Princeton Students Cheat the New Zagster Bike Share System

Photo courtesy of Morgan Kelly, Office of Communications Photo courtesy of Morgan Kelly, Office of Communications

Last month, Princeton introduced Zagster, a bike sharing system that allows students to rent and return a bike from any station on campus for up to two hours. Though the University has not encountered any serious problems with the operation yet, there is word of students breaking the rules slyly.

Princeton first became involved with Zagster in fall of 2014 when the University acquired 10 rental bikes for visitors to rent from the Transportation Hub, which includes the Dinky and buses near Wawa. This small bike share program was a success, so Princeton decided to expand Zagster to the Princeton campus.

Renting a Zagster bike is simple: users pay a one-time membership fee of $20, which allows them access to bikes whenever they want. Each bike has a code, which the user enters into the app. The app then displays a code that users enter on the bike keypad to get a key for the bike lock, which can be used for two hours. For every extra hour a user doesn’t return the bike, Zagster charges $2.

But two hours isn’t very much time, and at least one student has figured out a way to get around Zagster’s time limit.

The student who asked to remain anonymous learned from his cousin at Yale how to essentially keep a bike for an unlimited amount of time without being charged any fees.

After requesting a ride, he would take a bike from a Zagster station and cancel the ride on the app before the two hours were up. Then, he would re-request another ride using the same code in order to keep the same bike. This way, he was able to keep one bike for the entire day without ever returning it to a station or paying the fee.

“A $20 down payment is pretty simple, but the issue is that only having two hours to get the bike back to a station is very tough, especially for someone like me who will have three classes in a row around mid-day, so there’s no time to take the bike and put it back in the station,” he said.

He continued doing this until Zagster realized what he was doing and suspended him from the app. They later agreed to let him continue renting bikes if he agreed to stop cancelling and re-requesting rides.

Kim Jackson, director of Transportation & Parking Services, said that the only major problem the University has run into so far was an unlocked bike found outside Spellman. After someone reported the abandoned bike, Jackson notified Zagster and the bike was given a new lock.

Apart from this instance and the possible worry that students might abandon other bikes in the future, the bike sharing program has so far been successful.

“If there has been something, the Zagster people have figured it out and figured out ways to stop some of that from happening because it’s in everybody’s best interest to do that,” Jackson said.

But she added that because students here are “super smart and creative,” it’s just a matter of time to see if someone will try to beat the system again.


Breaking: Head of Wilson College recommends that the Wilson mural be removed from college dining hall

In an email to the members of Wilson College this morning, Head of College Eduardo Cadava, announced his decision to remove the mural of Woodrow Wilson from the residential college’s dining hall.

“In order to remain faithful to this wonderful history, I recommend that the Wilson “mural” be removed,” Cadava wrote in the email. “Its size and prominence in the Wilcox Dining Hall has seemed to us—as it has to President Eisgruber as well—’unduly celebratory,'” he added.

The mural,  an enlarged, edited photograph of Woodrow Wilson throwing a baseball, has been at the center of a controversy since this past fall when the Black Justice League demanded its removal as part of a larger platform dealing with both the legacy of Woodrow Wilson on Princeton’s campus as well as issues relating to race and inclusivity.


In his email, Cadava said that the mural of Wilson does not align with the history of the residential college, which was founded by a group of undergraduate students in the 1950s in response to the exclusive eating club system and paved the way for the creation of the residential college system.

“The history of Wilson College is more closely linked to its founding act of social justice and to the community of students that live in it at any given moment than to the name of any single person,” Cadava wrote. 

Cadava also took issue with calling the photograph of Wilson a mural.

“The first thing to say about the mural is that it is not a mural. It is instead a blown-up photograph that was initially presented as a design element in the 2009 renovations of the Wilcox Dining Hall,” he wrote, adding that ” to refer to the image as a mural is to confer an artistic merit on the image that it does not really have.”

The decision to remove the mural comes only weeks after the University’s Board of Trustees voted to keep Wilson’s name on the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs as well as the residential college.

Cadava wrote that he believes the “recommendation to remove the Wilson “mural” is an effort to lay one stone aright today, in the hope that others can be lain aright in the future.”

Cadava ended by thanking the Black Justice League for sparking this conversation on Woodrow Wilson’s legacy as well as larger conversations about race and inclusivity at Princeton.

“I will only add that the University community owes the Black Justice League a felt debt for providing us with the occasion to reflect in a considered way about the issues that they raised,” he wrote. “Had it not been for their insistence, we might not have undertaken this necessary task and I believe we are all in a better place because of our having done so.”

The full text of the email can be found below.

April 25, 2016

To the Wilson Community:

As you know, I was asked by President Eisgruber on November 19, 2015 to “begin a process to consider removing the Woodrow Wilson mural from Wilcox Hall.” In a subsequent letter, dated December 8, 2015 and uploaded on the Wilson College website, he encouraged me to consider waiting to initiate this discussion until the Trustee Committee began to publish its findings on Wilson’s legacy. The President’s suggestion was meant to enable the Wilson community to reap the benefit of these opinions so that our discussions could be better informed. I accepted this suggestion because I too believed that the issues raised this year in relation to Wilson’s legacy provided us with a great pedagogical opportunity. I also wanted to give our community time to learn about the complexity of Wilson’s legacy, about the history of Wilson College, and about the history of the mural.

Once the Board of Trustees began publishing these materials at the end of January and once we were all back for the spring semester, I initiated a process to move us forward in this task. The process included a series of discussions, meant to enable all of us to be more fully educated about the issues that have drawn so much attention on the Princeton campus and beyond. On February 8 I encouraged everyone in the Wilson community—students, faculty, and staff—to read the scholarly opinions on Wilson’s legacy posted by the Board of Trustees and to participate in the open forum organized by the Trustees on February 19. I also invited everyone affiliated with Wilson College to submit their thoughts and opinions on the matter in person or in writing beginning February 22.

In addition, I formed an Ad Hoc Student Advisory Committee, with twelve student members. The members of the committee conducted interviews with relevant members of the Wilson community, including alumni who lived in the College in previous years and even one of the founders of the early Wilson Society. I asked the members of the committee to attend the February 19 forum that the Board of Trustees’ Wilson Legacy Committee hosted and some of them also interviewed President Eisgruber. The students also read through the comments that members of our community submitted to our office—they were given access to the contents of the comments but not to the identities of the students or faculty who submitted them—and they also organized a public discussion on April 3 that included Wilson students, faculty fellows, staff, and a former Master of the College.

After a period of deliberation and discussion, this advisory committee was to submit a formal recommendation to me, which it now has done. Although the final decision about the mural’s future lies in my hands, I wish to register my gratitude for the service these students have provided to me, and to our community. I am very grateful for their time and generosity in helping with this process, and I am very proud of the care and thoughtfulness with which they have conducted themselves in all of this, especially since, at the beginning of the process, they were not in agreement about what should be done. That they could come together despite their differences, and proceed in ascrupulous, thoughtful, and respectful manner suggests a model for how we might move forward and make decisions collectively that can make both Wilson and the University a better and more welcoming place for everyone. The students have submitted their formal recommendation—in a thoughtfully laid out argument and summary of their process—and they are recommending that we remove the mural and that, in its place, we install an artwork or another visual representation that embodies the College’s unique history in relation to issues of inclusion and diversity. In what follows, I offer a formal statement of my own, in which I reiterate their thoughts and offer my own reasoning behind my endorsement of the students’ recommendation.



While the question of the Wilson mural was always meant to be separate from the Board of Trustees’ deliberations and decision about the Wilson name, in accordance with President Eisgruber’s charge, I want to say a few words about the history of Wilson College, since I believe this history is an essential context for the Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendation and for my decision.

The distinctive history of Wilson College is very important to me. First of all, it is the only college founded by students. More importantly, it was founded by students as part of a stance against elitism and exclusion. This fact gives the College a wonderful history of expansive inclusiveness, and one that is absolutely relevant to our discussions these last months. This history can perhaps even guide us as we try to imagine what a truly democratic and egalitarian educational institution might look like. Indeed, the best way to honor this history today is to re-enact it with an even stronger and more historically informed sense of what inclusion and diversity might mean to us now. The history of Wilson College is more closely linked to its founding act of social justice and to the community of students that live in it at any given moment than to the name of any single person; for this reason, we may find something to learn from and admire in this history.

Wilson College grew out of a small group of students who, in reaction to the Bicker process, founded the Wilson Lodge in 1957 in order to provide “a place where individuals…could be accepted for who they are and not forced to conform to the narrow specifications of Bicker.” In response to the “Dirty Bicker” of 1958, Darwin Labarthe, the sophomore secretary of the Woodrow Wilson Lodge and soon-to-be-elected student body president, led a large group of his classmates into the Lodge, increasing its membership significantly. This momentum encouraged then President Robert Goheen to support this alternative to the clubs. Goheen raised funds, broke ground in 1959, and in 1960 opened Wilcox Hall and the New Quad, which became the locus of the renamed Woodrow Wilson Society. The students called themselves the Woodrow Wilson Society in recognition of Woodrow Wilson’s proposal while he was President of Princeton to establish a residential college system. This Society was run entirely by students for eight years, until 1968 when it became Princeton’s first residential college and indeed the template for the residential college system that followed.

What I have always admired about this history is that a group of students took a stance against discrimination in the name of diversity and inclusion and, in doing so, established an alternative community founded on principles of social justice. A story of the force of student agency, it speaks to what students can do to transform the landscape of Princeton. This is why, in 2010, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the New Quad and Wilcox Hall, I held a celebration in honor of this early history and I invited the three students who were most actively involved in founding and expanding the Wilson Society—Darwin Labarthe, who became the student body president in his senior year, Robert Tellander, the tiger mascot, and a friend of theirs, Fred Kreisler—to come to talk to our students about why they had done what they did. At the same time, I inaugurated the Wilson College Signature Lecture Series. The series is meant to honor the College’s founding insistence on the ideals of equality, democracy, and inclusion. Every event in the series features a speaker or performer whose work aims to create a more just and less exclusionary world, and to enable a more open, diverse, and welcoming sense of community. Events in the series have featured, among others, Cornel West, Toni Morrison, Patricia J. Williams, Zadie Smith, Fazal Sheikh, Michael Eric Dyson, Eyal Weizman, Amy Goodman, Jeffrey Eugenides, Joshua Bennett, Chris Hedges, and most recently Peter Sellars and Reggie Gray’s production of FLEX-N. In each instance, the event has aimed at helping us imagine a future that will not simply be a repetition of the past. In light of the recent controversy over Woodrow Wilson’s legacy, it has been gratifying to know that, at Wilson College, we have always supported events that counter the parts of this legacy that have been the most disturbing to us.

It is against the backdrop of this legacy of equality and justice that we can turn to the issue of the Wilson mural. The mural has been at the center of ongoing discussions about what kinds of public art the University should promote in order to represent its values and aspirations. In this light, the history of Wilson College gives us a lens through which we can think about the placement of this image of Woodrow Wilson. What has also guided my thinking about the matter as well as that of the Ad Hoc Committee is the mural’s history. The first thing to say about the mural is that it is not a mural. It is instead a blown-up photograph that was initially presented as a design element in the 2009 renovations of the Wilcox Dining Hall by Michael Graves Architecture and Design.  The Graves office recommended the photograph and the previous Master of Wilson College, Maggie Browning, along with Jon Hlafter from the Office of the University Architect, reviewed it and agreed to it. The early Graves designs for the space had the exact photo shown at a smaller scale. The image presents Wilson throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Washington Senators baseball game in April 1915 while he was the President of the United States. To refer to the image as a mural is to confer an artistic merit on the image that it does not really have and, because it was only installed in the Dining Hall seven years ago and mostly as a signature design element, it also does not have the longstanding value that other honorific memorials might have.

As the Ad Hoc Committee notes in its recommendation, “It is important to remember that the name of the college was chosen in honor not of Wilson, but of his vision for the residential college system…this means that the college was named not so much for a man as for his ideas, which creates a degree of separation between the two. However, the mural—which so clearly celebrates the man—begins to chip away at this degree of separation. The giant picture in the dining hall unavoidably brings the man Wilson into the college Wilson.” I want to stress the distinction the students make here because while the man Wilson has now been shown to have a mixed legacy—one that includes his contributions to Princeton and to the United States at large but also his unacceptable racial policies and segregationist views—the history of Wilson College is an honorable one. The College history deserves to be recalled and preserved, not simply in our memory but also in our ongoing efforts to create a sense of community that is inclusive rather than exclusionary, that is respectful of difference rather than neglectful of it.

In order to remain faithful to this wonderful history, I recommend that the Wilson “mural” be removed. Its size and prominence in the Wilcox Dining Hall has seemed to us—as it has to President Eisgruber as well—“unduly celebratory” and not in keeping with the spirit of Wilson College’s founding wish to have Princeton be a place that is truly diverse and inclusive, and one that embraces, respects, and values all its members.

I wish to close by recalling a passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Man the Reformer.” There, in a passage that addresses the possibility of transformation and reform, he writes, “If we suddenly plant our foot, and say, — I will neither eat nor drink nor wear nor touch any food or fabric which I do not know to be innocent, or deal with any person whose whole manner of life is not clear and rational, we shall stand still. Whose is so? Not mine; not thine; not his. But I think we must clear ourselves each one by the interrogation, whether we have earned our bread to-day by the hearty contribution of our energies to the common benefit; and we must not cease to tend to the correction of these flagrant wrongs, by laying one stone aright every day.”

From my perspective—a perspective that I believe honors the wonderful history of Wilson College—the Ad Hoc student committee’s recommendation to remove the Wilson “mural” is an effort to lay one stone aright today, in the hope that others can be lain aright in the future. It is for this reason that I also make the same recommendation. I am pleased to say that the Council of Heads and the Campus Art Steering Committee have accepted my recommendation.

I will only add that the University community owes the Black Justice League a felt debt for providing us with the occasion to reflect in a considered way about the issues that they raised. Had it not been for their insistence, we might not have undertaken this necessary task and I believe we are all in a better place because of our having done so. I also wish to thank the students, faculty, and alumni who expressed their wish to either have the mural remain or have it removed. As the Head of Wilson College, I believe I am answerable to the entire Wilson community and I have gathered strength in this process by registering the different ways in which so many members of this community expressed their care. I trust that I have lived up to its expectations in putting into place the process I have followed and which has led to my recommendation. I also hope that, together, we can continue to work to make Princeton as inclusive as it indeed wishes and needs to be.

Respectfully submitted,

Eduardo Cadava

Head, Wilson College

The shit, piss and vomit of Pyne Hall: Janitor tells all


Henry Hall Bathroom

Mondays are tough for everyone, but when it comes to cleaning dormitories at Princeton, they’re truly the worst. After a weekend of partying and heavy drinking, students leave behind trash, destruction and a puzzling amount of human waste.

For John*, a campus janitor in Pyne Hall, the mess is part of his weekly routine.

“I get upset every once in a while, but you just have to understand that it’s going to be dirty,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s just Monday.”












On his daily sweep of the laundry room, hallways, trashcans, and bathrooms, John said he often finds urine, feces and vomit in unexpected places. Because students don’t have private bathrooms in Pyne, he said they often resort to peeing in trashcans, which they place outside for collection.

One morning, John recalled finding a bottle of urine while unloading the trash. The bottle was fairly large and hadn’t been closed correctly.

“It exploded. I was coved in urine and orange juice,” John said. “Just the other day, I got it all over my arm.”

The worst part, he said, was that he had to finish his rounds before going home to change.


Bottles 2










Although this year’s residents have been more considerate than in the past, John said bathroom fixtures are often damaged over the weekend. A memorable example is when he found toilet stall doors on the floor. In Henry Hall, shower heads were ripped off of the walls.

“The destruction is always in the men’s bathroom,” John said, adding that many of his coworkers in other buildings face the same issues.

“Everybody says they got the worst dorm on campus,” he chuckled. “They’re all pretty much the same.”

John said that he has never caught anyone “in the act” during his regular cleaning hours. However, the culprits are easier to spot during reunions.

“They don’t care,” he said. “There’s a lot of drinking.”

It was during reunions that John found seven piles of human feces in the laundry room, a story he said people still find hard to believe.

If you’re having trouble picturing it, here’s a specimen from Henry Hall taken a few weeks ago:

Feces in Henry Hall

John let out a warm laugh when I asked him how this made him feel about Princeton students.

“That’s what happens when you have too much to drink,” he said. “Some kids just can’t handle it.”

Although he hasn’t had discussions with the administration over student behavior, John said that he sometimes shares his concerns with residents whom he considers friends. Dormitory assistants have also requested that students clean up after themselves.

“There are just some kids that are disrespectful,” he said. “Other than that it’s a great place to work. It’s beautiful here.”

*Name has been changed.


Princeton Senior Wins $1000 Running an Impromptu Marathon

You might have seen him walking around campus and wondered to yourself – is that the marathon guy? Maybe you were one of the dozens of undergraduates who congratulated a complete stranger on his victory, or maybe you were more skeptical of the truth of the entire story.

Here to dispel any doubts about the man, the myth, and the legend – Brian Geiger provides a first-hand account of how he came to be a thousand dollars richer over the course of five hours, 105 laps and a couple of challenges along the way. (Geiger is also, unsurprisingly, a member of the University Press Club himself.)


It was 1 AM on Wednesday night in Pyne 511, when an alumnus asked eight of his friends whether or not they could run a marathon, that very night, on pure grit. Senior Brian Geiger claimed that he could despite his friends’ disbelief. Five of those present knocked down an original $5,000 to a total of $1,000, betting that Geiger couldn’t run a full marathon around the track – without stopping – the following morning at 10 AM.

“These bets happen all of the time, but it’s never really followed through on,” Geiger said. “But in this instance I was pretty confident I could do it so for once, I called my friends out on it, we metaphorically shook on it, and the bet was on.”

Although he ran varsity cross-country in high school, Geiger said he hadn’t run more than five miles in the past three years and worried that his body would give out. Tips from the track team and the possibility of shaming himself in front of dozens of people, however, motivated him through the boredom and the pain to the finish line.

“My main motivator for wanting to do it was mostly to spite my friends, in addition to the strong financial incentive, that is,” Geiger said.

Seniors Hannah Swenson and Spencer Whittaker were the only two betting on Geiger’s side.

“It was funny because all of the eight guys who were sure that he couldn’t run the marathon, none of them were runners or had ever run,” Swenson said. “But Geiger ran cross-country in high school, I run pretty regularly and Spencer is also a pretty reasonable runner, so the three of us were pretty aware of the fact that if you set a slow enough pace for the marathon, it’s definitely not easy, but it is certainly possible.”

Although 50 or 60 people cycled through the track field throughout the day, Swenson was one of the few who was there for the full five hours, providing Geiger with hydration and nutrition, as well as documenting the spectacle on social media for the world to follow.

Swenson said that it was around mile fifteen when people started to realize that Geiger could actually finish the race.

“We were all just stunned watching him absolutely trudge through the last six or seven miles,” she said. “Whether they were betting for or against him, everyone was cheering for him by the end.”

And despite three lost toenails, difficulty walking up stairs, and extreme thesis procrastination – Geiger said he would readily do it again.

“It was overall just a really fun day,” he said. “It was great to see everyone jump on the chance to come down to support me for a couple minutes, or others who came just for fun and were willing to be spontaneous.”

See below for a full documentation of the marathon.



Princeton Board of Trustees Decide to Keep Woodrow Wilson’s Name; Princeton’s Motto to be Changed

[caption id="attachment_18220" align="aligncenter" width="420"]Wilson_MaryHui The Wilson mural at the Wilson College dining hall. A decision on whether to remove the mural is pending. (Photo: Mary Hui)[/caption]

Princeton University’s Board of Trustees has decided that the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Wilson College will continue to bear their current names.

After last November’s 33-hour sit-in at Nassau Hall, during which the Black Justice League demanded, among other things, that Woodrow Wilson’s name be removed from campus buildings, the University formed a special ten-person committee to examine Wilson’s legacy at Princeton and to make recommendations as to whether the university should change the way it recognizes him.

The committee has recommended that”both the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Woodrow Wilson College should retain their current names and that the University needs to be honest and forthcoming about its history.” The Board of Trustees have accepted the committee’s recommendation.

The decision was first released on Princeton’s homepage in an article entitled, “Trustees call for expanded commitment to diversity and inclusion.” News of the board’s decision to adopt the report’s recommendations to keep Woodrow Wilson’s name was buried in the fourth paragraph. University president Christopher Eisgruber failed to mention the board’s choice to keep Woodrow Wilson’s name in his email to the student body  announcing the decision.

In its report, the committee noted that Wilson “leaves behind a complex legacy with both positive and negative repercussions,” and that transparency is needed “in recognizing Wilson’s failings and shortcomings as well as the visions and achievements that led to the naming of the school and the college in the first place.”

As part of a broader effort to contextualize Wilson’s legacy, Princeton will also change its informal motto from “Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of all nations” to “Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.” A new plaque bearing this revised motto will replace the current one on the front campus.

“The new plaque would contextualize the legacy of Woodrow Wilson; it would allow us to contemporize his expression of Princeton’s commitment to service by linking it to our embrace of the coeducational, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, diverse and inclusive composition and ideals of our community today,” the committee wrote in its report.




Board of Trustees to Announce Decision on Woodrow Wilson Name Changes Tomorrow

The Board of Trustees has come to a decision on the use of Woodrow Wilson’s name on campus buildings and programs. The University will announce the decision tomorrow.

Following a 33-hour sit-in President Eisgruber’s office in November, the Board of Trustees appointed the Wilson Legacy Review Committee “to consider Woodrow Wilson’s legacy at Princeton, and, more specifically, whether or not changes should be made in how the University recognizes Wilson’s legacy,” according to the committee website.

In the months following the sit-in, the committee invited comments from scholars and feedback on Woodrow Wilson, receiving 636 comments as of March 21st. The committee also held several small group discussions and conducted an open forum.

The Board of Trustees claims “authority over how the University recognizes Wilson,” according to the website.

Tomorrow, an exhibition will also open in Robertson Hall to revisit Woodrow Wilson’s contested legacy. The exhibition,”In the Nation’s Service? Woodrow Wilson Revisited,” is available online.

The exhibition “documents not only the positive but also the negative aspects of Wilson’s tenure as 13th president of Princeton University and 28th president of the United States,” according to an announcement by the Woodrow Wilson School.