Articles filed under “In the news”

Four Princetonians – Elizabeth Butterworth ’12, Miriam Rosenbaum ’12, Astrid Stuth ’12 and Mohit Agrawal ’11 – were among the 32 American Rhodes Scholarship winners announced today.

Agrawal, a math major and former co-president of Engineers Without Borders, is currently getting his master’s in economic policy evaluation at the National University of Ireland on a Mitchell Scholarship. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in financial economics.

oxfordButterworth, a classics major interested in arts education, will pursue a master’s in comparative and international education. While at Princeton she founded and directed a music program for children of low-income families, and she has worked on excavations in Greece and Italy.

Rosenbaum, a Woody Woo major with minors in African American studies, Judaic studies, and Near Eastern studies, is the president of SHARE Peer Advisors and the Religious Life Council. She is interested in bioethics and healthcare policy and plans to do a master’s in public health.

Stuth, an East Asian studies major who hopes to pursue a career in diplomacy, went to high school in Hong Kong and has represented the US in debate competitions in China in Chinese. She’s also president of the Tigressions and co-founder of a peace conference for U.S. and Iraqi teenagers. Stuth plans to pursue a master’s in international relations.

Check back this week for more on this year’s winners. But did you notice something unusual about the 2012 Rhodes contingent?

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Triangle sold out so fast when people thought this was a real Sondheim-adapted rap musical.

Triangle sold out so fast when people thought this was a real Sondheim-adapted rap musical.

Cornel West, African-American Studies/Religion professor and one of our many celebrity academics, recently announced that he will be leaving his Princeton post in 2012 to teach Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, the school where he first began his career in academia.

For his time at Princeton, West will be remembered for more than just his commitment to paideia (which I learned is not a Spanish rice dish), his multiple political arrests, and his theological bromance with fellow professor Robbie George.

Oh, and that time his cartoon self roundhouse kicked some R. Kelly supporter in the Boondocks.

Since he began teaching at Princeton in 2001, West’s radical liberal politics have made him a controversial figure. A smattering of editorials and always well-phrased comments in the Prince since his arrival highlight the various opinions on West: “Princeton’s foremost hire” to “clownish entertainer,” “hero” to “charlatan,” and “exemplary human being” to “media whore.” My crowd of friends isn’t a big fan of West either, and as one friend once put it: “Why is he in academics at all? Why does he matter?”

I’ll be honest. Despite his platitudes, gangster proclivities, and propensity for showmanship, I believe Professor West matters.

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Other than the occasional high-profile arrest of a professor, Princeton hasn’t seemed all that gripped by the “Occupy” movements. In Cambridge, Harvard has restricted access to the Yard over “security concerns” raised by Occupy Harvard; so far no tent cities have sprung up in front of Nassau Hall. There isn’t much immediacy to the movement here on campus in central New Jersey; it’s something that’s happening out there, somewhere else.

Well, that changed for a little while on Friday night, as the “Occupy the Highway” march came through our secluded glen, Washington Post reporter in tow, on their way down to D.C. They were met by erudite, thoughtful students who shared their divergent views on economic theory and philosophy with the protestors.

Just kidding.

The conflagration began after Princeton student Whitney Blodgett started to yell at the marchers as they passed by the bar. “We’re the 1 percent!” Blodgett yelled at them, laughing and making a thumbs up sign. “Get a job!” his friends yelled in chorus.

Alcohol. Freshmen. Pseudonyms. (The reporter was initially given the name “Whetney Brockton.”) Light jeering. Yup, those are all the elements I would want present for the lead anecdote about Princeton students’ views on the Occupy movement. Fortunately, the Post was able to get a different student viewpoint, too. What did this other student, incidentally also a freshman and, according to the Post, the only person to show up in support of the march, have to say about the general sentiment on campus?

“That’s what happens when you come to a campus of ibankers,” the student, who did not give her name, said. “Princeton students are benefitting from this system, so why would they protest?”

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A whopping 3547 students applied Early Action to Princeton this year, according to the Prince. That’s up from 2,275 Early Decision applicants in 2006 (Though this is not a fair comparison since Early Action is not binding and the number of high school graduates has risen since 2006).

As we all know from when we applied, Princeton has been without an Early Action or Early Decision Program since the 2007 application cycle, when it eliminated Early Decision in an effort to increase socio-economic diversity by making the application process more fair. At the time, President Tilghman told the Prince that “Early Decision was advantaging those who were already advantaged.” Harvard and UVa eliminated their Early programs around the same time.

All three reinstated Early programs last year, after it became clear that other Universities weren’t following suit and Princeton was losing students to other schools with Early programs. But the new program is non-binding, so that students can compare financial aid packages. Perhaps this is the best of both worlds — allowing students to pick Princeton as their first choice, relieving some applicants’ stress when they are admitted early, but not disadvantaging low SES students. Or perhaps this is just PR. What do you think?

Christopher A. Sims (image source:, Denise Applewhite)

Christopher A. Sims (image source:, Denise Applewhite)

Thomas J. Sargent (image source:, NYU Stern)

Thomas J. Sargent (image source:, NYU Stern)

After almost four decades of work exploring the causal relationships between policy decisions and the economy, Sims and Sargent received the Nobel Prize this morning in recognition of their independent, but complementary, research.

While Sargent’s research focused on more long-term economic trends as inflation targets, Sims, the Harold H. Helm ’20 Professor of Economics and Banking, focused more on short-term economic developments. Through statistical analysis, Sims and Sargent investigated whether changes in economic policy cause these developments, or whether policy-makers anticipate these developments when shaping policy.

And although the Nobel Prize website has yet to post details about the research and the winners, congratulations have already begun to flow in from around the world, some more cryptic than others. A personal favorite? “go VIKINGS we fianlly [sic] won.” Surely somebody gets it…

In an interview with the New York Times this morning, Sims said that his research holds real and important implications for the current state of global economic affairs, and recovery from it:

The methods that I’ve used and that Tom has developed are central for finding our way out of this mess.

When pressed for a simple policy solution, though, he hesitated. Whoever finds one of those, it seems, will be in the running for the next Nobel.

Over the past year, Princeton has come under attack for animal rights violations in psychology and neuroscience labs, many of them related to watering schedules of primates. Now a group called Stop Animal Exploitation Now! claims that the University continues to mistreat monkeys in neuroscience labs, according to pictures of abuse supplied by a Princeton worker. The United States Department of Agriculture will investigate the claims. (Earlier USDA investigations found six violations of monkey treatment last spring and 11 in 2010.)

But, apparently, we are not the only Ivy to be failing animal ethics. A recent report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ranked Ivy League schools by their treatment of research animals. Princeton tied with Yale for second worst. Columbia ranked highest for their treatment of animals. Penn trailed behind with a “Research Misconduct Score” more than double Princeton’s and Yale’s…. At least we’re not Penn?

Party with MegMeg Whitman, residential college matriarch and former CEO of eBay, was named Chief Executive of Hewlett-Packard last Thursday. Like most Whitman news, the decision appears fairly controversial. She’s been tapped to resuscitate the tech giant from its currently lagging state. H.P. recently revamped their general sales strategy and is (finally) reevaluating the state of its PC business. Meg previously sat on the Board of Trustees of H.P., which she calls an “American Icon,” leading some to question the company’s search process.

About Meg — she just can’t seem to do anything without pissing others off in the process. Maybe its the backlash of having pumped more than 150 million dollars into her own gubernatorial campaign, or maybe its just her general demeanor, rumored to be not so great. But some of us in Whitman College can’t help but be a little happy for her. After all, if Meg Whitman has some overblown pride, it is certainly reflected in the residential college named after her. Party with Meg.

HESSLER_ENVIRO_200There are probably a lot of Princetonians who fall on the genius spectrum, but not all of them get official recognition, much less official recognition and a no-strings-attached $500,000 grant.

Then there’s Peter Hessler ’92, one of 22 MacArthur Fellows for 2011. Hessler is a long form journalist who drew on his experience as an English teacher and foreign correspondent in China in three books where he crafts “richly illuminating accounts of ordinary people in such rapidly changing societies as Reform Era China.”

He’s written about Peace Corps projects in Nepal, a Uighur money-trader seeking asylum in the US, the effects of China’s auto boom on industrial centers and nearly-abandoned villages … yeah, pretty much everything. So, what’s next for a genius writer with half a million dollars to burn? Hessler hopes to head for the Middle East in search of more stories – check out his interview for more.

If we were an iTunes single right now, we'd be "Moves Like Jagger."

If we were an iTunes single right now, we'd be "Moves Like Jagger."

Like a J-Lo summer pop single, Princeton has made a comeback, tying Harvard for #1 on the US News and World Report 2011-12 Ranking of the best undergraduate colleges in the United States.

After a year of being slighted by the Crimson menace, Princeton has returned to its former place on the leaderboard chart. One trivial beef I have: we always seem to inexplicably “tie” with Harvard and yet are listed after it– and don’t tell me it’s in alphabetical order.

I call shenanigans

I call shenanigans.

Changes from last year among the Ivies were sparse:

  • Dartmouth falls from #9 to #11
  • University of Pennsylvania is still tied in a pan-America five-way with CalTech, Stanford, MIT, and University of Chicago.
  • Columbia’s holding strong after a huge four-spot jump to #4 last year (mirroring their plummeting acceptance rates with the adoption of the Common App, or, as my theory goes, the result of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”. See also: Brown’s Emma Watson effect.)
  • Cornell: Still in Ithaca.

Other than that, rankings haven’t moved much. Methodology changes every year, and  people always debate the legitimacy of college rankings. Unfortunately, we can’t all be Sarah Lawrence.

A major victory for Princeton couple Joshua Vandiver GS and his husband Henry Velandia: an immigration judge in Newark ruled yesterday that Venezuelan-born Velandia’s deportation would be halted until December in light of developing national policy on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Vandiver (left) and his husband Velandia (right) courtesy of NYT.

Vandiver (left) and his husband Velandia (right) courtesy of NYT.

The background: Vandiver met Velandia in 2006, and they legally married in Connecticut in August 2010. Currently, Vandiver is a residential grad student in Whitman, getting his PhD in politics. Velandia teaches salsa lessons in Whitman and also founded his own dance studio called HotSalsaHot.

The battle: According to DOMA, passed in 1996, the national government does not recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. Because couples married in states with same-sex marriage laws do not receive any federal rights, Velandia could not obtain a green card via his spouse, unlike most heterosexual bi-national couples. When Velandia’s visa expired and his request for a new one was denied, the couple launched a campaign to stop his deportation that has gained national attention from CNN, The Advocate, and the New York Times.

More details after the jump. Also, check out the video of Josh and Henry’s wedding from their Facebook page, ”Save Our Marriage”:

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Looks like they won't give up that easily...

Looks like they won't give up that easily...

It’s the latest installment of the University-Greek scene faceoff – this time under the guise of the innocuously-named Report of the Working Group on Campus Social & Residential Life.

The report begins with Princeton, A History: Social Edition. It goes all the way back to when Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey, but since I think we can all agree that things that happened over 250 years ago won’t be incredibly relevant, I’ll just give you the highlights.

The recommended injunction on first-year rush is really just continuing a venerable 168-year Princeton tradition. Fraternities were banned in 1855, then became secret societies before disbanding for real in 1875, when 50 members were identified and suspended. They didn’t return until the mid-1980s, and by 1993, 15% of the student body had joined one of 18 unofficial Greek organizations on campus.

The return of frats and sororities didn’t exactly mean they were welcome, though, as the working group’s recommendation makes clear:

“Students should be prohibited from affiliating with a fraternity or sorority or engaging in any form of rush at any time during the freshman year, or from conducting or having responsibility for any form of rush in which freshmen participate. The penalty for violating these prohibitions should be severe enough to encourage widespread compliance, which probably means a minimum penalty of suspension.”

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Friar, a fender-bowing prodigy.

Friar, a fender-bowing prodigy.

Thought Techno Jeep exhausted the musical possibilities of junk cars? Think again. Sean Friar ’GS, a Ph.D. candidate in music, was recently named the youngest American Academy Prix de Rome winner in 25 years and will spend eleven months in Rome expanding his winning composition, “Clunker Concerto: A Junk Car Percussion Quartet Concerto.”

Yes, you read that right: junk car percussion quartet, backed up by a chamber orchestra. Friar went to junkyards harvesting scrap metal with promising musical possibilities, then analyzed their tones and sound textures with a computer to see where they might fit into his magnum opus.

He’s performed Clunker Concerto at Carnegie Hall, which must have been an unexpected sight and sound for patrons used to your standard Mozart and Bach. But really, when you think about it, why does it make any more sense to jam on a tuba than a hubcap or fender?

See Friar and the fender in action in the video below, or listen on Friar’s website.

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