April 4, 2001:
at what cost?
Legacy preference prevails
or Vanity Fair
letters. We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility.
Our address: Princeton Alumni Weekly, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38,
Princeton, NJ 08542 (email@example.com).
at what cost?
James Shulman and William
Bowen *58 present some very interesting ideas on collegiate athletics
in their book, The Game of Life (feature, February 21). The main
question is: How great a role should hand-eye coordination play
in deciding who is given educational
Its not difficult
to see that Shulman and Bowen are elitists. Keep out all of those
lowly athletes so we can have more proper-minded intellectuals at
our top institutions. Intellectual capital is too important to waste
on all these athletes that need to be admitted. They
state that athletics do not add to campus diversity. It is very
dismaying that a former president of Princeton sees diversity as
only racial or ethnic. This is surely shortsighted as every group,
whether they be artists, singers, or tennis players, adds to the
diversity and the experience of a collegiate education at a selective
school such as Princeton.
Most college athletes
at selective schools are like other students. They strive for success
in all that they do. Shulman and Bowen fail to recognize that it
is often more difficult for athletes. Most athletes were not only
the star athlete in high school but often the top student. Since
our society places athletics in such high regard, often these individuals
are revered by their entire community (the all-American boy or girl).
Then they show up in college with other top student-athletes and
become one of the crowd. There is no question that this fall
from grace can affect academic and athletic success. Maybe,
sirs, that is why athletes dont perform as well.
However, there are other
reasons. In May 1985, we (the Princeton baseball team) won the EIBL
championship and went to the NCAA Regionals in Miami. The problem
was that the NCAAs were during spring semester finals. We studied
in our hotel rooms between games and took finals in the Coral Gables
Marriott hospitality rooms. Im not sure there are any other
students at selective schools that had the academic
advantage of taking finals in a hotel room before playing the top-ranked
team in the country in the NCAAs. This athletic atmosphere
may lead to more attention on the game than the exams, as Shulman
and Bowen state. Maybe the Bowen administration could have let us
take our exams after the NCAAs, but we cant give athletes
special favors. Other student-athletes have similar stories.
How many other heavily involved students have to study on buses
under dim light, miss classes and labs for travel, and start studying
when they are exhausted from four hours of grueling practice or
It is easy to be an academic statistics pusher drawing conclusions
from numbers that can be pulled in any direction the author sees
fit. Its called bias. This is also why retrospective analyses
carry little scientific weight.
Brian A. Casazza 87
Congratulations for pairing
Bowens new book with your story about Princeton athletes (features,
We all know how statistics
can be manipulated to support a particular point of view, which
Dr. Bowen apparently has done. For a man of his stature, however,
I am surprised that he did not attempt to appraise the value of
athletics to the individuals as well as their cost. I am sure that
it wont surprise him to know that academic training also costs.
He would do well to read your article on page 21 about Steve Mills
J. Kenneth Looloian 43
Just when I thought I
was finally holding in my hands an edition of PAW containing no
mention whatsoever of the controversial bioethics professor Peter
Singer, I came upon his Faculty Opinion column (February 21) excoriating
the university for outsourcing support functions such as janitorial
and food service. Professor Singer avers that Princeton should bring
these workers into full membership in the ethical community
that is a great university (presumably by offering them higher salaries
and better benefits than those provided by the contractors who currently
This commentary stands
in odd juxtaposition to the news in the same issue that tuition,
fees, room, and board have increased this year to the staggering
total of $33,613. I have five sons and have long ago succumbed to
the numbing realization that none will attend Princeton, though
all are fully qualified for admission. A Princeton undergraduate
education is now simply beyond the reach of all but the very rich
and those at the other end of the spectrum who qualify for substantial
Perhaps if Princeton
were to outsource more noncore support functions to contractors
under a competitive bidding process that rewards efficiency, the
savings could be passed along to middle class families whose sons
and daughters can only dream of attending in the current circumstances.
Alas, one of my boys may yet partake of the Princeton experience.
I have suggested that they apply for employment on the custodial
staff. Perhaps they will be assigned to clean Professor Singers
Houghton B. Hutcheson
After reading Professor
Singers piece in PAW, I am glad to see he didnt suggest
simply putting the underpaid workers out of their misery. As Singer
says, A great university forms an ethical community. . . .
Not everything that students learn at Princeton is taught in the
classrooms. I could not agree more. While I was a student,
I was horrified at the way students treated the janitors. I often
chatted with the person who cleaned my dorm senior year, and she
told me shed had to clean up messes that were obviously the
product of sadism rather than negligence. I will resist the urge
to elaborate, out of concern for those who read PAW over breakfast.
I always felt that Princeton
did a great job of freeing students from cooking, filling out paperwork,
and other activities that would take valuable time from our studies,
and I was grateful. Clearly, dorms need routine maintenance, such
as sweeping floors and cleaning sinks, but, in addition to paying
our janitors for a fair days work, we should require only
a fair days work, and no more.
Mountain View, Calif.
I am surprised that the
universitys quadrupled endowment is not being used to keep
wages of the lowest-paid workers current with the cost of living.
is a tremendous blessing and allows the university to invest in
the needs of the university community today and in the future. As
President Shapiro describes in the February 21 issue (The Presidents
Page), it is important for Princeton to invest in the human
and intellectual capital that lies at the heart of the University.
Surely the employees responsible for maintaining Princetons
living and working environment, as well as the workers who provide
food, library, and other services, are part of Princetons
important human and intellectual capital.
As the world watches
Princetons service of all nations, people will
first notice the fairness with which the university treats people
right on campus.
What is at stake is education.
I know that the most lasting and important things that I learned
in college came from observation and participation in activities
outside of class (Outdoor Action, Student Volunteers Council, living/cooking
in the 2 Dickinson Street Coop).
I hope the university
trustees remember that students and alumni are watching their response
to the Workers Rights Organizing Committee (WROC) with interest.
No doubt we will learn more from what they do than what they say.
Chris Shephard 98
Editors note: See
In Brief, page 11, for an update.
Legacy preference prevails
In the November 22 issue,
Bailey Brower 49 errs by using the percentage of legacies
in each entering class to allege that alumni children are given
short shrift in the admissions process.
Over the years since
his days on campus, the universitys prestige and attractiveness
have become better known outside the university community, and at
the same time the size of the university has grown. As a result,
many more applications are received from nonalumni children than
in those days, and the percentage of applicants who are nonlegacies
has inevitably increased. In fact, the only way the percentage of
legacies could possibly equal those days would be if virtually 100
percent of alumni children applicants were accepted, regardless
of their qualifications.
A much more relevant
measurement is the percentage of applicants who are accepted to
Princeton. Today, the percentage of alumni children applicants who
are accepted is between three and four times that of nonlegacies
proof that, if anything, the admission office is already
giving overwhelming preference to legacies. Some might even consider
this to be too much preference, because it raises the possibility
that the quality of the entering class is diminished through this
Lets not make the
mistake of using the wrong measure to determine how much favoritism
our children receive in the admissions process.
Kenneth Sax 73
or Vanity Fair
What is your agenda?
PAW is supposed to be news for the alumni about Princeton; but instead
you seem to be designing articles for consumption by the general
public readers of Vanity Fair or some such. For example, the Princeton
basketball team is in a serious Ivy league race with ups and downs
of upsets by our team and then losses. You ignore this. We also
have a mens and womens track team which has been dominating
the Heptagonals and putting in some significant performances. Again
no mention. This is relatively more important than a puff piece
on Keith Elias, with all due deference.
Bring back Dan Coyle
of my day when PAW was devoted to solid news journalism not pop
culture pieces with unnecessary photo graphics. In case you dont
remember, PAW is a controlled circulation magazine not dependent
on newsstand sales or subscription marketing. It should be about
time to get back to basics and away from your ego trips into Vanity
Fair and New York magazine marketing.
R. A. Wittreich 50
It was with tremendous
sadness that I read the recent notice of the death of professor
emeritus Marius B. Jansen 44. I had the great privilege in
the spring semester of my freshman year to enroll in his course
covering the history of Japan from feudal to modern times. Even
today, some 13 years later, I can still vividly recall him (always
in a natty bow tie) as he led his charges through the vagaries of
Japanese history from the time of the Tokugawa shogunate through
the Meiji restoration.
Professor Jansen was
a modest and courtly gentleman with a gift for stoking the fire
of curiosity in young minds. He accomplished the laudable distinction
we hope all Princeton faculty strive to achieve: accomplished scholarship
and excellence as a teacher. He will be sorely missed.
Christopher L. Ray 91
David Pertsemlidis 91
is exactly right in his letter to PAW (February 7). The mantel is
indeed that of 43 Blair Hall, which was inhabited by myself, Jim
Carlisle, Timothy Gill, and Matthew Morris (1994 Team Tournament
Jeopardy Winner!) during the 199596 school year. Jim lives
in Boston today, while Tim and Matt live together in New York.
The year before, the room had been inhabited by a student who was
said to have drunk himself to a 0.43 BAC (he survived). Coincidence?
I think not. The mantel may have had something to do with it. We
cant say for sure.
Ill see if I can
find a picture from my era of the mantel, which has my initials
JSE carved into it, and send it to you.
John Saul Jack
Edwards, Jr. 98
As project manager for
the Blair Hall renewal project, I can report to Edward D. Winters
36 that the carved mantel in 43 Blair is still there, albeit
as of this writing still covered with Christmas stockings and tinsel
from this past holiday season by its four current (male) occupants.
Mr. Winters and other alumni may be interested in knowing that our
design approach for Blairs room finishes respects the authenticity
of every salvageable chestnut mantel. Of the 63 fireplaces in the
building, we were able to restore 50 of these original dark, carved
relics. Others had been previously replaced, and a few, along with
every other piece of wood trim including bench seats, were replaced
due to excessive wear. However, it was the precedent of these mantels
that enabled us to retain the original deep finish scheme on all
the new replacement trim, doors, and windows. Those carvings do
leave a lasting impression.
David W. Howell
Office of Physical Planning
The Martin Luther King
Project at Stanford University seeks material related to Dr. Kings
visit to Princeton on March 13, 1960, when he preached in the Chapel.
Anyone who remembers this or who has photos, programs, audio, etc.,
are asked to contact Tenisha Armstrong at 650-725-8833 or tenisha@stanford.
Palo Alto, Calif.