There’s a ‘Magic Bus’ to Take You Home from the Street Tonight (and every night after that)

Something to think about when planning your Princetoween costume: you may be riding home in a well-lit, University sponsored bus.

Tonight, Princeton’s UMatter initiative will inaugurate a late-night bus that will run every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 12:30 to 3 A.M.

It will pick up students waiting all along on Prospect (on the north side of the street) and stop at Frist, the residential colleges, and around the slums area. The route will take about thirty minutes. You can track the bus on the Tiger Transit app, TigerTracker.

A group of four students came up with the idea last spring in EGR 392, an entrepreneurship class. They call it the magic bus, according to Tim Lau ’17, one of the creators.

Shot of the magic bus prototype last april

In the spring, the team ran a prototype of the bus for a few nights. “The prototype went overwhelmingly well,” Tim said. “People seemed to really enjoy the idea of having a magic bus that transported you from the street back to basically outside your dorm.” There was also food on board the prototype bus.

Tim said that their instructions for the project were to come up with a creative way to mitigate sexual aggression on campus. After the team presented the project to a panel of administrators, UMatter took over the project, Tim said.

The goal of the bus, aside from giving Princeton students’ weary feet a rest, is to create opportunities for intervention where interpersonal violence or sexual misconduct could occur. It’s more than just a drunk bus.

“Beyond the great service of not having to walk home in the cold, there’s a campus health push behind it,” Adam Cellon ‘17, one of three UMatter Fellows,  said. “The idea is to give an opportunity to get out of situations that they don’t want to be in.”

Adam hopes that the UMatter bus will provide students with an alternative to a dark walk home with someone they may not have wanted to walk home with.

Two designated sober people will be riding the bus at all times, usually a SHARE peer and a PHA, Adam said. They may or may not be in costume tonight.

Adam compared the UMatter bus to the Safe Ride program at other colleges, although Princeton’s bus won’t be driven by a student.

The bus service itself is not a new thing–there have been two TigerTransit on-demand buses that, in the past, could take students home from the Street late at night. The buses didn’t have a regular route, though. Now, one of these buses is going to be used for the UMatter bus.

Since the bus is a TigerTransit bus, the same policies will apply. This means that, if a student can’t walk, Psafe is called, Adam said. It also means that every once in a while, a Psafe officer will get on and ride, Adam said.

The UMatter bus falls under a few of UMatter’s main initiatives, including Respect Matters, Limits Matter, and Action Matters (bystander intervention). As the bus develops, Adam said they will look into incorporating food and water into the bus service.

Posted in Fun

Why We Didn’t Take the AAU Survey, and What’s Next

Princeton decided not to take the AAU sexual misconduct survey because of a Title IX deadline and concerns about customization. Students were opposed.

While the survey was customized to Princeton’s specifications, administrators haven’t planned specific action based on the results, and it didn’t seem to make much of a splash on campus. Attendance has been low at meetings that have taken place in the wake of the survey.

The separate survey prevented us from comparing our numbers with other schools, but the University is planning to conduct a similar survey for the next two years, which will provide comparability across time. SHARE has been using the numbers in its communications with students.

Vice Provost for Institutional Diversity Michele Minter, who served on the faculty-student committee for sexual misconduct, explained that concerns including timing and survey design swayed the committee to recommend against the AAU survey.

President Eisgruber was approached by the AAU in the fall, she said, and sought a recommendation from the faculty-student committee on sexual misconduct in November, with the intention to follow the committee’s recommendation. According to a report in The Prince, he was initially supportive, and hoped to gain support from students for the survey.

Princeton made a financial commitment to the survey, which it honored, Minter said. In an email, she declined to say how much Princeton paid, but other schools paid about $80,000 to participate.

Eventually the faculty-student committee unanimously voted to advise that Princeton conduct its own survey.

“We would love to have the comparability,” Minter said, but said timing and customizability outweighed the concern.

A number of other Universities declined to participate in the AAU survey. Stanford University, which is also a member of the AAU,  conducted its own survey regarding sexual misconduct in the spring.

The school was criticized heavily by campus activists for trying to cover up rates of sexual misconduct by conducting its own survey and touting a lower number than other schools. Stanford separated sexual assault and sexual misconduct in its definitions, with a high standard for sexual assault.

Minter said that Princeton was under special time pressure because it had signed an agreement with the Office of Civil Rights after the school was found in violation of Title IX for its handling of accusations of sexual misconduct. A survey was part of the agreement, and a hold-up in the AAU survey could have left Princeton in violation of that agreement.

Yale University and Harvard Law School had also entered into resolution agreements with the Office of Civil Rights.

Minter also said that members of the committee wanted a greater degree of customization than was possible within the AAU survey, and were concerned that they would be able to review the survey questions. The questions had not been finalized when Princeton was making its decision.

While the apprehension makes sense, the We Speak survey isn’t especially customized – it includes nine questions that reference Princeton-specific organizations or places. The AAU survey provided opportunities for basically the same kind of customization. In questions about campus resources, it included University-specific lists.

university specific list

There’s one instance where Princeton’s specialization seems especially useful. The AAU question about location of an incident of sexual misconduct focuses on frat houses, and Princeton provides a more tailored list of options which includes eating clubs and different residential locations. Those options, however, don’t distinguish between specific eating clubs.

There was significant student push-back against the AAU survey. In addition to the unanimous vote of the faculty-student committee, USG signed a resolution asking President Eisgruber to delay his decision on Princeton’s participation in the survey.

In the email that announced the USG meeting about the survey, former USG President Shawon Jackson mentioned concerns about the AAU survey raised by group of academics in an open letter to University presidents. Shawon’s email took a pretty strong position against the survey by including the concerns in the text of the email.

After those pointed calls for transparency, there appears to be less of a focus on direct action.

Minter said that administrators are not pushing academic statistical analysis of the numbers, but academics working on the topic could ask for Princeton’s numbers.

At the meeting at the Women’s Center, Jackie Deitch-Stackhouse, director of SHARE said that she is hoping the findings will motivate increased participation in trainings that SHARE conducts regarding sexual misconduct. The trainings focus especially on bystander intervention – teaching students to confidently label inappropriate sexual behavior in order to intervene.

“People that commit sexual violence do not do it because they don’t understand what consent is,” Deitch-Stackhouse said.

This post is a follow-up to an earlier article on the We Speak Survey.

Daily Princetonian publishes, immediately retracts, slanderous op-ed about the Princeton Committee on Palestine

Sunday night, the Daily Princetonian published an op-ed with the headline “Princeton Committee on Palestine: Apologists for jihad.” The op-ed, written by a guest contributor Richard L. Cravatts argued that the Princeton Committee on Palestine (PCP) is a “campus group of anti-Israel activists who have help [sic] lead a campaign of libel and delegitimization against the Jewish state, and, at times, ugly anti-Semitism disguised as being merely criticism of Israeli government policies.”

There was one problem, though. The op-ed had already been published. Twice. An almost identical article by the same author had already been published in The Times of Israel and The San Diego Jewish World. 

As in those articles, the evidence Cravatts “cites” as proof of the PCP’s apologist behavior is actually events from other campuses, including Boston University, Northeastern University, and the University of Chicago. In an attempt to make this edition of the op-ed seem even remotely about the PCP and Princeton,  Cravatts added a single sentence throw-in regarding an incident involving the PCP last spring.

Luckily, the ‘Prince’ was able to retract the article before the issue went to print. Where the article had once been on the ‘Prince’ website is now a statement that simply reads:

Editor’s note: The article originally published “Princeton Committee on Palestine: Apologists for jihad” was taken down after editors discovered it had been published in another publication. The decision to remove the article was unrelated to the topic or views expressed by the author. The ‘Prince’ regrets the error.”

In a statement on their Facebook page in response to the article and its subsequent retraction, the PCP wrote that they “are extremely disappointed by this statement, and urge the Prince to publish and review its ethical standards to prevent politically-motivated defamation of student groups.”

The article, the PCP wrote, “is the dictionary definition of politically-motivated libel – a published false statement made against a group, for the purpose of damaging the reputation of that group.”

The original article published in the ‘Prince’ is viewable here as a Google Doc.

As for the author, his bio on The Times of Israel website states that he is “the president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and the author of Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews.” He has no affiliation with the University, according to his LinkedIn page. 

Breaking a sweat in the art museum

If you visited The Princeton University Art Museum in the last two weeks, you may have seen a group of joggers in workout clothes led by two dazzling dancers. They may have pranced by a Monet, or done squats in front of rare artifacts. And there may have been Elton John music. No, this was not a midterms hallucination.

Students and members of the public were invited to take part in the museum workout, a tour of Princeton’s prestigious permanent collection that combines exercise with catchy tunes and curation from artist and author Maira Kalman. The performance is meant to offer participants a new way of interacting with art, and is led by dancers and choreographers Monica Barnes and Anna Bass from Monica Bill Barnes & Company.

[video width="576" height="320" mp4="" autoplay="true"][/video]

Although the project was initially commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Kalman chose to test the performance in a more manageable space, and was put in touch with Princeton’s museum through Theater Professor Jane Cox.

As a live performer, Barnes said that she could relate to the museum’s goal of preserving the spirit of an artwork after it is consumed in the moment.

“It’s a bit of a strange, losing battle,” Barnes said in a phone interview, noting that both artworks and performances often fade from memory when the show is over.

“It’s an incredibly complicated thing to perform,” Barnes said, explaining that she has to make sure the pace and music correspond to the correct artwork all while respecting museum regulations.

According to Mellon curator of academic engagement Julia Dweck, the dancers toured the museum with the head security officer and a museum registrar before staging the project, discussing concerns such as group size, music and pacing. Before the tour, a museum representative reminds visitors not to touch the art.

Last Thursday, security guard Keith McCae shared his thoughts with an intrigued guest as he watched the workout group file past. “They know the rules and they have an officer with them,” McCae said, explaining that other visitors did not seem disturbed by the music, but expressed general curiosity. “People like it because it’s different.”

About 15 participants gathered in the museum lobby for the 45-minutes tour that day. Most of the participants wore workout clothes and athletic shoes.

“I decided to participate because, I mean, it beats the gym,” Terry O’Shea ’16 wrote in an email after the workout. O’Shea said she was attracted to the idea of mixing high art with aerobic dance in a taboo context.

“The art-viewer relationship felt more active,” O’Shea said. “I had to work to keep my eye trained on the art as we did sets of squats or arm thrusts. A very regal George Washington portrait watched me jog in place to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive.”

Managing Director of La Jolla Playhouse Michael Rosenberg also took part in the tour, and said he was excited to experience the museum in a more physical way.

“I think it’s a great idea. Otherwise museums can become really dead places,” Rosenberg said, adding that the tour seemed more social and interactive.

[video width="320" height="576" mp4="" autoplay="true"][/video]

The project adds to the art museum’s legacy of inviting the public to events that seem a little risky…  (Sampling food from Nassau street in front of priceless works of art comes to mind.)

Thankfully, no mishaps were recorded during the tours. Visitors were encouraged to break a sweat, but not at the expense of art.


Who Put A Hat on John Witherspoon’s Head, 18 Feet Off the Ground?


Here’s a Monday Morning Mystery: who put the orange traffic cone atop John Witherspoon’s head? 

The  2,750-pound bronze statue is 10 feet 2 inches tall, and sits atop a 7 -foot-7-inch plinth. That places Witherspoon’s head at almost 18 feet above the ground. Who climbed it?

We will be investigating. Stay tuned.



Live Blog: Angus Deaton Nobel Prize in Economics – Press Conference


Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications

Princeton professor of economics Angus Deaton is awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics “for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare.”

The University Press Club will be providing live updates from this afternoon’s press conference. 

6:30am – Angus Deaton receives a phone call from the Nobel Committee 

“If you’re my age and you’ve been working for a long time you know this is a possibility,” Deaton told Princeton University. “But you also know there are a huge number of people out there who deserve this. That lightning would strike me seemed like a very small probability event. It was sort of like, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s really happening.'”

10:40am – Economics Department cancels class, asks students to go to the press conference instead.


1:30pm – A filled Richardson Auditorium gives a standing ovation to Angus Deaton as he arrives on stage.

There is heavy media presence.


1:32pm: President Eisgruber’s introduces Angus Deaton

“Angus is a leader not only in his field but on this campus.”

“His book, ‘The Great Escape,’ is now selling rapidly at all bookstores.”

1:36pm: Dean Cecilia Rouse’s remarks

“You do this school so proud.”

1:38pm: Professor of economics Janet Currie’s remarks

“No one could spend time with Angus without seeing his passion for measurement.”

What would she expect of Angus as a dinner party companion? “He’s enormously funny, witty, well-read, frighteningly erudite and incredibly good company.”

1:42pm: Angus Deaton, takes the stage

“People keep congratulating me today, and I keep thinking, for what?”

He thanks Princeton for what it’s done for him, for providing him a place to work, for his colleagues, for a place to work without having to worry about “all the extraneous things that go on in universities.”

“This is the 3rd Nobel Prize that has come to the WWS, which is probably 3 more than anywhere else.”

He lists the many people who have come through the Woodrow Wilson School and met the highest standards of academic excellence. “This is like a Nobel Prize to the Woodrow Wilson School, and I think that is a truly wonderful thing.”

“I feel passionately about measurement, about how difficult it is, how much theory and conceptualizing is involved, how much politics is involved.”

He praises the “breadth with which social sciences has been coming together in recent years.” Economics is taking over a lot of fields such as sociology and politics, and “I would like to be known for that.”

 1:49pm: Questions from the press and the floor

Q: “Take us through the phone call – emotions that you had, how the call happened? …And what are your plans for the prize itself?”

A: This morning, he picked up the phone at 6:10am. “There was a very Swedish voice” on the other end of the line, Deaton said. The Swedish caller “was very keen to make sure that I knew this was not a prank.” But as soon as this happened, he thought, “Oh my god, maybe this is a prank.” The entire auditorium breaks out in laughter. “I’m still trying to figure out whether I made the whole thing up.”

Q: A question from Andy Loo ’16: “May I ask what are you future plans?”

A: “I would like to keep on being most excited about the things I’m working on.”

Q: A question from Krishan Kania  ’17 on the relationship between economic development and access to healthcare.

A: Deaton says he is not a fan of direct causation between health and wealth. There are many other factors involved, such as government capacity.

Universal health care insurance is not the way to go, Deaton says.

He acknowledges the complexity and difficulty of health care, and that the U.S. should be careful not to preach to others how to do healthcare.

Q: How has his background affected how he thinks about poverty and privilege?

A: Deaton emphasizes “how much importance luck is in people’s life.”

Most people in his family thought he should be in the field, Deaton said, and not reading a book at home. It was “a stroke of luck” that his father encouraged him to study.

“It’s just the luck of the draw.”

 2:15pm: The press conference closes. There will be a reception at 2:30pm in the Rocky Common Room. 


2:30pm: As per Princeton tradition, there is a fancy set-up for the reception – champagne included.


2:32pm: Three Princeton Nobel Laureates, just casually. 

 L to R: Christopher Sims (2011 Nobel Prize in Economics), Angus Dearon, Eric Wieschaus (1995 Nobel Prize in Medicine)

2:45pm: Angus Deaton at the Rocky Common Room 

“I really want to say I’m speechless, but I’ve done nothing but talk since about 7 o’clock this morning.”

A ($32,853?) Lawn Chair Affair

We here at the University Press Club love all the new lawn chairs on campus. But we were also curious. How many were bought? How much did they cost? Have any been stolen? We did a little digging…


[caption id="attachment_16922" align="aligncenter" width="596"] There are now 64 of these lawn chairs – made 100% from recycled milk containers – across campus. (Princeton University Instagram)[/caption]

On-campus squirrel numbers appear to be down this fall, but one metric is experiencing a significant uptick: the number of lawn chairs – and correlated to that, the number of people doing their class readings out in the crisp fall air.

This pilot project is the brainchild of Ronald McCoy, the University architect. The goal, he explained in an email, is to make the campus more friendly and welcoming. Unlike fixed benches, “these chairs invite people to decide where they want to sit, so every day the chairs move slightly to new locations,” he said. “I like the idea that they leave a trace of events from the day before.”

[caption id="attachment_16928" align="aligncenter" width="657"] An eerie-looking chair circle in the early-morning fog. (Ally Markovich)[/caption]

Scattered across Princeton campus now are 47 adirondack chairs (made 100% from recycled plastic milk containers) for the greens and 60 cafe chairs for plaza settings. With bike thefts so prevalent on campus, are there worries about the chairs growing legs and scuttling away?

“The chairs have moved around a bit but so far we are very pleased that the campus community has shown great respect and there have not been any thefts. We count the chairs and check their locations every two weeks,” said McCoy.

And how much do the chairs each cost? McCoy explained that the purchases were funded by the annual campus Landscape Master Plan, but declined to provide more details on cost. Guided by her instincts, however, this reporter flipped one of the lawn chairs over to check its underside for tell-tale signs of  branding. And alas, she found a clue: a label that read ‘Loll Design.’

A quick Google search later…

[caption id="attachment_16931" align="aligncenter" width="744"] Fun fact: you are sitting on 376 reclaimed milk jugs. (Loll Designs)[/caption]

Each chair costs $699 –  which means that, if the University didn’t get a bulk-order discount, it spent a total of $32,853 on 47 of these chairs.

This splurge isn’t entirely surprising. The University, as we reported in 2009, has in the past splurged on pricey designer chairs (think of the 74 $1,199-apiece designer chairs at Lewis Library).




Black Justice League Calls Out Woodrow Wilson

One hundred years after Woodrow Wilson screened Birth of a Nation in the White House, Princeton’s Black Justice League projected it on the campus building that is his namesake.

Wilson loved the film, which is a racist depiction of reconstruction in the American south, featuring the KKK and white actors in blackface. He was, after all, a committed racist.

The BJL projected the film onto the Woody Woo building at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday night, and two hours later, onto the south wall of Frist. The group’s screening intended to bring up the troubling part of Wilson’s legacy that is so little talked about on campus, where he remains Princeton’s beloved poster-boy. The BJL is the same group that organized the die-in and the Urban Congo protest in the chapel last year.




It’s part of a larger campaign – last week, the group put up posters with racist quotes from Wilson and published an op-ed in the Daily Princetonian, written by Wilglory Tanjong ‘18 on behalf of the BJL.















“We want to start conversations between students and with the administration about legacy at Princeton, and why we venerate who we choose to venerate,” said Asanni York ‘17, a member of the BJL.

York said that he and his friends weren’t able to ignore Wilson’s racist legacy while protesting racism at Princeton. He says his fellow activists were constantly pointing out to each other the serious disconnect between their convictions and the history of the Woodrow Wilson School.

“You all are fighting racism on campus when the man your major is named after was an ardent racist,” York said, remembering the line. Woodrow Wilson isn’t the only Princeton figure the group takes issue with, York said, pointing to names like Firestone and Stanhope.

Come this year, they decided to start the conversation.

“Institutions cannot claim to be inclusive when they actively throw oppression in people’s’ faces,” York said. “They cannot claim to be invested in diversity when one of the most popular majors is named after an ardent racist… and expect people to believe you.”

BJL wants to make Princeton question its complacency up to this point, using the screening and the posters to make that happen.

Enacting real change, like getting the name of a major campus institution changed, is a much bigger task.

“Do we want that? Absolutely. Do we expect it will happen? That’s another question,” York said.

York said people have been asking him, “Why now?”

In response, he says, “Why not earlier? Why hasn’t this conversation not been brought up in the past?” York said. “It’s inherent in the university and no one wants to talk about it,” he said.

America’s history of slavery and racist symbols have been part of the national conversation all summer with the confederate flag debate in the south. In her op-ed, Tanjong compared honoring Wilson with building and major names to flying the confederate flag.

Woodrow Wilson’s racism isn’t newly discovered. William Keylor, a professor of history at Boston University, wrote an article for Professor Voices in 2013 titled, “The long-forgotten racial attitudes and policies of Woodrow Wilson.” The Birth of a Nation film screening in the White House features in Keylor’s article.

As for responses to the campaign, York says they’ve been mixed.

“We’ve had support, confusion, and hate, but that comes with the territory of activism,” he said.

Taimur Ahmad ‘16, who walked by the Birth of a Nation screening on Thursday night, said he thought the scrutiny on Wilson is good for the school.

“I think it’s important for any institution to recognize its more unsavory history,” he said. “I think purging Wilson from the school would be a disservice to everyone, while being honest about his legacy would be a service to everyone.”

– am

Why didn’t Princeton take the AAU Survey on Sexual Assault?

cover page

Last week, President Eisgruber emailed the student body with results of the We Speak survey on sexual misconduct. More than a quarter of undergraduate women reported nonconsensual sexual contact or an attempt.

“As is the case at other universities that recently released the results of similar surveys, the findings at Princeton are heartbreaking,” Eisgruber wrote.

Many of the sexual assault numbers coming in from other Universities are from one large survey, conducted by the American Association of Universities last spring. The survey included 27 Universities, and more than 150,00 students.

Every Ivy participated, except Princeton.

In conducting a separate survey, confined to its campus and administered by the University, Princeton made it difficult to compare its sexual assault numbers with other schools.

The AAU is a well-regarded nonprofit organization of 62 top American and Canadian universities, which conducts research on issues relevant to those schools. Princeton joined the association in 1900.

The sexual misconduct survey was conducted by private social science research firm Westat, and the team that designed it was led by a North Carolina researcher.

We asked Princeton why it chose to conduct its own survey.

“Princeton designed the survey for the specific needs of the Princeton community,” University spokesman Martin Mbugua wrote in an email response. He also said that the survey asked “specific questions with specific definitions matching those used in our policies.”

The We Speak survey makes clear that it is difficult to compare to other results. The statement below stands out – it’s the only bolded statement in the survey’s executive summary:

“The prevalence estimates reported here are specific to this study and are not directly comparable to other studies reported by other universities and in the media.”

bolded section

It’s followed by another qualification:

“However, our findings are generally consistent with those being reported elsewhere.”

In its executive summary, the AAU survey makes clear that the opportunity to compare results from different universities is a major advantage. In fact, it is one of the reasons they conducted such a large study.

From the executive summary of the AAU survey:

“To date, comparisons across surveys have been problematic because of different methodologies and different definitions. The AAU study is one of the first to implement a uniform methodology across multiple [Institutes of Higher Education] and to produce statistically reliable estimates for each IHE.”

Princeton’s survey did have a much higher response rate than most of the schools in the AAU survey. 52% of Princeton’s undergraduate and graduate students completed at least one question in the survey.

The total sample size of the AAU survey was 780,000 students, with 150,000 responding, a rate of about 19%.

Participation was a high priority in both studies, as some have raised concerns about response bias in surveys regarding sexual assault.

Some schools in the AAU survey had response rates similar to Princeton. More than 53% of Harvard students took the survey, and almost 52% of Yale students took it.

One key difference in the two surveys we found is the time frame that the survey considers.

The AAU survey asked about experiences of sexual misconduct during a student’s time in college, as well as experiences during the current academic year; Princeton’s survey asked only about the current year.

For example, 28% of Yale undergraduate women reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact that would be considered assault under most criminal standards since starting college. Princeton’s results offer no such numbers regarding students’ experience over multiple years.

Because of the differences in definitions and time frames, it’s difficult to make meaningful comparisons between the surveys, but here’s one effort:

In the year the survey was conducted, 14% of Yale undergraduate women reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact.

22% of Princeton undergraduate women reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact in the past year, according to the We Speak survey. The definitions used for the two numbers appear to match up, but as the introduction to the survey made clear, no direct comparison can be drawn.

[caption id="attachment_16880" align="aligncenter" width="744"]From the We Speak report. From the We Speak report.[/caption]

For Harvard’s number, it’s much easier. 12.5% of undergraduate women experienced nonconsensual sexual contact in that year at Harvard, the same statistic referenced above for Yale.

And one last thing –

Princeton’s homepage story on the survey leads with an encouraging figure – “a sizable majority knows where to go on campus for help following an incident of nonconsensual sexual contact” (!).

The 20% of Princeton students that experienced an incident of sexual misconduct in the past year didn’t show up until paragraph five.

This is the first installment of a series of Press Club investigations into the We Speak survey. Stay tuned.