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The “economic sense” of Princeton’s $30 million solar fields

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Just south of Lake Carnegie, 27 acres of photovoltaic panels collect and convert enough solar energy to account for about 6% of Princeton University’s energy usage every year. These panels cost about $30 million to install in 2012. According to Gina Talt, a Campus as Lab fellow at Princeton’s Office of Sustainability, the university contracted the fields in 2011, because solar energy started to make “good economic sense” around that time.

About $10 million of the project was paid for by a federal grant, made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The university is currently selling Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) to pay for the rest of the project. SRECs, which represent one Megawatt-Hour of renewably produced energy, are comparable to stocks, in that both are theoretical goods: buyers in the SREC marketplace purchase the renewable energy savings represented by each certificate, not the energy itself.

SRECs are valuable because some states mandate that electricity supply companies produce a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources. New Jersey, for example, requires that 20% of energy sales come from renewable sources by 2020. As a result, utilities that are lagging behind New Jersey’s requirements can buy SRECs from Princeton to make up for the difference in their own emissions savings.

At the beginning of April, SRECs in New Jersey were selling at about $220 each, a relative low point for the state. The university expects to stop selling SRECs in 2019 or 2020.

Caroline Savage, a Campus as Lab manager at the Office of Sustainability, said that the university saves more on carbon emissions through energy efficiency upgrades than the production of solar energy. According to Savage, solar fields save about 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, whereas upgrading existing energy facilities to be more efficient saves about 5,000 tons of emissions per year.

“Solar is definitely fantastic, but the most sustainable unit of energy is the one you don’t consume,” Savage said.

When the university stops selling its SRECs, it will start counting emissions savings towards its own goal to reduce campus emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.


Disclaimer: Somi Jun is a Communications Assistant for the Office of Sustainability.

So much head: tour of campus art

Princeton University’s campus art collection features over 60 works scattered around the residential colleges, academic buildings, and graduate college housing. As with most aspects of Princeton, this collection has a strange fixation on brainpower / symbolism of the head. Here are three pieces that reinterpret this central body part.

Head of a Woman

Executed by Carl Nesjar (1971), designed by Pablo Picasso (1962)

Across the street from McCarter Theater


Pablo Picasso designed a miniature model of this cast concrete, granite, and quartzite sculpture in 1962. After meeting with Picasso in 1969 and receiving his approval, Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar began building the full-size sculpture on-site. The geometric, segmented Head of a Woman provides a foil to Picasso’s other pieces of the same name. For example, Picasso’s bronze Head of a Woman (on display at the Met) uses curvier, rounder features and looks a lot more like an anatomically correct human. The sculpture at Princeton, with its exposed rock colors and shallow texturing, stands in stark contrast to I.M. Pei’s minimalist Spelman apartments.

Horse-Head Conference Room

Frank Gehry, installed in 2002

Icahn Laboratory


Renowned contemporary architect Frank Gehry designed the Horse-Head Conference Room as part of a project for Peter B. Lewis, whose $101 million gift helps fund the Lewis Center for the Arts. The room’s expressive shape marks a formative period in Gehry’s experimental architecture, and the fluidity of Horse-Head Conference Room has parallels to Gehry’s later designs for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao. The Horse-Head Conference Room currently stands in Icahn Laboratory.

Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads

Ai Weiwei, installed in 2012

In front of the Woodrow Wilson School


The bronze version of Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads is making a stop in front of the Woodrow Wilson School until August 2017, as part of the series’ world tour. The piece represents the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac and taps into a tense history of repatriation, elitism, and cultural exchange. Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads draws inspiration from a fountain depicting zodiac animal heads in Yuanming Yuan, a center of imperial gardens and palaces in Beijing. The original zodiac heads were commissioned by Emperor Qianlong in the 18th century, designed by European Jesuits, and then pillaged by French and British troops in 1860. Weiwei’s interpretation of the heads is seen as a statement on the democratization of art.

What’s the Deal with Fake Facebook Events?

Most online users are familiar with the dangers of the ‘Social Media Time Suck’. You go on Facebook with the intention of browsing casually through your newsfeed as a short study break, and next thing you know you’re stalking your ex’s girlfriend’s mother’s wedding pictures and two hours have flown by.

But no need to fear, because a new online phenomenon is here to drag you even deeper into the time warp – fake Facebook events.

Although at first they appeared sparsely throughout my newsfeed, as friends and family began attending the events, and even inviting me to them, I found myself caving into their appeal as well. But why? How did the trend begin and why are these events attracting thousands of attendees worldwide?

Sophomore Camila Novo-Viano said that she expressed an interest in these events because of their laugh-out-loud humor.

“I first attended a few of these fake events because I liked the jokes and puns and I thought it’d be funny when ‘Camila Viano is attending insert ridiculous event here’ would randomly show up on my friends’ news feeds,” she said.

The events are not only amusing because of their titles, but oftentimes social-media users will post polls, comments or videos related to the activity of the event.

“Become and actual potato,” an event that has attracted over 29,000 attendees, includes various polls such as “What is ur favorite thing to do as a potato?” Options include potate, hotline bling, convert non-potato infidels, fry and chill, and fly around your room.

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Resigning or expressing desperation about finals or school-related stress is a common theme among the events. General sadness or loneliness, especially doing things alone, also seems to be a recurring theme.

Some students have acknowledged that there could be some truth to these jests.

“I think people are genuinely stressed about school, and these fake Facebook events are a way of just decompressing,” freshman Kobi Tsesarsky said.

Sophomore Molly Plissner expanded on the use of the events as a way to transmit real feelings.

“It’s easier than posting a status because you’re not embarrassed, since it’s not as personal as posting it privately,” Plissner said.

Although many of the events may serve a positive purpose in allowing people to publicize their emotions and identify with the greater online community, some students have recognized that there are limitations to this form of comic relief.

“If this is a platform that people are actually using to deal with actual issues, then they shouldn’t make fake Facebook groups to fix their problems, because it won’t,” Tsesarsky said.

The events also highlight the superficiality of social media, where people can potentially create fake Facebook events while deceiving others into thinking they are real.

Nonetheless, so long as the fad continues to be taken lightly, we can continue to appreciate it as a valuable addition to one of our many options for procrastination.

Check out some of the trending events below, and if you’re feeling bold enough, you can even create your own.

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The Princeton Footnotes, BodyHype, and diSiac Drop Some Collaborative Funk

Princeton University is famous for many reasons, but its funk scene has never been one of them. But today the Princeton Footnotes may have changed that with the release of their music video cover of the hit song Uptown Funk. The video features the singing Footnotes—decked out in colorful, albeit somewhat stereotypically Princeton, outfits—dancing around Princeton’s campus with members of both the BodyHype and diSiac dance companies.

The collaborative video was the brainchild of Jacob Schatz ’15, a member of the Footnotes since freshman year. Schatz said that he came up with the idea of making a music video around Thanksgiving, just when the Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars song blew up.

“In the last two weeks before winter break the Footnotes decided we were going to make a full court press to make a video of Uptown Funk,” Schatz said, explaining that he arranged the song over winter break with the help of Casey Kolb ’15 and Chris Snyder ’17, the musical directors of the a capella group.

While arranging, Schatz realized that the video would benefit from the inclusion of other performing arts groups on campus.

“Over winter break I had the idea to get BodyHype and diSiac involved so we wouldn’t have to do all the choreography ourselves and also to showcase some of the other performing groups on campus,” Schatz said.

By the time the group got back to campus for reading period, they immediately began recording the song so they could film the video before intersession.

“Our recording was due to the dance groups on Dean’s Date,” Schatz said jokingly, explaining that they needed to get the audio recording to the groups as quickly as possible so they could begin choreographing.

Eamon Foley ’15 choreographed and directed the BodyHype segments while Colby Hyland ’16 and Angie Chiraz ’16 arranged and choreographed the diSiac segments. Nonny Okwelogu ’15, with the help of members of the Princeton Film Productions, filmed and edited the video, which was shot over the course of just six days during finals.

“Without any of them, this would have been a boring old, singing-to-the-camera music video. But with their help we made it something more,” Schatz said. “The collaborative aspect of this project definitely fueled its success.”

Schatz hopes that besides being catchy and enjoyable to watch, the video will shed light on the talented students at Princeton and serve as a catalyst for future collaborative projects.

“It shows the untapped potential of the art community at Princeton because we have so many talented people but everyone sort of keeps their heads down and keeps to themselves,” he said. “And if you pick your head up you might end up doing something like this.”


Princeton Freshman Tal Fortgang Appears on Fox News

Freshman Tal Fortgang was interviewed on Fox News Thursday night about the issue of privilege. Fortgang appeared on the show “On The Record With Greta Van Susternen” to discuss an article he wrote for the April edition of The Princeton Tory, Princeton’s conservative publication.

Fortgang has received significant publicity after his article, “Checking My Privilege: Character as the Basis of Privilege,” went viral two days ago. The article has been shared over one hundred thousand times on Facebook after being picked up by the website on Tuesday. Since then, the article has been republished on websites such as and Fortgang has been interviewed on numerous radio stations before appearing Thursday night on Fox News.

In his interview on Fox News, Fortgang discussed why he takes issue with being told to “check his privilege.” Fortgang said that he takes offense to what he perceives as people who believe that just being white makes him privileged.

[caption id="attachment_15365" align="aligncenter" width="515"] Fortgang ’17 on Fox News[/caption]

“The idea that my white skin has gotten me everything that I have handed to me on a silver platter is laughable,” Fortgang said.  Fortgang cited his family’s difficult journey to the United States, noting that his own path to Princeton was never assured.

“I am two generations removed from Hitler trying to kill my grandparents,” Fortgang said.

Outside of the conservative blogosphere, his now viral article has received a cold reception from many of his peers. Only days after his article was published, freshman Mitchell Hammer wrote an op-ed in the Daily Princetonian titled “What ‘check your privilege’ really means,” criticizing Fortgang for misunderstanding what it means to be privileged.

Hammer wrote:

“What Fortgang does not realize is that privilege does not necessarily require being able to trace your lineage back to Rockefeller or Vanderbilt. Privilege can be independent of your family’s past, of your actual socioeconomic status, of real hardship you or your ancestors may have endured. What privilege means is being able to confidently enter any social sphere without fear of rejection. Privilege means never questioning the bias of the feedback and grading you receive from your professors or employers. Privilege means living your life free from consideration and hyper-awareness of your race, gender or sexuality.”

On Wednesday, two students from Columbia University also published an op-ed in the Columbia Spectator, Columbia’s daily newspaper, similarly criticizing Fortgang for misunderstanding the idea of white, male privilege, writing that “he clearly hasn’t checked his privilege—because he doesn’t even understand what it is.” 

An Introduction to Princeton’s Virtual Bubble

Are you a post-thesis senior with little to do but scour the Internet for amusing Princeton-related tidbits during your last two months on campus? A recently-admitted pre-frosh who is already running out of online material to fuel your imagination as you dream about your arrival on campus?

Don’t worry, we’ve done all the work for you! UPC is proud to present an introduction to Princeton’s plethora of online sources to sustain your procrastination in the next four years.

Here are some of our go-to gems:


Platform for cross-campus complaints.

Tiger Admirers

Although the Facebook page seems to be (temporarily?) unavailable, this site gets a lot of action (and generates a lot of action) throughout the school year as students fawn over their classmates.

And to give you a taste of some college-level literary analysis, watch English Professor Jeff Nunokawa’s original interpretation of the text here.



Pi Phi in the library is you classic (spoof) sorority girl with a twist!

Princeton Horse – self-explanatory


An excellent source for non-Princeton-related procrastination, but when the two are combined, who can resist?


Your very own Class of 2018 Facebook Page! (increases in value as time goes on)



And, as always, your number 1 site for your years on campus, and beyond: The Ink!



Students can now easily trade late meal for club passes

“Underclassmen have late meal. Upperclassmen have passes. Sounds like an easy fix to us,” reads the About page for Passes For Late Meal, a website where students can exchange late meal swipes for eating club passes.

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The website, “made with love by hungry upperclassmen,” allows underclassmen to request Cap, Cannon, Cottage, Ivy, TI, or Tower passes. Meanwhile, upperclassmen looking for late meal swipes can offer their passes.

Students can either post an offer and wait for a match, or email people who have already posted offers. Once a student has posted an offer, his or her name is replaced (often with cutesy titles like “Passtafarian” or “LouisPassteur”) to maintain anonymity. When an underclassman is matched with an upperclassman, the site sends an email to both parties to coordinate the exchange.

Some underclassmen expressed that they are conflicted about whether to use the service.

“I think it’s a brilliant idea, especially because I rarely use late meal,” a freshman, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “But I don’t want to be judged by upperclassmen for being desperate for passes.”

UPDATE: The website was recently taken down since the University felt it violated their dining hall contract. See our good friends at the Daily Princetonian for the full story.

@Princeton Tweets

For those of you who haven’t yet discovered the many advantages of following your Princeton professors on Twitter (a practice that has previously gained national attention), we at the Ink have decided to round up some gems from a few of the most prolific tweeters on campus, including the University itself.

Like that one time Princeton and Harvard exchanged some official Twitter #nerd shade:

(Context: Princeton was sharing Professor Kintali’s new site True Shelf.)

Harvard’s cheeky response:

Princeton’s #shady retort:

We’re not sure who runs the Official Princeton Twitter (not enough #hashtags to be ODUS) so we’ll just assume it’s Martin Mbugua.

Or that one time prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates (also a Breaking Bad fan) and philosophy prof Gilbert Harman debated whether Neitzsche was in hell.

Or when Jay-Co retweeted Mike Tyson:

While neuroscience professor Sam Wang throws out some innuendo-laden food links on occasion:

The answer is gross.


Just in case you haven’t gotten sick of it yet, this week’s Social Media Roundup  a chronicle of the rise and fall of all of Princeton’s contributions to the Harlem Shake.

TI-what started it all:

Cloister-claiming to be the first Shake on the Street:

Colonial-props for not burning the club down:

Equad-grad students can be cool too:

Late meal:

Princeton Shakespeare Company-London Shake:

But actually…

Time for some real Harlem Shake. (You know, from Harlem.)


First week of classes, lost gloves, and bicker. Here’s what Princeton has been up to on the interwebs this week:

Res college listservs:

Subject: Panda buttsex gloves
Date: February 5, 2013 10:51:50 PM EST

Hey Forbes,

I apologize for the disruption, but I seem to have misplaced a pair of gloves. The gloves depict twopandas having buttsex, and they were a gift from my roommate. I’d greatly appreciate it if, should you happen upon them (is that a saying?), you returned them to me. (Email me!)

That’s two pandas having buttsex, as in a total of two panda couples (a pair on each hand).

Peace and blessings,

Oh cute panda gloves! What?!

Tiger Admirers:
PrincetonFML :
When “that guy” in your new precept doesn’t look like he’d be “that guy”:


Is there something we missed? Add it in the comments!

Princeton Pounce Beats the Waitlist

What do you do when that precept you really, really, really wanted is closed? Now with Princeton Pounce, you can automatically receive an email or text notification when a spot in that precept (or class) opens up. No more crazy SCORE checking necessary!

Jeremy Cohen ’16 and Zach Koerbel ’16, the creators of the site, were originally inspired to write the script after being locked out of a COS 217 precept they wanted. Over winter break and intersession, Cohen and Koerbel worked on turning their script into a website, a process both described as fairly simple.

According to Cohen, they were not the only ones who wrote such a program–several of their friends had similar scripts as well– but they were the first to share their script with other (less comp-sci minded) students through a public website.

“Despite the fact that some people might use it for classes we want, there’s tons of classes we would never dream of taking where people are in the same situation,” Koerbel said.

Since they began publicizing the site last Sunday night, there have been over 500 subscriptions and over 200 notifications. The most requested classes?

1. SOC 204  – Social Networks (70 subscriptions)

2. COS 126 –  General Computer Science (46 subscriptions)

3. COS 226 – Algorithms and Data Structures (40 subscriptions)

4. COS 217 – Introduction to Programming Systems (36 subscriptions)

5. PSY 101 – Introduction to Psychology (35 subscriptions)

Plans have already been made to include Princeton Pounce on TigerApps (Cohen is a member of the USG IT Committee). While the site has already been approved by the committee, Cohen is unsure when they will officially open the website on TigerApps.

In the meantime, go visit their website and start pouncing!

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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