Get Informed About New Jersey’s Gubernatorial Election

While electoral politics may not be foremost on Princetonians’ minds this offseason election cycle, there are in fact several important elections taking place around the country this year, including in New Jersey. On November 7, 2017, New Jerseyans will vote for the next Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the Garden State. The Republican ticket includes current Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State Kim Guadagno and her running mate Carlos Rendo, the mayor of Woodcliff Lake. Phil Murphy, the United States Ambassador to Germany from 2009-2013 and a former Goldman Sachs executive, is the Democratic nominee for Governor, while his running mate is Sheila Oliver, a state Assemblywoman from the 34th district.

In addition to Princeton students who grew up in New Jersey, other students not originally from the state may have registered to vote in New Jersey during college. The Board supports this political engagement and encourages students who are registered in New Jersey to vote in the upcoming gubernatorial election. However, students who do vote first and foremost have an obligation to be informed about the issues at stake in this election. Most of the campaign issues, such as property taxes, education spending, and steps to address New Jersey’s grossly underfunded pension obligations, have no impact on students from out-of-state, yet greatly impact year-round New Jersey residents. We urge all students to carefully examine these issues and not simply vote down their typical party line without thinking critically about Guadagno’s and Murphy’s platforms. While most of the campaign issues do not impact us as students, the Board would like to highlight two issues that will likely affect Princetonians: marijuana legalization or decriminalization and the state minimum wage.

Guadagno and Murphy clash on their proposals for marijuana: Murphy advocates legalization and taxation of marijuana, while Guadagno advocates decriminalization of recreational marijuana with an expansion of medical marijuana use. The Board leaves it to individual students to examine the literature on the factors at stake with this issue, which include public health and safety considerations and state tax revenues. Crucially, under either candidate it seems that penalties will be less harsh for marijuana usage. This would directly impact students because of the University’s recent policy shift for Public Safety to send marijuana users directly to the Princeton Police Department for arrest. With less harsh penalties likely forthcoming regardless of who wins, we urge students to be respectful of themselves and those surrounding them in their campus behavior.

Turning to the minimum wage, Murphy advocates raising the state minimum wage from its current $8.44-an-hour to $15-an-hour over the next several years. In a recent debate between the candidates, Guadagno said she opposes this change because it would “take away the very jobs they’re intended to protect,” referencing jobs for young adults with less experience and low-income earners. Assuming there would be no campus exemption for this change, an increase to a $15/hour minimum wage would directly impact Princeton students, as well as other University employees, in a broadly negative way that the Board opposes.

Hourly wages for student workers range from $8.45 to $14.80, meaning a $15 minimum wage would increase the costs of hiring all student workers. A classic minimum wage tradeoff would likely result. Some students may earn more from having their wages increase, but other students as well as low-wage University employees could lose their jobs because their hourly services may not be worth $15 or more to the University. Research examining recent steep minimum wage increases in other cities has shown that the sort of change Murphy advocates has significant negative impacts on the youngest and least experienced workers, such as college students, with particularly deleterious impacts for minorities.

Accordingly the Board opposes a $15 minimum wage increase. While some may respond jobs would not be lost at Princeton because of the University’s large endowment, everything has trade-offs. If the University needed to spend vastly more on wages, it would necessarily need to cut spending in other valuable areas such as financial aid, professor hiring, and new construction. Moreover, other colleges in the state do not have similarly large endowments as ours, making an increase in wage costs particularly devastating to low-wage employees and students at other educational institutions, not to mention the thousands of low-wage New Jersey employees this change would negatively impact across the state.

Republican Kim Guadagno and Democrat Phil Murphy offer very different platforms on a number of issues that will impact New Jersey residents. They also disagree over two issues of particular relevance to Princeton students: marijuana and the minimum wage. The Board expressly disagrees with Murphy’s proposal to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15-an-hour, which would harm the employment prospects of student workers and other low-wage earners in the state. Most importantly, though, the Board urges all University community members who are registered to vote in New Jersey to research the Gubernatorial candidates and their stances on key issues so that they can be informed voters on November 7.

Increasing Veteran Enrollment

Starting this fall, Princeton will accept transfer applications, partly seeking to attract a group historically underrepresented at Princeton: U.S. military veterans. The Board commends this policy change and the specific mention of veterans on the transfer application webpage. The Board also praises the University’s increased outreach through its work with the Warrior Scholars Project and encourages Princeton to expand these efforts.

The lack of a transfer program at Princeton has been blamed for the University’s low veteran enrollment compared to its peer institutions. Because many veterans obtained community college credits or took classes in the military during their service, they were likely deterred from applying to an institution unwilling to accept those credits. The Board commends the University responding to this issue by amending its transfer program and encouraging veteran participation.

This year also marked the beginning of Princeton’s outreach efforts to current military members and veterans by hosting a one to two-week “academic boot camp” with the Warrior Scholars Program. The program provided veterans with the opportunity to take a one week mini-course at Princeton and helps prepare them for the application process. Given the incredibly diverse range of backgrounds of veterans, these efforts are important in increasing the accessibility of Princeton by providing a short sample of the academic experience and helping to position them to be successful applicants. The Board commends this effort and urges the University to continue hosting such programs.

The Board further suggests that Princeton expand these efforts through direct outreach to those who have recently left the military or are currently still serving. This outreach is particularly important for those currently serving, as it will encourage them to consider Princeton as an option and allow them to better prepare academically.  

U.S. military veterans and their unique sets of experiences and backgrounds will be excellent additions to the Princeton community and help the University live up to its motto of being “in the nation’s service.” The Board commends the University’s current efforts to increase veteran enrollment. We encourage Princeton to continue expanding these efforts to make Princeton more accessible to those who have served their country.

A Response to ‘#1 National Rich Kid University’

On October 03, a Daily Princetonian opinion column titled #1 National Rich Kid University admonished members of the campus community for celebrating Princeton’s seventh-straight first-place finish in U.S. News & World Report’s annual college and university rankings, arguing Princeton’s commitment to its number one rank plays an integral role in the perpetuation of inequality. The column’s critique may be well-intentioned, yet it offers an oversimplified account of the factors U.S. News and World Report considers to rank colleges and universities. It also underappreciates the University’s commitment to increase the socio-economic diversity of the student body for years to come. Accordingly, the Board writes to reaffirm the University’s excellence in the programs that have earned it the first-place rank, and to critique the column’s account of “Princeton’s status as a bastion of upper-class privilege.”

The Prince column cites a POLITICO review, which contends U.S News & World Report’s formula for ranking colleges and universities creates incentives for universities to favor wealthy students in the admissions process. A closer look at the formula reveals Princeton’s practices are not nearly problematic as the column portrays them to be, especially when compared to practices of institutions sitting below Princeton in the USNWR rankings. U.S. News has fifteen independent metrics on which it ranks colleges and universities; these metrics can be lumped into seven categories. Graduation and retention rates represent 22.5% of the ranking formula. Universities earn highest ranks by offering robust financial and academic support systems to enable students to graduate within four years. Part of the reason Princeton consistently ranks as the top university in the country is because it is effective at offering students a clear four-year path to graduation. The Board recognizes students at lower-ranked universities typically fail to graduate within four years for financial reasons, often because financial aid packages are insufficient and students are forced to work part-time while attending school part-time.

Next, the opinion piece claims Princeton spends excessively on undergraduate students and faculty as a second means to inflate its ranking, citing another Prince oped in which the columnist highlights the high cost of providing food at public lectures and receptions. It attempts to link tuition collected from wealthy families to excessive spending on food and other perks for students – an argument first made about Bowdoin College by Malcolm Gladwell in his podcast, Revisionist History. It may be true that Bowdoin accepts more wealthy students in order to maintain its first-place “Best Dining Hall in the Nation” rank; however, the same cannot be said of Princeton. Over fifty-percent of Princeton’s operating budget is drawn from the endowment rather than from tuition dollars.

The column goes so far as to claim Reunions embodies Princeton’s culture of excessiveness, failing to acknowledge that Reunions represents the culmination of Princeton’s annual giving campaign. The hallmark event acts as important link between alumni and the University such that all alumni are incentivized to make gifts to the University. Reunions is certainly a larger celebration of alumni loyalty than other annual reunion events at peer institutions. However all students benefit from alumni loyalty and the alumni giving facilitated by Reunions. Moreover, the column suggests the Admissions Office admits children of alumni to incentivize giving. Surely the columnist would agree a three-day celebration in the end of May is a better way to maintain a loyal alumni body than promising to eventually admit the children of all of Princeton’s alumni. In short, while the column paints alumni loyalty in negative terms, the reality is that nearly 60% of all Princeton students benefit from this loyalty vis-à-vis scholarships supported by endowments.

Finally, the piece claims that Princeton tokenizes Pell Grant students, who make up nearly 20% of the Class of 2021, a significant increase from the composition of recent classes in which fewer than 10% of students were Pell Grant recipients. The Board does not contend that Princeton is a perfect institution, yet we must acknowledge the current administration’s commitment to making Princeton more accessible for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Specifically, the University recently allowed applications from transfer students for the first time in decades, and President Eisgruber intends to expand the undergraduate student body by adding a new residential college within the next ten years. He has been quoted in the New York Times discussing his commitment to diversity at Princeton.

In conclusion, we hope that the column’s author and those who share the author’s view will attempt to evaluate the merits of the practices that land Princeton at the top of U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings. These practices are well-conceived by the University to benefit all students, and they moreover confer the most benefits on the least advantaged students.

Portraiture Nominations to Honor Great Princetonians

At the beginning of the school year, the University established a Portraiture Nomination Committee to designate ten individuals to be honored with a portrait on campus. The most recent formal expansion of the University portrait collection took place in the mid-nineteenth century under the presidency of John Maclean, and this new initiative will reflect a more diverse alumni base and celebrate the achievements of relatively recent graduates.

Portraits celebrate individuals and their achievements that current Princetonians can look up to. They also signal a set of values that the University endorses. The choice of portraits is not just an aesthetic question of interior design, but also a fundamental examination of the principles for which the University stands.  

The Board applauds the procedure by which the University has opted to select portraits.  A committee that is entrusted to select ten portraits will likely produce better outcomes than haphazardly selecting portraits one by one. Further, inviting suggestions from the public through a form allows the committee’s decisions to be informed by public input as opposed to the internal preferences of University administrators.

We generally agree with the principles that the Portrait Nomination Committee has outlined (association with Princeton, demonstration with excellence, and representation of diversity), though we question the focus on individuals who graduated in the past 75 years. Since the University last updated its portrait collection about 150 years ago, there is a glaring gap in alumni who would be ineligible for recognition.

We urge all members of the Princeton community to nominate worthy alumni through the nomination form. We have included below the biographies of eight Princeton alumni whose achievements reflect the diversity of contributions across career paths and industries that Princetonians have made “in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.” Their accomplishments are worth celebrating, and we hope that you will enjoy reading about them and consider submitting their names to the Portraiture Nomination Committee.

Moe Berg ’23 had a long career in Major League Baseball before becoming a spy in the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. After graduating from Princeton, Berg played for the Brooklyn Robins, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, and Boston Red Sox. During World War II, Berg worked covertly with resistance groups in Yugoslavia and interviewing physicists across occupied Europe. In 1945, Berg was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, reflecting Berg’s excellence in the nation’s service.

George Kennan ’25 was a diplomat whose “Long Telegram” formulated the containment policy, a principal US strategy during the Cold War. Following World War II, as the United States policymakers debated US-Soviet relations, Kennan’s viewpoints helped establish the foundation of a confrontational foreign policy. Kennan spent the later half of his career at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton.

Jimmy Stewart ’32, who honed his acting skills with the Princeton Triangle Club, starred in numerous films, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life, Harvey, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Stewart served as a pilot during World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.

Alan Turing *38 came to prominence during World War II, where he worked at Bletchley Park and played a key role in deciphering German cypher. His work afforded the Allies a major advantage during the conflict. Following the war, Turing worked on the first stored-program computer. He is considered the father of modern computing.

John Nash *50 was a mathematician whose contributions to game theory, including the famous Nash Equilibrium, have greatly influenced the study of economics. Nash received the John Von Neumann Theory Prize of 1978 for his discovery on the Nash Equilibrium, the Nobel Prize in Economics of 1994 for his work on game theory, and the 2015 Abel Prize. Nash was a constant presence on Princeton’s campus for decades, and the film about his work, A Beautiful Mind, is one of the most famous cinematographic depictions of Princeton.

Robert “Bob” Johnson *72 co-founded Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1980. In 1991, Johnson took BET public; it was the first company owned by an African-American to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Johnson became the first African-American billionaire, reflecting his tremendous business success. Johnson is also a prominent philanthropist; for example in 2007 he founded the Liberia Enterprise Development Fund, which provides loans to support  Liberian entrepreneurs.

Terri Sewell ’86 currently serves as the Congresswoman from Alabama’s 7th District. She was the first black woman elected to Congress from Alabama and serves on the Intelligence and Ways and Means Committees. While at Princeton, Congresswoman Sewell was Vice President of her class and worked with the Admissions Office to establish a Minority Student Recruitment office. Congresswoman Sewell also received a Marshall Scholarship to study at Oxford and received her law degree from Harvard.

Wendy Kopp ’89 founded Teach for America, a nonprofit based on Kopp’s senior thesis that recruits promising college graduates to work in underprivileged communities. Teach For America steered students towards a form of public service that they otherwise might never have contemplated. It helped underscore the importance of education as a policy priority, particularly with its emphasis on bridging achievement gaps between prosperous and impoverished communities.

The Board believes the above Princetonians are worthy of recognition. The Portraiture Nomination Committee’s work will be most effective with ample participation from the broader community. We urge all students to read about prominent Princetonians from all walks of life, and to submit their suggestions to the Committee.

Praising Weekend Breakfast and Encouraging Further Dining Reforms

This year, Campus Dining expanded its hours of operation on the weekends, opening Wilson dining hall for breakfast between 7:30am and 9:30am each Saturday and Sunday. The Board praises Campus Dining for making this improvement and recommends several additional reforms, namely keeping one dining hall open until 8:30pm on weeknights, beginning the upperclassmen ‘Two Extra Meals’ and meal exchange programs at the beginning of the academic year rather than at various points later in the semester, and finding a way to feed upperclassmen during Orientation.

Previously, dining halls did not open until 10am for brunch on weekends, although there had always been an option for meal plan holders to spend up to $4 at the Frist Campus Center for breakfast from 8am-9:45am on Saturdays. However, upperclassmen cannot use their 2 extra swipes at Frist, and the $4 limit restricted students’ ability to eat a hearty meal. This posed a challenge for student athletes in particular, as many teams have early morning practice on the weekends or leave campus before 10am for away competitions. Now, teams are able to eat together in Wilson dining hall on weekend mornings. Eating a proper meal prior to practice or travel can be a game-changer for many athletes by helping improve performance and foster healthy eating. Similarly, students who finish practice well before 10am can now eat directly after practice instead of waiting for the dining halls to open for brunch. While the athletic teams are an obvious example of students who benefit from expanded dining hours, there are surely other students on campus who will appreciate having a weekend breakfast option, even if simply to get an early start to their day. The Board praises Campus Dining for increasing optionality for students with this change, and we also believe there remains room for additional dining improvements.

Just as many students benefit from having a dining hall open for breakfast on the weekends, students would also benefit from having a dining hall open until 8:30pm for dinner on weeknights. Many athletes rush to the dining halls after practice yet still have insufficient time to eat, partially due to the long walk between the dining halls and athletic facilities such as the boathouse and DeNunzio Pool. There is no reason for the dining halls to have identical hours of operation, and accordingly the Board advocates that either Whitman or Butler, due to their proximity to many of the athletic facilities, close at 8:30pm on weeknights. If operation costs are a concern, the Board is amenable to this dining hall opening for dinner at 5:30pm. Since there are five other dining halls that would open at 5pm, students would not be disadvantaged by one of them opening at 5:30pm to facilitate it closing half an hour later. Such a change would only benefit the many students who cannot get to dinner until close to 8pm. Though late meal opens at 8:30pm, it is challenging to eat a nutritious meal within the $6.95 limit. Moreover, upperclassmen cannot use one of their 2 extra dining hall swipes for late meal. Many students, including athletes, students with night precept, and dancers or actors who have busy practice schedules close to performances, would appreciate this increased flexibility, without it creating an undue inconvenience for the University.

The University and the Interclub Council can also improve their upperclassmen Two Extra Meals and meal exchange programs. This year, upperclassmen could not begin using their two dining hall swipes until September 18 (over a week after move in), while the meal exchange program will not begin until October 6. Campus Dining and the eating clubs may wait to begin these programs until after fall bicker, when students are fully decided on their meal plan for the year. Yet students considering fall bicker are unlikely to meal exchange in anticipation of changing meal plans, and students can still be charged for an uncompleted exchange if they switch meal plans in the midst of an exchange. The purpose of the Two Extra Meals and meal exchange programs is to bridge the divide between underclassmen and upperclassmen. These programs are even more important in the first few weeks of class when people are meeting others for the first time, and upperclassmen want to spend time with friends on a different meal plan. Allowing upperclassmen to use their 2 weekly swipes and meal exchange at the start of the academic year rather than several weeks into the semester will help the whole Princeton community feel more cohesive in the opening days of the new year.

A final area of improvement concerns the delay between move-in and when dining halls and eating clubs open for meals. This year, move-in began on Saturday, September 9, yet the dining halls did not begin serving meals to non-freshmen until lunch on Monday, September 11 while many of the eating clubs had their first meal at dinner on Tuesday, September 12. Meal plans and eating club contracts are very expensive, and it is reasonable for students to expect to be able to eat in the dining hall or in their club as soon as they arrive on campus, rather than head to Nassau Street. Given the expense of many Nassau Street restaurants, this can pose a particular burden for students from low-income backgrounds. The Board acknowledges that due to the number of orientation events for freshmen that take place in the dining halls, it may not be feasible for all the dining halls to open for meals. However, even having one of the six dining halls open for limited hours and/or with limited options would be extremely helpful to students who would otherwise have to purchase all of their meals off campus. The University could complement a limited dining hall schedule with free food options at Frist or additional outdoor food options, similar to the barbeque after the P-Rade. With regards to eating clubs, while each club may have very different dining logistics that make a uniform policy challenging, we nevertheless urge the clubs’ officer corps to investigate the feasibility of opening their kitchens or providing cheap food options such as pizza or sandwiches to members closer to move-in.  

Expanding Wilson’s dining hall hours on the weekend to offer a breakfast option is a step in the right direction to improve students’ flexibility around food. We urge Campus Dining, as well as the eating clubs, to implement our suggestions of opening a dining hall until 8:30pm on weeknights, beginning the Two Extra Meals and meal exchange programs at the start of the year, and looking for creative ways to feed upperclassmen during Orientation.

Improvements to Pre-Orientation ‘Small-Group Experiences’

Princeton University aims to be a close-knit community—a second home for its students and a place where lifelong relationships are formed. This community begins developing from the first week students arrive on campus. Freshmen are quickly whisked off to their pre-orientation trips, devoting five days and four nights to the wilderness or to surrounding communities. As it currently stands, all incoming students are placed into either an Outdoor Action (OA), Community Action (CA), or Dialogue and Difference in Action (DDA) trip. As of last year the University also introduced an on-campus program for fall athletes who are unable to travel off-campus due to their preseason schedules. These introductions to Princeton provide students with an immediate friend group and set the tone for the following four years. Thus, it is in the interest of the whole Princeton community that pre-orientation trips are engaging and meaningful experiences. Princeton does a great job making the programs successful, but the Board believes some improvements could be made to further improve the trip experience. Namely, we recommend that more spots for OA be available to accommodate greater demand, that electronics be banned on CA and DDA as well as on OA, and that the closing trip activity when students arrive back on campus be brief and uniform across different trips.

The Board first commends the University for last year instituting a pre-orientation program for fall sport athletes. While fall athletes cannot travel off campus due to their intense preseason schedules, many of the conversations and programming that takes place on the off-campus trips are important for all students to experience. The fall athlete pre-orientation experience is a positive step and helps the University build a more cohesive community among athletes and non-athletes by giving all students a common base of pre-orientation experiences.

Turning to our recommendations for improvement, while OA tends to be the most popular of the three trip options, it can only take around 700 students due to the supplies and leaders available. This limit necessarily places some students into their second choice of a CA or DDA trip. While the Board recognizes Princeton’s interest in this limit, such as students having a diversity of experiences, as well as the logistics regarding resource allocation, we believe it would be beneficial to increase the number of spots for OA such that more students are able to attend their first choice trip. Increasing the number of OA spots will foster enthusiasm on and devotion to the trips and reinforce the notion of “challenge by choice,” as students are more committed to experiences they select than to those they are assigned. Not only would this change improve the experiences of students who prefer OA and are placed on an OA trip, but it would also improve the experiences of students on CA and DDA, because they would be with other students equally enthusiastic about these trips.

We recognize that the current restriction of OA spots is due to limited leaders and supplies, but we urge the University community to take any steps it can to increase the number of OA spots available. In 2015, the fees for students to complete OA Leader training were eliminated, which was a great step in making it more accessible for students to become OA leaders. We encourage our fellow students to consider becoming OA leaders and to participate in this important program welcoming new students to Princeton. It is also a worthwhile investment for the University to purchase more supplies such as tents and sleeping bags if that is what it takes to offer more OA slots. This could be facilitated in part by asking students as soon as they matriculate to offer a tentative, nonbinding ranking of their preferred pre-Orientation trips. Currently, the University does not know trip interest levels until incoming students submit their official trip rankings over the summer. Having this information when incoming students matriculate by May would help give the University more time to accommodate any greater demand for OA.

The Board also strongly encourages that CA and DDA leaders follow the example of their counterparts in OA and prohibit cell phone usage for the duration of the trips. The primary goal of the trips is to facilitate conversations and connections among the incoming class; this goal is inhibited by the use of phones. In OA, students are sent to the wilderness for five days with no phones; this is remarkably successful at fostering camaraderie, in large part because students have no choice but to talk to each other. While CA and DDA trips are generally less remote, the programs should still emulate their outdoor counterpart by collecting students’ phones for those few days to encourage conversations.

Finally, the Board recommends that all of the trips condense their on-campus programming on Friday night. Students have just spent five days in an immersive and intensive experience, and they should be given the opportunity to embark on their own campus experiences as soon as possible upon return. While the pre-orientation programs tend to conclude with a final reflective experience, some groups do these on the trail or bus ride back to campus, while others do them on campus Friday night. We recommend that all trips conclude uniformly with a post-trip debrief dinner so as to provide students with a positive closing moment but also not needlessly drag late when students are eager to explore Princeton.

Outdoor Action, Community Action, and Dialogue and Difference in Action are vital components of our introduction to this University. They foster a sense of community and provide students with immediate friendships and connections. The Board largely approves of Princeton’s implementation of these programs, save for a few aspects that could be improved upon. The limits on OA spots diminish a sense of “challenge by choice,” cell phones should be prohibited across all pre-orientation trips, and the programming when students return to campus Friday night should be brief and uniform across trips. With these changes, the trips will be able to fully live up to their potential as immersive, enjoyable first experiences at Princeton.

Quality Over Quantity: Invite One Lawnparties Headliner a Year

Last Sunday, Princeton held its Fall Lawnparties, featuring Tinashe, Awkwafina, and widespread student enjoyment. The Princeton Editorial Board commends the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), in particular the Social Committee, for its hard work and creativity in continuing to make Lawnparties a highlight of the Princeton calendar. Food trucks with delicious food lined Prospect Avenue, and beverage stations helped students rehydrate and stay safe throughout the day. Logistics such as wristband and ticket pickup also ran smoothly. And the individual eating clubs deserve recognition for the enjoyable performances they hosted on their lawns, open to all. For underclassmen in particular, these performances offered a great opportunity to visit and explore eating clubs with which they may not have interacted before.

Yet, as in previous years, the day was a long one: many students met friends for brunch or dorm parties as early as 10 AM, while the headliner Tinashe did not take the stage at Quadrangle Club until after 4 PM. As a result, many students did not attend the headliner event, whether due to being tired from a long day or from being unfamiliar with the performer.

To address this recurring Lawnparties challenge, the Board proposes that USG, rather than inviting a headliner for Fall Lawnparties, consolidate its annual funds such that more money can be spent to host a better-known headliner for Spring Lawnparties. We believe this proposal would improve the overall Lawnparties experience. It would maintain other enjoyable aspects of Fall Lawnparties, such as the food and eating club acts, while greatly improving Spring Lawnparties by including a more popular main act that a larger budget would facilitate. As a further improvement to Spring Lawnparties, we also urge USG to encourage the opening and headlining acts to better coordinate to shorten what is often a long waiting period between the two performances.  

USG works with the individual eating clubs to organize Lawnparties twice a year. Most eating clubs hire a musical act and open their lawns for all students to watch the performances, dance, and socialize. These performances are earlier in the day and very well-attended. Following the acts at the individual clubs, USG organizes a large scale performance by two artists in Quad’s backyard. While this main performance should be the highlight of Lawnparties, students are often disappointed when the performers are artists they did not previously know. The USG Social Committee has done a commendable job soliciting student suggestions for performers, as well as input on the music genres students like most, in order to invite the best performers possible. Yet there is only so much that can be done with a limited budget.

Comparing Princeton’s Lawnparties budget to budgets for similar events at our peer colleges highlights the budgetary challenges the Social Committee faces. During the 2015-2016 academic year, USG spent a total of $161,000 on Lawnparties: $79,000 in the fall and $82,000 in the spring. By contrast, the University of Pennsylvania spent $185,000 for its 2017 Spring Fling and Yale University spent $298,633 for its 2017 Spring Fling. These higher budgets have enabled UPenn and Yale to bring arguably more well-known headliners to campus over the past several years: at UPenn, DJ Zedd in 2017 and Chance the Rapper in 2016 and at Yale, JoJo in 2017 and Janelle Monáe in 2016. Princeton should follow UPenn and Yale’s model and consolidate its budget to host one main act in the spring, while continuing to work with the eating clubs to support Fall Lawnparties. Because so many students already only attend Lawnparties early in the day for the individual club performances and food trucks, Fall Lawnparties would largely be just as fun without a headliner. Then students would have much to look forward to throughout the year for an exciting headliner at Spring Lawnparties.

Additionally, to improve students’ experience at the main act in the spring, the Board suggests that USG encourage the opening and headline performers to better coordinate to shorten the waiting period between their performances. In recent years, there has sometimes been a long wait between the opener and headliner that has left tired Princetonians crowded in Quad’s backyard or deciding to leave before the headliner performs. We recognize USG may have less influence over the performance logistics, but believe Princetonians would welcome any efforts by USG to the extent it can work with the artists to make the main act a more cohesive performance.

We believe these two suggestions of organizing Fall Lawnparties without a headliner such that Spring Lawnparties could host a more expensive, well-known headliner, as well as working with artists to shorten the wait time for the spring main act, would generate more campus enthusiasm about Lawnparties, encourage higher turnout for the main act in the spring, and increase overall performance quality. Princeton students are incredibly lucky to have a USG Social Committee that organizes not one, but two all-campus music festivals, as well as smaller social events throughout the year. We believe the already fun and uniquely ‘Princeton’ tradition of Lawnparties could be made even better by implementing our suggestions, and we urge USG to do so.

Anti-Pluralism at The Daily Princetonian and Announcing a New, Independent Editorial Board

On Tuesday, Daily Princetonian Editor-in-Chief Sarah Sakha announced in a Letter from the Editor that the ‘Prince’ Editorial Board would be abolished and replaced with a group — composed of senior ‘Prince’ editors from the Managing Board and select students — that would publish opinions on certain issues “when exercising an institutional voice is appropriate.” Until last week, the Editorial Board wrote biweekly unsigned editorials on a variety of campus issues. Ms. Sakha’s letter does not explain the rationale for the change, aside from noting that the new structure will more closely resemble the Editorial Board’s previous structure, which had been in place until 2005. It is clear to us that this change was made because the Editorial Board published some editorials that expressed viewpoints contrary to the personal political opinions of the ‘Prince’ Editor-in-Chief and many of the senior editors. Unfortunately, instead of continuing open discourse, the decision was made to silence our voices.

If the ‘Prince’s’ decision to dissolve the Board were considered absent other factors, there might be no reason for alarm. Neither the new nor old structures of the Editorial Board are inherently flawed, and although Ms. Sakha claimed otherwise in her letter abolishing the Board, there is no “traditional model” for editorial board structures. The Wall Street Journal’s Board includes opinion writers who write under their personal bylines, whereas those who write New York Times editorials do not write under their own bylines and specialize in only writing editorials, a structure similar to that of the former ‘Prince’ Editorial Board. Yet the highly irregular process by which the Managing Board undertook the reorganization as well as the past political disagreements between the Editorial and Managing Boards underscore that this was a decision to censor perspectives with which senior editors disagree.

The ‘Prince’s’ decision to abolish the Editorial Board in the middle of the calendar year is a radical departure from historic procedure. Each December during ‘Prince’ elections, Editor-in-Chief candidates present their platforms for the paper which staff members debate extensively. The winning candidate then defines the policies and organizational setup for the paper in a contract to which the Managing Board and Trustees jointly agree, and these policies stay broadly intact during the Editor-in-Chief’s tenure. While the paper may thus change from year to year, it is unprecedented to fundamentally alter an entire section halfway through the year, as was done here. Moreover, if the Managing Board’s decision were motivated by a desire to improve the quality of editorials or the functioning of the section, it could easily have solicited input from existing members of the Editorial Board. Instead, members of the Editorial Board were alerted one hour before the public announcement. Even the co-chairs of the Editorial Board were informed of the decision only two days prior to the public announcement, during a meeting at which the change was presented as final with no opportunity for discussion or redress.

This is not the decision-making process of a Managing Board that is carefully considering ways to improve the newspaper. Rather, the catalyst for the change in the Editorial Board’s structure was a series of editorials that did not align with the personal political convictions of the Editor-in-Chief and other senior editors.  

The first attempt to silence the Editorial Board occurred in October 2016, when the previous Editor-in-Chief sought to block publication of an editorial on the Women*s Center. While it was eventually published following much debate and some revision by the previous Editor-in-Chief, such interference with the Board’s independence had never occurred in institutional memory. In an email to the Board, the reason given for this unprecedented assertion that “this particular editorial should not run” was that “more than half of the editors on the masthead…feels uncomfortable having the editorial published on [sic] the Prince.” The previous Editor-in-Chief wrote that her “standard for deciding whether an editorial (or any other article) should be published is simple and clear; whether it adequately represents the viewpoint of the Daily Princetonian as a whole and whether it reflects the values we stand for.” This is a disturbing argument for an ostensibly neutral campus newspaper to impose a values-based vetting standard and to decline to publish an editorial or even an article that does not reflect the personal views of the paper’s senior editors.

Soon after in December 2016 came the elections for the next, and current, Editor-in-Chief. In her campaign platform, Ms. Sakha expressed support for maintaining the Editorial Board. The only change suggested at that time was introducing a short statement clarifying that Editorial Board pieces were not the official opinion of the ‘Prince,’ a change the Board quickly adopted. Still, when the Board continued producing opinions that conflicted with the personal convictions of senior editors, a number of them would often post on their personal Facebook accounts emphasizing, in an apparent attempt to undermine the credibility of the Board’s arguments, that the Editorial Board did not represent the official opinion of the ‘Prince’ and suggesting their personal disagreement with the editorials. This culminated in Tuesday’s unilateral decision to abolish the Editorial Board.

In his remarks to the Class of 2021 during Opening Exercises, President Eisgruber eloquently spoke of his refusal to take an official University stance on the Charlottesville controversy: “It is, however, neither my role nor that of the University to prescribe how you should react to this controversy or others. It is rather my role and the role of the University to encourage you to think deeply about what these events mean for this country and its core values, and to encourage you to find ways to participate constructively in the national dialogue they have generated.”

As the campus newspaper of record, the ‘Prince’s’ functions parallel those of the University as a whole, including a responsibility to be a neutral platform for pluralistic dialogue. That the Managing Board’s decision was apparently motivated by political reasons makes us skeptical that the newspaper will provide such a neutral platform for debate. As all those who try to enforce an ideology eventually find out, ideas cannot be suppressed.

Thus we proudly introduce the Princeton Editorial Board. The Board includes most of the members of the former ‘Prince’ Editorial Board and will function with the same procedures as did the past Editorial Board, but with pieces published on our own website. We believe this structure provides a unique opportunity for campus discourse that is worthwhile to continue. Due to the demanding time commitment necessary to produce a daily newspaper, being a senior editor at the ‘Prince’ is usually a student’s primary extracurricular activity. By contrast, our Board includes varsity athletes, singers, debaters, and other students from a diverse range of campus backgrounds. Having a membership composed of a representative cross section of campus experiences was one of the former Editorial Board’s greatest strengths as we commented on a range of campus issues, from campus sustainability to eating clubs to the departmental advising experience. Notably, a number of our recommendations have been implemented by the University. Most recently, this fall the University began offering meals for student leaders with early move-in; in a September 2015 editorial, the Board called on the University to do precisely that. We look forward to continuing these important contributions to campus life in our new form.

We invite all students to apply. In our application process as well in the writing of future editorials, ideas will be evaluated based on how well they are argued, not the conclusions they reach. The Board will continue to publish dissents from the majority, enabling a diverse set of views to be heard. We hope that eventually, The Daily Princetonian will follow suit.