In Honor Of Tilghman’s Retirement, a Wordle Retrospective

You’ve all probably heard the news by now: President Tilghman will be leaving us at the end of the year, ending her 12-year term as Princeton’s first female president. Her announcement yesterday caused a media frenzy and a slew of related commentary. For a visual reflection of this response and of President Tilghman’s legacy, check out this wordle, based on the first two pages of hits for a Google search of “Shirley Tilghman”:

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Breaking News: Evidence of Aliens Not Found

Two Princeton astrophysics professors have concluded from their studies that the expectation of extraterrestrial life “might be based more on optimism than scientific evidence,” announced a press release last Thursday.

Edwin Turner and David Spiegel, who conducted the research, used Bayes’s Theorem of probability to mathematically test the assumption that life exists on other planets.  As it turns out, we may have let ourselves get too excited about E.T.

Joshua Winn, a physics professor at MIT, said that  he had been optimistic about the search for extraterrestrial life before he learned of Turner’s and Spiegel’s results.  “Now I’m not so sure,” he said, “though I think scientists should still search for life on other planets to the extent we can.”


Ricky Silberman, Matzo Ball King

Ricky Silberman ‘13 mobilized a significant proportion of the student body at Princeton to vote for him last month. He wasn’t in any of the contests that students typically spam listservs about: start-up ideas, USG elections, filmmaking competitions. Instead, Ricky needed votes to become the fifth and final contestant in the 6th Annual Man-o-Manischewitz Cook-Off. He got them, sending him to the competition in New York Wednesday, where he took away the $25,000 prize package.

To listen to University President–and Ricky’s thesis advisor–Shirley Tilghman respond to Ricky’s win, click here.


Photo by Sara Rich

Manischewitz is the icon of staple Jewish food, and sells Passover matzo, gefilte fish, and sweet Shabbat wine, among other traditional Jewish delicacies. Each year the company holds a cook-off, and this year Ricky entered. He was one of five finalists to compete in the final round at the JCC on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Ricky’s competition was stiff: a mother and educator, a dad and accountant, and two women who are “professional cooking competition-istas.” Ricky was by far the youngest competitor, with his “mod” matzo ball soup. 

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Occupy Forbes Dining Hall: PRINCO stops investment in HEI

With no more Goldman Sachs info sessions left to mic check, Occupy Princeton has turned to occupying dining halls.

Last Thursday, members of Occupy Princeton sat in on a talk held in the Forbes dining room by Andrew Golden, who has been president of the Princeton University Investment Company (PRINCO) for 17 years.

Golden, who dubs himself the “Accidental One-percenter,” intended to discuss how he went from being a photographer with a philosophy major to a successful investor. He did not expect to spend the Q&A session engaged in a heated debate about the University’s investments in HEI Hospitality, a hotel management company accused of unfair labor practices.

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Occupy Princeton Supports TigerTransit Drivers in Unionization Debate

Image source:

Image source:

“Where’s Al?” has been the refrain of the day within the Occupy Princeton movement. Al has driven a TigerTransit bus for almost three years, and was suspended for two days without pay by FirstTransit, which runs the bus system, for running a yellow light. Occupy, however, pointed out that Al had been organizing a vote on whether to unionize his fellow TigerTransit drivers. In an e-mail sent to Occupy members last night, Vahid Brown urged students to take action:

He was told his suspension was for “running a yellow light.” In fact, though, FirstTransit management are well aware of Al’s role in seeking to organize the union and have told other drivers as much in their ongoing efforts to intimidate drivers and discourage them from exercising their legally-protected right to vote on the formation of a union. This retaliation is unacceptable, but we can mobilize to make a difference.

Occupy Princeton leaders went on to encourage students to get in touch with Kim Jackson, Princeton’s director of parking and transportation, and Steven Skoler, general manager of FirstTransit, in order to communicate their support for TigerTransit drivers. According to Brown, over fifty people did so.

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Occupy Princeton Mic Checks JP Morgan/Chase and Goldman Sachs

Update Dec 14, 2011: I apologize for not disclosing my involvement with Occupy Princeton in this post. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been attending the General Assemblies and support the movement but was not a part of these mic checks. As a blog, not a newspaper, there is room for some opinion on the Ink and for writers to report on issues they are connected to. However I absolutely should have disclosed my affiliation and I apologize.

We know, we know. Princeton is apathetic. Politically, we are unengaged. Well, Occupy Princeton doesn’t seem to have received the message. Having held General Assemblies on Frist North Lawn since November 17, they occupied JP Morgan/Chase and Goldman Sachs info sessions Wednesday and Thursday nights. Their message? That sending roughly 10% of our graduates into finance goes against our motto “in the nation’s service and service of all nations.”

Dressing in business attire, about 20 students infiltrated the two info sessions, looking like they were interested students. At the end of Wednesday’s session, senior Derek Gideon yelled “Mic check!” and followed with Occupy Princeton’s speech call-and-response style. Senior Sandra Mukasa led Thursday’s mic check.

In an email sent to Occupy Princeton after the Wednesday info session, Derek told the occupiers who had been unable to attend:

The mic check at the end was awesome- the look of shock on their faces was priceless, especially as we all walked out and they realized more than half of us were protestors- and then I heard the woman leading the session declare, “Well, it’s getting close to 7…”

Though they realize they are unlikely to change the minds of anyone at the info sessions, Occupy Princeton hopes to start a discussion on campus by disrupting and bringing publicity to the info sessions. Occupiers told the Prince:

“Our goal is to open up a discussion at the University level,” said Luciana Chamorro ’12 …. “The idea is that it will spread.”

“My personal goal is to raise awareness,” occupier Robert Joyce ’13 said. “We’re young. These are some formative years. We’re around very smart people and this is our chance to challenge our views.”

The question is, on a campus known for its political apathy, will they get a positive response? Though, with about 50 people in the group, I guess they’ve proved that we’re not all Whitney Blodgetts.

The next General Assembly is Tuesday. Find the words from the mic checks after the jump.

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Four Princetonians Named Rhodes Scholars

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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Why Cornel West Matters: On His Leaving Princeton

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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Wonder What Princeton Thinks About OWS? (Or, “Ask a Freshman” with The Washington Post)

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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3547 Early Action Applicants!

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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?

Princeton’s Christopher Sims and NYU’s Thomas Sargent Win Nobel Prize in Economic Science

[caption id="attachment_11374" align="alignright" width="130" caption="Christopher A. Sims (image source:, Denise Applewhite)"]Christopher A. Sims (image source:, Denise Applewhite)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_11376" align="alignright" width="130" caption="Thomas J. Sargent (image source:, NYU Stern)"]Thomas J. Sargent (image source:, NYU Stern)[/caption]

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.

Animal cruelty in Princeton labs again?

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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?