Monday, May 31, 2010

Nassoons Connor Diemand-Yauman '10 and Jonathan Schwartz '10 are on "The Amazing Race"

Our frenemies over at University Press Club have discovered this little gem about former USG president Connor Diemand-Yauman ’10 and his fellow Nassoon Jonathan Schwartz ’10. Apparently, the two will be competing on the 17th season of CBS’s “The Amazing Race,” according the dark corners of the Internet, home to reality show gossip sites.

In the last few days, rumors spread that Diemand-Yauman participated in a private graduation ceremony on May 20 before jetting off to take a job in South Korea (which got us asking why he couldn’t postpone starting work for a few days). Well, now we know why!

Further digging in the online reality show world seems to show that Diemand-Yauman and Schwartz were the first of four teams spotted in a line purchasing tickets at London’s Heathrow Airport on the evening of May 28th (meaning that they likely made it through the first leg of the race). More unconfirmed reports (it’s the best we’re going to get) had them buying tickets for a Virgin flight to Accra, Ghana. They started the race on May 26 at the Eastern Point Yacht Club in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

An auto-reply to an e-mail sent to Diemand-Yauman’s personal account said he would have “intermittent internet access until June 20th.” Filming for the 16th season of “The Amazing Race” spanned roughly three weeks from Nov. 28 until Dec. 20, 2009. Episodes were aired starting slightly less than two months after filming, from Feb. 14 to May 9, 2010.


Majority of NJ school districts face rejected budget proposals

As school districts across New Jersey sought to raise what are already among some of the nation’s highest property taxes as an alternative to cutting programs and laying off teachers for the upcoming school year, voters responded with a resounding "no." For the first time in three decades, a majority of the proposals — 58 percent — were shot down, according to the NYTimes and BusinessWeek. Still, many municipal councils have decided to approve their budgets with minimal changes.

In Princeton, the budget proposal was approved with moderate opposition. Princeton Regional Schools’ budget passed with 67 percent of the vote though it called for a 3.9 percent tax increase to sustain its $71.5 million plan, according to the BusinessWeek article.

A detailed breakdown of the Princeton Regional budget can be found here, and more information on the statewide situation can be found at the New Jersey School Boards Association homepage.

by Jason Jung


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reunions Coverage: Singles Mingle

“The man in overalls is doing well,” observed a blond girl clad in a 2010 Reunions jacket. “He appears to be mingling very well with a small Asian girl.”

The man in question was Ernie Cruikshank ’66, a stately gentleman in blue overalls who worked the room with a smile. Cruikshank was one of many Princeton alumni who gathered at the Chancellor Green Rotunda for the second annual Singles Mingle — an “opportunity for singles from all of the Reunion classes who share one great common denominator — a love of Princeton — to mingle,” according to the Reunions brochure.

Many of the singles who attended the event seemed to attribute their lack of success in the dating scene to too much stress or demanding careers.

“I think people come back to Reunions and a lot of them are single, and they can mingle with the different people and different classes everywhere,” said organizer Jill Baron ’80.

Indeed the event seemed ideal for alumnae such as Cruikshank, who didn’t find the Reunions tents conducive to meeting people because of the loud music from the bands. The Rotunda, with its dim lights, free-flowing red wine, and quiet corners, seemed a little more helpful.

“This is a really nice place to mingle,” he said. And a nearby young woman agreed, describing the event as “really laid back” and an easy place to talk to people.

Yet, some were a little more skeptical. “This is more of a sketchball event than a mingling event,” said Ian Auzenne ’10 as he surveyed the room.

This was, of course, before he kissed my hand.

by Tara Thean


Reunions Coverage: Eliot Spitzer ’81 on Lessons from the Economic Crisis

If you ask Eliot Spitzer ’81, there is one major lesson to take from the recent financial crisis: “Princeton economists are better than Harvard economists.” Or at least that’s what the former New York governor and attorney general, and current Slate columnist, had to say Saturday morning in a packed lecture in McDonnell Hall.

Comparing economics professor Paul Krugman, former federal reserve chairman Paul Volcker ’49 and former economics professor Joseph Stiglitz to National Economic Council chair (and former Harvard president) Larry Summers, Spitzer had one particularly Old Nassau-spirited suggestion for fixing the economy: “Take all the Harvard economists out of Washington, and send them down to Princeton,” he said. “Summers is wrong.”

In the Class of 2000 Millennial Lecture, “Lessons from the Economic Crisis,” Spitzer — who attended Harvard Law School after Princeton — also explained what he believed to be the other problems with the financial system, and with its current road to recovery.

Spitzer included anecdotes from his time as New York’s attorney general in describing his three rules for the framework of government work. First, he said, only government can enforce the rules of integrity and transparency in the marketplace. “Self regulation was a farce, it was a joke,” he explained. “It never worked.” He also noted that private actors do not always completely measure the impact they have on others, and that the private sector often fails at maintaining what the public may see as “core values.” These maxims support the need for government regulation, he said.

Regarding the government’s bank bailouts, Spitzer explained that “there should be no doubt among reasonable people [that] we needed to bail out the banks,” but that inserting the money into the system was the “easy part.” He noted that now comes the difficult part — figuring out how to properly regulate the financial system so that a similar crisis does not occur down the road, something of which he seemed wary.

Spitzer was not overly optimistic about current reform, which he said “rearranges the deck chairs on the Titanic,” while addressing just some of the important issues. He noted that the financial sector still must reconcile the banks’ “fundamental asymmetry,” which holds that the banks’ gain is privatized while their risk, and the losses that come along with it, falls to the public sector. Spitzer said much of the blame should go to those currently in power, such as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Spitzer’s analysis of Geithner’s performance in effecting reform was blunt: “He blew it.”

by Gabriel Debenedetti


Reunions Coverage: Learning to fail at the A4P panel discussion

The necessity of failure was a key theme at “Trailblazers: Perspectives of Asian American Alumni,” a panel discussion this morning in the Whig Hall senate chamber sponsored by the Asian American Alumni Association of Princeton (A4P).

Shaifali Puri ’95, executive director of Scientists Without Borders, proposed a new undergraduate course on failure, noting that many Princeton students are unprepared for taking risks and exploring new options. “[Princeton students] want to try the things after school that have a path, because there are metrics of success,” she explained.

Panelists also discussed the perspective that Asian Americans bring to the changing global landscape, particularly as Asia’s role on the international stage continues to grow. “Maybe we can help bring these two worlds together,” said Steve Sashihara ’80, founder and CEO of Princeton Consultants, Inc.

The panelists agreed that their time at the University deepened their understanding of Asian American identity. Lucy Yang ’85, reporter for ABC-7 Eyewitness News in New York City, grew up in an area with few other Asian Americans. “It was nice to come to Princeton, and meet other Asian-American people,” she said.

“I wasn’t particularly self-conscious about being Asian while at Princeton. I was just one of the students,” said Toshio Hara ’60, founder of the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan.

“I shouldn’t be afraid to try something new. That was the first thing I learned at Princeton,” he added.

by Michael Medeiros


Reunions Coverage: Lost Vistas of Princeton

Though Princetonians may think of Old Nassau as timeless, its buildings and landscapes have changed a great deal since its founding in 1746. Richard D. Smith, member of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department and the Princeton Alumni Council’s Princetoniana Committee, chronicled the major transformations that have taken place on Princeton’s campus in a talk sponsored by the Princetoniana Committee this morning at the Frist Campus Center.

Smith, who is also the author of "Princeton Then & Now," used images that he found in University archives to illustrate his presentation, showing how landmarks like Nassau Hall and Prospect House have evolved over the years. He also shared photographs of edifices that no longer exist, such as the Cloaca Maxima, the stone privy that used to be located just behind Whig Hall, and the University Hotel, which supplied Princeton’s stagecoach line with hotel rooms, a barber shop, and a bank.

Reunion Hall, a five-story dormitory commemorating the reunion of the Presbyterian Church, was another such building discussed. During his brief time at Princeton, John F. Kennedy roomed in Reunion Hall, and some of the alumni in the audience recalled how Kennedy’s classmates preserved some of the bricks from his fireplace in his honor after his assassination in 1963. Several alumni also remembered living in or having class in Reunion Hall; Bruce Leslie ’66 reminisced about having a history precept there.

Though Smith’s talk centered on the transformations that have occurred at Princeton’s campus, he assured the audience that some things never change. “There will always be building projects in Princeton,” Smith said, showing a photograph of men toiling in a ditch, installing the central heating line for the University dormitories. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Image: An engraving of the original Nassau Hall, four years after it was built.

by Ellie Wilkinson


Reunions Coverage: The Impact of Popular Culture on Young Children

Glee, Gossip Girl, House — these all-too-familiar names were voiced to be yet another point of concern for alumni (and parents) at an alumni-faculty forum discussing the impact of popular culture on young children on Saturday morning.

Tina Treadwell ’80, a casting director for the Disney Channel, pointed out that technology was an important part in pop culture, commenting that she often “feels like an immigrant in the world of technology.”

Joanna Gaines ’05 echoed Treadwell’s ideas, and wondered whether “there was a way to use technology to change children’s behavior into a constructive one.”

An educational film-maker, Michael Dieffenbach ’70 shared his experiences of creating educational films and emphasized the role that authority figures—managers in workplaces and parents at home—play in shaping the children’s personality.

Some expressed a very positive view of the media – Robin Epstein ’95 advocated sitcoms as a starting point for discussions on social issues. “Sitcoms are the most effective art form to bring issues into our homes,” she said.

Others, such as David Hill ’00, were more skeptical of the popular culture. He cited his experiences as a principal to show how the influence of rap artists could be a barrier to education.

The morning came to a close as the panel and the audience discussed effects of shows such as Gossip Girl and easily accessible high-rated adult shows on teenagers.

by Ha-Kyung Kwon


Reunions Coverage: Women's Basketball Reunion

The first comment of the Varsity Women Basketball alums was that they were the most fun group at reunions; even former men’s team players knew this since they decided to join the party. While the beginning of the event behind Eno Hall had a small showing the numbers increased as recent alumni caught up as well as met older previous members of the varsity team. While they played years apart it still was a family atmosphere as the women traded basketball stories about playing abroad and work. Casey Lockwood ’07 has lived in New Zealand and worked on an Abalone farm since graduation has really missed playing basketball. “I am so stoked to be back with these girls. They are like family and I miss playing with them at the intensity we played,” Lockwood said.

photo: Coach Melanie and Julia Berger '09 pose for the camera.

by Charlotte Guyett


Friday, May 28, 2010

Thinking of drinking underage? Try again.

Ever wonder what happens if you get caught drinking underage at Reunions? Don’t be seen with a bright green wristband and a beer in your hand at the 5th. Security (did I finally give a P-Safe officer something to do?) was rude enough to interrupt my conversation with an alum by shining a flashlight first on my wristband and then on my beer. My first instinct was to try and hand him the beer. He must have been thirsty, working all night like that. He wasn’t interested, and told me to walk to the trash and pour it out. I would personally call that alcohol abuse, but he didn’t seem too concerned. After rambling something about privileges being taken away, he took my wrist and snapped off my $45 wristband. Next came the death march. He told me to walk towards the exit, in front of him, without telling me what he was doing. Was I going to be arrested? No. He then told the people at the gate to not let me back in (wasn’t that the point of taking off my wristband in the first place?). Luckily, I was almost done with my night anyways. Knowing people only attending reunions for one night has its advantages: a 21+ wristband without having to pay the $70 for a replacement. And don’t worry, I’ll be back out tonight.

Lesson of the story: wear long sleeves.


Reunions Coverage: Explaining the Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider, the largest particle accelerator in the world, has attracted attention for both the groundbreaking scientific discoveries it may yield and the existential threat it is said by some to present.

Associate physics professor James Olsen spent most of his speaking time on Friday afternoon explaining the scientific importance of the LHC to a large crowd in McDonnell Hall, but he sought first to dispel the notion that the facility is a "doomsday device" that might create a black hole which would consume the Earth. To this end, he referred the audience to the helpful website ("Nope," the site informs us.)

After outlining the mechanics of the LHC in terms that go beyond this writer's ken, Olsen also justified the project's hefty cost after a query from a self-described economics major, citing its relevance to GPS and medical imaging technology.

"Are you having fun?" an audience member interrupted.

"I'm having a blast," Olsen responded.

by Nick Elan


Reunions Coverage: Tree Tour

Jim Consolloy, the former University grounds manager, gave his 20th annual Reunions tree tour Friday afternoon. The tour highlighted some of the interesting stories about the many trees on campus. Firestone Plaza, for example, contains mostly native trees, such as white oak and elm. A large tulip poplar, or yellow poplar, in front of Prospect House had lightning protection installed (costing around $1,200) because it is so tall and vulnerable to lightning strikes. About "a dozen or two" trees on campus have lightning protection, Consolloy said.

One important tree is the redwood tree on the east side of the Princeton University Art Museum. That particular species of redwood was thought to be extinct until it was found in China in 1945 by American soldiers. The soldiers brought seedlings back with them to the United States, and Princeton was one of the institutions able to acquire the seedlings and plant them. The tree next to the art museum was planted in 1947 and grows about 5 feet per year.

The tour culminated in Prospect Garden, where there is a blue cedar tree native to the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. At the center of the garden, Consolloy showed off his final project as grounds manager. To be more sustainable, Consolloy had a water filter installed in the fountain plumbing system. Previously, the fountain had to be drained and cleaned twice a month.

Though Consolloy recently retired from the University and will be moving to the Midwest, he said he would be back next year to give another tree tour around campus.

photo: Jim Consolloy (l.) talks to an alumnus in Prospect Garden during his annual tree tour.

by Jacob Aronson


Reunions Coverage: Noble Knights and Lovely Ladies

It’s that time of year again. Reunions. The annual three-day quest to reconnect with old friends, regain lost youth and rediscover the “best damn place of all.”

With your kids.

The Princeton University Art Museum is sponsoring an interactive scavenger hunt for alumni and their children this weekend. Open from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, the museum promises a peaceful and educational break from some of the loud and rowdy nighttime events.

The museum is as glamorous and silent as always, and the scavenger hunt doesn’t really liven it up. However, the museum does offer amusing booklets for families to fill out, supplying questions, information and activities for the children. The 11-page booklet helps to structure the basically self-guided tour of the museum through the Medieval, Byzantine and Islamic art galleries, highlighting some of the more impressive acquisitions of the museum and the themes that run through them.

I only ran into one family while there, though the museum was full of other Princeton visitors, and they seemed to be having a good time. The young Princetonian had filled out nearly half of his booklet and appeared eager to finish it. Very obliging, he helpfully told me where I could find exhibits and what I should look for. He seemed to be having fun.

The first man I saw when entering the museum, in fact, told me that the hunt was quite popular with families. The museum had almost run out of booklets.

But even without the booklets, the museum offers much. On my way to the Medieval Gallery, I found other exhibits I had never before seen or even heard about.

Go to the Art Museum this weekend. Take a booklet. Reconnect with Monet or even Warhol. Regain your lost art history knowledge. Rediscover “the best damn place of all.”

by Dora Huang
photo by Erin Byrne


Reunions Coverage: Princeton-in-Hollywood

Princetonians in the entertainment industry gathered this afternoon on the front lawn of the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts for fruit and conversation, with old Triangle members, producers, actors and actresses rubbing elbows with and screenwriters, comedians and singers.

"Being an actor from Princeton is kind of a disadvantage because people don't care if you're smart in LA," explained Ethan Stone '06. "They just want to see what you have to do. So it's good to have an organization of Princetonians to help network."

Reunions is also an important opportunity for the Southern California Princeton-in-Hollywood alumni to re-connect with peers working in New York City. Among those working in the "other Hollywood" is Josephine Decker '03, who creates music videos and for the next year will be working on a narrative feature, a dark fairy tale about an all-women's accordion group.

Past Princeton reunions have also been studded with Hollywood stars. Tom Wharton '71, who now works as a grip, recalled meeting Jimmy Stewart '32 during a previous Princeton reunion. He added that he comes back now, though, for other reasons: "I wanted to see the degenerates that I went to school with in a pretty place."

by Sophie Jin


Reunions Coverage: Forty years of undergraduate women at Princeton

Forty years after female undergraduates were first allowed to call themselves Princeton Tigers, a collection of alumni, faculty and current students gathered for the lecture and discussion, "Forty Years of Undergraduate Women at Princeton: Women and Gender Studies in the Classroom and Feminist Activism on Campus." The lecture was given by Jill Dolan, an English and theater professor and director of the Program in the Study of Women and Gender. Sally Frank '80, a renowned feminist activist that brought suit against several eating clubs during her time as an undergraduate to contest their refusal to extend membership to women, joined in the audience and commented on the importance of a quality undergraduate experience both in and out of the classroom.

It is evident that the Princeton community has come a long way from the days when the presence of women was both feared and abhorred by their male counterparts and alumni. Audience members and Dolan both praised the University for its progress under the direction of President Shirley Tilghman. However, issues ranging from the lack of female presence in the most visible leadership positions to the acceptance of demeaning party themes such as Colonial's "CEOs and Office Hos" as harmless jokes have encouraged the administration to organize the Steering Committee on Undergraduate Women's Leadership at Princeton, which is expected to release its report by February 2011. The committee is starting a website over the summer that will accept contributions and conversation from all who are interested.

by Carolyn Tackett

graphic by Kaetlyn Wilcox


GQ stakes out Reunions

Forget the hubbub surrounding Elena Kagan '81 -- Princeton's latest piece of publicity comes from a slightly less predictable news source. Less than one year after naming the University the nation's No. 2 Douchiest school, GQ features a tell-all piece about Reunions by Troy Patterson '96 in its June issue, just in time for this year's parties. The four-page spread features three pictures of young revelers and one of Patterson himself downing a beer outside of his own Ivy Club. The headline? "The Smart Man's 'Jersey Shore.'"

The article describes the antics of alums young and old, including such gems as:

"We lurched around to the most youthful corner of the bacchanal, where the nooks of the buildings, covered in ivy and draped in shadow, witnessed desperate kisses, steaming pisses, restorative vomiting bouts."


"We dragged forth as if wading through seawater, searching for a second wind. Sand and hay sopped up the spillage at the beer lines. 'I haven't had any drugs all weekend,' one '09 said. 'I mean, I've done other people's drugs, but I haven't had any of my own.' "

Patterson details his time at last year's Reunions, bringing along a non-Princetonian photographer who is continuously amazed by the debauchery and scale of the event ("The ladies of '09 had their hands on the floor and their asses in the air, bucking at crotches on the upbeat. My companion, a Dutch photographer, lit up with delight.").

As a whole, the piece seems to be a fairly comprehensive introduction to the festive side of Reunions, for the outside world's benefit. But the also story seems to be ringed by a generally nostalgic feel for Patterson's time south of Nassau Street. "Every time I go back to the campus," he writes, "I smile fondly at hedges I once napped under, windows I vomited from, astronomy departments I hooked up in."

(Thanks commenter for letting us know that this article is now available online.)


Reunions Coverage: Battle of the Alumni Bands

Best way to start off a hazy Friday morning at Reunions? Definitely the "Battle of the Alumni Bands," which is still taking place on the South Lawn of Frist and will be running for another few hours. Now in its 3rd year, the light-hearted event kicked off with the jazzy grooves of the Prospective Sound, a 12-(ish)-piece band largely comprised of members of the Class of 1970 (pictured above). Band-members joked that they hadn't practiced together in 30 years, but it was hard to believe: with a super-tight horn section and a variety of different vocalists, the band sounded hot and funky. A definite highlight was a rendition of the Triangle classic "East of the Sun," featuring a female singer from the class of 1970 (which, in case you didn't know, was the first Princeton class to include women). Next up was mathpanda, a terrific hip-hop group featuring members of the classes of the mid-2000's. With inventive, unpredictable flows and hilarious lyrics -- as well as a killer backup band -- mathpanda made me lament the current lack of a student rap group on campus. Now ripping up the stage is Funkmaster General, featuring members both past and present -- so come on down to the Frist South Lawn and rock out!


Reunions coverage: “Journalism in the Age of New Media” forum

One of the first Alumni-Faculty panels of 2010’s Reunions focused on the future of journalism in the age of new media. Journalists have become more than familiar with such discussions, which Ian Shapira ’00, a reporter for the Washington Post, joked his colleagues had taken to calling “death panels.”

Also on the panel, which was moderated by Professor Paul Starr, were Drew Davis ’70, president and executive director of the American Press Institute, Kathleen McCleery ’75, deputy executive producer of PBS Newshour and Debi Chirichella ’85, COO of Conde Nast Digital.

“We’re working really hard on the Internet, but honestly…I don’t think it’s ever going to be a moneymaker, and if people truly transitioned from print magazines to the Internet, we’d be in trouble,” said Chirichella, picking up an iPad displaying the current cover of GQ, which features the barely-clad model, Miranda Kerr. “That’s why we’re interested in e-readers.”

Less than two days before, Conde Nast’s newly-launched Wired magazine iPad app sold 24,000 copies in the first 24 hours, at the newsstand price of $5 each. Some initial estimates for Wired’s app sales were as low as 2,500 copies.

Davis also described himself as a “big believer in electronic readers,” and said that the media industry ought to look into digital delivery.

As often happens in journalism’s “death panels,” which tend toward gloom and doom, the panelists concluded that though the business model was changing, journalism was around to stay.

“Hopefully, we’ll have the capacity to transform the magazine industry from print into the digital world and end up being able to provide the same kind of quality content — girls and all — that we have in the past,” said Chirichella.

“Storytelling is very, very old,” Shapira said. “It’s been around a long time, and it will survive.”

by Angela Wu


BP, University partnership ends

The year 2010 marks the end of BP’s original 10-year partnership with Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Institute (CMI) and the beginning of its five-year renewal of this relationship – a promise to support Princeton to at least its current level of funding from 2011 to 2015. As a part of the Princeton Environmental Institute, CMI supports research that would lead to safe, effective and affordable solutions to climate change.

One of the program’s most important contributions was their “stabilization wedges” concept, pioneered by the program’s leaders, ecology and evolutionary professor Stephen Pacala and mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Robert Socolow, in 2004. Featured in “An Inconvenient Truth,” the concept introduces 15 existing strategies to reduce global carbon emissions, such as carbon capture and the use of biomass fuels, and proposes that any combination of several of these strategies could prevent global emissions from rising for the next five decades.

Since then, one of its mostinfluential contributions has been its “One Billion High Emitters Research” in 2009. CMI estimates that global emissions come disproportionately from the wealthy: half of the world’s emissions in 2008 came from just 700 million people. Their paper suggests allocating the job of emissions reductions to nations based on the carbon emissions of their rich citizens. It made Time Magazine’s 50 Best Inventions of 2009 List as “The Personal Carbon Footprint.”

CMI involves 70 faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and students from more than 10 different departments.

by Camille Framroze


Kagan '81: Fashion choices

Since Elena Kagan’s career in academic administration and government office has given her far fewer opportunities than the federal judges typically tapped for Supreme Court vacancies to amass a paper trail for pundits to dissect, the items that have emerged have been subject to particularly intense scrutiny. Recently, the journalistic eye of the Washington Post has turned its gaze to the fashion choices she made during her recent visits to senators in the run-up to her confirmation hearings.

Fashion columnist Robin Givhan '86 attempts to draw inferences about Kagan’s character from the details of her sartorial choices before suggesting that those inferences are likely unreliable, conceding in column’s final paragraphs that “ultimately, of course, on matters so personal, only the individual's speaking up can truly make things clear.” Givhan seems especially fascinated by the arrangement of Kagan’s legs, spending two paragraphs on how Kagan not only refrains from crossing them above the knee but even “does not cross her legs at the ankles either, the way so many older women do.” Ultimately, of course, Givens finds a way to mention everybody’s favorite unsubstantiated rumor about Kagan, suggesting that “folks” (a category in which she seems not to include herself) “are using fashion as a limited tool for making sense of her sexual orientation.”

It would be nice if coverage of a Supreme Court nominee focused more on her potential service on the Court—after all, nobody will be able to see if Kagan’s legs are or are not crossed when she is sitting behind the bench. Given the trend over the past two decades for Supreme Court hearings to be an exercise in delivering eloquently meaningless pronouncements, however—a confirmation strategy that Kagan herself, ironically, criticized during the 90’s—it is unfortunately unlikely that we will soon see an end to the creative interpretation of female lawyers’ decision to keep “both feet planted firmly on the ground.”

by Jonathan Sarnoff


Kagan '81: Master's thesis in politics

As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for the upcoming confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan, senators have been poring through thousands of pages documenting many of Kagan’s legal and political views. Among those pages, the New York Times reports, is her Master’s thesis in politics, written at Oxford in 1983, in which she discussed the history of the exclusionary rule (an element of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence) to advance an argument about how courts should go about effecting social change.

The thesis is particularly interesting because it comments on the issue of judicial activism—the charge leveled by judicial conservatives that the rulings of liberals on the bench have been guided not by legal principles, but instead by judges’ personal political preferences. Kagan’s argument in the thesis offers fodder to both sides of the debate. Conservatives may be disturbed by Kagan’s concession that it may be legitimate for judges to use the law to accomplish particular social goals; liberals may cite in reply Kagan’s criticism of past rulings for failing to adequately support this drive toward “social justice” with sound legal reasoning, arguing that the thesis affirms the principle advanced by advocates of judicial restraint that judges must merely interpret the law.

Ultimately, the two sides will likely offer competing characterizations of Kagan’s conclusions: Is she claiming merely that as a pragmatic matter activists on the bench must provide better legal justifications for their decisions in order for those decisions to be well implemented by lower courts and to endure later changes in the composition of the Court, as conservatives may argue, or is she—as liberals seeking to rebut charges of activism may contend—advancing a principled argument that judges’ sole allegiance is to the law?

by Jonathan Sarnoff


Friday, May 14, 2010

University removes asbestos from Firestone

The University began work on asbestos abatement in portions of the Social Science Reference Center in Firestone Library on April 30th, University spokeswoman Emily Aronson said in an e-mail.

The abatement work accompanies renovations to the Social Science Reference Center. The abatement is routine with any renovation process, as powdered asbestos is a known carcinogen in humans.

Solid asbestos was commonly-used as a building material from the 1940s and 1980s, and is found in many older buildings. Due to the dangers of powdered asbestos, every renovation project conducted on older buildings is accompanied by an inspection to determine whether the areas under renovation contain asbestos. When asbestos is found, abatement work precedes the renovation.

The area where abatement work is being performed is currently closed off to the public, while other parts of the Social Science Reference Center remain open. Abatement work is scheduled for the hours when Firestone Library is closed.

Aronson added that “individuals may continue to safely occupy other areas,” adding that a warning of the abatement work is “standard procedure” to prevent people from entering the area.

By Nan Hu and Randy Khalil, staff writers


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Former University Art Museum director to take post at Big Easy

Susan Taylor, who worked as director of the Princeton University Art Museum from 2000 to 2008, will replace E. John Bullard as director of the New Orleans Museum of Art on Sept. 1.

Taylor will have some big shoes to fill. Having served more than 37 years as director of NOMA, Bullard will be among the longest-serving museum directors upon his retirement.

However, Taylor was carefully chosen to succeed Bullard after much consideration from the museum board at NOMA. The process of choosing a successor began in September 2009 when Bullard announced his intention to retire.

During her eight years with the University, Taylor oversaw the expansion of many of the museum’s collections and increased collaboration with academic departments.

James Steward was named the current director of the Art Museum in January 2009.

By Jilly Chen, staff writer


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Majoring in Magic

For all those rising sophomores struggling to find a major, consider drawing inspiration from Jordan H. Goldklang.

He majored in magic.

A recent graduate of Indiana University, Goldklang earned his magic degree by taking "classes in subjects like psychology and theatre arts,” and practicing with cards “anytime [he] was not actively doing something." He also performed for faculty.
Upon graduation, Goldklang hopes to open a bar with his brother or continue performing magic.

Indiana University’s individualized-major program made Goldklang's unique pursuit possible.

A similar option, called the "independent concentration program," is also available at Princeton. According to the Office of the Registrar, any student with "academic interests that cannot be adequately served by existing concentrations" may apply.

So never despair, rising sophomores. Who knows? Princeton may allow you to major in magic.

By Hae Bin Kim, staff writer


Layoffs Plague University Medical Center

Fifty-seven employees, including six nurses, were laid off by the University Medical Center at Princeton last week, according to the Times of Trenton. The layoffs occurred after the hospital conducted a review of operations to increase efficiency. The employees affected included 33 full-time workers and 24 part-time workers. All nurses laid off worked in outpatient departments.

The University Medical Center of Princeton in Plainsboro, which is currently under construction, is expected to replace the facility on Witherspoon Street in 2011. The new hospital, which will be twice the size of the current hospital, boasts an environmentally friendly infrastructure. Soliant Health has already ranked it as one of the 20 Most Beautiful Hospitals in the United States. According to the Times, the new medical center is expected to generate new jobs in construction and after completion, but no specifics on long term employment were given.

In an attempt to cut costs and remain profitable, the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in Hamilton, NJ also laid off 19 employees last October while adding a four-story tower wing.

By Sean Wu, staff writer


A Gift that Keeps on Giving

It’s been over a decade since chemistry Professor Edward Taylor retired from Princeton. Yet, according to the Times of Trenton, the University still reaps the benefits of his famous discovery. In the 1980s, Taylor teamed up with a colleague to create Alimta, a drug that treats mesothelioma, a lung cancer “caused by exposure to asbestos.” After 11 years of trials and countless years of refinement, the drug went on the market in the mid 1990s.

Remarkably, the profile reveals that the University is still collecting royalties on Taylor’s drug. These royalties will fund much of the construction costs for the new chemistry building set to open next fall.

Such a discovery, Taylor reveals in the profile, would be highly unlikely today because of universities’ and research grants’ unwillingness to provide funding for such an audacious project: "Imagine [today] asking for funds for a project to investigate butterfly wing pigments and the occurrence of their structure in a compound found in liver. And, by the way, it's remotely possible that, 60 years from now, the result may be a blockbuster cancer drug.”

The full profile, which details Taylor’s remarkable career, can be found here.

By Andrew Sartorius, staff writer


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Man arrested for lewdness

Borough Police charged a 50-year-old man with lewdness after an officer found him allegedly "exposed and masturbating" in his car at the intersection of Witherspoon and Nassau Streets on May 4.

An officer on foot patrol noticed that Paul Stuart, of North Brunswick, was apparently not wearing a seatbelt as he sat in traffic, police Lt. Nicholas Sutter said in an e-mail to The Daily Princetonian.

The officer then approached Stuart, who was the driver and sole occupant of the car. The officer saw Stuart allegedly “exposed and masturbating,” Sutter said.

Stuart was arrested and was later released on his own recognizance, Sutter said. He is due in court May 10 to face the lewdness charge, which is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey.

While this incident did not involve members of the University community, the campus has experienced five separate lewdness and criminal sexual contact incidents involving students or staff in roughly the past year.

By Henry Rome, staff writer


Friday, May 7, 2010

Woody Woo fountain crackdown

As four of these signs (and a Public Safety officer) can attest to, apparently swimming in the Wilson School fountain is expressly forbidden, at the dire threat of removal from the area (by the aforementioned Public Safety officer, no doubt). According to this
sign, both wading and dog bathing are also prohibited, although visitors are allowed to “dip their toes” and “enjoy the beautiful surroundings.” The sign doesn’t clarify, so who knows where the fine line between toe-dipping and wading lies? (Maybe when no parts of the body are touching the fountain except the feet?) It’s also unknown what stimulated the University to start to crack down on fountain use, and if this is really the best use of a Public Safety officer’s time.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Smisek ’76 flying high

Jeff Smisek ’76 will lead the world's biggest airline if a planned merger between Continental Airlines and United Airlines is finalized.

According to the New York Times, a possible merger between United and US Airways prompted Smisek, currently Continental's CEO, to quickly renew talks of a deal between Continental and United. The airlines agreed upon a plan just three weeks after Smisek contacted Glenn Tilton, chairman of United Airlines.

“I recognized that United was the best partner for Continental, and I didn’t want to marry the ugly girl; I wanted to marry the pretty one,” Smisek told the Times.

Though the two companies were close to merging two years ago, Continental backed out at the last minute due to United’s weak finances.

During his five months as CEO of Continental, Smisek has made headlines for criticizing the federal government’s rule of limiting planes with passengers to three hours on the tarmac.

He graduated summa cum laude in Economics and went on to Harvard Law, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1982.

By Omar Carrillo, senior writer


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Princeton Civil Rights review continues under Obama administration

Officials at the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said they plan to ramp up their efforts to stop discrimination in higher education, and will continue an investigation focusing on the University’s admission policies.

The Princeton investigation focused on claims of bias against Asian-American students in the admission process. Jian Li, a Chinese-American student with perfect SAT scores, was waitlisted and then rejected by Princeton in 2006. He filed a federal civil-rights complaint, arguing that Princeton imposed higher standards for Asians than other groups. In 2008, the investigation was expanded to a broader review of the University’s admission policies for Asian-American students. The Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights said the office will be reviewing the Bush administration’s policies on race-conscious admissions policies and handling a larger volume of cases, so four years after it was issued Li’s complaint may finally get a determination.

University spokeswoman Emily Aronson told the Princeton Alumni Weekly that the University believes the review is unfounded, but others have raised concerns about recognition of the minority group in other aspects of campus life. The graduate school’s “hosting weekend” for admitted minority doctoral candidates doesn’t include Asian prospective grad students, and in 2008 alumni, faculty and students petitioned for more Asian-American focused courses and the creation of a certificate program. This year Princeton offered two Asian-American studies courses, including “Chinatown USA,” but alumni are still working on the creation of a department, along the lines of the Center for African American Studies or the Program in Latino Studies.


Rural high schoolers pass on top colleges

In the 2008-2009 school year, the largest number of entering students came from New Jersey (715), California (589), New York (573), Pennsylvania (268), Maryland (209), Texas (207), and Virginia (192).

A recent study may help shed light on why states such as South Dakota and Montana are underrepresented. Rural students are 2.5 times less likely to attend an elite college than students from urban or suburban areas, according to one study being presented at the annual American Educational Research Association today.

The study found that even after controlling for several other factors, students from rural areas were more likely to turn down colleges listed in U.S. News and World Report’s top-ranked institutions and attend a non-ranked four-year institution.

Still, the researchers conceded that the study had limitations. They acknowledged that part of the phenomenon they observed might stem from the fact that many top-ranked institutions are on the East and West Coasts, which have a disproportionate amount of urban and suburban areas.

Read the article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Top Students From Rural America Shun Elite Colleges,” for more details.