P/D/F Reform Passes Faculty Vote; to be Enacted Fall 2010

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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21 Questions with… USG Presidential Candidates!



Name: Jack Altman ’11 / Michael Yaroshefsky ’12 / Jack Lindeman ’11
Age: 20 / 20 / 21
Major: Economics / ORFE / English
Hometown: St. Louis / Wayne, NJ / Cape May, NJ
Eating club/residential college/affiliation: Tower & Forbes / Wilson / Cloister & Whitman

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
Altman: John Nash for the win.
Yaroshefsky: Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah; Batman!  Bruce Wayne, that is, because he has a bat cave, drives a cool car, and beats up baddies.
Lindeman: Aaron Burr, for the way he drops Hamiltons.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
A: Forbes vegetarian night! Not.
Y: My first meal at the new WuCox this year and the realization that finally I don’t have to invade another dining hall for a good meal.  Now we have delicious pizza, pasta, and salads!
L: I have to add that the meals at Cloister are pretty much amazing, but I think my favorite there would have to be the Steak and Crab Legs we have on Member’s Nights.  The chef there is amazing.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
A: I wish I knew, days just always seem to end.
Y: I zip around campus on my bike between classes, send emails constantly, rush to finish a problem set at the last minute, catch up on the latest Daily Show on Hulu, read a few technology blogs, work a little more on problem sets, then give in at about 3 a.m.
L: I just have a great time.

What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
A: Afrin. More like a 7 year addiction actually.
Y: I have an addiction to bottled water.  But I recycle!
L: Fallout 3 for XBox 360.  I can’t say how many hours I’ve wasted watching a character traverse the Wasteland on the projector we have in our dorm.

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Opinion: Why referendum banning USG-ers from asking administrators for recs is silly

A new week. A new USG-related brouhaha. The Prince breathlessly reported this morning that the USG had failed to follow through with a recently passed referendum—that all USG members publicly declare whether they’ve signed a pledge to never solicit recommendations from University administrators. If the Prince comments are any indication, a handful of students have gotten pretty vitriolic about making sure USG members are prohibited from asking administrators for references because of a possible “conflict of interest.”

I understand the spirit behind the pledge—that USG members shouldn’t be unethical. But it’s unclear to me why getting a recommendation from an administrator has become the flashpoint over ethics and why asking for a recommendation should even be considered unethical. [Full disclosure: I’m the U-Council Chair on the USG.]

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COMBO II: Princeton Stereotypes All Completely True

Stereotypes tend to be nasty conjectures, and Princeton has plenty of them. But recently released survey results from the USG seem to indicate that many campus stereotypes are more or less true. The COMBO II survey was administered in spring 2009 (the first COMBO was administered in 2007), an anonymous survey that looks at the effects and relationship of family income, high school type, eating club membership, ethnicity, happiness, and academic major choices.

A lot of the findings (analyzed by ORF 245 and James Coan ’09) are quite interesting and even troubling. For the most part, they just confirm everything we’ve always suspected. A summary of the survey findings (with graphs!):

  • Income and ethnicity strongly impact which dining option students choose
    • Wealthier students and white students are more likely to join an eating club
    • White students tend to be from wealthier families than non-white students



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BREAKING: Spelman to be Gender-Neutral Next Year

[Updated 8 PM]

Princeton will allow gender-neutral housing for undergraduate students in Spelman Hall next year, making the University the last Ivy League school to consider a gender-neutral option.

Students drawing into Spelman will no longer be required to be in groups of four of the same gender.

The proposal was written by the Undergraduate Life Committee earlier this month, and it was approved by the Council of Masters this week.


USG president Connor Diemand-Yauman ’10 sent a campus-wide email earlier this evening detailing the new policy, which will be a one-year pilot program. Along with members of the ULC, Vice President for Campus Life Janet Dickerson was a key figure in the University’s policy change. Dickerson announced her retirement last week, and University has formed a search committee to name her replacement. The administration hopes to have a final list of candidates sometime in late February or early March.

Excerpt from Diemand-Yauman’s email after the jump:

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We’re All Going to Be Fine! Budget Edition

It was just like this, but without all the people!

It was just like this, but without all the people!

Tonight’s Budget Town Hall with Provost Chris Eisgruber and Executive Vice President Mark Burstein (who CDY described as the two highest ranking administrators in the University under President Tilghman, making us wonder about all sorts of questions about presidential succession at Princeton) reaffirmed two things we’ve been pretty much thinking all year:

1.) Even though the Princeton endowment is way down, we’re all pretty much going to be fine.

2.) No matter how high ranking the administrator, students are not going to voluntarily attend a budget town hall meeting (the thirty-something people who did show up were dwarfed by the venue, McCosh 10. Most were there because members of the USG were required to go.)

Item number one is actually pretty exciting, though. After the “horror stories” coming out of Harvard (no cookies at faculty meetings?!) it pretty much sounds like any cuts that were going to happen have already happened – the Forbes dining hall closed on Saturdays, and the new printing quota. It’s been a month at school (or more for some people), and it doesn’t seem like anyone’s world has been rocked too seriously.

We’re going to be OK!

Budget numbers after the jump!

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UPDATE: Becca Lee’s Vacated Senate Post to be Filled by… Becca Lee


You’ve no doubt been consumed by speculation over who will fill the empty 2012 Senate seat since last Sunday’s announcement of “erroneous results” in the fall election. Well, one week later, we finally have our answer: after interviews and deliberations, Connor Diemand-Yauman (whose name I can now spell from memory! The trick is to remember that “Diemand” is demand with an “i”) and 2012 President Lindy Li have decided that the seat previously occupied by Becca Lee will be filled by (drum roll please!) Becca Lee!

Um, I guess this makes sense – she did get the third most votes, after USG IT Chair Mike “Yaro” Yaroshefsky (another name we can now spell without looking!) and current 2012 Senator Julie Chang, and since Yaro turned down the spot Lee was the logical choice.

Question: “How many USG officers does it take to change a light bulb?”

Answer: 2, but only if you substitute “a light bulb” with “nothing”.

Why We’re Paying $15,000 Dollars to Have Our Vote Count; also, Why We Hate the USG and Love Yaro


YAROSHEFSKY!: Arguably harder to say than "Diemand-Yauman"; definitely more fun to say

We’re done with USG elections.

You’d have thought that a year of gross incompetence (with a near-revote of the fall VP election that landed us on IvyGate), a false start to the spring voting, and complete misreporting of the approval polls would have conditioned us to be cautious. You’d think we open all CDY emails with a certain down-trodden stoicism and indifference to the latest form of USG election failure. And we really thought we didn’t care anymore until we got the most recent email, detailing one of the worst voting errors in USG history and a complete breakdown of the electronic system we’ve been relying on for the past seven years. Oh, and the USG is now estimating this will cost about $15,000 to fix.

After the jump, the story of the vote that finally broke our spirit, and the victim whose calm demeanor, technical prowess, great name, and unflinching assessment of the Undergraduate Student Government may offer us all hope of eventual redemption: YARO.

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Former USG Prez Runs for Office

picture-11No, not Eliot Spitzer ’81. He’s forever disgraced, remember? Spending $80,000 over 10 years on “high-end” prostitutes?

Spitzer’s legacy, however, hasn’t stopped former USG President PJ Kim ’01 from pursuing public office in New York. Kim is running for New York City Council, trying to unseat incumbent councilman Alan Gerson in District 1.

Kim is by far the youngest candidate in the five-person race, and he has raised an impressive $70,000 in the first two weeks of his campaign.

The Korean-American, who graduated from Princeton before the Age of Shirley, has a résumé that would give any Woody Woo concentrator an instant hard-on: Woody Woo major, USG President, Young Alumni Trustee, stint at McKinsey, joint MBA/MPA from Harvard.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t have an Ashley Dupré.

(image source: pjkim.com)

Sotomayor ’76 & Biederman ’08: Two Degrees of Separation

footlooseIn the short time since Sonia Sotomayor ’76 emerged as a frontrunner to be President Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee, the pundits have already begun slicing and dicing her record and qualifications:

First, there was the New Republic piece that said Sotomayor was a “bully,” “not that smart,” and “has an inflated opinion of herself.”

Then Slate.com wondered why all of the women rumored to be on the shortlist were single and/or lesbian, and if we should care. We learn that Sotomayor was briefly married while at Princeton! (So that’s who lives in Spelman’s married housing–future Supreme Court shortlisters!)

The most recent shortlist, according to the Washington rumor mill, lists six people: Diane Wood of the 7th Circuit, Solicitor General Elena Kagan ’81, Sotomayor ’76 of the 2nd Circuit, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (Canadian and former beauty queen!), Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Merrick Garland of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals (the lone shortlister sans with a Y chromosome).

Today, an in-depth piece in The New York Law Journal goes through her most notable cases and presents Sotomayor as a well-prepared, sharp judge who is liberal, but pragmatic. The article quotes lawyers who have lost cases in her courtroom, but who praise her ability to pick apart their arguments.

Hidden among the lengthy list of her notable cases is her 1998 ruling that the Grand Central Partnership and the 34th Street Partnership, two business improvement districts (BIDs) in New York City, violated minimum wage laws. That would be the BIDs co-founded by Dan Biederman ’75, a.k.a. the father of former USG President Rob Biederman ’08. Don’t you love playing the “Six Degrees of Separation” game?

And what did the elder Biederman–once called the Mayor of Midtown–do to become entrapped in the Puertorriqueña judge’s legal wrath?

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Democracy: It works sometimes

While USG elections are almost over, I’d like to take the opportunity to urge students to vote for Referenda 4 and 5.

Everyone’s heard the all the financial arguments against the proposals, so I won’t waste anyone’s time repeating them.

But realize this proposal isn’t a fiscally strategic move, or an administrative plan to end a nascent tradition on Prospect. No, this is a gesture, plain and simple, and an important one at that. If the referenda pass, it shows Princeton students are not the selfish Ivy League snobs many accuse us of being, but are instead conscientious and principled individuals.

Or, just imagine how foolish we’d look if it didn’t pass. Yep. Awkward.

At any rate, though, the choice is ultimately yours. But I’d like to think we could all sacrifice two hours of fun for a meaningful deed.

You can vote at the USG’s website here.