March 7, 2001: On the Campus

Dateline Princeton
Money, alcohol, food, workers, and enrollment dominate discussions

By Emily Johnson '01

Loans vs. Grants

Princeton vows to replace student loans with grants and work-study, so new graduates can start out debt-free. This disgruntles the Class of 2001, which so far does not benefit; one senior will graduate with $20,000 of debt and impecunious dreams of working in a museum. Another would like to spend a year traveling, but must make regular payments.

But for future classes, situations like these illustrate the benefits of the decision: It will take pressure off students who end up joining ROTC or the FBI for the scholarships they offer. It will help reduce the expense factor in college choice. It will allow or even encourage students to take low-paying, service-
oriented jobs after graduation.

Still, outright debt forgiveness may not be the best answer. A third senior debtor points out that if you pay for something, you are much more likely to use it and appreciate it. What about an automatic three-year loan deferment? Or even lower interest rates? Longer payment periods? Project 55 and many other service organizations already include loan deferments, which seem to work well.

Alcohol initiative

The eating clubs have tightened up on underage drinking, at least temporarily. In January, I left the Street with two indelible “under-age” stamps on my hand. It took a week of scrubbing to get them off. Door checkers are looking more closly at IDs, some clubs stamp the hands of all nonmembers. But while there is a sense of carefulness among club officers, students don’t seem to have trouble getting a Saturday-night beer.

Frist Campus Center

Frist seems to be working out well except for pricey food and an occasional shortage of pool tables. A student group puts on recently released movies for two dollars. There are places to sit and chat with people you don’t normally see in your classes or at meals or in the dorm. During finals almost every seat was filled in the third-floor study area, and unlike Firestone, Frist allows you food and drink while you work. Students still miss the more intimate Chancellor Green, though. One senior says of Frist, “It doesn’t feel like my Princeton. It serves a good purpose, but cinderblock walls with big quotes doesn’t quite do it.”

It isn’t clear yet whether the campus center will be a popular alternative to the eating clubs. Right now it looks as if its main function is to fill gaps for independent students and missed club meals.

Workers’ organization

The Workers’ Rights Organizing Committee, a recently organized group made up of students, faculty, and workers, has been trying to force change in the treatment of Princeton’s lowest paid workers via petitions, speeches, and campus advertising. Their protest of minimal health benefits and wages that don’t keep pace with inflation makes one think twice about the Princeton community as a whole. Tim,
one of Patton’s janitors, is friendly, efficient, incredibly helpful, and absolutely part of our dorm life. Sometimes when I see overflowing trash cans, toothpaste in the sink, and the occasional stray beer can (or worse), I wonder why we can’t help Tim out a bit by cleaning up after ourselves. And yet, we don’t.

Class increases

The university plans to add 150 students to each Princeton class. One letter to PAW from an alumnus opposed increasing the student body because “the ideal college size is 5,000 students.” Well, since we have 4,400 now, the size increase would work out perfectly. The real problem is where to put extra buildings. Princeton used to fit new ones in between older ones, but we’re running out of room. We could expand outwards, especially into Poe Field, but part of Princeton’s charm is its compactness. One student suggests that the administrators are just trying to fill up all the eating clubs, since at least one of the 11 usually has low membership. Somehow, I don’t think so.

Emily Johnson ( is a geology major from Williamsburg, Virginia.

Can’t get enough student opinion? Go to our web exclusives for more.

Return to beginning of On  the Campus