The last hour of Dean’s Date celebrations, in less than 1/30th the time!
The most visited posts in
the past two weeks:
- The Freshman’s Guide to Princeton: Dorm Life
- 21 Questions With… Cason Crane ’17
- O hai, can we do the Charleston?
- Where does your NetID come from?
- INFOGRAPHIC: Interactive Admissions Statistics for the Princeton Class of 2017
- LIVEBLOG: Dean’s Date, Spring 2013
- Thanks, Peter Lewis: More Fun With Expensive Chairs
- The Fate of Sabra Hummus Remains Uncertain
Author Archives: Vivienne Chen
Residential college/eating club affiliation: Wilson College
For those seniors who may have never heard of you, how would you describe yourself?
As a guy who got a D in Russian at Princeton–and then made his stripes…where else?… in Russia. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
Albert Einstein (he counts, right?) and Robert Cohn, the impotent boxer in “The Sun Also Rises.” And some classmates: Elena Kagan, for sure.
Steve Carell, last year’s Class Day speaker, is a hard act to follow. What’s your game plan?
Hire Steve Carell to write my speech.
What’s your greatest guilty pleasure?
If I counted up the hours lost to watching uniformed people tossing, whacking or carrying various-shaped balls on television, I would probably drink hemlock.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
Read, edit, cajole, beg, hope. And that’s not even a sentence, strictly speaking.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
Waffles at PJ’s. In an altered state.
What are your thoughts on the future of journalism?
That there is one. Because without real journalism– innovative, aggressive, tough-minded, fair journalism– you’ve got North Korea.
What’s your drink?
I am not very particular.
What’s your personal anthem?
The Miles Davis classic: “So What?”
What makes you laugh?
What makes you cry?
Death and onions.
Who’s your mortal enemy?
Anyone who thrives on cruelty.
What magazine/newspapers do you read besides The New Yorker?
Too many to name, but, for starters, The Times, The Washington Post, Haaretz, Al Jazeera online, some Russian papers, The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Rolling Stone, loads of websites…anyway, a cascade of things.
Favorite New Yorker cover of all time?
Damn near anything by the great Saul Steinberg.
Umlauts. How do you feel about them?
I feel goöd about them.
Midnight to five, five-thirty.
Favorite spot on Princeton’s campus?
The basement of East Pyne, where I (tried to) learn Russian and in various other classrooms scattered around the building, where I got to study with Bob Hollander, John McPhee, Sandy Bermann, Bob Fagles, and Suzanne Nash. I’m pretty fond, too, of wherever P. Adams Sitney was showing movies. And since the drinking age then was eighteen, what you know as a place to get coffee was once called “The Pub.” Trust me, “the Pub” was better. Or so I recall.
What grammar mistake do you find most annoying?
Are you sure that question is grammatical?
What makes someone a Princetonian?
God willing, not an obnoxious question like the previous. What it has meant lately is that you had the chance to be there under a truly great university president. Shirley ruled; she rules; and will always rule. She really set an example on every level.
Sometimes you have to proofread carefully to make sure you haven’t any words out. (Yes, that was intentional.) Especially when it’s the operative word in the illustrious Princeton Honor Code:
That said, the student (name redacted to protect dignity) for all we know could have been telling the truth! (Quick! Someone call the Honor Committee! No one expects the Princeton Honor Committee.) At least that’d make him/her honest about the dishonesty.
Enough has already been said all over the Internet about the letter to the ‘Prince’ editor that Susan A. Patton ’77 wrote imploring us Princeton women to “find a husband on campus before [we] graduate,” because: “the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.”
All I can think about is that scene in My Cousin Vinny, with Marisa Tomei bemoaning to Joe Pesci about her ticking biological clock. Floral jumpsuit and all.
In a reply to NY Mag, Patton said: ”I’m astounded by the extreme reaction. Honestly, I just thought this was some good advice from a Jewish mother.”
On the surface, the letter does sound like she just wants someone to date her nice, Jewish son (Class of 2014 goyim like me need not apply), but it’s more than that.
Patton, newly divorced, says she wishes she had married a Princetonian, because her own ex-husband “went to a school of almost no name recognition” and “had no respect for the hoopla, the traditions, the allegiance, the orange and black.” Meanwhile, I still refuse to do the Nazi-fist in “Old Nassau” because holy shit does this ever look normal?
What’s more, Patton’s own experience with her parents while going to Princeton, which she wrote about in a 2006 Princeton Alumni Weekly article, tellingly reveals something about her current stance on marriage. That is:
[Going to Princeton] was upsetting and shameful to my parents.
I would be the first woman in my family to attend college. The necessity of my continued education eluded my mother and father. My leaving their home before marriage was an utter disgrace to them. Princeton was unknown to my parents. They saw no honor in my admission to such a prestigious institution, and they were confident that I should be investing myself in other things. It wouldn’t have mattered where I wanted to go away to school. They were adamant that a young girl’s place is in her parents’ home, until she is in her husband’s home. European immigrants and concentration camp survivors, my parents couldn’t understand why at 18 years old, I didn’t direct my efforts towards finding a mate…
The fact that Patton was an emancipated minor, who had to support herself because her Holocaust-surviving parents so adamantly valued her marriage potential over her education, speaks to the struggles and trauma of being a single educated first-generation immigrant woman back in 1977.
Which is why it’s extremely disappointing to hear that the pioneering Patton would re-enact that shame on her would-be daughters with essentially a (slightly more pro-education, but tragically elitist) version of what her parents prescribed onto her: find a “worthy” mate, get married before it’s too late.
“Because these are the best guys,” Patton says to NY Mag. “You’ll meet wonderful men outside of Princeton, but you’ll never have the numbers in your favor the way you do now.”
Or, as Meredith Shiner said it best: “Michelle Obama really screwed up not marrying a classmate at Princeton.”
Lest I forget that my undergraduate writing career may come back to haunt me, Corey Robin ’89 just called out his classmate Wendy Kopp ’89, the founder of nationwide educational program Teach For America, for writing for the conservative Princeton Tory as an undergrad, and allegedly, being a self-proclaimed “corporate tool.”
I have no idea what she was thinking when she joined it…We worked together as stringers for newspapers and wire services across the country. But beyond her telling me, proudly and repeatedly, that she was a “corporate tool” (the phrase, I think, was just coming into vogue), I have no idea what her political views were.
Disclosure: The news organization that Kopp and Robin worked together in? The University Press Club. (The Ink never tires of a little self-referential drama.)
Robin’s criticism is that Kopp’s loose association with the Tory, “Princeton’s premiere magazine of conservative
and moderate thought” (they have since recently dropped the “moderate” in the print edition of their magazine–a shift in values, or an admission of reality?) reflects how TFA’s neoliberal agenda is rooted in conservative principles of education.
[TFA] underwrites, intentionally or not, the conservative assumptions of the education reform movement: that teacher’s unions serve as barriers to quality education; that testing is the best way to assess quality education; that educating poor children is best done by institutionalizing them; that meritocracy is an end-in-itself; that social class is an unimportant variable in education reform; that education policy is best made by evading politics proper; and that faith in public school teachers is misplaced.
The criticisms of TFA aren’t new, and they don’t all come from Jacobin– a “polemic” mag that is about a Tory-and-a-half from moderate on the leftist side of the political spectrum. The Washington Post also featured a back and forth between Kopp and critics about the organization’s mission, and many have criticized the organization for essentially serving as a vehicle for privileged kids to sublimate their elite guilt.
Or, as the Onion puts it in the voice of a fourth grader:
“Just once, it would be nice to walk into a classroom and see a teacher who has a real, honest-to-God degree in education and not a twentysomething English graduate trying to bolster a middling GPA and a sparse law school application…I’m not some sort of stepping stone to a larger career, okay?”
File this under our new UPC segment ‘Princetonians Throwing Shade.’
What’s harder: writing a senior thesis or growing a nice beard?
Since early February, seniors Will Harrel (whom you might know as the guy who put President Shirley Tilghman in a snuggie) and Daniel Song have been on a mission to chronicle the day-to-day progress of their senior independent work and their facial hair with ThesisBeard.com. As we speak, they are on Day 19.
I’ll be following these two around and checking in with them periodically for a Princeton Alumni Weekly video project on Seniors and their Theses Rituals (btw, hit me up if you have a tip of your own!), but here’s a quick preview profile of the men of the Bearded Thesis:
Name: Daniel Song ’13
Major: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Thesis: How tribalism in Kenya shapes the way people view HIV/AIDS.
Facial Hair Problem Areas: Mustache won’t ever connect to chin beard. Also, his girlfriend, who says she is “neutral” on the beard, can’t help but cringe near it.
Thesis Problem Areas: Almost losing all his audio transcripts (thank god for backups!)
Longest Previous Record For Not Shaving: Several weeks during his time in Kenya.
Name: Will Harrel ’13
Major: Operations Research and Financial Engineering
Thesis: Game theory analysis of unanimous verdicts in 12-person jury trials.
Facial Hair Problem Areas: Mustache also won’t connect to beard. Gazing longingly at the razor.
Thesis Problem areas: Overnight coding turned up no solution! Oh no!
Longest Record for Not Shaving: Two weeks, so he’s now headed into unseen territory.
Good luck, guys!
If you or your senior friends are doing interesting theses (or interesting things in lieu of your thesis) and would like to be featured in a Princeton Alumni Weekly video, please email Vivienne Chen at vc[at]princeton.edu
While Day 1 is usually just handing out syllabi and making awkward “name-year-major” introductions, sometimes professors get a little bit colorful with their intros on the first week of classes.
Sam Wang (NEU 101): “Please, no tattoos or unremovable piercings above the waist in the fMRI. Otherwise those piercings… will become removable.”
Darcy Steinke (CWR 304): “Let’s go around the room and say our favorite sandwiches. I’ll go first–mine is the egg sandwich.”
Harvey Rosen (ECO 100): “There are no laptops allowed in lecture. I’ve found that I can’t really compete with internet porn. Unless you’re into middle-aged economists. In that case, you’ll be squirming in your seats all semester.”
Matthew Salganik (SOC 204): “I’m going to teach this class as if it were a class at a law school. I’ve never actually been to law school, but this is how I think it would work.”
Rob Schapire (COS 402) after a visiting appearance by Noam Chomsky: “He was very even-handed in the way that he insulted absolutely everybody in the room.”
Keiko Brynildsen (PSY 317) filed under #psychology: “So discussion of ethics aside…”
Janet Monge (ANT 308): “I mail human remains all the time.”
Gary Bass (POL 380): “Osama Bin Laden, I hate that guy. I’m glad he’s dead.”
Andrew Conway (PSY 251): “Does anyone know what percentage of a textbook you can PDF before it becomes illegal?” (Disclaimer: Prof. Conway is not to our knowledge engaging in any illegal PDF-making.)
Got more off-the-wall quotes from your profs? The week isn’t over yet! Send a tip to pressclb[at]princeton.edu
Name: The Committee to Motivate Students to Do Dean’s Date Work (CMSDDDW)
Hometown: Grover’s Corners
Club and Residential College Affiliation: Club Foot
Are you an animal, mineral, or vegetable?
We are argon-based lifeforms, straddling the boundaries between what is alive and what is merely sentient. So kinda like all three.
Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
Goku from Dragon Ball Z. He’s a Princeton alum in many Dragon Ball fanfictions, which we hold as canonical.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
One of us once distracted Nancy Malkiel and gulped down several spoonfuls of some clam chowder she was eating.
Why are you posting such intensely fonted posters?
It is inexplicably acceptable at Princeton to procrastinate on papers, then wail and moan on Facebook as you pull an all-nighter and produce some half-assed essays on Dean’s Date Eve. We somehow find a perverse sense of camaraderie in this self-destructive tradition, punctuating it with fanfare and pageantry and silent discos. Our posters are meant to encourage skepticism about a culture in which we all act as if we’re all academic martyrs crucified on the amount of work we have to do, when we nailed ourselves there in the first place. We all have work. We all have time to do it right. It’s hard, but complaining makes it worse. It’s a privilege to have the education we do, one that hundreds of thousands of applicants wanted and were denied. Acting as if Princeton is pulling us through school by our hair disrespects that privilege and lowers the quality of the work that we do. If we saw Dean’s Date work and exams as challenges to be met rather than curses to be endured, we would write better papers, score higher on exams, and live happier, less stressful lives. If inculcating that kind of living takes some aggressive words in Impact font, so be it.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
Acquire currency and the hatred of the entire Princeton student body.
What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
Snarky answers to journalists’ questions.
Who is “sponsoring” your posters?
Microsoft and Mr. Pibb.
What is your relationship like with the font IMPACT?
What’s hanging above your desk and/or bed?
The last reporter who divulged our identity.
What is your biggest fear?
An unwritten paper. Also, spiders.
What would you do if you were on the Presidential Search Committee?
Install the dictator android ENLIGHTENED DES-BOT and enjoy a thousand years of peace.
Recently, you may have seen this video of Princeton students waiting in a long line at New South to sign up for Creative Writing sections:
According to the official Princeton Facebook PR, this is just another awesome example of how amazingly popular these classes/professors are, and how enthusiastic students at Princeton are!
Am I the only one who finds this a little…
Luckily, this video was shot during a signup session where students were allowed inside the building. In the past, they’ve kept us queued outside in the freezing NJ cold for several hours. I once arrived at 6:30am…and I wasn’t even the first in line. (Note: many of these students aren’t waiting in line to get into a course– they’ve already gotten in.)
While I understand Creative Writing’s desire to honor a first-come-first-serve system for signing up for the in-demand professor you want, there is something else–something better– we could do. I’m told it’s called “the Internet.”
But it seems, in true writerly form, Princeton’s CWR department is determined to do it the old-fashioned way.
Circa 1930s, to be exact.
Princeton’s known for being a bit confusing for a freshman or any first-time visitor. When you’re at orientation, no one bothers to tell you “Richardson Auditorium” is labeled on a map as “Alexander Hall.”* Can you blame me for also mixing up “Pyne” and “East Pyne”? And who decided it was a good idea to put “1967 Hall” right next to “1976 Hall”?!
But now with the advent of two separate gargantuan donations, Princeton’s going to be christening some new buildings– a dance studio and theatre named after the Wallace brothers‘ $15 million donation, and the new psychology building designated for Peretsman and Scully‘s $20 million contribution.
So to help the future freshman and any lost visitor at Princeton cope with the fact that our entire university is funded by like, ten dudes, here is a little cheat sheet.
THE UPC GUIDE TO PRINCETON’S CONFUSING PLACE NAMES
One is: The Health Center near Frist
The other is: The halls where the English, American studies department can be found
Hint: If it’s being used as a verb (aka “McCosh’d”) it’s the health center. If it’s a giant lecture hall, it’s McCosh 50. If it’s a giant lecture hall with comfy seats, it’s McCosh 10.
One is: A hall in Whitman College
The other is: Behind Woody Woo, Home of the Econ Department
One is: A yellow house
The other is: A junior slum hall
Hint: if John McPhee is there, it’s not the junior slums.
Apparently, this past week’s photoshoot isn’t the first time that Princeton University has been used for Ralph Lauren’s Rugby collection. As if to cement ourselves as the face of preppy wear, Princeton has been Ralph Lauren’s advertising backdrop since 2008.
Check it out:
All of your favorite places up-campus are featured: Holder courtyard, East Pyne, McCosh courtyard, Blair Arch, the Junior slums… with complementary WASP-y gentlemen and ethnically ambiguous lady friends!
Okay, real disclaimer to any prefrosh who are so excited to see polos and topsiders around campus: we don’t all dress like this. Seriously. Ignore what you see at Lawnparties– that’s like Preppy Halloween. The number of striped sweaters I own is exactly zero. And let’s be honest, if I showed up to precept looking like this:
I’d probably get looks like this:
The Ralph Lauren photoshoot seems to continue for the next few days… at least until the fickle weather clears up. We’ll keep you updated as the prepidemic continues.
In light of the recent tensions between Israel and Iran, some Princeton students have decided that the best thing for Israel isn’t another negotiation or summit, but a sassy gay best friend (girl, please).
Whatever your politics may be on the Israel-Palestine / Middle East conflict, you can at least appreciate the exuberant incorporation of hummus and Brandon Davis ’13 ‘s delightful neck scarf. (Perhaps the best line in this entire hilarious script: “Yeah, and I’m 6’4 on my Grindr account.”)
Interestingly enough, in the process of searching for Sassy Gay Friend derivatives, I found an old Body Hype video of Sassy Gay Friend: Titanic version that has gotten a considerable view count. Princeton kids. What. what. what are you doing.