Monday, February 2, 2009

Bicker in perspective - History, Analysis, Statistics

For everyone going through the stressful process of Bicker around now, or interested in learning more, I went back through the Prince archives to find some facts, figures, and stories about one of Princeton's most unique and controversial social institutions.

Our most recent and thorough reporting on the Bicker process came in an excellent 2006 series by Regina Lee and Sophia Dwosh.

The stories first run through what bicker is like at each of the five clubs.

Dwosh and Lee turn to a historical retrospective of the Bicker system, which involved weeks-long "calling periods" in dorm rooms, protests by sophomores, and lawsuits to allow Women into Ivy, Cottage, and T.I. Although the process of Bicker has been criticized for excluding certain student groups, an article from sixty years ago demonstrates that times have changed for the better:
"Identification of a candidate as a Jew, or from an old Baltimore family, as a Chinese or a Negro or as a member of any special group by accident of birth receives consideration by bicker-men," David Lewit '47 wrote in a 1949 article entitled "The Motivations of Bicker Men."
Bicker clubs' selectivity has fallen in the past 3 years from a peak in 2005, although Ivy and Tower rejected more than 40% of applicants last year, as the graph below shows:

Graph of club selectivity by percentage rejected over time (1998-2008):

Turning to today and the future, the Bicker system and eating clubs as a whole must compete with newly renovated dining halls and residential colleges, offering an attractive alternative with good food to the clubs. Last year, however, clubs increased their membership over 2006, which is expected given the growing size of each Princeton class, but shows that the addition of residential colleges has not caused a precipitous drop in students choosing clubs, either bicker or sign-in:

Graph of new club members by club, 2008:


Anonymous said...

Did I miss it somewhere in this article, or did the author/graphic artist neglect to specify which clubs are truly "bicker" clubs (i.e. selective) and which are "sing-ins" (first come-first served)?
Sometime in the future, yet another intrepid Prince reporter will dig into the Prince archives and pull up another story about bicker, a perennial for them if ever there was one.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the "eating clubs" … Princeton's own "curious institution."

Anonymous said...

Someone sounds bitter =]