a PAW web exclusive column
about the university in the year 2000
Last year the Council
of the Humanities at Princeton sponsored a contest in which students
were asked to describe Princeton in short email-like messages. Below
are some excerpts from some of the entries.
at first you think they're cute. The soft, fuzzy fur. Those big
eyes. How adorable they look as they nibble at their acorns. But
pretty soon you realize they don't look so cute when you wake
up and they're sitting in your dorm room nibbling at your Valentine
Those annoying Princeton
squirrels. You don't read about them in the brochures, but trust
me, they are as much a part of the Princeton experience as Houseparties,
eating clubs, and crazy Reunions.
Kate Benson '03
I rowed like a dog. We
all did. I remember the morning practices when we were "hands
on" by 7, gliding the boat out of the stacks and carrying it
out to the lake. Some mornings there was still ice on the water,
and when we shoved off, the chunks would clunk against the shell.
Well, whatever the conditions, we were out there. Carnegie Lake
is sheltered by trees and almost windless so that the air sits dead
over the water. The surface grows so flat it looks like a steel
sheet. The boat cuts through this equilibrium with a balance of
its own, eight boys in perfect rhythm, each oar dipping in the green
blue liquid at the same moment, propelling it forward, pulse by
pulse, and leaving a tranquil froth in tow. If one person were off,
the whole boat would go askew and rock precariously close to the
water so that you could hear it gurgle from how fast it moved past
you. I remember those mornings because they were the most solemn,
before you were even really awake, and without the noises of the
business day. It was just you and seven other guys moving silently
and perfectly together, with the lake just looming all around you.
Theodore Pasquali '01
advice: Buy yourself plenty of underwear and socks before you
get here; everything else you can wear at least a dozen times
before true griminess. Also, do not do laundry on a Sunday afternoon
unless you want to compete for dryers with all the others who
also thought Sunday was a perfect wash day. Do laundry on a Tuesday
morning or in the middle of the night, when you will have the
whole place to yourself. And, most importantly, don't forget about
your laundry, wet or dry, lest it end up in a mildewy pile or
a wrinkly mess. If possible, let your dirty clothes accumulate
until you go home for a break, or consider sending it home, as
they did in the old days.
Aimee Hess '02
are undeniably distinct from their peers at this university, if
not just a little bit peculiar sometimes. For some reason, no one
ever seems to know what exactly we do all day in this glass and
concrete building or why it is necessary to spend as much time here
as we do, including those of us who keep this place populated at
all times of the day and night.
While I can credit my
many late nights in this building for the foundation of some of
my most valued friendships, what also stands out in my mind is the
interaction we are privileged to have with the graduate students
in this program. Sometimes their cool demeanor and tortured intellectual
appearance make them seem daunting and unapproachable, but I can
say with confidence that the architecture grad students are among
the most accessible and sympathetic people that I know. Nowhere
else on this campus do graduate students work so closely alongside
undergraduates and consider them as their peers, which I find exceptional.
Michelle Leong '00
Life here is a fabulous
mess, a cacophony of commitments and desires, of things you have
to do, things you need to do, things that just happen on their
own. The secret is, it's not about picking and choosing. People
don't come here to learn how to Prioritize - you've learned that
already (or you will, when you finally figure out where you want
to go to college). People come here to savor existence in one
of the luckiest communities on earth.
Ed Finn '02
Princeton to me is all
about doors. The heavy wooden doors of Gothic buildings: beautiful,
old, even imposing - but you want to know what's behind them. You
want access to the resources, the people, the insight, the help,
the connections, the skills that the doors wait to reveal.
Chris Bradley '01
I find that I have
a love-hate relationship with the night. Though I would never
choose to stay up until 4 A.M., there is something very powerful
about being awake in the dead of the night with the noble purpose
of getting things done. You begin to feel that you are all alone,
that all others are tucked snug in their beds. But one glance
out the window, and you'll see many other dorm rooms lit up. Walk
down to the computer cluster and there will be students, typing
away, surrounded by caffeinated beverages and sugary-snacks, acquired
from a recent run to WaWa, a defining part of nighttime at Princeton.
The Wa is a convenience store sitting on the comer of campus.
It is open 24 hours a day, so Wa runs are possible, and usually
most fulfilling, in the middle of the night. Not only do you have
all sorts of food to choose from (my dead-of-the-night purchase
is always a cappuccino from a machine and a roll of bread from
the bread truck's nightly 2 A.M. delivery), but often there will
be other students there to commiserate with about work.
The Wa always seems
to help, and eventually all the work gets done. Though I try not
to make too great a habit of it, I've found missing a little sleep
for the sake of work seems more exciting on a college campus than
it ever did at home.
Anne Kelsey '01
of every school year's curiosities for me is a fall visit to the
U-Store during the time when students are buying textbooks and notebooks,
eating free cookies, and generally getting back in touch with each
other. The freshmen are easy to spot: they're the ones standing
in front of the shelves, mouthing, "You mean we have to read
all of this?"
College students do have
to do a lot of reading, and I think this fact comes as a surprise
to many who are just starting out. For humanities courses, an entire
book per week is not an unusual reading load. One of the most notable
changes that college life seems to work on young people is an astronomical
increase in their ability to read - not merely to decode words for
the sake of getting to the end of them, but to put the words together
into a faithful understanding of what the author had to say.
Ian S. Hageman '00
One of the peculiarities
of Princeton is that you can never turn a corner or pass through
an archway without becoming acquainted with some new gargoyle
or inscription. My favorite is a quote carved above the entrance
to McCosh 50; it begins, "Here we were taught by men and
Gothic towers..." There's a certain nobility to it, and I
can affirm that I have learned many things from Princeton's Gothic
instructors. These massive stone vaults never cease to amaze me
with their concern for my welfare.
Krista C. Dobi '00
pairs of cleats crunch across the whitened fields. "We sound
like elephants," Scott says, and there is tacit agreement,
though none of us has ever heard an elephant jog through the snow.
Still, each step on this unsure ground feels elephantine and ponderous.
We gamely jog a lap, then sit down, muddying our sweatpants, to
This is the first practice
of Ultimate season, spring 2000. In weather best suited to cross-country
skiing or snowboarding, we are about to sprint and leap and toss
around small plastic discs. It's 36 degrees and we're playing Frisbee.
Abe Crystal '00
I think it's safe
to say that I've done almost everything that I ever hoped to do
have talked with my roommate about relationships at 3:00 A.M.
I have eaten lunch on the steps of Nassau Hall. I have helped
paint a class year on the cannon. I have brought friends to dinner
with my parents. I have brought friends home. I have built a 7-foot-tall
snowman. I have gone periods of three days without attending to
any sort of hygiene. I have taken trips to exotic places at the
university's expense. I have run out of a physics review session
to watch the final episode of Seinfeld.
I have climbed a mountain
in Virginia with nine new friends before school even began. I
have learned the importance of fabric softener. I have been so
happy I danced around in my underwear. I have watched my favorite
bands perform and then hung out with them afterwards. I have gone
48 hours without sleep. I have gone 14 hours without waking up.
I have crashed my bike. I have aided in the theft of a decorative
pumpkin. I have built a bookshelf out of two cinder blocks and
a board. I have changed my major. I have thrown 12 surprise parties.
I have watched the most incredible basketball game I could ever
hope to see. I have worn a tuxedo with sunglasses.
I have learned to
ski. I have learned to swing dance. I have purchased a giant,
comfortable, cheap couch. I have studied with famous people. I
have grown a goatee. I have seen two people dress as a giant hamster.
I have frolicked fully clothed in a fountain. I have crowd-surfed.
I have had an epiphany. I have taken a friend to the hospital.
I have driven a plaid vehicle. I have purchased and named a houseplant.
I have gotten a perfect score on an exam. I have failed an exam.
I have learned more than 20 dirty songs. I have been in a group
of five people in which I was the only one who didn't speak Bulgarian.
And at some point, I believe, I have probably also taken some
Adam Ruben '01