January 25, 2006: On the Campus
Rites of winter
By Jocelyn Hanamirian ’08
On the first Saturday night in December, a festive mood pervaded the chill air as students celebrated the arrival of a month that promised a flurry of holiday parties.
At Ivy Club the DJ led a countdown to an early New Year’s every half-hour, and one early-morning countdown concluded with the feverish announcement that it was finally here — not the New Year, but the year’s first snowfall. The tradition that students run naked through Holder courtyard on this occasion was banned in 1999, but suddenly the torch for this year’s version of the Nude Olympics had been lit.
Within seconds, the dance floor cleared as partygoers streamed out to the patio to stand in the snow. Cheering, they encircled about 10 male students who stripped down to their boxers and stood shoulder to shoulder above the crowd on the patio’s ledge. Two male students were observed streaking through Tower Club at approximately the same time.
While this year’s celebration fell short of the Nude Olympics of the past, the student response to the snowfall proved that the spirit of the games is alive and well. With a mere .38-inch dusting on Prospect Avenue that night, it is clear that students, being true Princetonians, were eager to perpetuate tradition at the drop of a flake.
A pair of shopping events for students offered fancy clothes at discount prices, but the buzz on campus was quite different for each one. An art show and sample sale called FAbulous: Fashion and Art Opposed to Sexual and Domestic Violence remade the area outside Chancellor Green rotunda into a hip shopping locale. Lauren Racusin ’07 conceived of and organized the event, which raised $2,500 in two hours for the Trenton women’s shelter Womanspace.
Complete with a DJ pumping techno music, raffles of cosmetic products from Neiman Marcus, and fashions from such labels as Milly, Tibi, LeSportsac, and Nanette Lepore, the sale offered a number of pieces that had been on the runway or were one-of-a-kind, substantially marked down at $30 or less.
“Some people were there 10 or 15 minutes early, and they were literally standing near the clothes they wanted,” Racusin said. “For the first 10 minutes, it was a free-for-all. It was kind of scary.”
“I was surprised by the generosity of the vendors,” said Liz Horner ’08, who picked up a pink tank top for $2 and a satin floral cocktail dress for $30. “I think the students appreciated the opportunity to look at items that are traditionally out of their price range.”
The charity sale had all the buzz of a New York hot spot without the exclusivity — that was left to Ralph Lauren and Ivy Club. On Nov. 10, a guitar player serenaded invited Ivy members as they browsed cashmere sweaters and polos and enjoyed drinks and horsd’oeuvres at the label’s Nassau Street location. An e-mail invitation from the store offered club members “a private shopping event” and 30 percent off.
But others thought the image of Ivy members eating sushi as they checked out the latest Lauren togs smacked of elitism. In a letter to The Daily Princetonian, Miguel Centeno, a professor of sociology and international affairs, and Fred Hitz ’61, a lecturer in public and international affairs and a member of Ivy’s graduate board, denounced the event as supporting “an outdated stereotype: Fitzgerald’s side of paradise.”
Professor John Fleming *63’s last Chaucer lecture was one to remember. After 42 years of teaching at the University, Fleming lovingly delivered the last class of this now-legendary course before his retirement. Moving from Chaucerian to modern English, from personal anecdote to textual insight, Fleming held the 130-person audience rapt.
Penny Pelton ’08 and Christine Galib ’08 made T-shirts for the entire class, as well as for Fleming and his wife. Pink shirts for the women bore the Chaucerian phrase “Swich a wenche,” while the men’s green shirts read, “I (heart symbol) swich a wenche.”
“It’s the joke of the class,” Pelton explained. “[Swich a wenche] is the Chaucerian equivalent of ‘a hot chick.’”
Fleming did not offer the last word to the class. Instead, he asked his students to stand and recite the first 18 lines of the Canterbury Tales, then to join him in “Old Nassau.”
As Fleming explained: “We have rituals like this to get us through difficult transitions.”
Jocelyn Hanamirian ’08 is from Villanova, Pa.