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Hello late meal

Hello late meal.

All you eager consumers of this savory garbanzo/tahini union, know this: you might not be voting on the fate of Princeton hummus today. After an appeal on Sunday night, the PCP’s referendum may not appear on Monday as originally planned.

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick recap of The Great Hummus Debacle of 2010:

Currently, the only hummus served on campus is an American brand called Sabra, partially owned by the Israel-based Strauss Group. The Princeton Committee on Palestine (PCP) has claimed that Strauss Group is propagating human rights violations because they support the Israeli military. PCP created a petition for their cause and got over 200 student signatures — the amount required to get a referendum onto the USG ballot, where the entire student body can vote on it. The PCP’s referendum insisted that the USG issue a formal recommendation to Dining Services, asking them to provide alternative hummus options. It was cleared to appear on tomorrow’s ballot.

But no!

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FO FREE!

FO FREE!

Readers who have been checking out The Ink from its days as just a fledgling blog know that I never miss an opportunity to trash the USG (whether over ineffectual grade deflation measures, uncontested elections, the Becca Lee decision, election snafus – you get the picture).

So, as I stood in line outside the Garden Theater last Thursday around 11 p.m., waiting to see The Social Network FOR FREE, with FREE popcorn and a FREE soda, it occurred to me that credit ought to be given where credit is due. So here it is:

The free UFO movies at the Garden Theater are the best program the USG has ever enacted.

Now, this probably isn’t news to a lot of you — according to a Prince article, 2,700 students have gone to the free showings already this year, up from just 1,500 at this time last year. But it’s still worth going over why the initiative makes so much sense – lessons the student government can apply when thinking about other ways to spend school funds.

1. It’s Simple

Free movies. Every weekend night ( the college weekend includes Thursday, much as the baker’s dozen includes a 13th bagel). With snacks. First come, first serve. Easy, self-explanatory, and sells itself. Genius!

2. It’s Late

Princeton students stay up late. Really late, a lot of the time. And unless you’re going out to the Street, there aren’t all that many obvious late night choices.  USG events often happen when there are a ton of other things going on – the night owls of Princeton are the perfect audience for activities.

3. It’s a Really Good Deal

Movies are, like, expensive yo! Tickets are at least $10 most places on a weekend night, and snacks hit the wallet hard, too. This is one case where “free stuff” is actually pretty valuable (unlike, say, kettle corn or those drawstring bags, as popular as those seem to be). The USG spends $17,500 on the movies, and in my book, it’s money well spent.

So, in other words, spend money on things students want and will use, preferably late at night. Here’s the thing – I didn’t even get in to the movie last week. They ran out of tickets a few spots ahead of me in line. And I wasn’t mad – other people had obviously gotten the memo earlier in the semester, or last year. Next time, I’ll just show up earlier. An hour of my time for a free movie? When it would take me half that time anyways to drive to the nearest non-Garden theater to pay for a ticket? Sign me up. Great job, guys.

Had enough of the clunky, buggy, bland webmail of old? There is hope yet. According to USG president Mike Yaroshefsky, OIT has a whole new site in the works — they’ve got a functional version up and they’re currently gathering feedback, says an anonymous tipster. The Ink took this new version for a little test drive, and I might actually be a webmail convert.

A godsend: the Reply function is now conveniently contained within the same window, so your screen isn’t constantly cluttered by pop-out windows. And although I don’t feel qualified to comment on any real technical improvements, there’s much to be said for aesthetics. Everything is a lot more readable, for one. Gone are the sterile whites and grays and blues, replaced by … markedly friendlier whites and grays and blues. (This theme is actually titled “Blue Steel.”) The spacing’s better; the font’s bigger. The trash bin is cuter. The buttons are nice and rounded in an endearingly pressable way.

Take a look for yourself after the jump:

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Forgot yours? (via wikimedia.org)

Forgot yours? (via wikimedia.org)

Ever been locked out of your room and groan when you had to call Public Safety to let you in?

At tonight’s USG Senate meeting, a Public Safety representative said just how many times students make that same call every year:

11,000.

“We know Princeton students like to overachieve,” the PSafety representative said. Laughter ensued.

Laugh now! Just wait until you get locked out in your towel.

(An earlier version of this post said 11,000 students report lock-outs, which is also absurd. 11,000 lock-outs are reported.)

TigerFinderRemember TigerFinder? If you don’t, get familiar: Last year some COS majors whipped up this thing that you download onto your computer that then sends out a signal to TigerFinder to let people you add as “Friends” on the thing know exactly where you are on a map of campus. And so we were all like, whoa, creepy!

Well guess what? Version 2.0 just came out, and it’s taking over Princeton. (Okay, not really, but a lot of people seem to be using it.)

USG Prez Yaroshefsky sent out an email earlier with a link to this USG blog post about the recent usage of the app, which shows some interesting graphs, like this one:

But, what exactly does this mean? Client usage? We just want to know: just who on campus is using TigerFinder, this creepiest of creepy Internet devices?

Using some intensely rigorous statistical analysis and IP tracing (read: Paint), we decided to break down just who’s adopted the thing, and when:

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Do you think salads at the Frist Gallery are too expensive? Do you wish there were healthier options during late meal? Well, the USG has a solution: the salad loyalty card.

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After a trial run this summer, the card will go into full effect next fall. You know the drill: buy 10 salads, get the next one free.

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The latest weapon in the fight against grade deflation (and some lovely shag carpeting)

The latest weapon in the fight against grade deflation (and some lovely shag carpeting)

Do you know what our first, and to date only line of defense is against the fire-breathing academic dragon of grade deflation?

A form letter. A piece of paper that earnestly explains why Princeton GPAs are lower than other GPAs, and encourages potential employers and graduate schools to visit the helpful online booklet Grading at Princeton: Frequently Asked Questions. The University mails out a letter with every transcript.

It may not be much, but it’s what we’ve got, and the USG hopes to propose a new draft of the letter to Dean Malkiel.

So what’s better in the new letter?

“The new letter is much shorter,” says Becca Lee, Academics Chair. Lee co-wrote the new draft with USG President Mike Yaroshefsky and 2012 Class Senator Julie Chang.

Brevity! Makes sense–who’s really going to read two pages about Princeton’s grading policy? What else are we telling the world?

“Its most important message is that grades at Princeton [are] earned differently than at other schools,” says Lee. “GPA does not necessarily provide a reliably standardized point of comparison.”

Amen! Now let’s hope someone (anyone) takes the time to read it.

Wanna see what the letter looks like? Full text of the new draft after the jump!

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In his first major endorsement as USG President, Michael Yaroshefsky ’12 emailed the student body today to express his strong support for the Princeton Charter Club.

The announcement appeared at the bottom of a seemingly unrelated communication announcing a new student life survey.  Somewhat curiously, Yaroshefsky’s endorsement was written in invisible ink, and only became visible after this reporter highlighted the entire field of text:

yaro

What, you may ask, is this organization with which Yaroshefsky has so emphatically cast his lot?  According to its official website, Charter, one of Princeton University’s ten storied “Eating Clubs,” is “a place to relax and be among friends; it is clean and comfortable; it provides good food and a pleasant social atmosphere.”

In the past, USG executives have often shied away from such formal (and emphatic) endorsements.  Last year, a political scandal erupted after then-President Josh Weinstein ’09 incorrectly implied in an email that President-elect Connor Diemand-Yauman ’10 supported Vice Presidential candidate Mike Weinberg ’11 in Weinberg’s race against Nick DiBerardino ’11.

It’s currently unclear whether today’s endorsement will provoke a similar firestorm.

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Before today, the only time I’ve given much thought to the whole “boo-hoo Princeton toilet paper sucks” controversy was when I was deciding who not to vote for during USG elections.

But then I stumbled upon this 1930 ad for Scott Toilet Tissue (click the picture to enlarge):

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97388004_e59212255a_b“Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Or something like that.

In any case, remember how the University started fining students who painted their walls — even though in the past Housing had allowed students to avoid a penalty by painting rooms back at the end of the year?

Students protested, claiming that Housing ought to have notified them of the change in enforcement policies.  And those protests?  Seems like they worked! The USG will announce tomorrow that they have successfully negotiated with Facilities to waive the fees.

An upperclassman told me tonight (as I sat in her azure-painted abode) that after her roommate’s parents called to complain about the fine, Housing responded that while they planned to pursue strict enforcement in the future, they were waiving/refunding fines assessed this year.  As long as students paint their room backs properly in the spring, they’ll be in the clear.

Housing’s reversal came after a group of about 50 affected students petitioned housing to waive the fees. The USG also fought against the fines, and USG President Connor Diemand-Yauman has now released a statement to The Ink on the matter (after the jump!):

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… is actually kinda boring, right? I mean, considering what we’ve come to expect. C’mon, USG — time to step it up in the scandal department. Let’s hope the re-vote’s more exciting.

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(source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theresasthompson/ / CC BY 2.0)
The Princeton Crier/Toddler, announcing P/D/F reform

The Princeton Crier/Toddler, announcing P/D/F reform

The Princeton Faculty voted late Monday afternoon to approve substantial reforms to the P/D/F policy.

Ben Lund ’10, the USG Academics Chair, called the reform “a huge win for the student body.” Lund and Helen Chen ’10 wrote the new policy and then presented it last spring to the USG Senate and Deans Malkiel (Dean of the College) and Quimby (Deputy Dean of the College. Lund and Chen brought the reform to the Committee on Course of Study and the Committee on Examinations and Standing, both of which approved the measure. The faculty was the final group that needed to approve the reform before it could be put in place.

So what does the reform actually change? Under the old policy, students could choose to Pass/D/Fail a class until the beginning of the fifth week of the semester. You could rescind the P/D/F later in the semester and take the course for a grade, but the course still counted as a P/D/F (students are allowed to P/D/F four courses over their Princeton career).

With the new policy, students don’t elect to P/D/F a course until the seventh week of class, and have until the ninth week to decide. That means that everyone is technically taking the course for a grade for the first seven weeks, even if they plan on ultimately P/D/Fing. Because you can choose to P/D/F a course through the ninth week of the semester, you will no longer be able to rescind the P/D/F option once you elect to do it.

“The USG’s proposed PDF policy was extremely popular,” said Connor Diemand-Yauman ’10 in an email to The Ink. “I am extremely pleased with the outcome of the faculty vote and proud of this administration for pushing through the first major reform in grading policy in over a decade.”

Analysis after the jump!

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