March 21, 2007: On the Campus
Folding your napkin; finding your ‘crush’
By Jocelyn Hanamirian ’08
The first thing that graduate students learned when they sat down to an instructional etiquette dinner Feb. 21 is that, despite the four-course offering, they weren’t there for the food.
Instead, self-presentation was the theme of the evening as business etiquette and protocol consultant Debbie Cucinotta gave tableside demonstrations at the Graduate Student Coffee House on the do’s and don’ts of power dining.
Free from the pressures of a formal social or interview setting, students were able to ask even the most detailed of etiquette queries, from the proper fold for the napkin on one’s lap to which wineglasses are paired with red or white wine.
Career Services and the Graduate College have sponsored the event for years with great success, said Kathleen Mannheimer, associate director of career services. “It does help students to prepare for the job search and any receptions and dinners they have to attend,” Mannheimer said.
Of the 60 students in attendance, many were international students looking to strengthen their knowledge of American dining customs. Rose Ndong, a first-year chemical engineering grad student from Senegal, came to the dinner familiar with West African and French dining styles and hoping to learn more about American protocol.
“At home people usually eat with their hands,” Ndong said. “With globalization, their tendency is to eat with a knife and a fork, but not like the American or European way. We are more flexible.”
Sam Baker, a first-year graduate student in the philosophy department, came with an academic fascination for the rules of etiquette. “I am interested in the relation of ethics and aesthetics,” Baker explained. “You have these ideas of what’s appropriate, but it’s almost an aesthetic sense.”
While knowledgeable about American dining etiquette, Baker said he learned some things he did not know before. “It’s in bad taste to lift your glass and drink after someone toasts you at dinner,” he said, “perhaps about as tacky as clapping for yourself.”
On Valentine’s Day, hundreds of students received the following heart-racing e-mail message: “Congratulations! A brave Princetonian has just announced (not really announced, but sort of like, is secretly letting you know) that they have a crush on you!”
How does a Princetonian respond to the anonymous confessions of another Princetonian? Anonymously, of course.
The Undergraduate Student Government’s “crush finder” Website, which does away with personality profiles and essentially redefines the speed of speed dating, allows students to type in the network IDs of five “crushes” who each receive an e-mail with the above message. The only way to find out who sent a crush e-mail to you is to log on to the crush finder site, in turn, and submit a list of your five crushes. If there is a “match,” both parties receive an e-mail telling them there is a mutual crush.
For the past few years, students have used princetonmatch.com, Princeton’s version of EHarmony.com, to submit a personal profile and find people with whom they are “compatible.”
The new site is an express version of that, explained USG vice president and site designer Josh Weinstein ’09. As a testament to the site’s popularity, a total of 1,394 people submitted their crushes in the first 10 days, resulting in 875 matches.
Using another form of anonymous communication, the USG created an online form in which students can submit comments to professors anonymously. In the site’s first few days, more than 20 students responded. Typical comments focused on a professor’s classroom demeanor or actions such as, “It’s distracting when you call on the same auditors all the time to answer questions,” or “I can’t see when you write on the blackboard. Would you be willing to use the overhead projector?”
To screen out unconstructive or offensive comments, the e-mail comment first is sent to the academics chair of the USG, Sarah Breslow ’08, without the student’s identification information attached. Breslow then forwards the message to the professor.
“One-hundred percent of the comments have been positive, constructive complaints,” she said. “Most students even preface the comments by saying that they love the professor and the class.”
Jocelyn Hanamirian ’08 is an English major from Villanova, Pa.
MORE ON THE CAMPUS ONLINE, click here: “Bourbon Street heat; Lake Carnegie ice,” by P.G. Sittenfeld ’07