November 22, 2000


Frist no First

Our next president


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Frist no First

"Building Community" (cover story, October 11) calls Frist Campus Center "perhaps Princeton's first legitimate, non-cook-it-yourself, upperclass dining alternative to the eating clubs since 1856."

A quick perusal of the recent Club Life at Princeton by William K. Selden '34 and Alexander Leitch '24's A Princeton Companion shows that the university has provided upperclass dining options since 1957, if not earlier.

The Woodrow Wilson Lodge, formed by undergraduates disaffected by the bicker system in 1957, at first fed students in Madison Hall. President Harold Dodds '14's promise of an upperclass university dining facility was fulfilled by President Robert Goheen '40 *48 with the construction of Wilcox Hall in 1961. The Wilson Lodge moved to Wilcox and renamed itself the Woodrow Wilson Society. In a few years Wilcox became the core of Wilson College, which was open to all classes. The Madison Society added further upperclass university dining options. Princeton Inn (today Forbes) College started in 1970, and in 1971 Stevenson Hall opened, with kosher and nonkosher options available to both undergrads and graduate students. Selden also refers to the Third World Center, but at least when I was an undergraduate, TWC was a co-op rather than a DFS facility. Last but not least, since the CURL plan was adopted, there have been a few spaces for upperclass students in the residential colleges, aside from resident advisers.

Jonathan Baker '87
Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Our next president

I strongly believe that the incoming president of Princeton, either a man or a woman, should be someone who has shared the undergraduate experience of our great university. The "character" and uniqueness of the Princeton experience is something that defines the relationship alumni have toward one another. The "learning curve" for a president without this background is difficult at best.

Alumni have been given short shrift when it comes to the number of alumni children who have been offered admission under the present dean of admission, something a new president could correct. From an entering class up to the advent of coeducation, between 20 percent to 25 percent of each class were male legacies. This has drastically declined to about 11 percent, or less, of combined alumni sons and daughters, diluting the legacy base from its historical numbers, especially males. Surely, an admission policy that favors alumni children of both sexes would include the offspring of the various minority alumni who have graduated from Princeton over the past 35 years, thus continuing to ensure minority representation in an entering class.

The next president should reemphasize the overall student makeup, which in prior years has produced loyalty to Princeton from its graduates and their families by encouraging a diverse, accomplished group of undergraduates where scholarship, and/or special talent, athletic ability, as well as character, are recognized as equally important.

I am particularly interested in attracting a president who values the importance of the athletic teams and students representing Princeton. Harold Shapiro did a good job in seeing that a healthy balance was maintained so far as student athletes were concerned, and Fred Hargadon, the present dean of admission, deserves credit for accepting a group of athletes who have so well represented Princeton.

The history of Princeton's involvement in sports is a cornerstone for a unified, supportive campus as well as an alumni/ae body that keeps a good part of its Princeton relationship through the many successes of the athletic programs.

Our new president will also have to be a person of stature who is able to affirm the past and uphold the ongoing traditions that have made Princeton the finest university in the country. He or she will have to support the faculty, which is fairly representative of both liberal and conservative views, in order to maintain a campus and professorial presence of scholars and students who are interested in maintaining our university's historical strengths rather than merely following current trends and the political correctness that has poisoned the atmosphere of many front-ranking colleges and set a huge number of alumni against their alma maters.

Bailey Brower, Jr. '49
Madison, N.J.

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Bill Potter '68 assures us that there was no naïveté on display during the Cuba trip he led last spring (Letters, October 11). He goes on to admit that Cuba is racked by severe poverty and "stressed economically by the 40-year U.S. embargo."

Since Cuba is free to trade with most countries in the world, it makes no sense to attribute its troubles to the U.S. It apparently hasn't occurred to Mr. Potter that Communist command economies don't work. One might have expected that the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, a country with enormous natural resources, would have illustrated that to him.

One might also have hoped that Mr. Potter would have understood that the Cuban professors who spoke with "apparent candor" could only tell them what the government wanted them to say if they wished to keep their jobs.

A. Tappen Soper '56
Lyme, Conn.


I am a student who went on the Princeton-in-Cuba trip last spring break, and I would like to respond to a letter in the October 11 issue. Ms. Hodge-López seemed to challenge our experience as being only a surface representation of Cuba that only complied with what the Cuban government would want us to see, an accusation that I would like to set straight.

Members of the group did indeed meet with non-Communist intelligentsia, as well as dissidents and many common citizens who shared with us their views - both positive and negative - of the current regime and prospects for the future. One of the main goals (and successful aspects) of the trip was for us to learn by contrasting the views presented to us by both the government-friendly and non-government-friendly experiences we had. No Princeton students were brainwashed by Communist proselytizing or misled as to the actual state of the Cuban situation, a concern that I was pretty disappointed to infer from Ms. Hodge-López's letter.

Also, the trip out into the country was not at all a Cuban government foreigner tour - they reserve fancy rental cars and expensive swanky taxicabs for that. The fact that we hired a car from a local neighborhood man was actually another example of our branching out, away from government-sponsored tourism, to get a more honest picture of Cuban life. As for the converted convent, it was a museum and tourist attraction preserving the historic beauty of the center of Old Havana. If I recall correctly, the religious functions of the convent ended well before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, so I would not say that the clergy "had to leave their native Cuba because of their 'counterrevolutionary' activities."

Our week in Cuba was so valuable because it freed us from all the assumptions and stereotypes that we have been taught, both negative and positive. I can now answer Ms. Hodge-López's questions with unexaggerated stories and opinions that I have formed from my own life experiences. This is why I believe it is so important for young Americans to get an unbiased picture of Cuba from both sides, especially with the imminent political transition on the horizon. Princeton-in-Cuba is one of the very few opportunities available to students, and it too may be in jeopardy now that the legislation to reduce restrictions on travel to Cuba did not pass through Congress. It is truly unfortunate that without opportunities for personal experiences in Cuba, assumptions like the ones inherent in Ms. Hodge-Lopez's letter and misperceptions that pervade popular opinion will likely continue, and only a privileged few of us can see that they are largely misplaced.

Princeton-in-Cuba is in the process of planning a trip for next year. For more information, anyone can contact me at or at the Program in Latin American Studies.

Liza Davies '02
Princeton, N.J.

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