scene, there are steadfast Forbesians who contend that their residential remoteness actually forges a more “close-knit community.” After two years of living in the 08540, it’s become clear to me that, polarized views aside, Forbes is what you make of it. Here are the facts—we’ll let you be the final judge.

The résumé:

Laundry: There are two laundry rooms, located on the lower levels of the Main Inn and in the Addition. A reasonable number of machines, but there’s often a wait at peak hours (i.e. never, ever attempt to launder on Sunday afternoons).

Kitchens: One kitchen in the Main Inn, one in the Addition. But beware—a tragedy of the commons-type situation developed this past year, which involved mountains of unwashed pots and pans, increasingly threatening e-mails from college administrators, and ultimately, a lock on the door.

Computers: There’s a cluster with about a dozen computers in the basement of the Main Inn. And one (cross-your-fingers, maybe, just maybe) functioning printer.

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Week In Review: The “Of Course!” Edition (August 15-21)

In Princeton Borough and Princeton Township–the home of anthrax scares, bear cubs and the ever so popular campus masturbators–nothing fails to surprise.  We’ve got beavers, cool embryos and more for this week in news.  Here we go!

Princeton is once again wrapped up in zoological drama, the second round following the bear cub hullabaloo back in the spring.  This time the star of the show is another species that begins with the letter “b”: beavers.  Yes, that’s right, the fauna that inspired the creators of Angry Beavers, the creatures whose homes are one letter away from swearing, the lovely Castor canadensis.

[caption id="attachment_11085" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Public Enemy #1"]Public Enemy #1[/caption]

Princeton Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson will be tried “in the near future” by the Ewing Municipal Court for shooting two beavers back in May, according to a Princeton Packet article.  The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has issued two court summonses to Johnson, who did not acquire a permit to shoot the State-protected beavers.

Oh no he din-uhhnnn.

Of course, the shooting awakened the wrath of Princeton-town’s vitriolic animal rights bloggers (read: the wrath of Princeton-town’s only animal rights bloggers), who have dubbed Johnson everything from “cruel and sadistic” to an “‘Animal Control Officer'”. Note the double quotations, oh man, the blogger may have used sarcasm! Bam.

In other news, life works.  According to a study led by Professor of Molecular Biology Ned Wingreen, the first few minutes of life are a wave of calcium away from complete chaos.

Individual cells in an embryo may develop at different rates or may cease development altogether if they were not regulated by waves of calcium that traverse the ball of cells at regular intervals.  The waves essentially serve as an atomic clock for the developing embryo, making every cell divide and grow at the same time.  James Ferrell, a researcher at Stanford whose formulas on the cell cycle Wingreen and McIsaac used in their models, said:

“One of this group’s conclusions is that chaos lurks not far from where the system normally functions, like a monster in the corner, and that it matters to have synchronicity established quickly to prevent it.”

So, moral of the story: if it wasn’t for periodic element number 20, life as an embryo wouldn’t be tranquil–at least, not as tranquil as this video.

And lastly, former America’s Next Top Model contestant and history major Jane Randall ’13 had her picture taken … by the New York Times.  Randall received the Times treatment this week in an article entitled “Beautiful Minds.”  Randall talked about the U Store’s odd range of products (you grab the cheese puffs, I’ll get the Vera Bradley wristlets!), the awesomeness of egg sandwiches at Olives and the weirdness of Princeton traditions. Read the interview here.

21 Questions with … Susan Zhang ’12

COLONIAL PRESIDENT SUSAN ZHANG WISHES WE COULD ALL BE TEXAN, ADMIRES JOHN NASH’S FOOTWEAR, HAS A TIGER MOM

szName: Susan Zhang
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Major: Mathematics
Club and Residential College Affiliation: Colonial and Butler

What are you doing this summer?
Saving the world one spreadsheet and graph at a time.

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
John Nash. I like his shoes.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
I’m naturally biased for Colonial food.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
I’m not sure.

Favorite spot in Colonial?
Movie room couches. Those things suck you in and never let go.

What club did you think you’d be in as a freshman and why?
None. I watched too many food channel shows and thought I would make my own food. Needless to say, that thought didn’t go very far…

What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
Watching every TV show imaginable on sidereel.com. And SC2 replays on youtube.

If you could change one thing about Princeton, what would it be?
Move it to Texas.

What’s hanging above your desk and/or bed?
Nothing of particular interest.

What is your biggest fear?
Disappointing my Tigermom.

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Week in Review: The Triple Threat Edition (August 8 -14)

They say trouble’s a-brewin’ in Princeton-town…

Remember the anthrax scare of 2001? Well, white powder worries has hit once again. This time, packages of suspect contents were mailed to the Princeton University Medical Center and a Princeton-based manufacturer in what police call two unrelated events.

Cheesy, yes, but better than the other images that turned up for 'anthrax'

Cheesy, yes, but better than the other images that turned up for 'anthrax'

The Princeton Packet reports that on Monday morning, an employee at Church & Dwight (famous for producing household products) opened a letter containing a white powdery substance, thus triggering a lock-down of the building and quarantine of 120 employees for more than an hour. Shortly after, a Princeton University Medical Center employee reported seeing white powder in his mail as well.

Authorities rushed to address both scares in a timely manner, with the police, Fire Department, and Princeton First Aid and Rescue squad alerting national authorities (think Department of Homeland Security and the FBI) and conducting prompt substance tests. They soon revealed that the packages contained nothing more than…powdered sugar and a crumbly, low quality adhesive?!

Yes, that’s right. Church & Dwight received no more than a package of confectioner’s sugar. And of the hospital threat, Roy James, deputy chief of the Princeton Fire Department, said:

“When you looked at it, it was some sort of yellowy substance on the box and on the stuff inside. It is like an adhesive, but when you put your finger on it, it turns powdery.”

(Phew! Close call.)

The troubles for Princeton, however, didn’t end there.

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