Notebook - May 19, 1999
Shapiro and trustees ban Nude Olympics
Students who attempt to perpetuate the event risk one-year suspension
The decision is final. President Shapiro and the trustees have endorsed a recommendation to ban the Nude Olympics. Any student attempting to continue the tradition by daring to run in the buff risks a one-year suspension. A stiff penalty, for sure, but necessary to act as a deterrent and put an end to the games, according the March 29 report by a special committee charged with finding a way to end the Nude Olympics. If some 300 sophomores run next year, 300 will be suspended, said Janina Montero, Dean of Student Life and chairwoman of the committee.
Shapiro and the trustees endorsed the report's recommendations at their meeting in April. According to a written statement by the trustees, they "find intolerable the serious risks that this event poses to our students' health, safety, and well-being, and believe it would be irresponsible to permit any event of this nature to continue."
Shapiro and the trustees were not willing "to wait until a student died" before taking action to end the Nude Olympics, wrote Vice-President for Public Affairs Robert K. Durkee '69 in an online discussion group on TigerNet.
The report broadly defined the event to take into account "any activity that attempts to perpetuate the Nude Olympics or behavior that in the past has been associated with the Nude Olympics."
The report also called for establishing a separate disciplinary and appeals process that will be "equipped to handle an unusually high number of cases in a short period of time." The dean of student life will initially determine if a student is guilty. Appeals will be heard by a three-person subcommittee of the Committee on Discipline -- the dean of the college, a student, and a faculty member. The only excuse to avoid the penalty of suspension, stated the report, would be "I was not there."
In addition to suspension, students might receive additional punishments for "aggravating behaviors" such as coercing other students to participate or committing acts of vandalism.
Public Safety will train teams of officers to catch naked students. And President Shapiro will send a letter to the parents of all undergraduates informing them of the policy on the Nude Olympics.
Student response to the fate of the tradition and the severe penalty has been mixed. Some have accepted the end of the Nude Olympics, while others have complained that the punishment doesn't fit the crime.
Alastair Walling '00, who has run in Nude Olympics twice but who says he will not run next year, believes the university "has no right to meddle" with the event, a tradition "begun by students for students."
Three undergraduates expressed their reactions to the news of the ban and penalty not in words but in actions: according to The Daily Princetonian, they ran nude in the rain in front of Brown Hall.
Although Justin Luciani '02, president of his class, believes that the penalty is too severe, he thinks the university had no choice but to end the event.
What might happen next year, nobody knows for sure. Walling predicts that only a few students will defy the ban. "What I would like to see," he said, "is 4,000 naked students surrounding Nassau Hall."
-- Kathryn Federici Greenwood
Work from Grand Tour, artifacts
A view of the Uffizi Gallery, an illustration from a 1744 book by Giuseppe Zocchi, Scelta di XXIV Vedute delle Principali Contrade, Piazze, Chiese, e Palazzi della Città di Firenze, is among the items on display in the exhibit "In Search of Art: The English Grand Tour," at Firestone Library through next September 19. The exhibit tells the story of the Grand Tour through the original art and beautifully illustrated rare books of artists and writers of the 18th and 19th centuries. The idea of travel as a means of personal enlightenment first emerged in 18th-century England. Travelers, including artists and writers, generally headed toward Italy by way of France and Switzerland, seeking the classical landscapes and artistic treasures of Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice as their ultimate destination.
Concurrently on display in the library is "Artifacts: The Biographical Object in the Collections of the Princeton University Library." The library has in its collection disparate kinds of artifacts, ranging from fire arms and machines to personal apparel. This exhibition points out what information can be gleaned from artifacts and why they deserve the space they occupy on library shelves.
Greek warfare comes to campus
Young men with shields and helmets glistening in the sun march into battle. No, it's not an ROTC drill, just your everyday ancient Greek battle taking place on Poe Field.
The battle, a reconstruction of the Greek phalanx, was an experiment for Topics in Ancient History: Warfare in the Ancient World (Classics 326) -- and an experiment for any hearty soul captivated by the lore of battle.
According to Assistant Professor of Classics and generalfortheday John Ta-Chiang Ma, the goal of the mock battle was to "visualize a phalanx battle, the heavy infantry formation that characterized ancient Greek warfare from circa 650 B.C. to the later 4th century B.C."
Attacking a topic whose history is rather vague, Ma wanted to explore "the physical evolution of such a beast, across a field, and also perhaps to get a sense for the physics, mechanics, and bodies as well as texts and historical documents [on ancient battles]."
Ma also cited a recreational reason for the event. "There is no reason history should just be about the classroom and the book. Imagination plays an important role, but imagining physicality, imagining bodies, is very difficult," he explained. "This is an effort at putting bodies together to help bridge the historical gap. Madcap enthusiasm and re-enactment also have their place in history."
Ma said he was hoping to enlist at least 300 "soldiers," but the actual number of participants -- approximately 60 students -- fell well short of his expectations. Though it did not have thousands of men like an actual ancient Greek phalanx, Ma was able to demonstrate the group's charge, as well as the tactical elements of speed and movement.
Some participants had less academic motives for participating in this battle. "There are some people in the class whom I really don't like, so I was hoping to go out there and really crack some skulls," Royce Reed '99 said. "For some reason, Professor Ma didn't seem to agree, though."
The battle itself turned out to be quite a spectacle, as less-than-well-trained students attempted to transform themselves into battlehardened Greek hoplites. In the end, the event more closely resembled theater of the absurd than an actual Greek battle.
To some students' dismay, Ma announced a nondrinking policy for his soldiers, which is contrary to the history of the phalanx. Often, when the Greeks were preparing for the battle, wine would be passed around to help the men "summon their courage," according to Ma. He said he did not approve re-enacting this particular aspect of the battle experience.
The sobriety of the participants did not prevent them from displaying their inept military skills. Even the simple task of marching turned out to be a chore, which made the more difficult task of charging into the opposing phalanx a virtual impossibility. Students were able to accomplish one part of the re-enactment with some competence, however: playing dead.
-- Brad Colmer '02
This article appeared in the March 25 issue of The Daily Princetonian.
Ask the Professor
Instructor in Psychology and Public Affairs Penny S. Visser
How has the national debate on global warming changed public perceptions of its existence and dangers?
A the aggregate level, public opinion appears to have been largely unaffected by the debate over global warming, which climaxed in the fall of 1997 during the White House Conference on Global Climate Change. Before and after the debate, for example, roughly equal proportions of Americans believed that global warming had been happening (79 percent), that it would occur in the future if nothing was done to stop it (75 percent), that it would be bad for people (58 percent), and that the U.S. government should do a great deal or quite a bit to combat it (57 percent).
But aggregate public opinion data can conceal dramatic shifts of opinion. When contentious debates unfold on an issue, the public often takes its cues from the few political leaders they trust most. If different groups of citizens look to different leaders for cues, opinions may change in opposite directions, canceling out when the public as a whole is examined.
And indeed, this is exactly what occurred in the fall of 1997. Because Clinton and Gore championed the global warming cause while many prominent Republicans expressed skepticism, Democratic citizens moved toward the administration's point of view while Republican citizens moved away. For example, in September, 72 percent of strong Democrats thought global warming had been happening, compared to 68 percent of strong Republicans, a gap of 4 percent. In January, these figures were 86 percent and 69 percent, revealing an increased gap of 17 percent. Likewise, in September, 75 percent of strong Democrats thought global warming would happen in the future, compared to 67 percent of strong Republicans, an 8 percent gap. In January, these figures were 76 percent and 55 percent, representing a 21 percent gap.
This increased partisan gap was most pronounced among citizens most likely to take cues from partisan leaders: people who knew little about global warming and therefore had only minimally crystallized opinions. For example, in terms of beliefs about whether global warming had been happening, the partisan gap grew from 1 percent in September to 20 percent in January among people who said they knew "little" or "nothing" about global warming, a change of 19 percent. But among people who said they knew "a lot" or "a moderate amount" about global warming, the difference between strong Democrats and strong Republicans increased by only 3 percent between September and January.
Thus, whereas the national debate over global warming produced only modest changes in the distribution of opinion for the nation as a whole, it produced fairly dramatic partisan polarization on this issue, particularly among those least knowledgeable about it. Even after this polarization, however, large majorities of Americans continued to believe that global warming had been happening and would continue in the future if nothing is done to stop it, and that the U.S. government, American businesses, and foreign governments should take significant steps to combat the problem.
Cotsen Library reaches out to community
Aleta Marie Hayes, a lecturer in the Council in the Humanities and Theater and Dance, engaged visiting school children in a creative movement workshop last February as part of an outreach program organized by the Cotsen Children's Library. In conjunction with an exhibit on "African-American Dance, a Picture Book History," Hayes provided an overview of the development of modern dance.
Her workshop was one of several programs organized this year by the Cotsen Children's Library that involved children from local communities, undergraduates, and community members and organizations. These programs are designed to share the Cotsen collection, which is noncirculating and comprises one of the world's finest historical collections of children's books, with preschool and school-age children, and to encourage them to look at picture books not only as entertainment but also as reflections of society and culture, said Bonnie Bernstein, Cotsen outreach coordinator. Housed within Firestone Library, the Cotsen Library is the result of a gift from trustee Lloyd E. Cotsen '50; it opened in October 1997.
During Reunions, children may listen to storyteller Susan B. Danoff '75 read at the Cotsen Library on Friday, May 28, from 2 to 3 p.m. On Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., a storyteller from Middle-Earth Theater will entertain children in front of Dillon Gym. Children will be provided costumes and be invited to act out the stories. During the weekend, the Cotsen gallery will serve as a collection site for used books that the Class of 1979 will donate to a school located near the border of Texas and Mexico.
10.8 percent receive "YES!" letters
By admitting 1,600 of 14,874 applicants this year, the admission office accepted only 10.8 percent of the largest applicant pool in university history, Dean of Admission Fred A. Hargadon said.
"It's the largest number of applicants and the smallest number of admits in the past 25 years," he said. Last year, the university admitted 13.1 percent of applicants -- 1,700 out of 13,006.
Though he said he did not know precisely how many students of each minority group were admitted, Hargadon said more than one third of admitted students indicated they are from a minority background. Thirty-two percent of current students are minorities or international students.
Hargadon noted that 49 percent of admitted students are female and 51 percent are male, whereas 46.5 percent of current undergraduates are female. About 10 percent of the admitted students are sons or daughters of Princeton alumni. Compared to other groups, a much higher percentage of alumni children accept the offer of admission.
Nine percent of the "YES!" letters mailed were sent overseas to international students. Among the current undergraduate student body, 5.2 percent are international students. Hargadon said his office admitted 150 students from 49 different countries this year. Though percentages of admitted minorities, international students, and females are higher than those of the undergraduate student body, Hargadon said it remains to be seen how many will accept the university's offer.
The yield rate, the percentage of admitted students who decide to attend the university, determines how many people Hargadon and his office admit.
Hargadon explained that because the yield rate has increased in recent years -- last year it was almost 70 percent -- "We only took 1,600, because housing says we don't dare come in over 1,150 [matriculated]." Both the Class of 1999 and the Class of 2002 contained more students than university housing could accommodate, causing housing wait lists and temporary rooming situations.
If the yield this year does not go over 70 percent, said Hargadon, "we will bring people off the wait list to bring it up to the target number of 1,150."
He added that the increase in applicants can be attributed in part to the recent financial-aid initiative. "It's partly because of the publicity of our financial aid. Of course, a number of other schools followed Princeton's lead and expanded their own financial-aid programs," he said.
The effects of financial-aid changes, however, will also depend on whether admitted lowincome students believe their families can afford the university. "If financial aid is going to mean anything, it's going to be in how many students accept us," Hargadon said.
More than half of this year's applicants had SAT scores above 1,400, and more than 4,300 applicants posted grade-point averages of 4.0, he said.
-- Jed Seltzer '00
This article appeared in the April 6 issue of The Daily Princetonian.
Backhoes busy on campus
Large machinery in muddy pits is a common sight these days around campus, and it's only going to get worse as the university moves ahead on several new projects. This spring, work crews are busy on the Wallace Social Sciences Center (located on McCosh Walk East, just behind Dial Lodge) and the Frist Campus Center (a renovated and expanded Palmer Hall).
When it is completed in the summer of 2000, the Wallace center will stand adjacent to Corwin and Fisher halls, which house the politics and economics departments, respectively, and close to the Woodrow Wilson School. The four-level building will be home to the sociology department, the Office of Population Research (OPR), and a library that will serve the Woodrow Wilson School and OPR, said Jon D. Hlafter '61 *63, director of physical planning. The new Bendheim Center for Finance will be located in Dial Lodge, which has been purchased by the university and will be refurbished starting this summer.
According to Hlafter, the Wallace building will relieve a space crunch in the Woodrow Wilson School and provide a consolidated home for the sociology department and a new home for OPR, whose current location in the old Cannon Club will no longer be available when DEC (the consolidated Dial, Elm, and Cannon clubs) reacquires the Cannon building.
The university plans to improve McCosh Walk East from Washington Road to the Engineering Quadrangle. The Friends Center for Engineering, a state-of-the-art center for the School of Engineering and Applied Science, will also be located along the walkway. The university hopes to begin construction on the center this summer. Designed by Henry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed Architects, the Friends center will be adjacent to the computer science building.
To the west of Washington Road, some of the foundation is in place, and workers have started erecting internal columns for the Frist Campus Center. Hlafter expects classrooms in the old Palmer Hall to be in use by the spring semester of 2000 and the addition to Palmer to be completed by the summer of 2000.
The university has begun the process of systematically renovating older dorms. The work involves overhauling plumbing, electrical, and heating systems; adding wiring for computer connections; and converting some rooms on upper levels to bathrooms, laundries, kitchens, and social spaces.
Patton Hall is the first of the older dorms to be renovated. Work on it is nearing completion, and it will be ready for students next fall. Patton gained a new roof and windows and an archway between its second and third entries, creating a new east-west campus walkway that will eventually lead to the south entrance of the campus center. Blair Hall is the next dorm slated for renovation; work will begin next month, and it will be ready for students in the fall of 2000. Blair is split between Mathey and Rockefeller colleges. Its tower boasts some of the biggest and most popular dorm rooms on campus, but the famed tower suites will be history after next year: they're being converted to seminar rooms (one each for Mathey and Rockefeller) and two apartments for assistant masters.
After Blair, Little Hall will be renovated, followed the next year by Dodd and Lockhart, said Hlafter. After that he's not sure if one or two dorms will be renovated per year. To escalate dorm renovations, he said, the university would need to build another "swing" dorm like the new Scully Hall, which opened to students last fall. Scully has made available some 260 bed spaces to allow for the renovation of dorms and the loss of some bed space in the renovated dorms. Eventually, more dorms will probably be built near Scully in a crescent around the north edge of Poe Field, said Hlafter. But the university would need to raise significant funds, and no decision has yet been made to build those dorms.
In the athletic complex south of the Princeton Stadium, workers have completed a renovation and expansion of Caldwell Field House. The addition has 15 locker rooms, nine for women's teams and female coaches and the rest for visiting teams.
This summer, the university hopes to begin renovating and expanding the boathouse and constructing a new, four-level parking garage behind New South between the PJ&B railroad tracks and the MacMillan building.
-- Kathryn Federici Greenwood
Pulitzers to McPhee, Berg
When Ferris Professor of Journalism John A. McPhee '53 started Annals of the Former World, he thought he would write it in a year. Twenty years and many books later, he finished the geological tour along Interstate 80 that received the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. McPhee admitted he might not have started his project had he known how long it would take. Yet once he started his research, inspired by an assignment for The New Yorker on the Alaskan gold rush, he kept going. Although some of the material was previously published as separate books, he updated it for Annals, which was published last year. A. Scott Berg '71 won the Pulitzer Prize for biography for Lindbergh (PAW, November 18, 1998).
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