A Q&A with a Princeton student who supports Donald Trump

As of yet, no official group of Princeton students backs Trump. A petition circulated earlier this month urging the Princeton Board of Trustees to denounce Governor Chris Christie for his support of Donald Trump. All in all, Trump doesn’t seem to be contending for the Princeton vote. This might not come as a surprise considering Trump isn’t exactly known for his popularity with millennials.

Still, I wondered at Trump’s support on campus. There must be some students in support of the likely republican nominee. I went to investigate.

Transcribed bellow is my interview with sophomore Mitchel Sweigart on why he’ll support Trump, and what’s it like to be a Trump supporter at Princeton.

PC: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

PC: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

What is it like to be a Trump supporter and conservative on campus?

It definitely feels like you’re the minority and you’re attacked by people without conservative opinions. I feel like that’s the consensus among other republicans that I know.

Do you know a lot of other Trump supporters on campus?

Yes I do, and a lot of conservatives in general on campus. As the field is getting narrowed down there’s a lot of people who supported other candidates and now are changing because they’ve dropped out.

Did you support Trump from the beginning?

I supported Ben Carson before.

What qualities do you think would make Trump a good president?

I think the qualities that really make him stand out are qualities that the other candidates have. So he’s not a politician, he’s a good businessman, and I like the support that’s behind him. So this morning Ben Carson just endorsed him as well as governor Chris Christie (I was a big supporter of [Chris Christie’s] a year or two ago).

What parts of Trump’s message resonate with you?

Well, there’s definitely some controversial parts, but I think what he’s doing now is to get the extreme far right people in the base. I don’t think that’s his true position, if he gets the nomination he’ll definitely lean more to the middle. So I’m anticipating that, but I also like his no-nonsense approach, while it is controversial, he does say what a lot of people do think, it’s just something that a lot of people don’t say.

What makes you think he’ll become more moderate later?

Well, you can’t win an election the way he’s doing it now. And that’s really a trend, if you look at any election candidates start really far out and then they work their way to the middle, in the general election.

What are some of his policies that you support in particular?

No comment.

If he doesn’t win the republican nomination, would you support another candidate?

Yeah, I’d support anyone who gets the nomination.

As you were saying earlier, Trump has made a lot of controversial statements. What was your reaction to his statement that he would ban Muslims from entering the U.S.?

I don’t agree with that, that’s one of the points I was thinking of that was extreme. And people don’t understand that the president can’t just do that by himself, he needs Congress, so you have to believe that there’s people that are still going to vote the right way, even if he was not to become more moderate in his views. If he became president or got the nomination, you still know that there’s people in Congress that won’t allow these proposals to go through.

What is your position on Trump’s approach to immigration reform and his proposal to put up a wall on the border of Mexico?

I think all immigrants should come here legally, and I’d like to see more of that happen, whether it’s an easier path to citizenship, so I don’t support illegal immigration.

Trump made a controversial comment on Mexican immigrants last June, stating, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re bringing rapists.” What was your reaction to this statement?

I do think we need to secure our borders better, because we don’t know who’s coming here, whether it’s Canadians, Mexicans or people from other places in the world. And specifically to that comment, I think we should secure our borders and work with the Mexican government to see who is really coming into our country, whether it’s legal or illegal immigrants.

Trump got a lot of criticism for not immediately disavowing KKK leader David Duke, when Duke spoke in support of Trump. What was your reaction to that?

I don’t really know a lot about that situation so I can’t comment.

What do you think about the rise in moderate republicans renouncing Trump—specifically, Mitt Romney’s recent speech calling Trump a “phony and a fraud”?

I think there’s a lot of lenses to look at Trump and he’s very controversial, so he’s bound to have some people dislike him, but I think overall he’s truly trying to become president and will stick it out until the end, so he’s not a phony or a fraud.


Princeton flooded with anti-Semitic fliers in national hack by white supremacists

Between Thursday night and Friday morning, printers across Princeton University administrative and academic officers were flooded with an anti-Semitic, swastika-ridden flier calling for people to “join us in the struggle for global white supremacy.”

Princeton appeared to be one of many targets in a coordinated computer hack by a white supremacist organization linked to a website, dailystormer.com, targeting American universities. Similar incidents have been reported at universities across the country, from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The flier found at UMass appears to be identical to the one at Princeton.


The copy of the flier obtained by the University Press Club was found at the Lewis Center for the Arts.

The University Office of Communication published a statement on the University homepage earlier this morning noting that “Public Safety investigators are working to determine who sent the single-page flyers and from where they were sent.”

According to Min Pullan, a media relations specialist in the Office of Communication, told the Press Club that there is reason to believe that the fliers may still be coming in through the university network and that the University needs “to make sure that our printers are secure and that this doesn’t continue to happen.”

Pullan added that while the University has not yet identified the source of the hack, she feels confident that it did not originate within Princeton, citing the similar incidents on other campuses.

It is unclear how many fliers were printed and the University is still investigating how many printers were affected by the hack.

Michele Minter, Vice Provost for institutional equity and inclusion, released a statement saying, “”Princeton regards any actions making the atmosphere intimidating, threatening or hostile to individuals as serious offenses.”

The incident comes a week after President Christopher Eisgruber made international headlines asserting the University’s commitment to free speech. Following comments from an Indian politician saying that American universities would not tolerate students holding a commemoration for Osama Bin Laden, Eisgruber told the Indian Express that “We would and should tolerate that. It would be very disruptive. People would be very angry about the statement. But we would not discipline somebody for making statements of that nature.”

Eisgruber added that “at Princeton believe that it is a fundamental advantage for a university to be able to tolerate even offensive kinds of speech and to respond to bad arguments when they are made with more speech rather than with disciplinary actions.”

Philosodogs: Ponder this on your next walk

Ever wonder what your dog thinks of disjunctive syllogistic reasoning or whether he/she identifies as a deontologist or a consequentialist?

In January, three Princeton philosophy graduate students, Robin Dembroff, Sukaina Hirji and Daniel Wodak, decided to crack these questions. They created Philosodogs, a blog dedicated to featuring the dogs of philosophers.

Hirji, a fifth year grad student, said she was inspired by blogs run by philosophers– hot spots for philosophers to get into heated arguments.

“Some of us think that, at least some of the time, it would be good for philosophers to take themselves and their profession a bit less seriously,” Hirji said.

Hirji began soliciting dogs by reaching out to philosophers she previously knew, both graduates students and faculty. Now, she receives emails from philosophers who want to make their dogs famous. Many of them heard about Philosodogs after Justin Weinberg, who runs a popular philosophy website “Daily Nous,” posted about the site, Hirji said.

“Philosophers over-analyze everything,” Dembroff said. “So, naturally, we also over-analyze our dogs. This is fantastic because dogs are sufficiently complex and emotional that, when you add over-analysis, you end up with incredibly intricate and amusing speculations about dogs’ inner-lives.”

The writers ask a series of questions, often including: Which philosopher would your dog be (or read)? The combination of asking such a complex question and the fact that it’s geared towards a dog, Dembroff said, “is recipe for amazing.”

One of the blog’s most well-known posts is an interview with Princeton Philosophy Professor Gideon Rosen about his fox terrier, Harvey.

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 7.54.38 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-10 at 5.44.29 PM

They begin by asking Rosen standard dog-owner questions, such as why Rosen decided to get a dog and the origins behind Harvey’s name.

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Then they move onto the heavier questions.

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Hirji thinks that the blog has created a fun space for sometimes overly seriously philosophers to just talk about their dogs.

“I like to think the blog can serve as a helpful reminder for all of us that philosophers are just human beings, and philosophy is not the only thing that matters for our happiness or sense of self-worth,” Hirji said.

Visit philosodogs.weebly.com to read more.

The Ultimate Solution to Midterm Stress: Blow Stuff Up

Midterms week is here, which means life for most Princeton students has just gotten significantly sadder. One campus group, however, knows how to remain above the gloom.

Yesterday, while countless others were huddled in Firestone, members of The Princeton Rocketry Club were outside, enjoying the sun and launching projectiles 700 feet into the air over Sexton Field.

“I was studying all day, but I think it’s important to set aside an hour or two to screw around with explosives,” said Mike Fuerst ’18, gleefully.

The Rocketry Club, new this year, was founded by a group of like-minded rocket enthusiasts. “We decided that there was a distinct lack of lighting things on fire and launching them into the air on this campus,” Fuerst said.


This enthusiasm is warranted: rockets are awesome. And I would soon come to realize that they are a great distraction from encroaching deadlines and exams.

The club had eight rockets to try out, three of which were designed and 3D printed by Isabel Cleff ’18. “It’s chill because you design the rockets, than you get to build it yourself and test it here,” she said.

And so I spent my Sunday afternoon, blissfully ignoring my work and watching rockets jet into the sky:


Discussing the future of the club, Matt Romer ’18 thinks monthly rocket launches are just the beginning. “Next month we’ll be working on a rocket that’s roughly five times the size of any of these,” he said. “We eventually want to join a rocketry competition.”

Interested in becoming a member? “I think for anyone who’s interested in getting hands-on and doing things outside of the classroom in aerospace, this is really the only place to be,” Romer said.

For higher quality videos their launches, check out the group’s Facebook page.

A Press Club exposé: Princeton has so much artwork of random old white dudes they forgot who this bust is

On Tuesday night I was studying in the A floor of Firestone, alternating between doing my history reading and scrolling through my Twitter feed in horror about the ascendancy of Donald Trump as the heir-apparent of the Republican Party. On my way back from a trip to the water fountain, I noticed a bust of what seemed to be an old, assumedly white man out of the corner of my eye.


Intrigued, I walked closer to the bust.

I had no idea who it was.

I looked around the bust for clues. There were none. No plaque, no label on the wall that would possibly say something like, “this is a bust of Rutherford “Trick” Williamson, class of 1943, in honor of his 53rd reunion.” Nothing.

This bodiless man, preserved in perpetuity on the A floor of Firestone, is a total mystery.


Generally, a nameless bust like this would be amusing to a small, particular audience (i.e. me). But, lately the issue of public artwork at Princeton has become a more widely discussed subject, specifically after the Black Justice League’s Nassau Hall sit-in this past November. Students brought up Princeton’s decision to decorate the walls of the university’s buildings, as well as its public spaces, with statues and paintings of white men. In December, Urvija Banerji ’15 wrote a guest op-ed in the Prince entitled, “A call for more diversity on Firestone’s walls.”

This trend of homogenous artwork is most noticeable in the third floor reading room of Firestone in which, after its recent renovation, was suddenly and inexplicably filled with random portraits of dead white men. While some of these portraits are of recognizable dead white men of historical import, others are of totally nameless, seemingly unimportant dead white men.


Yet, while I have felt the urge before to write about the strangeness of these portraits, it was not until I came across Mr. Bust that I realized that I needed to finally take things into my own hands.

The first thing I thought to do was to review the library materials available on every floor of Firestone in search of some clues. I grabbed a pamphlet entitled, “Guide to the Library 2015-2016” and a map of the A floor. The map proved to have no guide for the artwork on the A floor and the guide pamphlet proved to be entirely useless altogether. I was feeling discouraged and my history reading wasn’t done, so I called it a night, planning to return to my hunt for truth the following day.


On Wednesday afternoon, I returned to the scene of the crime. I walked up to Mr. Bust and began to poke around. Looking like a total idiot, I started to squat behind the bust in an attempt to see if there were any clues hidden out of view.

I noticed that there seem to be words on the back of the man’s head but I couldn’t make them out because the bust is inches from the wall and it was very dark. I decided to turn on my flash on my camera and take a picture.

I was in business.

The photo comes up with a name: “Walker Hancock.”


Not Rutherford “Trick” Williamson but eerily similar, including the connection to an important figure in American history.

I do a quick Google search of Walker Hancock and the results are promising. He somewhat resembled Mr. Bust.

It turns out that Walker Hancock was actually a famous American sculptor, best known for his role as one of the “monument men” in World War II, which earned him the distinct posthumous honor of having John Goodman play a character loosely based on Hancock in the eponymous 2014 film.

The bad news was that Hancock’s noted career as a sculptor made it far more likely that he was the man who created Mr. Bust as opposed to Mr. Bust himself. As my friend pointed out, they were similar in as much as they were both old white men.

At this point, disheartened, I remembered that I could use the ever helpful “ask a librarian!” feature on the library website, which allows you to talk, in real-time, with a real librarian without the hassle of face-to-face communication.

I logged in and I explained to the anonymous librarian that  I was trying to identify this bust and I sent a picture of the bust, which somehow was successfully sent through late-nineties-early-chatroom interface of “ask a librarian!”

The following conversation ensued:

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 10.22.44 AM

Strange. Almost as soon as I began to inquire into the name of this bust the librarian cryptically wrote “I have to log off.”

Unfortunately, the mysterious librarian said he/she would get back to me by email but proceeded to write down my incorrect email.

An hour later, I logged back into “ask a librarian!” and went through a similar discussion with a different on-call librarian.

Almost immediately after I explained my predicament, the librarian responded, “I’m afraid I am going to have to get back to you on this. gsfisher@princeton.edu?”

Luckily, only fifteen minutes later, I received the following email from the librarian:

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 5.56.40 PM

“We are trying to identify this bust.”

Translation: “we have no fucking clue who this guy is.”

Another day, another unsuccessful search for answers.


I wake up with an important email in my inbox. The librarian had an answer.

Booth Tarkington.

Here’s the email I received:

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You may be wondering, who is Booth Tarkington? I had the same question.

A quick glance at his Wikipedia page gave me some very important answers.

No, his name isn’t Rutherford “Trick” Williamson, but Booth Tarkington was an illustrious member of Princeton’s class of 1893. (Side note: this name is too good to be true. I mean, even my made up name wasn’t as ridiculous as his actual name. This is why I can’t write fiction.)

At Princeton, Tarkington was an early member of the Triangle Club as well as a member of the illustrious Ivy Club where, his Wikipedia page maintains, he began his lifelong friendship with the one and only Woodrow Wilson, then a young graduate member of Ivy.

It turns out, Tarkington would go on to become one of the most prominent American novelists of the early half of the 20th century, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice, before his death in 1946.

The question then becomes how could this two-time Pulitzer prize winning novelist end up as a bafflingly unidentifiable bust on the A floor of Firestone?

How did neither I, nor anyone else I consulted–including numerous friends, multiple librarians, and two tenured professors–have any idea who this man was.

It turns out I wasn’t the first person to ask. An Atlantic magazine story from 2004 fittingly titled “Hoosiers: The lost world of Booth Tarkington,” explores just this question.

The author writes:

Entirely absent from most current histories of American writing, Tarkington was generally scorned by those published just before or after his death. Vernon L. Parrington summed him up as “a purveyor of comfortable literature to middle-class America.”

This is before he lays on the real insults, calling Tarkington’s writing so “uneven” that “the quality is so sharply up and down as to seem the result of a blood-sugar problem, or some seasonal affective disorder,” before finally asking our central question:

“How does such a ubiquitous and, for a time, honored figure disappear so quickly and completely?”


Well, here’s to Booth Tarkington.

No matter what we think (or don’t think) about his legacy as an American novelist, at least we can admire his disembodied head for the rest of time on the A floor of Firestone.

And, maybe, one of these days, there will actually be a plaque honoring this forgotten man.

Next in this investigative series on Princeton’s inexplicable public artwork, what the hell is a painting depicting Aaron Burr freaking killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel doing in Frist?!


Seriously. Who thought this was a nice thing to hang up on the wall in our campus center???

Breaking: Fire Department, Campus Safety respond to Smoke Fumes in E-Quad

On Tuesday at 11pm, over ten firetrucks, ambulances, and public safety cars surrounded the front entrance of the engineering-quad responding to a report of smoke from a room within the building.

The call to Public Safety came at 10:20pm. Public Safety then reported the call to the Princeton Fire Department, per standard protocol.

Students reported being told to escort the premises with no further information given.

No person was injured.

[caption id="attachment_18061" align="aligncenter" width="640"]IMG_4584-1 Photo by Gabriel Fisher[/caption]

According to a firefighter on the scene, the source of the smoke was discovered to be a malfunctioning fume hood. The source said that it took longer than expected to locate the source, leading to the extended presence of the firetrucks and ambulances.


According to one firefighter, this type of malfunctioning is a common malfunction and not a source of serious concern.

The firefighter appeared to have cleared the building by 11:30, some leaving noticeably sweaty.

While the incident ended up to be slightly underwhelming, this did not stop Yik Yak from responding with its characteristic flare for the dramatic, with one Yakker writing, “someone’s hidden meth lab blew up.”

An inside look at 1080p: Princeton’s first visual journalism group

You may have seen their “Bicker Week in Frist” video – maybe you even laughed out loud and shared it with your friends – but the recently launched visual journalism club on campus, 1080princeton, has a whole lot more in store.

Although the bicker video has been the most popular since the website launched on February 11th, attracting over 1,500 viewers in the first hour posted, the video is actually a deviation from the type of journalism the club generally intends to produce, according to co-founder William Gansa ‘17.

In the video, random undergraduates in the Frist Campus Center were asked to play a word association game with the names of the eleven eating clubs on The Street.


“We had initially hoped to do something more substantial about bicker, but the clubs were understandably reluctant to let us film in the clubs and to film the actual process,” Gansa said. “The bicker video was sort of a one-off.”

Regardless, it seems that the click-baity, buzzfeed-esque style of the bicker video, released in the midst of the high-stress week of spring bicker, did help spread the word about the new group.

1080p was officially formed in September 2015 by William Gansa ‘17 and Nick Sexton ‘17, with the goal of producing high-quality video features of different groups, stories, and events around campus, as well as offering an alternative outlet for journalism at Princeton. Their team now consists of eight other video-journalists and expects to expand in the coming months.

“We aren’t interesting in making ourselves part of the narrative by appearing on camera,” Gansa said. “Instead we hope to immerse the viewer in the story–bam, you’re in it, here’s a taste of it, and then you’re out again.”

Although the group does not intend to report on breaking news, they do hope to become a trusted news source for serious issues facing the student body. According to Gansa, the group is currently working on an oral history of the Black Justice League sit-in’s that took place last November.

“We’re hoping to treat it [the BJL video] in a way so that people will have a better understanding of motives on all sides of the argument, and that will also put us squarely in the middle of the campus conversation,” Gansa said.

The name of the organization refers to a full HD video resolution and represents the club’s commitment to producing rigorous, professional quality film and photography.

The club also hopes to provide mentorship and access to equipment for people with less experience in video and photo production. 

Gansa said his favorite part of the journalistic process is learning about new subcultures by immersing himself in them.

“The great thing about journalism is that you are forced, when you make a video or when you write an article about anything, to become an expert, to really dive into an attempt to get this understanding of a world that you have had no idea about,” Gansa said, “in order to be able to present to other people an empathetic and knowledgeable portrait of whatever it is you’re covering.”