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Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman appointed a Working Group on Campus Social and Residential Life in the fall of 2010 following a period of significant change in campus life.
A new four-year residential college system had been implemented, creating new living and dining options for juniors, seniors and graduate students. The Frist Campus Center was celebrating its 10th anniversary; the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding had moved into spacious new quarters; and Campus Club — a former eating club — had reopened as a gathering place for all undergraduate and graduate students.
A separate student-faculty-staff-alumni task force had spent the previous year examining relationships between the University and the eating clubs, organizations founded and operated by students and alumni that for more than a hundred years have played an integral role in undergraduate life at Princeton. In May 2010 that task force issued a report that made 25 recommendations to improve those relationships and the experiences students have in the clubs. In addition, the task force identified several issues related to undergraduate on-campus social and residential life that fell outside of its charge, but that it thought merited careful review by a similarly constituted group of students, faculty and staff.
Working Group Charge & Composition
In appointing the 13-member Working Group on Campus Social and Residential Life, President Tilghman asked it to address these issues, and specifically to do the following two things (full charge included as Appendix A):
- Review the University’s goals regarding undergraduate on-campus social and residential life; and
- Answer the following four questions:
- How can undergraduate social and residential life be enhanced and improved on campus?
- How can the University enrich the social and residential experience in the residential colleges?
- What is and should be the role of fraternities and sororities at Princeton?
- Is it desirable, and if so, feasible to reintroduce a campus pub?
The members of the working group included five undergraduates, two faculty members (one of them a residential college master) and six members of the staff, including two directors of student life in the residential colleges and, as co-chairs, Vice President for Campus Life Cynthia Cherrey and Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee. (A full listing of the members of the working group is included as Appendix B.)
The working group met 11 times between October 2010 and April 2011, with most of the meetings lasting more than two hours. It created a website to solicit the views of members of the University community and received comments from almost 300 students and alumni. It held 17 focus groups with students, student organizations, alumni leaders and others. (A list of focus groups is included as Appendix C.) It examined data about the social and residential experience of Princeton undergraduates, and it met with an outside expert on fraternities and sororities. It also established an affiliated committee under the leadership of Amy Campbell, director of campus life initiatives in the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, to examine in detail the issues related to reinstatement of a campus pub, with the understanding that the working group's recommendation regarding the desirability and feasibility of reinstating a pub would be heavily shaped by the work of this affiliated committee.
We begin our report with a brief history of social and residential life at Princeton, followed by a review of some of the data we examined regarding the nature of on-campus social and residential life and the level of student satisfaction. We then attempt to articulate what we believe to be the University's goals for undergraduate social and residential life. In the final sections of our report we make a number of observations and recommendations under the three broad headings of our charge:
- on-campus social and residential life, including social and residential life in the residential colleges;
- the role of fraternities and sororities;
- reinstatement of a campus pub.
In May 2011 the Working Group on Campus Social and Residential Life issued its report.