Friday, December 21, 2007

Tax Princeton's Investment Income?

A proposal by the editorial board of the New York Times:

Amherst, Harvard, Princeton, Williams, Yale and other top-tier colleges have per student endowments that approach (and in some cases exceed) $1 million. Because they are accredited educational institutions, the gains on their investments go untaxed, adding billions to their coffers each year.

It’s certainly true that these academic institutions have worked hard to be excellent. They deserve to be rich. They should be congratulated.

But should they be allowed to be so protected by the tax code that they can use their disproportionate wealth to raid poorer colleges and scoop up the best teachers by offering better pay, benefits and tenure-track positions? Should they further separate themselves from less fortunate colleges by taking the best high school students and offering them ever richer deals? (This month, for instance, Harvard announced that it would increase the financial aid it offers to middle-class and upper-middle-class students. Other schools are expected to follow suit.)

What to do? Well, here’s one solution: tax the investment income of the wealthiest colleges (though not their endowments). If the endowments of all academic institutions were evaluated on a per student basis, a standard could be set that could begin to allow revenue sharing.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Holidays!

The Prox will return to regular posting during reading period, we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Is it really all over?

The latest news is in. The ordeal is over.

The events of the last three days have shaken my conceptions of Princeton University to the very core while at the same time pumping adrenalin through my veins.

First I felt sadness, panic and outrage at the thought that Princeton students might resort to such brutal methods of silencing dissenting opinions.

Then, confusion: The story didn’t quite add up; questions swirled through my mind as we tried to piece together the clues. Why Nava? Why now? What were the details?

Paranoia: What if it was a random attack? Would it be safe to walk to the Wa after sunset? Could it be a hoax, as some people were arguing on the comments section?

Guilt: How could I think it was a hoax? People don’t just give themselves concussions (I’m still unclear as to the extent of Nava’s injuries), and in any case, one ought to believe the victim unless evidence is found to the contrary (isn’t that what those speakout signs in the girls’ bathrooms say?).

Anger: How dare the conservative element (or at least, some vocal conservatives) attack the liberals on campus in such a way? The acts of two rogue thugs do not represent a complete political spectrum.

And then, perhaps most draining of all, there was a certain sense of abandonment. Something drastic had just happened. From the beginning it was clear that no matter how Nava’s story developed, it would be bad. Yet, for two days students were forced to dig up our own (contradicting) clues while we were supposed to be writing papers and studying for exams. Not a word from the University. Not a word from Public Safety.

Now, the latest news is in: it was a hoax after all. To a certain degree, relief has set in. There are no violent ideological Mafiosos, no men in ski masks (or was it funny hats?) walking around dragging students into dark places to beat them senseless. Instead, it was all the work of a single individual, the alleged victim himself…

But, I still feel uneasy. Nothing Nava has said to date has been reliable, is this latest statement really any more reliable? And did he do this by himself? Why? Are these the actions of a poor soul who has in the past suffered from mental illness, or is something more sinister afoot?

Whatever the truths of this case, I hope with all my heart that it is the former and that Nava will be able to recover fully and come to terms with what it seems he has done. I hope that the investigation will be continued in an effort to remove all doubt from the minds of students, but also to ensure that justice is truly done.

I hope that people will reserve final judgment until all the facts are finally assembled, and once that is done, that we may come together as a campus to discuss the deep issues which divide us and then bridge them. We have in the past failed to really rise to the task of fostering debate and creating a truly inclusive community. Past shows of solidarity have been lacking. Let these three days serve some purpose, let it be the thing that finally unites us and causes real radical change.


this just in

As some of our commentors have noticed: according to Princeton Township Police, Nava has admitted to fabricating the story. Nava apparently sent the threatening emails to himself (and others). Whether there's more to it remains to be seen. Maybe he fabricated the concussion too.

Many on this blog and others have expressed concerns that Nava's attack was not made publicized enough. Although I agree that students and other campus-goers need to be informed, this case has demonstrated the necessity of waiting until all the facts are in.


Read This First

The recent incident of assault on a member of the Anscombe Society has engendered much discussion and debate from all sides here on campus. Where speculation still exists, I ask you to read and consider the following article published by Ryan Anderson '04 in First Things. Besides serving as an authoritative statement of facts concerning the situation for the time being, Ryan's article is also a cautionary reminder to those (including myself) not to fall into the temptation of taking sides too early. Special thanks to fellow columnist Brandon McGinley for passing the link.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Many Questions, No Answers

Stephen Hsia has already written an eloquent response to the attack on Fransisco Nava '09, so I did not feel compelled to immediately post on the subject. Without knowing more information, I could not add more to the discussion. As I began to dig deeper, I found a strange, incoherent story. Sources which I deem reliable, an RCA close to Nava, Butler College, the Prince, persons affiliated with Anscombe, and even the Tory are either really vague or contradict each other. I'm saddened, terrified, angered, confused, cautious...

I am left with many questions and no answers.

Why was Nava singled out for attack?
Where was he attacked?
By whom?
Were the attacks really in connection with his relationship to Anscombe? (This seems almost obvious.)
Were his attackers prompted to action by the Prince's article on Friday?
Who were his attackers?
What was the extent of the violence? (I have heard conflicting accounts of whether or not he actually received a concussion. There is also the matter of the bottle reported in the Tory's blog--was there a bottle; was it whole or broken?)
How much time elapsed before he was found?
How much time did he spend at the ER?
Did he go to McCosh as well?
Why was the vigil not particularly well publicized?
Why was the vigil canceled? (I have heard two different reasons, one much creepier than the other...)

Why has Public Safety not issued a Campus Safety Alert?
The message could have been completely apolitical: "The Department of Public Safety is alerting community members of an incident that took place at [location] between [time frame]. Two masked men lured a male student to a dark area where they proceeded to violently attack him. The two attackers were described as [descriptions of the attackers], etc."

Why has the University not issued a public statement on the matter?
By now the rumor mill is going wild between speculation as to what actually happened and as to why the University has not responded. Is it because the University is biased against conservatives on campus? Is it because the University does not wish to issue a public statement until all information is in? Is it because the University does not wish to acknowledge the incident in light of the fact that we are in the middle of the application season? Is it because the University is trying to hide something? Is it because the University is not allowed to at the current moment to issue a public statement? I really don't know what the answer is. I really don't understand why the University has not issued any campus-wide email, even as a means of damage control.

Feel free to give answers or ask more questions.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Somebody please explain this to me

I was shocked to find out this morning that a member of the Anscombe Society had been attacked in Princeton Township, possibly in connection with threatening emails that he received a day earlier.

My prayers and condolences go out to the victim, his family, and his colleagues who, no doubt, are in a similar state of shock and fear. I am also deeply saddened for our campus, for what I found to be just as shocking as this heinous crime has been the University's (and our) response to it.

Somebody please explain this to me: A swastika or a homophobic remark appears somewhere on our campus, and immediately there is a university-wide backlash: first, the investigations by Public Safety, then the official statements from the administration, and then the activism and outcry of student groups.

But when a member of a morally conservative student group receives a threatening email, or is attacked, there is little beyond a Breaking News update on the Prince's website. As far as I know (and forgive me, for I don't know all the details), the involvement of Public Safety and the administration in this whole matter has been either late or nonexistent.

Perhaps more unsettlingly, the reaction of the student body has been noticeably silent. Maybe it is because the incident occurred just outside our Bubble, or maybe it is because it is nearing the end of school, or maybe it is because the Prince isn't printing on Mondays or Tuesdays - but the last time I checked, a crime is still a crime, and to paraphrase MLK, an assault on one Princetonian is an assault on all. I must admit, I, too, have been surprisingly ignorant of the situation until of late.

This is not a call to revenge or anger. Nor am I trying to make the case that religious and moral conservatives are the true persecuted minority on campus. I only ask for solidarity with the victim and his peers, and that all hate crimes on this campus be treated with the fair application of justice and given at least a respectful level of attention. We may not agree with each other - liberal or conservative, Christian or non-Christian, pro-life or pro-choice - but one thing that we can all agree upon is the civility of our viewpoints, and the dignity of the individual.

A show of solidarity for the members of the Anscombe Society will take place today (Saturday, December 15) at 4pm in Murray Dodge and is open to all.

Blogger's Note: The 'Show of Solidarity' ultimately did not take place, but was appropriately postponed/canceled at the last minute. My sincere apologies to all those involved.


Friday, December 14, 2007

underachieving is so attractive

I've noticed a trend in the dining halls, on the way to class, during momentary lulls in lecture: students really like to talk, to boast, about how little sleep they get.

It might make sense if, like the Japanese, we were bragging about how very hardworking we were (see BBC's mention of inemuri, 居眠り, apparently the Japanese custom whereby the higher-ups of a company are permitted, even encouraged, to doze off during meetings, as a sign of how hard and how late they've been working the night before).

However, what I hear, as I dig into my shepherd's pie, is not: "Man, I stayed up all night making sure my essay was perfect! My fingers were literally glued to my keyboard!"
It's not even: "I spent all morning finishing up my calc homework so I could catch office hours this afternoon."

Instead, people proclaim, "I have an essay due in less than 24 hours... and I haven't started it."
They loudly confide, "I didn't study at all for that last physics test."
They realize, "I'm not going to be able to sleep at all tonight, thanks to my procrastination."

It's really bizarre that we should be so proud of the time we spend playing solitaire, or checking facebook, or just not doing work in general. Is it some sort of machismo, the new spitting contest to see who can slack off the most, then suffer the most because of it? Is it an excuse for poor performance - I stayed up all night watching YouTube videos, give me a break for failing that chem exam! Is it a plea for sympathy? A cry for acknowledgment?

I can't pretend to understand it, but I have to plea guilty to it myself. Look guys, it's 4AM!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

A timeless story,

This is old news, and some of you may remember the Mr. Wilson College Princeton Rap, but I just found it on YouTube:

The lyrics can be found here.


Whitehouse, meet Whitman

"Select few dine with Rove at Whitman"

I chuckled when I first saw this headline in Wednesday's Prince.

I have always wondered what goes on behind the closed doors that is the Whitman Private Dining Room. And now, I can only imagine the reaction of the students outside of it on Tuesday night, seeing an unpublicized Karl Rove come out of its doors - tray in hand and all.

Already, Whitman -with its exclusive college nights, ice sculptures, and its three-piece college-gear sets- has become an exclusive club in its own right: its plans are still shrouded in secrecy, while its doors remain open to only a 'select few'...

How fitting that the biggest backroom boy there ever was would feel right at home here!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

20 Questions and hypochondria.

Before I left McCosh, the doctor asked, "Oh,
no worries about pregnancy or anything?"

I didn't really know how to react, or rather, how
she expected me to act. Did she want me to:
A. Be grateful that this stranger is kind enough to
worry about all aspects of my health?
B. Be offended?
C. Laugh?
D. Or have an epiphany; confess to her that I came
to McCosh, not because I was feeling sick, but
because I was pregnant???

I chose C.


And now, the exciting conclusion:

Apparently this is an authentic Japanese Self Defense Force recruitment advert. It was the exciting conclusion to my exciting Japanese history course. And, because it is impossible to have a conversation on Japanese history textbooks in precept without talking about the Germans, here's another add that was played (albeit only once) in today's lecture.

This is why I <3 Princeton.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

When the Grinch came to Princeton, there was nothing to steal

Winter is really dreadful, and the one thing that redeems it is the fact that the best holidays are nicely bundled with it. There's nothing quite like walking down Fifth Avenue and taking in all the lights after the sun has gone down. There's a kind of magic that mingles in the air with the carols and the Salvation Army bells as one meanders through the Union Square Holiday Market with friends and a hot cup of cider.

Having grown up in New York I find the comparative lack of holiday cheer here to be murder. I wish the College had sprung for a nice Christmas tree and lights and garland, not to mention the equally spectacular decorations associated with the other winter holidays.

It would have made all the papers and darkness more tolerable.


Monday, December 10, 2007

The College Experience


Princeton makes it easier for you to gain the
Freshman 15, Freshman 50, etc. Next semester,
you can walk right over to Frist to grab candy,
a milkshake, and more candy?

Thank goodness for stretch jeans.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ivy League Risk Reboots

The tournament gives each person who logs in "armies," like the Risk board game, which can attack other Ivy League schools. More than 1,100 Princeton students and alumni are currently playing the game. After Ivy Leaguers flooded in November, the Ivy League Risk Tournament was forced to shut down to improve their server capacity. Now the battle begins again, with Harvard and Penn already eliminated. Princeton students can join here. A group of more involved students set up a forum -- complete with orders and discussions of strategy -- here. The site first launched over fall break , so whether students have as much time to participate is an open question...


Another (less gourmet) face to Ratatouille

I raised a great hullabaloo
When I found a large mouse in my stew,
indent Said the waiter, "Don't shout
indent And wave it about
Or the rest will be wanting one too!"
indent indent -Anonymous
This might have described the scene a bit when a couple of hapless Whitman diners observed that there was a bird living in the serving area of the dining hall. This is the second time I've seen him, or at least the second time I've seen a bird there.

I'm actually surprised by the fact that it didn't occur to me just how unsanitary that is until I saw those guys freaking out over it. Anyway, as the guys pointed out, most of the food in Whitman has glass on top of it.

Except of course, for the desserts. Trust Murphy to have the bird perched right over there. Mmmm, bird dropping icing...

Well, I suppose it's an incentive to eat in Wu/Wilcox or skip dessert.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cautionary Tales

I'm certain that Lillian was joking on that last post of hers, and I absolutely adore Wikipedia.

However, I feel it is my duty to point out the dangers of Wikipedia, lest ickle Frosh fall prey to them. (I'm not sure how world-savy the class of '11 is; some of my '09 peers ran into problems citing Wikipedia during my Writing Seminar...)

Since I am not the History Librarian, I am not as puritanically opposed to Wikipedia as some might be. However, in my time I have seen some pretty strange things up on the Free Encyclopedia.
A while ago I stumbled on this little gem of Wikipedia vandalism. (I just wasted half an hour looking for it in the article's History. People do some weird stuff to Wikipedia.)

I also knew this guy who used Wikipedia to study for his British History exam. He unfortunately lost all points relevant to his discussion of the 1916 general elections, as there were apparently no elections that year.

And let's not forget that delightful dalliance with Stephen Colbert's beautiful use of Colbert Nation to vandalize Wikipedia. Oh yes, he also has some good points about wikiality and Second Life.

In fact, not only does Wikipedia actually have a list of most vandalized articles, but it also keeps a repository of Bad Jokes, Silly Things, and Other Deleted Nonsense.

Of course to be fair, there are some exceptionally good articles on Wikipedia. I won't tell you which ones however, because they might be completely different within the hour.

So, anyone here have any good stories about Wikipedia?


Wikipedia is now a valid academic source!

...or, at least, one of the co-founders has said that he doesn't object to it being used as such, this in contrast to his past statement that students really shouldn't rely on it.

Don't worry, we on facebook already knew that If Wikipedia Says It, It Must Be True. Besides, if you weren't intending for it to be used for academic purposes, why exactly did you make it? I didn't think it was for anything like this:


Friday, December 7, 2007

Pst... what's your secret?

When I first saw the Tiger Secret post cards the first thing I though was "so much for academic integrity."

When I told my brother, he answered "Nothing good can possibly come of this."
My brother happens to be a pessimist. I am too, so I agreed with him. Still, I picked up a post card. I haven't filled it out yet. I'm not sure if I will.

How about you?


Thursday, December 6, 2007

cycling for cancer?

I was walking past the Frist Campus Center today when I saw someone on a stationary bicycle, pedaling madly for no apparent reason. A small table next to him held a bottle of water, along with his wallet and cell phone (begging the question of what he would do if someone called it), and another nearby surface conveniently offered up an array of wrenches and other tools - in case the bicycle suddenly broke down while he was pedaling on it, I suppose.

"Um, excuse me," I asked. "What are you doing?"

"I'm recharging my iPod," he told me. "Rockey's got a power outage."

Okay, actually that's not how it happened. Let's try again.

"What are you doing?" I asked him. "Who are you?"

"Screw Princeton," he told me. "I'm biking to Florida."

Okay, I admit, that's not what he said either.

"Excuse me please," I said, very agitated now. "You're obviously not going anywhere, and I don't see any wires or anything hooked up, so I don't think this is some sort of energy experiment. Why are you doing this? Aren't you cold?"

"It's for cancer," he said. "Everything is for cancer."

Truth is, I was late for class, and he did look rather busy, so I didn't ask him anything. Can someone please tell me what this guy was doing?


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Homophobic slurs on Whitman blackboards.

"Blackface" in Forbes.

Anti-Semitic pictures in Bloomberg.

The word “beaner” in the Daily Princetonian.

And let’s not forget the whole Lian Ji affair.

Is it just me, or is it time for the University to do more than hand out ridiculous fliers decrying bias? And for the record the word isn't bias (bias can be a good thing. Personally, I'm biased against the Nazis). The word, depending on the circumstance, is bigotry and/or insensitivity.

To be honest, I don't think Josh Weinstein meant to be either offensive or racist by donning black face paint. I also don't think Jonathan Baker knew what the word "beaner" meant when he used it. (Actually, the only time I'd come across it before was in Mencia's "comedy" but I know better than to parrot ethnic comedians.)

Still, it seems that Princeton University students (and alumni) are not attuned to the history or significance of minority issues--which in turn must reflect badly on our own attitudes towards universal human dignity. Let me echo "The fact that so many here are unaware of what goes on even inside the 'orange bubble' makes me rue the day when these individuals will be unleashed on the real world."

If the University truly wishes for its alumni to abide by its unofficial motto: Princeton in the Nation's Service and in the Service of All Nations, then it must take significant steps to educate its students about these issues, and it must do so beyond the scope of the completely optional, and therefore, optionally invisible student body groups. Either a significant part of orientation must be devoted to the issue, or some change must be made to the graduation requirements to prohibit an individual from leaving Princeton without knowledge and understanding of these issues.


can somebody please do this to the CS building?


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Fire Drill in Whitman

Miraculously, this is the first fire drill (or maybe it was a prank or a real fire, I'm not sure) I've witnessed this year... I'm not quite sure if my ears will ever be quite the same.

I overheard somebody commenting that he didn't know what would make him more upset, if it was a drill or if there was a real fire.


because billionaires need education too!

Does this not make you wonder about the adults you sometimes see in lectures?


Monday, December 3, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've been getting this uneasy feeling whenever I pass by the front of Frist. After all, where else on campus can you find a makeshift memorial for AIDS orphans on one side, and a rugby player peddling for cash on the other?


Front page, get a facelift.

'Blackface pics spark controversy'
'Travelers face falling dollar'
'The myriad faces of Princeton'
'Facebook edits software program'

Did you notice the magic word in 4/5 of today's front page headlines?

...ladies and gentlemen, we have a yahtzee.


Keeping our priorities straight since 1746.

I really hate to be such a Negative Nancy, because I love Princeton. It's great. The academics are great; the professors great (though I hear bad things about the math department? But what about John Nash?); the people are great. Everyone's singing all the time under arches, and if the work were less difficult or, you know, nonexistent, I'm pretty sure USNews would have declared that Princeton was the happiest place in the world.
But sometimes, I just don't know what to make of the Princeton experience...

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Interested in improving your connections?

Come to the NETWORKING ETIQUETTE EVENT hosted by Career Services where a Professional Etiquette Consultant will help you understand how to communicate effectively while holding food and a drink and prepare for the Alumni Connections Event at Prospect House on Wednesday.