grad students, it's sometimes about the bike or a foreign land
by Jessica Jacobson GS
Christopher Broughton GS emerged from French class in McCosh Hall
and paused near his bike as he put on his beret. He acquired the
bike, a gray and red Trek 800 with a green milk crate tied on the
back, for free from the campus bike giveaway held November 20. He
still smiles when he recalls how he landed a bike worth over $300
"I got there kind of late, so I didn't have much hope,"
he recalled. "When I found this, I got cold chills down my
spine. I was happy for the rest of the day!" Broughton, a former
Peace Corps volunteer who had been using a women's bike until the
giveaway, passed his old bike along to his wife.
Twice a year Princeton's housing department collects abandoned
bicycles from around campus and distributes them free to graduate
students. Mark Bianchi, facilities manager for operations, says
the University singled out graduate students to help because their
need is greater. and they "are located farthest from campus."
Mario Oliva, a custodian at the Stanworth faculty and staff apartments
located on Bayard Lane, arrived at 8 a.m. to set up the more than
200 bikes for the 10 o'clock event. "Whoa! Whoa!" he exclaimed
as he opened the garage where the bikes had been tossed helter skelter
over the past six months. Many bicycles were complete, but others
were in various states of disrepair, pressed together in a colorful
heap of metal and rubber that seemed to defy gravity.
Oliva and a colleague, Caesar Vescera, disentangled the bicycles
one by one and set them out on the rain-soaked street, where students
were already lining up.
"We call them boomerang bikes," said Bianchi, "because
they go out and come right back." Students who have received
bicycles from past giveaways later abandon them when they graduate
or move away, putting them back in the giveaway cycle. "This
year," Bianchi said, "we asked public safety to come and
register the bikes as people took them. I expect that not as many
people will leave their bikes this time."
Seventy-five bicycles remained unclaimed from the giveaway. "They
are truly garbage," said Bianchi. Nevertheless, he plans to
send only half to the dumpster. "Some students will take two
bikes and put them together to make one," he said. "We
want to give everybody the chance to get a bicycle."
Oksana Nagayets, a Ukrainian second-year M.P.A. student in the
Woodrow Wilson School, walked out of Entebbe International Airport
and into the evening Ugandan air, taking her first steps in Africa.
Nagayets spent her fall break with two classmates in Uganda studying
access to medications for Ugandan diabetics and asthmatics as part
of her workshop, Getting Medicine to the Poor. Traveling by taxi,
motorbike, and bicycle, she visited urban and regional hospitals,
pharmacies, government officials, and private businesses to learn
firsthand about the challenges of getting drugs to the poor who
have chronic non-communicable diseases.
Since 1996, second-year M.P.A. students have been required to
take a workshop, a student-initiated group project. Groups of six
to 10 students work with clients (local or national government agencies,
community leaders, nonprofits, or advocacy groups) to conduct research
and provide recommendations on a pressing policy issue. Each year,
students suggest topics and help recruit practitioners to teach
the workshops. According to Melissa Lee, assistant director of graduate
programs in the Wilson School, the workshops allow students to experience
a collaborative project, prepare a policy solution for an actual
client, and to produce a tangible product.
Projects conducted this fall spanned the range from U.S. juvenile
justice to community health effects of an Exxon oil pipeline in
One workshop, led by Woodrow Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter
'80, consulted for Pierre Prosper, the U.S. ambassador for war crimes.
Students met with high-level government officials, judges, and human
rights activists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo while investigating
mechanisms that might be used to bring accountability to the perpetrators
of international war crimes committed in that country during the
seven-year (1996-2003) civil war.
A domestically focused group, specializing in urban affairs, studied
the feasibility of developing a waterfront cultural and entertainment
area in Jersey City. They shared their findings with the Jersey
City Economic Development Corporation. "The city councilman
that represents the Journal Square area that we focused on was very
receptive to and excited about our recommendations,"
said Ralph Rosado, a workshop participant.
Another group focusing on postconflict reconstruction, led by
the Center for Strategic and International Studies senior fellow
Rick Barton, traveled to Sri Lanka to assess the ceasefire following
the 20-year civil war between the Tamil Tigers and the Sinhala majority
government. The final report prepared by the students will be published
by the CSIS Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project. "The top
priority [in Sri Lanka] right now is to resolve the power struggle
between the President and the Prime Minister," Jeremy Barnicle,
one of the workshop members, said. "Until that's resolved,
it's going to be very difficult to move forward."