On the Campus
November 21 , 2007:
on the Street; the Chapel reaches out
Chip McCorkle ’09
Anyone who’s been to the Street on a Thursday
or Saturday night the past few weeks will have noticed a difference
from weeks and years past.
It starts at the front doors of most clubs you’re
not a member of. The bouncers ask, “Did a member put you on
the guest list?” and not, “Do you have passes?”
Once inside some clubs, another bouncer now awaits you at the stairs
leading down to the taproom. “Do you have [an over-21] wristband?”
The same question greets you at other clubs when you ask one of
the professional bartenders for a beer.
“I think the atmosphere of permissiveness that
existed when I was an underclassman is largely gone,” said
Will Scharf ’08, president of the Interclub Council and Charter
Club, as he describes party nights at the clubs.
Yes, things are stricter these days at Princeton’s
eating clubs. The charges brought against three club presidents
and the ensuing warnings by municipal prosecutor Kim Otis that he
would try to close for up to a year any club that continues to “maintain
a nuisance” have forced clubs to change their alcohol and
admission policies, in addition to enforcing existing ones more
It’s got students – especially underclassmen,
who typically have fewer connections at clubs to put them onto guest
lists and virtually no chance of being served beer once let into
a club – defending the former status quo and criticizing the
borough’s chosen means of erasing it.
Sarah Fitzpatrick ’10 said eating clubs are
“the wrong targets.”
“I think the eating clubs are probably the
safest places for people to drink,” she said. “It's
the parties and pregaming in rooms that tends to get people too
Kelley Taylor ’11 added: “If anything,
[the clubs] tame down the night after room parties.”
Others worry about an unintended consequence of the
crackdown: underclassmen who don’t know many upperclassmen
through fraternities, sororities, or sports teams in effect have
been shut out from the Street, unable to secure one of the guest-list
additions – usually two – that members are allowed.
“It has a bigger effect on underclassmen who
aren’t as settled with friends,” said Ashwin Atre ’09.
“Upperclassmen seem to have the connections necessary to keep
things pretty similar to the way they were.”
Particularly objectionable to upperclassmen is the
fact that charges are being brought against club presidents and
not grad boards or club organizations as a whole.
Scharf, for one, was quoted in The Daily Princetonian
as calling the targeting of club presidents “ridiculous,”
saying, “I thought we had moved past that."
There’s no telling when, if ever, things will
return to normal on Prospect Avenue, but one thing’s clear:
Some measure of innocence, at least among the current classes, has
“Everyone at Princeton is so used to not worrying
about alcohol enforcement,” said Atre. “Now that it’s
started, it seems wrong.”
Folasade John ’09
Next door to the drama and action of Theatre Intime,
another quieter art is being displayed. On the walls of Murray-Dodge
hang photos submitted by students and faculty in response to the
question, “What is Sacred?” The images range from a
photo of pink flower buds covered in rain water, titled “Cryogenisis,”
to a black-and-white shot of a wooden crucified Christ figure titled,
This exhibit was one sign of a broader effort by
the Office of Religious Life to reach out to students and stimulate
discussions about spirituality. The Chapel is trying to make itself
as relevant to as many students as possible, said Alison Boden,
who became dean of religious life and the Chapel Aug. 1. “You
might have no interest in religion, but the meditation is right
up your alley,” Boden said.
Every Thursday at noon, students quietly gather to
learn and meditate together for an hour. For the first half-hour
students eat light, healthy wraps and pasta while learning meditation
skills focusing on a theme such as “work” or “change.”
The last half-hour is spent meditating. “It helps you become
more focused throughout the week,” said Lisa Hiseh, a graduate
Hiseh is a member of the Chapel Deacons, a student
group that recently was reinstated by the Chapel, reviving a tradition
that began in the days when church attendance was mandatory at Princeton.
“I always had alumni coming up to me and saying, 'I was a
Chapel deacon – that was so meaningful to me,” said
Paul Raushenbush, associate dean of religious life.
Students in the program greet Chapel-goers and help
with the 11 a.m. service on Sunday mornings. They also plan to organize
Bible study groups that include both students and community members.
The student presence of the Chapel Deacons help “humanize”
the chapel so it is “not just a pretty building,” said
Safia Mohamoud, a student at the Princeton Theological Seminary.
According to Boden, the hope is that students will see the deacons
active in the chapel and think, “This is a place for me. The
chapel is mine.”
Added Raushenbush: “All of our work here is
about opening the doors as wide as possible.”
Photos by Hyunseok