On the Campus...
November 16, 2005:
thoughts: Clubs, drinking … and jobs
By Christian R. Burset ’07
Borough and University officials have long engaged in a cold war
against underage drinking on Prospect Avenue. While often voicing
their disapproval, they rarely take major action against the clubs.
In October, when police detained an intoxicated 17-year-old student
from a nearby private school, the war briefly seemed poised to heat
up. According to The Daily Princetonian, the police determined
that the student had been drinking at two eating clubs. Police launched
an investigation, and – independently of police involvement
– Tiger Inn and Ivy both voluntarily went dry for two weeks.
But no charges were filed, and the clubs haven’t announced
any sweeping reforms of their taprooms. At most, it seems the Prospect
10 will renew their commitments to existing safeguards: professional
bouncers at the door to ensure only Princeton students enter, wristbands
to identify students who are 21 and older, and club officers patrolling
“All of the clubs have very good procedures” for regulating
alcohol, borough prosecutor Kim Otis said. “One of the issues
is how they enforce them.”
But others say those procedures aren’t adequate. Councilman
David Goldfarb said he favors an ordinance permitting police officers
to enforce existing liquor laws on private property – including
eating clubs. In an interview, he said alcohol-related problems
at Princeton would decrease if there were no eating clubs.
“The culture of the clubs leads students to think that it’s
expected of them to drink,” he said.
Many students argue that eating clubs actually contribute to a
safer drinking environment. They serve beer rather than hard liquor,
and they eliminate the risks of driving to bars off-campus. The
University has helped train a group of students at each club in
first aid, CPR and how to recognize dangerous levels of alcohol
Jamal Motlagh ’06, president of both Quadrangle Club and
the Interclub Council, said that since February – when current
club presidents came into office – the clubs have had an exceptional
Motlagh acknowledged that there are dangerous patterns of alcohol
consumption on campus. But he said the problem was often “pregaming”
– room parties in which students start the night by drinking
hard liquor – rather than the clubs themselves.
He also stressed that alcohol-related problems originate not with
institutions but with individual students.
“I think there needs to be more personal responsibility,”
Motlagh said. “If we’re adults and we’re drinking,
why can’t we be held responsible for our actions?”
IT’S RECRUITING SEASON, as anyone can tell
by watching suit-clad seniors grab much-needed coffee between interviews.
Most of them apply for jobs or grad schools that take them away
from Princeton. But for some young alumni, graduation means staying
close to Nassau Hall.
Tom Vogl ’05, who works as a research specialist in the
Woodrow Wilson School, said he was initially concerned about fitting
in as a Princeton employee.
“When I first took the job, I was a bit apprehensive about
feeling out of place, about feeling as if I was still hanging around
a place from which I should have moved on,” Vogl said in an
email from Tanzania, where he’s coordinating fieldwork for
two weeks. “As it turns out, my qualms were mostly unfounded.”
Vogl has tried to remain active in campus life as a Butler College
fellow and by becoming involved in a community service organization,
for which he never had time as a student.
But even for those with ties to University organizations, it can
be difficult for young alumni to find rewarding social lives. Ryan
Anderson ’04, who has worked part-time since graduation as
the ministry coordinator of the Aquinas Institute and full-time
as executive director of the Witherspoon Institute, said that compared
to his home town of Baltimore, there’s not much for non-students
to do in Princeton.
“I’m not meeting new people, except for freshmen,”
Anderson said, noting that they are now six years younger than he
is. The problem is exacerbated, he added, because most of his workday
is spent in the solitary task of research.
But Anderson added that his professional and ministerial experiences
have outweighed the social downsides.
Anderson wasn’t unique in worrying about Princeton’s
lack of social opportunities. Katherine Reilly ’05 decided
to move to New York City even though she works in Princeton as special
assistant to Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter.
“As much as I love it [at Princeton], I thought it would
be more exciting to live someplace new and to be able to be near
my friends,” said Reilly, a former PAW columnist. “My
commute is pretty long, but I think it’s worth it.”
So just how different are professional and student life at Princeton?
“Actually, I find that my office life parallels my (former)
thesis life in a number of ways,” Vogl said. “Most alumni
would cringe at the thought of this, but oddly enough, I enjoy it.”
“There’s far less alcohol in the office than in the
dorm,” he added.
Burset ’07 is a history major from Bernardsville, N.J.