Friday, May 30, 2008

Residential Colleges, Reviewed

This Reunions will give many alumni their first glimpse of Whitman College. But what does the expansion of the residential college system mean for Princeton?

Four speakers, German Lara ’90, Bud Grote ’08, Adrienne Rubin ’88 and German Professor Michael , who twice served as Rockefeller College master, and Whitman College Master and moderator Harvey Rosen, shared their views on the past and future of the residential college system, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

The speakers began by recalling their own experiences in the residential colleges system. Rubin, who lived in Forbes College for all four years said, “Forbes College for me became more just than a place to live … what I discovered was because it was a little bit further away from the campus, it developed an incredible community.”

Lara, who lived in Rockefeller College during his first two years, described his two years in Rockefeller as very beneficial but ultimately found himself more tied to his class than his college.

Meanwhile, Grote found that moving into Whitman after a year in upperclass housing allowed him to greatly increase the number and variety of people he interacted with.

This matched what Jennings identified as one of the key features of the residential college program. “Living in residential colleges is the most integrated and diverse perspective many of our students have ever had in their lives,” he said.

Afterwards, many raised comments on class cohesiveness versus the University or College identity and conflict between eating clubs and colleges. Alumni in the audience raised the possibility of establishing a system more like that of Cambridge or Oxford, both of which emphasize college as opposed to university identity.

Panel members generally approached the issue of divided loyalties by noting that it was possible and beneficial for Princetonians to have multiple allegiances, be it to eating clubs, student activities, residential colleges, class or the University.

The audience was divided over the expansion of the residential college system, with some in favor of the change, whether or not they had lived within residential colleges during their own time at the University, while others reserved judgment or thought it a poor plan.