You’ve seen the speech, heard the laugh, and wondered what that Princeton hat was doing on his head for the whole two hours. But unless you were one of the 4200 students, faculty, or visitors that came to Jadwin Gym last Tuesday for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s speech, titled “Develop the Heart,” there’s one key part of the experience you missed out on: the craziness that preceded the actual event.

I headed over to the gym at around 6 AM, an hour before Thomas G. Dunne, of ODUS fame, suggested we arrive. (“We anticipate an unprecedented wait,” he wrote in an email.) A couple dozen students were already sitting in circles on the ground, as if ready to sing kum-ba-yah. More clusters of friends lazily approached the gym with Wawa bags and half-closed eyes.

And so it begins…

We soon settled down and formed somewhat of a line, although friends of those near the front periodically arrived and just sat down with them. No one seemed to mind the cutting; it’d be ironic, starting a fight over who gets to sit closer to the Dalai Lama. But most people played by the rules, and the line quickly lengthened; by 6:50, still earlier than we were told to arrive, the end of the line was out of sight. Some people said it already reached that other Jadwin (the Hall), and others had heard people were standing in line all the way back on Streicker Bridge.

Well, that escalated quickly.

As the event got closer and people were feeling more awake, conversation near the front of the line turned to arguably more relevant topics like Buddhism and meditation. Nathan Leach ’18 talked about how he’d recently started meditating, and the effect it had had on his physical and mental health. He was particularly excited to see the Dalai Lama speak, and not just because he was reading up on Buddhist practices.

“I’m excited because this talk has nothing to do with my classes,” Leach said. “Normally Princeton gets some famous political scientist, or foreign minister, and people go because it’s related to a class they’re taking. But this talk is for right here, not for class.”

Tlaloc Ayala, also a freshman, agreed. “This event reminds me of the Pre-Read,” he said, referring to a tradition started by President Eisgruber in 2013, where incoming freshmen read a book over the summer and discuss it in mock precepts during Orientation Week. “Just like with the Pre-Read, I didn’t feel like people could, or wanted to have a scholarly discussion.” Instead, he felt students shared superficial interpretations of the book’s arguments, explicating the text without getting at its deeper message. “This gets to the core of it,” Ayala added. “This isn’t just about some book you read. You’re not just dissecting a scholarly argument.”

Ayala hoped the talk would inspire students at Princeton, with its mantra about living a life of service, to actually engage in service projects they care about, and take responsibility for helping others. Leach agreed, but for the moment, had a shorter-term hope. “[The Dalai Lama] carries a certain aura that will reach people,” he said. “Maybe he can teach the selfie-takers there’s more to this event than getting a picture with him.”


By 7:15,  after passing a TSA-esque security checkpoint, we were already headed inside Jadwin. Seated in the cavernous gym, the next round of waiting began; the Dalai Lama was set to begin speaking at 9:30. The AC was turned up high, and sleepless students joked that the talk should’ve been called “Develop the Heat.” Others obsessively checked Yik Yak, where Buddhism-related jokes abounded. And still others got artistic relief, whether through artful Snapchats or, in freshman Evan Gedrich’s case, an impressive portrait of His Holiness himself.

“Hey, guys! He’s finally here!”

As the time passed, students slowly got more impatient. One freshman asked, “When is the Buddha going to speak already?” and was immediately reprimanded by surrounding students who weren’t tired enough to make a mistake that ignorant. But eventually the AC shut off and the crowd’s attention turned to the front of the room, where the awaited speaker had finally walked onstage, accompanied by his interpreter and Dean Alison Boden. Everyone stood and there was a roar of applause. The Dalai Lama waved to some audience members, then put both his hands up and nodded vigorously. Dean Boden approached the microphone and said softly, “I believe His Holiness would like you to sit.”

“Aww, shucks, guys…”

With a few chuckles, the audience settled down in their chairs. Then, suddenly, a profound silence fell across the room. The fun of the waiting game was over. Lecture was starting.


In preparation for the visit this coming week of the 14th Dalai Lama to Princeton University, Tibetan monks created a sand mandala in Princeton University this week.

Click here to read Spencer Parts’ front page story in the Times of Trenton on the sand mandala and the Dalai Lama’s upcoming visit to The University.

Midterm stress getting to you?
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Brought to you from The Ink Archives, April 2009

It’s no surprise to see Princeton students lining up for free food – but today at Frist, they lined up to grow it. A houseplant giveaway, held by the Botany Club, drew a line stretching along most of the back of Frist South Lawn. Included in the giveaway were habanero peppers and basil, and the chance to decorate the pot. Check out some highlights in the gallery below.


Name: Clayton Raithel
Age: 24
Major: Religion
Hometown: Natick, MA
Eating club/residential college/affiliation: Tower/Whitman
Activities on campus: Ugh, too many. Quipfire!, Triangle, the Writing Center, PUP, Princeton Disability Awareness, Whitman RCA… I was in a jazz ensemble one year, too? Weird.

When did you first come up with the idea to take a painful, personal experience and turn it into a comedy show?
Taking painful experiences and making them into comedy is not new – my favorite comedian, Mike Birbiglia, made a career out of doing just that. I think the show was largely an attempt to stop giving this painful experience so much power. The stuff I was dealing with is heavy – depression, a breakup, adulthood – and whenever it got too weighty for normal conversation, I learned to find the humor. It was healing for me and allowed an entry point for other people to discuss mental health with me.

What was the writing process like?
Labor intensive. I’ve never worked so hard on anything. At the beginning, I would just share stories with my directors, Jeff and Rick Kuperman. Then, I would tell stories to my friends. Then, themes started to emerge. A structure started to develop. I finally had a draft around January, 2014. But it was complete and utter crap. So, I took the script to a number of “comedy doctors” to help execute the funny latent in the script. I took some material to open mics and performed it there. I worked a lot out in the rehearsal room. And then we started to workshop it. And then I wrote new stuff and scrapped old stuff. Writing is revision; that’s what the Writing Center would want me to say.

How did you come about partnering with your directors, Jeff Kuperman ’12 and Rick Kuperman?
I didn’t know Jeff all too well during my time at Princeton. But I had seen some of his work on campus, and respected his work. So around the time I thought of making the show, I emailed him and pitched him the idea for it. We met at a Just Salad in the Washington Square Park area for lunch, and I just spilled out everything that had been going on in my life recently. And he jumped on board, and suggested we bring his brother Rick along, too. The Kuperman Brothers and I are now extremely close.

How does it feel to relive your post-graduation moments again and again through each performance?
On the one hand, the show has been immensely helpful for me, incredibly therapeutic and healing. Reliving these moments in this way helps me process them, it helps me think about them objectively, and it helps me see how crazy my brain was acting. In fact, there are now moments of the show that I treat almost entirely as an actor, which I think is a sign of progress. At the same time, though, there is a twisted irony of doing the show again and again – I wrote the show to get over this painful time in my life and give it less power over me… and yet here I am, doing a show about this painful time in my life, giving it power again and again! On the whole, though, it’s been a very positive experience.

What’s different about acting as yourself rather than a character?
The main difference is that I have a lot more control over how Clayton as character is perceived. I think a lot about that – because Clayton in the show is both the protagonist and the antagonist, and it’s a delicate balance to strike. At the same time, Clayton in real life is always there with Clayton the character. That’s sort of the point.

What was something surprising you learned during the process of putting on “SMILE”?
That the writing of the show itself would change how I thought about my life, which would in turn change how I wrote the show. Round and round we go!

What has the reception to the show been like?
Very positive! I’m very grateful. It’s always different. Some people just think it’s very funny, others are deeply moved, others are both, and a select few who shall remain nameless are neither. The reviews have been great, but I think the most meaningful thing for me is how a lot of people who saw the show started opening up to me and sharing their stories of heartbreak, depression, etc. It reminded me that these issues are a lot bigger than me.

Has your ex-girlfriend seen the show?
DUN DUN DUN. What a good question! No, she hasn’t. We haven’t spoken for a long time. I know she knows about the show, though, and some mutual friends have come to see it. But, I think the better question here is… does it matter? The show’s not really about her; it’s about me. And I think anyone who sees the show understands that, and probably gets that I have nothing but respect for her and all I’ve learned from her.

Why did you decide to bring the show to Princeton during Arts Weekend?
I didn’t. I had mentioned the show to Dean Dunne when it had a run in NYC, and he suggested bringing it down. It just so happened that he had a spot in Richardson during Arts Weekend, and that’s how we got here!

What about Princeton have you missed the most? The least?
I miss academia a lot, but that’s too nerdy of an answer I guess. Umm… I miss that feeling of being invincible? In hindsight, that’s really what you get there, and then you get to the real world and they are like, “Nah, bro” and you are like, “What?” The thing I miss least is the Street, but that’s just because I am not fun and don’t like to drink/party/loud things/people I don’t know.

If you could tell your senior year self one thing, what would it be?
It gets worse. ZING! Okay, just kidding.

If you could switch lives with any Princeton alum for a day, who would you choose?
Jonathan Weed ’09. He’s one of my best friends and is really good at math. I think it would be cool to be that good at math for one day.

In 10 years, you will be…
Hanging out with my pug, because I am getting one, and s/he will be awesome. It will consume most of my time.

What’s your drink?
I don’t really drink! Can I say a Shirley Temple? I like teas a lot. Umm… water is great as well.

How do you get rid of stage fright?
I don’t really get it, in general. That’s not the norm for most actor types I know. I get it for this show, because it’s so personal and it feels like if the audience doesn’t like it… they don’t like you. But stage fright goes away when you realize that almost any performance you have doesn’t really matter. Like, yeah, take it seriously, but also… if you aren’t having fun doing this, why are you doing this?

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
I sit through my nursing school classes and think of medical related puns I can write as tweets.

What’s hanging above your desk and/or bed?
I have a map of my hometown and surrounding towns, and other map that connects that map all the way to Boston. My wall is maps.

Where do you do your best thinking?
In my bed, right before I fall asleep. I often have to text myself from my bed so I remember my ideas in the morning.

What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
I actively watch anime on a regular basis and not in an ironic way.

Who is your mortal enemy?
That would be my brain. He’s a crafty little devil. Always giving me irrational thoughts and making me hate myself. I will win, brain. I will win.

What makes someone a Princetonian?
If you have to ask, you’ll never know. Sounds like a cop out answer, and that’s because it is! It’s 2:30am and I have to go to bed so I can perform SMILE tomorrow! Goodnight!

Interview condensed by Ellis Liang ’15.


Faculty entering Nassau Hall. Photo attributed to Zhan Okuda-Lim ’15.

At exactly 5:00 PM, the Princeton faculty voted to eliminate the restrictive grading policy, commonly known as grade deflation.

The policy, first implemented in 2005, restricted academic departments to giving out a maximum of 35% A- range grades in their classes. The policy was often construed to mean a cap of 35% of A grades per class, leading to anger and consternation among students.

The faculty meeting in the half-filled Faculty Room of Nassau Hall lasted for just over half an hour, with President Eisgruber presiding over the proceedings. No faculty member voiced opposition to the elimination of the policy, although some were concerned that the new policy could potentially re-lead to inflation in grading. It was approved almost unanimously, with only a handful of dissenting votes.

The new policy that will be taking its place is outlined in the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee to Review Policies Regarding Assessment and Grading, which can be found here. The recommendations were released in early August, endorsed by President Eisgruber and sent to a faculty subcommittee for review, before they landed before the whole faculty for a vote today.

The faculty also voted to dissolve the Committee on Grading, a faculty committee that had the focus of setting policies to assist in the “limiting [of] grade inflation.”

Thanks to photographs by Zhan Okuda-Lim ’15, an outline and copies of the policy changes are below.

For those who have made the long trek out to the Graduate College, in the far corner of parking lot 19 — where juniors are forced to park their cars — sits an abandoned-looking pickup truck with the words Prospect Eleven emblazoned on its side, a light and UFO-looking thing on the roof, and garbage in the trunk. What’s the truck and what’s it doing there?

Prospect Eleven in Lot 19, behind the Grad College

It was Princeton’s contribution to the DARPA 2005 Grand Challenge, a competition organized by the secretive Department of Defense research agency — it’s kind of like the older, federal, more weaponry-oriented Google X — to build driver-less cars that could make it down a difficult prescribed track. They named the car after the more commonly known Prospect 11, the challenge to chug a beer at each of the eating clubs.

A news report from 2005 described the Princeton entrant car:

Their car, the Prospect 11, is built on a GMC Canyon pickup, a vehicle that had been damaged in transport and was going to be scrapped by GM. The car was donated to the Princeton team instead, who set about building in drive-by-wire components, computers, GPS, and its only sensor, a stereo vision camera.

Notice the white GPS transmitter on top and garbage in the trunk.

The car was a joint student-faculty project, but was spearheaded by a set of juniors, according to a final report on the project. During the summer before their senior year, seven students worked on getting the project in motion, looking for funds, and gathering extra parts. Compared to the other teams, the Prospect 11 was pretty hastily put together:

A few weeks before the qualifying rounds, they had also gotten a hold of an inertial measurement unit, which meant they had very little time to integrate its information and test it. And a lot of the programming of these vehicles is done by trial and error; let the car run, and if it’s about to hit an object, stop it and look at its sensor data and how the computer decided to respond.

Top view of Prospect Eleven

If you understand computer programming speak (or have taken COS 126 and want to try), here’s the review report from the undergrads who worked on the truck published in the Journal of Field Robotics.

So what’s the truck doing in Lot 19?

It’s been moving around from place to place at the university since it was decommissioned at the competition, said Professor Alain Kornhauser, the project leader. First, it was stored in some of the university’s garages for safekeeping and protection from the elements.  Then the truck was moved to Lot 20, near the Dinky, until he got a call a few weeks ago from the university that he had to move it to Lot 19. Prospect Eleven no longer works — most of the electronic insides have been gutted — and it doesn’t have any duties now, but he doesn’t want to get rid of it for sentimental reasons, he said.

Front view of Prospect Eleven

iPhone, iPad, iPod, I…Chicken ?

300 animals die for the purpose of human consumption every second, according to the PETA2 representative who stood ground in Frist today, showcasing the first ever virtual reality machine of its kind: instead of a human body, you’re stuck inside a chicken’s.

As claimed on their websiteI, Chicken uses the most cutting edge VR technology to allow students to discover first-hand what it’s like to be poultry. Sensors attached to arms and legs will map their every movement to the virtual 3-D world projected before their eyes, taking them through a roughly 3-minute sketch of the life of a chicken: born free, trapped by farmers, and shipped to a ranch where they are forced to live in close quarters with hundreds of their kind. It’s purpose, as explained by the representatives and the many pamphlets they have for distribution, is to allow students to develop empathy for chickens, “who on factory farms aren’t seen as individuals with interests, wants, and needs but rather as producers of meat and eggs.” The exhibit will continue through tomorrow at Frist and is open to all who are curious enough to get inside the heads of our favorite feathered friends.

Watch as PETA2 intern Bridget exhibits the simulation in full:


Ever wondered what a Princeton Commencement ceremony was like in the 1700s? Well, on the off chance you did, we’ve got an answer for you.

This article was published in the New-Hampshire Gazette – Dartmouth wouldn’t be founded for another three years — on October 24, 1766. It had been written exactly a month earlier, on September 24th, but in the late 1700s, it was quite common for reports on distant events to be published weeks or months after the events had take in place.

For the curious, “Mr. Finley” refers to Samuel Finley, Princeton’s fifth president. Also, all of those “f” looking letters that you’re seeing are actually “s”s; thus, “pleafure” is really “pleasure.” If you’d like to know why the printers used this type of typeface, feel free to ask your friendly neighborhood History major. Let’s all be glad that at modern commencements, we no longer have to explain to the audience what we’ve learned at our four years at Princeton.

A newspaper report about the Commencement ceremony in 1766. Notice the month.

Courtesy of Princeton University Library

For the first time since Firestone Library opened in 1948, its remote fifth and sixth floors are open to library patrons after renovations added heating, air conditioning, and furniture.

The sixth floor reading room is characterized by an opulence foreign to Firestone’s cold attempt at modernity. The floor-to-ceiling lead-paned windows, wood flooring and paneling, and enormous chandelier seem a bit unnecessary for a space with a maximum capacity of eight, but the room is undeniably the most beautiful in the building.

The fifth floor is smaller and plainer, but the views are still pleasant. As an added bonus, the fifth floor reading room comes complete with a tempting, alarmed door for roof access.

There are, however, a few drawbacks. The newly opened spaces, like Firestone’s elevator banks and emergency exits, are monitored by CCTV. The rooms are also extraordinarily inconvenient: they are only accessible via stair four; not wheelchair accessible; and the nearest bathrooms, print clusters, and stacks are three floors down.

According to the Daily Princetonian, the fifth and sixth floors were formerly off-limits to patrons and served as a morbid RBSC storage attic for death masks and faculty office respectively.

The reading rooms are, at least for now, entirely without wayfinding, so here is a brief guide on how to get to these new study spaces:

  1. From the main stair and elevator banks, head towards the third floor signature reading room.
  2. Instead of entering the reading room, look for stair four, which is accessible via a nondescript beige door between the Institute for Advance Study and signature reading rooms.
  3. Head up three flights of stairs.

Enjoy these new study spaces!

The Kickstarter campaign for WICK, the “no-stress black dress” created by Liz Lian ’15, will go live this week. WICK, a clothing line created last year by Lian and Sanibel Chai of UPenn, is designed with the collegiate party scene in mind – the dresses, skirts, and tops have pockets and are made of fabric that is both comfortable and easy to wash.

The Wickstarter is complete with backer rewards including discounted first-run apparel and hand written thank you notes, a testimonial from Caroline Reese, and a video detailing how WICK can change a night out. Until the launch you can preview the page and leave feedback.

*Update: The page is now live on Kickstarter.


Name: Patrick Roche

Age: 22

Hometown: Nutley, NJ

Major: Classics

Eating Club/Res College/Affiliation: Whitman!


How did you first get involved with slam poetry?
I wrote on my own for a few years but never shared it with anyone. Then one of my friends saw a poem I had lying around my room, grabbed it, and ran out. She came back a little while later saying I should really share it, so I did a few open mic nights and Whitman Coffeehouses. As people started encouraging me to look into Ellipses, I reached out and went to my first meeting last spring, and I fell in love with it.

Where do you get inspiration for your poems?
I tend to write about my own experiences, so my inspiration for the subject matter usually comes from my own life—family, romance, etc. As for performance and style, I don’t know if I have any specific poets that I can point to as inspirations, but just in general, watching other poets perform is a huge inspiration.

What is your writing process like?
I usually end up realizing I have something I want to write about or express, and when I sit down to write, it usually comes out in one sitting…but it’s usually a complete piece of crap. So then I will bring it to other people in Ellipses and talk about it as we revise it.

What does it feel like to perform slam on stage?
It’s kind of terrifying sometimes because it’s so vulnerable and you’re putting a lot of personal stuff out there. I’m also always nervous, even if I’ve gotten more comfortable over the past year or so. More than anything, it feels relieving and cathartic, though.

How do you feel about your videos going viral?
Of course I’m thrilled, especially since so much feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. But it’s also really weird. I don’t really know how to process it, and it’s still strange knowing that my life story is so public now.

The rumor mill says Harpers Publishing offered you a book contract! Is this true?
Okay, y’all need to calm down. I will say that I have been presented with some opportunities as a result of these videos, and that may include discussing the possibility of publishing with certain publishers, but even if that were the case, nothing is guaranteed or has even been offered. But the fact that I have any opportunities at all as a result of all of this is incredible.

Who are your favorite poets?
As far as spoken word poets, I’d say Sarah Kay, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Sam Sax, Danez Smith, Mahogan
For more “page”-y poets, I’d say Oscar Wilde, John Keats, Frank O’Hara, Gwendolym Brooks, and so many more

Where’s your favorite place to write on campus?
It’s a little boring, but honestly just in my room, with a blanket and hot chocolate.

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real of fictional?
Carlton Banks! I’m not even ashamed of my Fresh Prince of Bel-Air obsession.

What’s your favorite part of Princeton?
The friends I’ve made here, and the campus itself—I could walk around for hours and be happy.
Also the free food. All of the free food.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
I fight the forces of evil and crime with my unique blend of chocolate and coconut water-based justice.

What’s hanging above your desk?
A huge X-Men poster.

What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh: Other people falling
Cry: Me falling

What’s your greatest guilty pleasure?
Not anymore, but I used to watch Degrassi religiously and had gone back and seen all of the episodes of the current version of it. All ten or so seasons up to that point.

What’s on your playlist?
Beyoncé essentially is my playlist. But also Sara Bareilles, Taylor Swift, Grace Potter, Fleetwood Mac, Rufus Wainwright, and all sorts of pop.

When’s bedtime?
This year it’s been somewhere around 2 or 3 AM most nights. I told myself that was okay since I didn’t have class before 12:30.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned at Princeton?
How to avoid doing laundry for as long as possible while still seeming presentable.

What’s one thing you would like to do before you graduate?
Go rock climbing—for four years I kept telling myself to take advantage of the wall and never did.

What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve done this past year?
When four other members of Ellipses and I were in Colorado for CUPSI, the national college poetry slam, we drove to the top of one of the mountains (they called them hills, but they were obviously mountains. They had snow at the peak and everything). And we climbed out to the edge and took in the view, which was amazing. But also if I slipped, I would have fallen straight down.

In 25 years, you will be…
47. And hopefully married, with a wonderful family, financially secure, and doing something I love, whether that’s still poetry or working at an educational institution, or something totally different. Who knows!

What’s one question you wish we had asked and answer it.
What would the title of your memoir be?
Probably “#MLIPatrickRoche” or “It Gets Bitter: The Patrick Roche Story,” or “Riding Tandem Bikes Alone,” but that will probably work better as a book of poetry.


Watch Patrick’s performance of “21″: