Woke Wednesdays: A new podcast highlighting Black voices on campus

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Following the most polarizing presidential election in recent memory, a new Princeton group is seeking to foster a more open discussion on race and belonging.

“Woke Wednesdays,” a weekly podcast on Soundcloud, was created by eight Black freshmen with the intention of highlighting their experiences on campus.

I spoke with Kadence Mitchell ’20 and William Pugh ’20, two of the podcast’s founders and co-hosts, about their ambitions for the project.

“We’ve been trying to bring the community together as much as possible,” said Mitchell. “That’s where this whole idea sprung from: bringing us all together and having us all talk, even if it’s heated debates or everyone’s standing in a circle and agreeing with each other.”

The podcast, currently three episodes in, centers on a different topic each week. The most recent episode, which features Professor Imani Perry, is titled “Blackness in the Context of the Ivy League.” In the prior episode, the group discussed President Obama’s legacy.

Mitchell stresses that the podcast is not meant to speak for all Black students on campus, but rather, it exists as a platform for students to share their own personal experiences. “We’re not representatives for the race, and we don’t need to be,” she said.

Woke Wednesdays strives to offer different perspectives from within the Black Princeton community. “Just because we have a shared racial identity doesn’t mean we have a shared political identity,” said Pugh.

Mitchell and Pugh say being Black at Princeton has presented a unique set of challenges, both pronounced and subtle.

“For me personally,” said Pugh, “it’s looking around and seeing you’re the only African American person in the room, or the only person with melanin in the room, and just trying not to feel the pressure to represent your whole race, but at the same time knowing you can flip that on its head in a way and show people that, ‘Wow, the one Black person in my class is one of the smartest people in here.”

The podcast is also an effort to combat the lack of representation of student voices in the news space. “Historically speaking, we’re the ones that prompt change,” said Mitchell. “Students are so important, and so to not include our voices and just get the perspectives of people who are forty to fifty-plus, it’s not representative of our generation.”

In terms of goals for the future, Mitchell and Pugh want the podcast to reach all of Princeton, and they plan on bringing more guests on as the show evolves.

“We’re taking all of our ideas, energy, and passion and moving towards a more structured organization,” said Pugh. “Kadence and I serve as the moderators of each podcast. I’ll do one and then she’ll do the one after that. Everyone is paired up with someone to pick a topic, and we have all the dates established for when each podcast will be released.”

Though not yet an official student group, the Woke Wednesdays team says they are working on getting USG-approved. They also have ambitions to utilize a recording studio on campus.

“Saying we want our audience to be Princeton students is a means of starting small, but this conversation is important everywhere throughout the nation,” added Mitchell. “So if we could reach that level where people are listening to us in our hometowns and outside our hometowns–throughout the country–that would be great.”

 

You can find Woke Wednesday’s episodes here: https://soundcloud.com/user-877144100

 

 

-EA

LIVEBLOG: PPPD protests Princeton’s rejection of its proposal to divest from private prisons

6:00 pm: 

PPPD has invited journalist and Princeton Professor Chris Hedges to speak at the teach-in.

“I applaud what you’re doing,” Hedges said. “I found it emotional and moving.”

Hedges taught in prisons for 10 years.

“The prison system is the modern iteration of slavery by this corporate state,” Hedges said. “We are going to have to join this class war that has already begun by those within this prison system. It’s not going to work to appeal anymore to the centers of power.”

5:55 pm: 

Professor Naomi Murakawa, who writes about incarceration among other subjects, asked a question addressing the “already low bar for public prisons” and their “standard abusive practices.”

“This is an incredible consensus,” she says, noting the 177 faculty members who have joined the petition.

Professor Murakawa also asked whether the committee would consider a rewrite of the proposal. Several committee members said, “Absolutely.”

She pressed President Eisgruber on his statement that the University is not invested in private prisons. He has not yet responded.

5:50 pm:

Students are gathered in the lobby of Friend to hear student groups, including the Princeton Advocates for Justice, and guests speak.

Graduate students are now speaking at the teach-in:

“We’re not just calling for divestment because we want to divest from prisons. We’re calling for divestment because we want to abolish prisons,” graduate student Heath Pearson said.

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5:40 pm:

PPPD and a large portion of audience members have left the meeting, and they plan on holding a teach-in. President Eisgruber has opened the meeting up to questions.

Some CPUC member comments from the audience:

“How could the University divest without making a very bold political statement?

“We are an educational institution…We need to be careful not to take a political stand.”

5:37 pm: 

PPPD is leading a walk-out and has invited everyone to attend a tech-in in the lobby of the Friend Center.

Students are chanting “What do we want? Divestment. When do we want it? Now.”

Watch the walk-out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWr446jH_Hc

5:30 pm:

PPPD is now speaking:

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“I don’t know what Eisgruber is talking about when he says we’re not invested in private prisons,” one student announced. “What’s going on in this room right now is a charade.”

“We have undeniably shown campus consensus around this issue.”

“With respect to the referenda- 89% of undergrads and 85% of grads voted in favor [of divesting].”

“This movement is not over and it will not be stopped.”

Students said that the Committee’s decision and discussion did not respond to PPPD’s proposal.

5:25 pm:

Princeton Professor Michael Littman outlined the Committee discussions about the proposal. The The Council of Princeton University Community met three times this year and will meet two more times this year.

During its meeting on March 10, the committee decided that “the proposal in its current form, did not meet the high bar to recommend action,” the Committee said.  The committee felt that there was insufficient evidence, and the issue “remains under active consideration,” Littman said.

5:15 pm:

President Eisgruber began the discussion by stating that the University has no assets invested in private prisons, or the companies listed in the petition, but that the issue remains critical as it would impose a filter on future investments by the University.

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Eisgruber: “We don’t normally discuss what’s in our investment portfolio, but I can tell you we do not hold investments in the companies that are the focus of this petition.”

4:45 pm: 

Bob Durkee is currently speaking about Agenda 1 discussing University contributions to the community. Friend 101 is completely full. Several students are standing in the back are students holding signs:

“Stop incentivizing incarceration,” “Princeton Divest,” and “Private prisons =/= Justice”

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PPPD distributed flyers to students and community members attending the meeting:

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4:30 pm: 

The Council of Princeton University Community will announce today, March 27, in a community-wide meeting that the University will reject The Princeton Private Prison Divestment (PPPD) campaign to divest from private prisons.

PPPD has organized a protest after being informed in advance that their petition for the University to divest from “11 companies operating or exclusively contracting with private prisons and detention centers” had been rejected.

“PPPD will publicly reject the legitimacy of the decision, and lead its supporters in a rally nearby,” PPPD said Monday in a press release. “The campaign will continue to escalate until the University divests from the companies and industries detailed in the coalition’s proposal.”

A Facebook event asking people to attend the CPUC meeting wearing red to protest the decision was shared with more than 1,400 people. An undergraduate referendum on private prison divestment last spring, supported by PPPD, failed because not enough students voted on it. One-third of the undergraduate student body must vote on a referendum for USG to consider it. Among students who did vote on the private prisons referendum, almost ninety percent were in favor of divestment.

Princeton alumni have also organized an online petition to CPUC’s decision, reiterating that “we cannot allow the school we love to continue to support an industry that profits only when depriving human beings of freedom.”

The University Press Club is here in Friend 101 to live blog the meeting and protest. Stay with us.

Overpricing at the U-Store: processed food kills (your wallet, that is)

‘The U-Store is too good to be true,’ I remember thinking during move-in day. It had the felt hangers I forgot, the sugar for the coffee grounds I brought from home and imitations of the baked goods my Mom makes better.

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Six months later, I found myself dragging a massive Amazon Prime Pantry box back to my dorm with items I could have bought at the U-Store, just a minute walk from my Mathey residence, but chose to buy from Amazon instead. How did my relationship with the U-Store get to this point, where I walk an extra 25 minutes to avoid it?

Turns out, I was right that first day. The U-Store is too good to be true. After a few trips back first semester, I realized how overpriced many of its items were. This is likely since it is the only supplier of grocery-like goods in all of Princeton and Nassau St.’s mix of specialty groceries and expensive restaurants.

Motivated by my walk with the heavy box, I set out to find out just how overpriced the U-Store was.

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The Experiment

I wanted a broad sampling of goods that students could buy other places, so I kept my sampling to the cosmetic and hygienic items, pre-packaged food and drink, and dorm goods sections. I went through each aisle and chose two items randomly, recording their sizes in ounces and their non-member prices. Then, I found two comparable prices for each item online, excluding Amazon’s prices since they are unusually low. (The comparable prices were usually from Target or Walmart.) I averaged the comparable prices and compared the difference in the U-Store price with the competitor price in percentage. Some items were thrown out of the experiment because there were no comparable prices online.

Findings and Theories: the Good, the Bad, the Booty

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On average, U-Store goods were priced 67.33 percent over their usual prices. That’s 57.33 percent over their prices for members.

Only one good out of 30 was priced below the market price: a four oz. bag of Pirate’s Booty was 10 percent cheaper at the U-Store. Two goods were priced at their market price: a four-pack of men’s Jockey Classics Full-Rise Briefs and Nissin Cup Noodles. Wet Ones were priced two percent over their usual price.

The most overpriced good was a 12.4 oz. box of Cheez-Its, priced at $6.29, 213 percent over its comparable price. Hunt’s Pudding priced at 150 percent its usual price, and a 13 oz. box of Chip’s Ahoy cookies were 90 percent over its competitor’s price.

Generally, as I moved from the food aisles closest to the University Place entrance toward the aisles closest to the pre-packaged meal section, items seemed to become more overpriced. They seem to place the most profitable goods closest to the main entrance for easy access by students in their most desperate and zombie-like state after hitting the Street or pulling an all-nighter.

Processed food was the most over-priced category, followed by cosmetics and hygiene-related items and by dorm goods and necessities, like underwear.

Another shocking revelation from this study: Hot Pockets are not sold online. Not even on Amazon.

This was not a perfect study, but the findings are clear. Generally, follow the booty for the best prices. Thank the U-Store for your Hot Pocket consumption. Drop your Cheez-Its habit.

-ECS

Conspiracy Theorist for NJ Governor (Also, Do 90% of Princeton Students Work for the NSA?)

 

For those who are already preparing to cast their vote in the 2017 New Jersey Gubernatorial race, there’s an underdog who should not be ignored: Jeff Boss.

Mr. Boss has run for elected office over a dozen times, often with the slogan “NSA did 9/11.” Most of Boss’s campaigns are focused on his claim to have witnessed the U.S. Government organize the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, offering little in the way of policy positions. Boss’s last candidacy for New Jersey senate received 9,877 votes.

On Boss’s website, he claims to possess DVD recordings of “550+ people, 20 military in uniform, and a former Vice President all confirming [Boss’s] story on camera with 40 sworn affadavits (sic).”

When the Press Club requested an interview with Boss, he promptly declined with a bold statement via email:

“almost 90% of the students at Princeton work for the nsa, no thanks”

His response made a claim that—if true—would be astonishing. But, after some preliminary fact-checking, it seems that 90% of Princeton students in fact do not work for the N.S.A. (at least not officially).

When Boss was asked how it could be proven that his interviewers do not work for the N.S.A., he did not respond for comment.

It can be assumed that Boss is particularly emboldened by the recently released Wikileaks documents which allege that the C.I.A has conducted widespread espionage on U.S. citizens (it remains unconfirmed, at the moment). In his YouTube videos, Boss has suggested that the U.S. government uses “massive computers” to spy on citizens.

In addition to his 2018 New Jersey Governor’s candidacy, Boss will be on the ballot for Mayor of N.Y.C. in 2017, as well as the 2020 Presidential ballot. He has asked Edward Snowden to be his Vice President on the 2020 ballot.

In the meantime, those Princeton students who do work for the N.S.A. should be wary of this not-quite-new-comer on the political stage.

[Correction: An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect date for the upcoming New Jersey gubernatorial election. The election will be held in November 2017, not 2018.]

The Nassau Weekly just trolled The Daily Princetonian, big time.

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The Nassau Weekly‘s latest cover features a gibberish-filled article, with four incorrect spellings of “Nassau Weekly” circled in aggressive red ink.

Nassau Weakly. 

     Nassuh Bleakly. 

           TASA Weekly.

                   Nasal Weekly. 

What gives?

Well, it’s all a huge joke — and at the butt of it is the Daily Princetonian. 

Two Wednesdays ago, the Daily Princetonian ran an article on undergraduate food co-ops on campus. Featured in the story was Alex Gottlieb ’18, the co-president of the Real Food Co-op.

But alas, Alex Gottlieb never made it into the article. The Daily Princetonian, somehow, managed to spell his name wrong three different ways, four times.

 

Gottlie.

    Tottlieb.

         Tottlieb (again).

And, enlarged, in a pull-quote, Tottlie.

The actual name, Gottlieb, never appeared. How that happened is a mystery.

But the Nass took it upon themselves to memorialize the Prince‘s series of unfortunate typos, and thus was born this week’s cover.

A Passion for Cafés

Sitting in one of the suave, new-age cafés of Chelsea, sipping the seventh coffee shared among them, three Princetonians came one step closer to visualizing their ideal café. Senior Lachie Kermode, junior Michelle Goldman, and sophomore Cecily Polonsky have a dream to start a coffee shop, a dream they fueled with the caffeine of a day-long inspirational tour of the cafés of New York City.

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The trio leaves Princeton at 5:40AM

Their idea began when they discovered that all three of them harbored a fantasy of owning a coffee shop. In an effort to bolster this vision, the trio set off for New York City, looking for inspiration. Leaving Princeton at 5:40 AM and sipping coffee well into the afternoon, they judged the cafés on the criteria of ambiance, clientele, homeliness, aesthetics, among a host of other more obscure factors—including how each tries to “mask its capitalistic function,” and “caters to an idea of what a coffee shop is.” At the end of the day, jittery from over a dozen coffees, they settled on their two favorites: Devocion and Atlas Café.

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Michelle said that their vision has shifted over time, but that they’re comfortable with how it has started to take shape. “A big part of this too is the deinstitutionalization of education,” said Michelle. “We’ve been thinking a lot about how to make this coffee shop into a productive, interactive, and intellectual space.”

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They even have a name for their future café: “PKG”, an acronym of their last names. Cecily said they also hope to take this venture abroad over the upcoming summer, looking for inspiration as they consider how their own coffee shop will look. “We decided to take that philosophy of the New York tour, but take it to a European city—Oxford—where we ultimately want our coffee shop to be,” said Cecily, noting that the trio intends to seek funding from the university for their summer plan.

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But their passion extends beyond these aspirations. While on their New York coffee tour, they thought of an idea for a podcast in which they “get coffee with frat bros.” “We thought, wouldn’t it be fun to bring people along,” recalls Michelle. Cecily explained that they considered many ideas, including “Ziti with Zete” and “Saké with SAE,” but settled on “Coffee with Chi Phi” in the end. Michelle added that “another mission was to humanize these frat boys.” Lachie said he expects that the podcast will be successful, noting that “there’s a lot of hype for the first episode.” Although the production remains in the early stages, they already have a demo of “the opening jingle” of the podcast, sung by Lachie himself.

*As to remain unbiased, the author did not consume any caffeine in the production of this article.

21 Questions with…William Grear ’20

William “Will” Grear is a freshman from Wakefield, RI who wowed the Jazz Department at Princeton University with his renowned trumpet and piano skills. Will chose to attend Princeton for its academic programs and music department.

Will performed with the Princeton University Creative Large Ensemble on Dec. 6, 2016, where he played solo pieces in front of a large crowd in Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall.

University Press Club sat down with Will to learn more about his music, his interests and his guilty pleasures.

  • When did you start playing music?

I started playing when I was 5. I saw my mom playing classical piano and I thought it was pretty cool so I asked her if I could take lessons. I’ve been playing since then. Music has taken me to Nashville and other places to do some pretty cool stuff.

  • How good are you actually?

I’m pretty good..I’m like not bad. There’s no sense in pretending you’re worse than you actually are or in flaunting your skills, but when people ask you, it’s worth telling them. So yeah..I’m pretty good. On a scale of 1 to 22, I’d say I’m a 15. Herbie Hancock is a 23.

  • Best band name of all time?

The World Is A Beautiful Place and I’m No Longer Afraid To Die. Real band, I promise.

  • Who are your musical inspirations?

Herbie Hancock, because he’s my favorite piano player and Ezra Koenig, because he has a lot of respect for artistry and has figured out a way to work within the music industry and also preserves the agency of his band. He’s also maintained his voice while being really successful in reaching a big audience. He’s someone who’s balanced a love for learning and academics with being intellectually and socially conscious while pursuing an artistic career.

  • Who’s the most musically talented person you personally know?

I don’t know if I can answer that really…they’re just random people who are friends of mine. I’ve just met so many young people my age throughout the years who blow my mind.

  • When/where do you usually practice?

I usually practice piano in my room during downtime and I don’t practice trumpet on my own because I rehearse 4 hours a week with the jazz ensemble. Because I play the trumpet in a big band setting, I don’t need to have my chops at a high level so it’s been easier to limit my practice time for that. Piano is something I’ve always been able to practice on my own.

  • Who are your favorite Princetonians?

Cornel West…I was in his seminar and it was sick. Also Norman Thomas,  Sonia Sotomayor and Michelle Obama. I don’t really know any other Princetonians.

  • What music-related item do you find most annoying?

The viola! It sounds horrible.

  • Advice for up and coming musicians?

Place an emphasis on musical theory. You can always learn the technical skills of an instrument but you should learn musical theory while you’re in an academic context. Comprehensive theory is the best way to approach songwriting or rock or jazz. It’s the best way to get out of pop chord progressions and get into creative music.

  • Why did you spend 9 months in Brazil before your freshman year?

For shits and giggles.

  • Favorite pre-concert snack?

Air. No sugar or salt with that.

  • If you could play music with one musician, dead or alive, who would it be?

I’d have to say Miles Davis. He set the standard multiple times for the style of improvisation that’s been prominent in jazz for the past 50 years. It would be pretty cool to play with a guy who invented that. Also, he played jazz like me and is cool.

  • What are the chances I can become a renowned jazz musician?

Quite low. Slim to none. Stick to finding a desk job at McKinsey.

  • In one sentence, what do you usually do all day?

I care about a couple of things and a few people but I lol at most things.

  • What songs make you laugh? Cry?

Cry: Time to Say Goodbye by Andrea Bocelli

Laugh: Any song by The Lonely Island, The Flight of the Conchords, Coldplay’s entire discography and Sorry by Justin Bieber.

  • Guilty music pleasure?

You Found Me – The Fray

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I can only see 4 years into the future thanks to my 2020 vision.

  • When’s bedtime? When do you get up?

Now. I get up at 10:33 AM usually. Sometimes PM.

  • Princeton bucketlist?

Graduate and make Chris Eisgruber say something thought provoking.

  • Favorite musical note? Why?

A flat. Because it’s God’s key.

  • How did you like this interview?

It was fine. Quite loly. I’m going to go play the piano now.

 

Check out Will’s high school band, S. Walcott: 

https://soundcloud.com/swalcottmusic/a-nosotros

 

Chan: Changing Theater on Campus

If you don’t have anything to do next weekend–or even if you do–grab some friends and head over to see Charles Francis Chan, Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery for a hilariously surreal play-within-a-play that will shake your conceptions of racial identity in America.

The play is put on by East West Theater and the organization’s founder and president emeritus, Kathy Zhao ‘17, as her senior thesis in theater.

Chan, which follows a college-dropout during the turbulent sixties as he pens a play to combat racism against Asian Americans, debuted last week on Friday the 10th to a standing ovation, according to Zhao. The Saturday performance was preceded by an afternoon symposium featuring conversations on race and representation in theaters both on campus and beyond.

“I’ve only been in one other thesis production, Zoyka’s Apartment, Zhao said of her theater career here at Princeton. “That was the first time I was forced to confront playing race.”

Zhao’s role in Zoyka’s Apartment required her to play yellow face and speak with broken English.

“I found myself, an Asian American, playing a stereotyped caricature of a Chinese person,” Zhao said of her role. “I didn’t quite understand all the feelings and confusion until it finally coalesced into a feeling of shame of having my parents coming to see the show.”

Zhao embarked upon the quest of creating East West Theater last spring to carve out a space for Asian American visibility in the theater community. Having played with the idea of a company since her sophomore year, Zhao states that East West has three goals: “to increase the representation of Asian Americans in theater, to represent the diversity of all experiences on the stage, and to create an inclusive environment to welcome beginners to theater.”

Recently, East West Theater has hosted staged readings of Ching Chong Chinaman by Lauren Yee, held mock auditions to explain the auditioning process to those new to theater, and performed their first show, Untold Stories, in December of last year.

Zhao notes that East West will continue to organize events such as future symposiums. The symposium on Saturday afternoon included reflections on diversity in theater, featuring scholars, performers, and writers such as Erin Quill, Brian Herrera, Christine Mok, Robert Lee, and Lloyd Suh, the playwright himself.

“One thing that heartens me is the fact that we’re sitting here and having this conversation because Kathy created this thing,” Suh said during his panel, followed by a round of applause and cheers. “Power [is talking] about owning your agency, being bold, and taking action.”

And that is exactly what Zhao did.

“It’s not a popular thing for people of my generation to say,” Suh continued, “but millennials are pretty amazing.”

Chan will have another set of performances this week on February 16th, 17th, and 18th at 8:00 p.m. in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio at 185 Nassau Street. Tickets purchased in advance are $12 for general admission and $11 for senior citizens and students; tickets purchased at the door are $17 and $15.