March 21, 2001: From the Editor

Early in my freshman year, three dorm-mates and I wandered down to Jadwin Gym to watch another take part in a track meet. After the match, she introduced us to her mother. “Mom, this is Susie,” she began. “She runs cross-country. This is Karen — she plays tennis. This is Julie; she sings. And . . . ” Pause. “This is Jane.”
Naturally I hightailed it to the Prince to start padding my résumé, but the point is that in that tiny, random sample of freshmen there was a wide range of interests and talents (and leadership skills; two went on to captain their teams and the singer became president of her a cappella group).

Despite our extracurricular — and, for that matter, academic — diversity of interests, though, we were extremely similar in our backgrounds. We were all white, all from the Northeast, all from relatively well-off families; two were Princeton legacies.

Some 15 years later, it’s evident from the stories in this issue of PAW that questions of diversity — What do we mean by diversity? If we can define it, how do we achieve it? How do we balance it with a corresponding sense of unity? — still resound, perhaps more loudly, at Princeton. For Janet Dickerson, the university’s first female African-American vice president and the new head of campus life, questions of diversity top her agenda (see story on page 16). That’s in no small part because diversity tops the list of student concerns, as demonstrated by Alex Rawson ’01’s On the Campus column on page 15. The topic is also of importance to other administrators, and a significant reason for building Frist Campus Center — at which we take an architectural look on page 18 — was to provide a casual gathering place for groups of students who might not otherwise interact with each other.

In his closing remarks at the Alumni Day luncheon on February 24, President Shapiro talked about diversity, saying that when he speaks to alumni “it is difficult to convey the spectrum of students and activities we have here on campus.” As one example, he said that in just the last two weeks he had met with students from the jazz ensemble, the wind ensemble, and the orchestra; one student who hoped to start a mariachi band and others interested in klezmer music; and a group intending to form an East Asian music and comedy troupe. He reflected, “The ‘we’ that is Princeton is exploding in all directions,” adding, “We all manage to live together.” It’s Janet Dickerson’s unenviable job to make sure we’re living in harmony.