April 18, 2007: On the Campus
The changing scene
By Bridget Reilly Durkin ’07
As the members of the Class of 2007 take in their last spring on campus, they cannot help but reflect on the changes that have taken place since they entered Princeton in 2003.
Many of these changes revolved around the Internet. Ever since the campus “went wireless” two years ago, students have had constant access to Web sites ranging from The Daily Princetonian to addictinggames.com. When these seniors entered Princeton, “the facebook” was a bound collection of pictures and names that helped identify classmates. Today, “Facebook” calls to mind the intercollegiate Facebook.com, a networking Web site that allows students to search for classmates, create a profile, and post messages to friends worldwide.
Students also use the Internet to save time and money. Professors have begun to place articles and excerpts online through E-Reserves instead of requiring students to purchase expensive packets of reproduced materials. Students can access the articles at their convenience and print them from one of the computer clusters. And for the first time this year, room draw is being held online. Seniors have experienced the long lines and panicked rush of another era. Sophomores will know the convenience of assigned time slots, electronic floor plans, and room selection at the click of the mouse.
Younger classes will have an entirely different set of housing and dining options with the beginning of the new four-year college system. The Class of 2007 saw the closing of Campus Club, but the Class of 2011 will experience the reopening of Cannon Club, which closed its doors more than three decades ago. The incoming freshman class also will witness the completion of the Lewis Science Library, the pedestrian bridge over Washington Road to the new neuroscience institute, and the start of the new arts neighborhood near McCarter Theatre.
The Class of 2007 was the final class admitted by the retired dean of admission, Fred Hargadon; next year’s freshman class will be the last with early-decision acceptances.
Yet, at heart, Princeton remains essentially the same. In the words of the Triangle Club song “Orange Bubble,” written during ’07’s freshman year: “Nothing ever happens in Princeton, of change and conflict we are unaware ... ’Cause there is never trouble within our Orange Bubble. Come back in 20 years, and nothing will have happened in Princeton. ...” When the Class of 2007 returns for its 20th reunion, this song will be a classic.
The long wooden tables, piled high with books of every color, size, and subject, stretched far toward the back of the store, welcoming readers and tempting them to explore. For 25 years, Micawber Books was a Nassau Street fixture. It was a refuge for students escaping from campus, tourists visiting the University, and townspeople bustling down the busy streets.
Micawber closed at the end of March, and co-owners Logan Fox and Margaret Griffin retired. The University purchased Micawber and is partnering with Labyrinth Books to open a new bookstore next door in the fall. Yet students, faculty, and townspeople alike paused to remember the Princeton gem that was Micawber.
One Princeton senior affectionately described Micawber as “a haven for the purposefully erudite.” If you told the owners about a book you had read as a child, a novel you had heard about on NPR, or a memoir mentioned by a professor, Fox and Griffin could find it for you. For many Princeton students Micawber Books was the first, as well as the last, shopping stop of the semester. In September, students would leave the store with their arms filled with books ordered by their professors. With exams completed, they would return at the end of the semester to pick out their vacation reading.
William Dahab ’07 captured the experience: “I liked to go to Micawber and wander up and down the main section, examining each new book that had been laid out on display. Often I’d judge them by their covers, and because they offered a more eclectic selection than any other bookstore, I always purchased many more books than I really planned on. But I was never disappointed.”
Like its books, the owners and staff of Micawber reflected its character: friendly, clever, and imaginative. The Princeton experience won’t be quite the same without it.
Bridget Reilly Durkin ’07 is a classics major from West Pittston, Pa.