December 18, 2002: From the Editor

Photo: David Petraeus *85 *87 (U.S. Army)

In this issue, Fred Bernstein ’77 examines the two faces of Princeton’s new architecture: the exploding curves of Frank Gehry’s science library, and the tradition-bound elegance of Demetri Porphyrios’s collegiate-gothic Whitman College. It makes sense that a science library in which students and researchers will break through boundaries and shatter myths would itself be edgy and challenging, and that a residential college would suggest solidity, grace, and tranquillity.

In the architecture world, many critics have sided with Gehry, arguing that building in the collegiate-gothic style suggests an institution heading backward, not forward. Here I admit to being politically incorrect. Like Porphyrios, I lived in the Graduate College, and vividly recall its peace and calm. It was easy to reflect and focus, regardless of what was happening in the real world.

In many ways, all of Princeton is that cocoon – for both good and bad. PAW student columnist Kristin Roper ’03 writes about the mood on campus as the U.S. prepares for a possible war with Iraq. For the most part, she writes, students are interested but not passionate or anxious. The situation is discussed in classrooms, and visiting lecturers speak on the implications of war at home and abroad. But the discussion is academic, rarely personal.

In all likelihood, few at Princeton would feel the brunt of a war. Others would. On the final page of this issue, David Petraeus *85 *87, the new commander of the 101st Airborne and Fort Campbell, speaks of his pride in his soldiers, who – at the same age as Princeton students – are training for a possible mission in Iraq.

Kathrin C. McWatters ’03 is the battalion commander of the Tiger Battalion in the Princeton Army R.O.T.C.; not surprisingly, she takes the threat of war more personally than most on campus. McWatters grew up in a military family and accepted an Army R.O.T.C. scholarship to finance her Princeton education.

“It was only when I arrived on campus that I realized how separate my two realities would be for the next four years, and how tough it would be to straddle the divide,” she wrote in an e-mail. “In six months I will receive my commission as a second lieutenant in the active-duty U.S. Army – this means that the possibility of war in Iraq is more than an academic one for me and many of my closest friends.

“While the campus still often seems to be buzzing along on its way to investment banking interviews and literature classes, my days are increasingly filled with thoughts and discussions of the escalating tension,” she said. “The possibilities are disturbing, and sometimes even a rigorous panel discussion at the Woodrow Wilson School isn’t enough to answer the urgent questions I have about my future as a military officer.”

Wishing you contentment and peace this holiday season.


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