Exclusives: Raising Kate
PAW web exclusive column by Kate Swearengen '04 (email@example.com)
end is near
Tents, barbecues, games, and golf carts
begin in a week, and there's already a big tent outside my window.
I live on the third floor of 1901 Hall, on the side overlooking
Dillon Gym, and when I look out I can see the top of the tent
white with four peaks, like mating albino camels. The tent-men must
have snuck in at night to set it up, and done so in a matter of
minutes, because one morning it was simply there, where there had
been nothing the day before.
"#$%@, what the @*&# is a #*%&@*# tent doing here?"
I heard one gentleman cry, en route from the Street, in the wee
hours of Wednesday morning. Tuesday was Dean's Date, the campus-wide
deadline for all written academic work, and an occasion to get thoroughly
sauced. The unfortunate young man had been out celebrating and had
returned in poor form to find a tent on his doorstep. From the sound
of things, he had either tripped over one of the tent stakes or
become entangled in a stay brace.
Those tents, they cause a lot of trouble. Princeton has yet to
truly taste summer, but there were a handful of warm days when students
could gather on the green spaces of campus and expose themselves
to direct, unadulterated sunlight. During that time, the Henry Hall
courtyard doubled as a baseball diamond. Now, there are tents everywhere,
standing in the way of a good tan and an expertly thrown fastball.
With senior theses turned in, departmental comprehensives over,
and only one more week of final exams, everyone has taken up sport.
There are campus-wide games of Frisbee, in which the players traverse
the campus in pursuit of a flying disc. The games wend around Cannon
Green, through the sculpture outside the West College, past the
photographer carefully posing a Chinese bride and groom, and down
to the Henry courtyard, where they are broken up, disrupted by the
canvas lashes and stay braces of the tents.
In addition to Frisbee, summer weather brings golf and whiffleball
and endless games of catch. There are croquet games too, played
under the tents, whose stakes provide an added challenge. I saw
a group playing yesterday, and when one of the young men got bored,
he tossed his mallet up onto the taut roof of the tent. It slid
down, unable to find purchase on that plasticy stuff, and he caught
it and tossed it up again, to the amusement of his friends. "Huh,
what if it gets stuck up there?"
The mallet didn't get stuck up there. It came crashing down, landing
not on the soft grass or on soft head of the young man who had thrown
it, too hard, over the top of the tent, but on a cement walkway,
where the head broke off with a crack.
The workmen ignore all this. They're busy constructing pylons,
grounding electrical wires, erecting wooden fences around the dormitories
so alumni can drink in compliance with Borough alcohol regulations.
Screens of vertical wooden stakes cover the arched passages of the
old gothic dorms. The campus has taken on the look of a medieval
village. All that's missing is the moat.
Barbeques and Golf Carts: The end of the spring academic
term means the proliferation of barbeques and, as Public Safety
has observed, incidents of golf cart theft. The two are perhaps
not unrelated: in the evenings, students assemble in courtyards,
set up a barbeque, and cook hamburgers. The gatherings
usually number from 10 to 20 people, and play out in much the same
way across campus: as the patties brown, the revelers drink countless
plastic cups of beer. They get bored and want to listen to music.
The student whose room is nearest to the barbeque opens his windows
and turns his stereo up as loud as it will go. Public Safety is
dispatched to deal with the noise violation. The barbeque is broken
up. A few hours later, Public Safety is dispatched again. Someone
has stolen a golf cart and has driven it down the Blair Arch steps.
Golf carts are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis to
students who, in the course of daily life or in the pursuit of sport,
have sustained an injury. Broken arms don't merit a golf cart
fractured legs and torn anterior cruciate ligaments do. Even before
the Blair Arch incident, there was a long waiting list for the carts.
Now, it's become virtually impossible to get one. A week ago, the
Undergraduate Student Government issued a public letter decrying
the recent rash of golf cart attacks:
"Golf cart vandalism on this campus has become endemic. During
peak times, an appalling 1-2 golf carts per week must be sent to
the shop because their tires are slashed, their electronics are
tampered with, etc. Students often attempt to steal the golf carts.
Some owners of the golf carts have irresponsibly driven them under
the influence of alcohol and crashed!"
The USG letter ends with a quotation by Professor Stanley Katz
of the Woodrow Wilson School "A civil society is one
in which multiple social contacts create relationships that bind
the society together. In a civil society even strangers trust one
another. It is one in which people who do not know one another nevertheless
treat one another with respect. This is what we call 'civility.'
" and an entreaty that Princeton students live up to
"Since when does Princeton buy into all this Rousseau crap?"
my friend, a philosophy major, asked. "Life is supposed to
be nasty, brutish, and short. Especially if you're a golf cart."
You can reach Kate Swearengen