March 7, 2001: Notebook

Faculty File: Weird science

Creating a college from scratch: Enlarging the student body offers a chance to examine the current two-year college system

Princeton Borough threatens to crack down on the eating clubs

Trustees' alcohol initiative

A final lap: President Shapiro, on the road, thanks volunteers

Tech Notes: TigerNet updates

In Memoriam

In Brief

Bestsellers at campus bookstores

Faculty File
Weird science

“You like weird things,” said Clarence Brown, professor of comparative literature, to Eileen Reeves. “You take it over.”

So when Brown retired, Reeves began teaching his course, Comparative Literature 337, Really Fantastic Fiction, which deals with realist writers — Nikolai Gogol, Henry James, Gabriel Garc'a Marquez — who introduce the supernatural into their books.

Reeves, an associate professor, does respected scholarly work (the Princeton University Press published her Painting the Heavens: Art and Science in the Age of Galileo in 1997, and she teaches literature of the Renaissance and comparative literature theory for graduate students) but she also does things that are, well, different.
For instance, she taught a course on old wives’ tales, for which students read Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” Basile’s Pentameron, Perrault’s Mother Goose, Voltaire’s Candide, and Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale. Early modern scientists dismissed old wives’ tales as lengthy and bad science, Reeves says. They said that good science was done by male authorities. “Scientists attributed fantasies to ‘old wives’ — they were supposed to be interested in life on other planets,” she says.

The idea of life on other planets is another matter of interest to Reeves. She has taught a freshman seminar on Extraterrestrial Life and Literature (as well as one on plague narratives). She is currently at work on a book about journalism and astronomical developments between 1600 and 1630 to be called Evening News: Early Modern Journalism and Astronomy.

“Newspapers were like today’s grocery store tabloids,” she says. “They embroidered the news. When Galileo reported that he saw craters on the moon with his telescope, the journals ran poems on ‘lunarians,’ people who live on the moon.”

By Ann Waldron

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Creating a college from scratch
Enlarging the student body offers a chance to examine the current two-year college system

Under one plan, the pairing of residential colleges could take place. Butler, shown here, would be linked to Wilson.
Photo by Denise Applewhite

In preparation for enlarging the student body by 500, as approved by the Board of Trustees last year, the university community has begun planning a sixth residential college.

The focus of the planning at this point is not on the site for the college, but on exactly what kind of college it will be. The final decision on location — the likeliest spots are south of Dillon Gym or near Forbes College — will be made once the plan for the organization of the colleges is determined.

The Sixth College Program Committee, composed of five professors, three administrators, three deans, and five students, saw this as a time to rethink the two-year residential college plan, with the probability that some of the colleges will become four-year residential colleges that will include, in some manner, about 300 juniors and seniors as well as freshmen and sophomores.

Any change to the residential college system will have a significant effect on student life, and the committee is proceeding deliberatively. Last month, it issued an interim report that offered four possible models for the sixth college and outlined the committee’s guiding principles and objectives, which are:

• Protect valued existing residential life opportunities for all undergraduates, including the eating club system;

• Create a new residential life option for third- and fourth-year students;

• Enhance the experience of undergraduates now in residential colleges;

• Create opportunities for graduate students (approximately six to 10 per college) to become college residents.
The distribution of the 300 juniors and seniors is key to the success of any four-year college. The four models the committee is looking at are:

• Model A, in which six colleges are composed primarily of first- and second-year undergraduates with third- and fourth-year students distributed evenly throughout them;

• Model B, in which five colleges are composed primarily of first- and second-year undergraduates, plus one new college that includes third- and fourth-year undergraduates;

• Model C, in which four colleges are composed primarily of first- and second-year undergraduates, plus two colleges that include significant numbers of third- and fourth-year students;

• Model D, in which three colleges are composed primarily of first- and second-year undergraduates, plus three colleges that include significant numbers of third- and fourth-year undergraduates. With this model, a pairing opportunity arises, where each of the four-year colleges would be matched with a two-year college.

By L.O.

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Princeton Borough threatens to crack down on the eating clubs

In the wake of the new “alcohol initiative” — a set of proposals by the Board of Trustees designed to address alcohol abuse on campus — two new groups have joined the fight against problem drinking: the Princeton Borough Council and the Princeton Borough Police. Unlike the trustees, who focused their efforts on binge drinking (a dangerous, yet legal, practice that is defined as drinking five or more drinks in a row for men and four for women), the Borough has focused its efforts on underage drinking, an illegal practice council members and police suspect is taking place at the eating clubs.

What initially prompted the Borough’s attention was the passage of a state law last June declaring that municipalities could adopt local ordinances allowing police to charge underage drinkers on private property. Though the law was designed to curb underage drinking at the Jersey shore, officials across the state began considering the adoption of such measures. The Princeton Borough Council looked into passing such an alcohol ordinance last fall, at the beginning of the university’s academic year. At that time, a number of questions were raised on campus regarding the protection of students’ Fourth Amendment rights. While no consensus was reached on the ordinance’s legality, the Borough Council ultimately declined to pass it into law — not so much because of civil rights concerns, but because of logistical concerns. As Borough Mayor Marvin Reed told the Daily Princetonian, “Police are not about to take on the responsibility of the proctors for dealing with the alcohol problem on campus. I include the eating clubs in that.”

Because the eating clubs are independent of the university, however, they do technically fall under the Borough’s jurisdiction, which is why, three months after debate over the failed ordinance, police are now considering a new way to combat underage drinking: conducting undercover investigations of the eating clubs. According to Borough Police Captain Charles Davall, the police began brainstorming such tactics as a response to several alcohol-induced hospitalizations, as well as two on-campus sexual assaults they believe were motivated by drinking at the clubs. “This investigation — like the intent of the ordinance — is another tool,” Davall said. “But there are other things we have to consider.”

One such consideration is the difficulty of finding suitable undercover agents, because all of the Borough police officers are over the age of 21. So, to carry out their plan, the police would have to recruit underage university students willing to help them gain entrance into the clubs. Once inside, the police could then lawfully arrest underage drinkers, as well as those serving alcohol to minors. Such individuals would be charged with a “disorderly persons offense,” which carries with it the possibility of up to six months in jail, though a fine is more likely. Similar charges could be brought against the eating club’s officers as well.

In response to the proposed crackdown, the eating clubs have made efforts to tighten their serving policies, taking such measures as hiring additional safeguards (bouncers) and adopting improved marking systems. Rather than call the Borough’s bluff, the clubs are looking at ways to improve the situation, said Dan Winn ’01, president of the Inter-Club Council. Whether the Borough Police will act on their threat to conduct undercover investigations has yet to be decided, but both the police and the eating clubs hope to treat the problem of underage drinking while maintaining an amicable relationship.

By Andrew Shtulman ’01


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Trustees’ alcohol initiative

In 1999, the Board of Trustees approved an initiative to address alcohol abuse on campus. Called the Trustee Initiative, it stipulates a number of actions that various campus groups must undertake each year to educate students about the dangers of alcohol, provides funding for alcohol-free social events, and increases the penalties for students who break the rules. The amount committed to these efforts each year is $100,000.

The educational component pervades all levels of the university, from faculty and administrators to student leaders to advisers in the dormitories and on the athletic teams. The main thrust of the teaching involves the destructive effect of alcohol, which can limit intellectual achievement, hurt athletic performance, and encourage behavior that can lead to serious injury. In addition, all parents of incoming students receive the university’s alcohol policy and are asked to discuss it with their child before he or she arrives on campus. The on-campus education takes place in the residential colleges, at health services, through the athletics department, and at the eating clubs.

About a quarter of the money pays for workshops through health services as well as a pilot program in Wilson College on social norms and alcohol consumption. The other three-quarters goes for social activities, including dances and other late-night events, such as movies, poetry readings, coffeehouses, and entertainers.

It is too early to judge the effectiveness of the initiative, but the number of students who have been disciplined for violations dropped from 112 in 1998—99 to 56 in 1999—00, when the new penalties went into effect. The number of undergraduates who were admitted to McCosh Health Center for alcohol abuse has grown from 94 in 1995—96 to 121 in 1999—00, with the greatest number coming from the freshman and sophomore classes. As of February 7 (before bicker and sign-ins week), Health Services reported that 70 students had been admitted so far this academic year.

By L.O.

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A final lap
President Shapiro, on the road, thanks volunteers

This past fall and spring, President Shapiro has been visiting with alumni in selected cities around the country and abroad in what is affectionately being referred to on campus as a “Victory Run.” After a successful anniversary campaign, which raised $1.14 billion for the university, Shapiro said he wanted to thank the volunteers and “express on behalf of the university community our appreciation for their enormous support during the campaign.” Working with Kirk Unruh ’70 in development communications and Paula Bryan in the Alumni Council, he plan-ned a 13-city tour that began in October and will end in April.

So far in his final year as president of Princeton, Shapiro has thanked alumni in Chicago, Seattle, Hong Kong, Japan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Greenwich (Connecticut), New York City, Orlando, and Jacksonville. Future visits include Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. By the time the tour ends, Unruh figures Shapiro will have met with 5,000 alumni and parents, a number that pleases the president. “There have been large turnouts,” Shapiro said. “People are feeling good about the university.”

The events are similar from city to city, said Bryan. Working with the local Princeton organization, a venue is chosen and decorated. At the reception and once guests have arrived, President Shapiro speaks for a few minutes, calling attention to changes on campus, including new facilities, programs, and initiatives. He then presents a videotape, created from slides taken during the campaign. After the video, called Rejoice, he and his wife, Vivian, mingle and speak to all the guests, who are served drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

For the alumni, one side benefit to presidential tours is that groups not only get a chance to meet and talk with the president, but dormant groups can be reenergized by the event, says Bryan, who works with the individual alumni associations for the Alumni Council.

This resurgence of interest on the part of some alumni does not surprise the president. “Alumni groups need to be reenergized from time to time,” he said. “Significant leadership needs to reemerge, and a visit from the president does that.”
And what about this final tour? Shapiro admitted feeling somewhat nostalgic about the trip. “You do think, ‘This is my last time as president,’ ” he said.

By L.O.

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Tech Notes
TigerNet updates

What started as a small, self-registering alumni database in May of 1995 has blossomed into an interactive alumni information center. TigerNet, an online service sponsored by the Alumni Council and CIT, is now in its sixth year of operation, creating a worldwide Princeton community. Since its inception, TigerNet has undergone two major overhauls, the last of which took place on December 20, 2000. In addition to 69 discussion groups, five online classes, and free access to alumni records, TigerNet’s updates include additional alumni resources, a friendlier user interface, an enhanced help center, new email options, and useful portal services linking members to news, weather, sports, and stock quotes. According to Domingo Monet ’93, who overhauled the site, the recent TigerNet updates were motivated by the desire to provide a centralized location for all alumni services. Rather than maintain two separate Web pages, the Alumni Council and TigerNet have merged into one comprehensive information hub.

Along with changes in content, TigerNet has also changed its structure. Members no longer have to navigate through a linear system of Web pages; TigerNet has been reorganized so that the most frequently requested services are present on the main page, and all secondary services are no more than one click away. Alumni have embraced TigerNet with enthusiasm. Nearly 17,000 alumni have subscribed to the service, and the number of available discussion groups continues to grow. “I don’t think any other university has as complete a system as we do,” said Monet. “Other universities have Web-based alumni services, but they’re not coherent packages like ours. We offer more services than any other university in the country, perhaps even in the world.”

By Andrew Shtulman ’01

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In Memoriam

Chester Rapkin, professor of architecture, emeritus, died January 29. He was 82.

Rapkin graduated from City College of New York in 1939 and received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1953. He served as a member of the New York City Planning Commission under mayors John Lindsay and Abraham Beame. He also acted as executive director of the White House Task Force that proposed the Model Cities Program.

Rapkin came to Princeton in 1973 and taught at the School of Architecture until he retired in 1988. In retirement he continued to supervise and examine Ph.D. students.
Rapkin was responsible for a number of innovative studies. He did the first theoretical work on housing market analysis, integrated housing, analysis of urban traffic, the actuarial analysis of the FHA and private mortgage insurance, economic
consequences of urban renewal, economic aspects of residential fires, and industrial renewal. His study of the Soho area in New York City in 1962 was said to have stopped the imminent demolition and clearance of the area proposed at that time. He was the author of 15 books and monographs and over 100 professional articles, plans, and reports.

Many of the classes he taught were in urban studies, such as Housing, Urban Function and Structure, and Planning Issues in Declining Cities.

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In Brief

Photo by C.W. Peck

In celebration of Black History Month, the Ivy League featured two former Princeton athletes on its Web site: All-America in track and field Nicole Harrison ’98, who won 15 Heptagonal titles and five most outstanding performer awards in indoor and outdoor competitions, set seven school records, and participated in five NCAA competitions; and basketball player

Princeton University Archives

Armond Hill ’85, who played in the memorable 1975 victory against Virginia, when Coach Pete Carril was ejected for arguing with the officials, and on the team that won the NIT that year. In 1976, Hill led the league in scoring, assists, and steals to become the first Princeton player to win the Ivy League Player of the Year award. For more on Harrison and Hill, go to

Photo by Christian Lantry/Courtesy Maxim

PAW’s February 7 issue, featuring magazine editor Keith Blanchard ’88, was highlighted February 6 on the journalism-news site Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews, located at medianews/. This un-expected publicity for the article, written by Katherine Hobson ’94, caused a noticeable jump in the numbers of people visiting PAW Online. Tracking data revealed that on one day 1,200 people clicked from MediaNews to the Blanchard story online.

Viewers of the television game show Jeopardy on February 6, celebrity night, might have noticed that A. Scott Berg ’71 showed up on the answer board under the category “Airplane Reading.” The answer was: “Eric Stoltz is heard here reading A. Scott Berg’s biography of this man.” America’s homemaker Martha Stewart asked correctly, “Who was Charles Lindbergh?” to win $300.

Princeton-area residents are now able to take advantage of Princeton’s lecture series from the comfort of their couches. Last month the local access cable channel began broadcasting the university’s 1999—2000 16-part public lecture series. The committee on public lectures at Princeton met with the representative of the local cable-access about a year ago and approved the broadcasts, saying it was a good way to broaden the access to Princeton’s lectures.

A noteworthy event took place last October when the Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, edited by professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Simon Levin, was published (Academic Press, $695). The five-volume encyclopedia contains more than 300 articles about biodiversity in all its facets, from how it arose through evolution to how it relates to our modern economy. “The loss of biodiversity is one of the greatest ecological threats we face,” said Levin. “Yet there was nothing that even addressed the biological, taxonomic aspects of biodiversity, much less something that attempted to bring together the biological and the social
policy aspects.”

Three Princeton professors and one doctoral candidate were honored last month by the American Historical Association, the oldest and largest historical association in the U.S. Anthony Grafton, professor of history, was honored for his book Cardano’s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer (2000); Nell Irvin Painter, professor of history, was recognized for mentoring; Arno Mayer, professor, emeritus, of history, was one of three winners of the association’s award for scholarly distinction; and Patrick Pautz, a Ph.D. student in Romance languages and literatures, won an award for his book Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca: His Account, His Life, and the Expedition of Pánfilo de Narváez (1999).

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Bestsellers at campus bookstores

University Store in Princeton
January 2001
1 Girls, by Jenny, Laura, and Martha McPhee
2 Founding Brothers, by Joseph J. Ellis
3 Galileo’s Daughter, by Dava Sobel
4 Writings on an Ethical Life, by Peter Singer
5 Shopgirl, by Steve Martin
6 To the Best of My Abilities, by James McPherson
7 2001 New York Times Almanac
8 Maestro, by Bob Woodward
9 In Tuscany, by Frances Mayes
10 Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

College campuses around the country December 2000
1 Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
2 Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver
3 The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht
4 Genome, by Matt Ridley
5 Galileo’s Daughter, by Dava Sobel
6 The Darwin Awards, by Wendy Northcutt
7 Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik
8 A Short Guide to a Happy Life, by Anna Quindlen
9 Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson
10 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling

Taken from information provided by 50 schools to the Chronicle of Higher Education

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