from alumni about Princeton's unauthorized accessing of a Yale admission
Dean Hargedon cannot " accept responsibility" and remain in
place. He should resign or be asked to resign.
As the wrangling continues about the unenviable work of the admission office, may I suggest that the title of the Head of the Department be changed to the Dean of Rejections?
For many years I have heard there are many qualified applicants for each slot available in the freshman class, so it doesn't seem to be so much a question of who will be accepted, but rather how can thousands of applicants be rejected on anything approaching a rational, defendable, and explainable basis?
If any of the thousands could matriculate at Princeton if there were
the places, then the one admitted could be selected by the toss of a dart.
The major task then becomes one of explaining to those outside the Admissions
Department why certain individuals were rejected.
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Brad Bradford 44
that it would be tragic to see the career of [Stephen LeMenager]
demolished as a result of a well-meant effort to test the security
of the Yale website. I worked as an admission officer at Princeton with
Mr. LeMenager for four years. He has impeccable integrity, and he is a
very skilled, hardworking, and devoted employee of the university who
shows talent and heart in his work. It should be noted that Mr. LeMenager
was testing the site AFTER the decision letters for Princeton had been
mailed. His actions did not have any bearing on Princetons admission
decisions. Furthermore, he did inform Yales admission staff of his
discovery so they could improve their security. It is a loss to the admission
office and the university to end Mr. LeMenagers role in the selection
of Princetons future classes.
October 20, 2002
President Tilghman got it completely backwards when she failed to support
Princeton's admission office in "l'affaire Yale" this summer,
and instead publicly disciplined two highly respected and long serving
Whether someone in the Yale admission office should be punished for failure
to do the obvious with respect to Internet site sponsorship is best left
October 3, 2002
September 2, 2002
August 31, 2002
Gerry Dryansky '59
My August 13, 2002, correspondence from Shirley M Tilghman and Fred Hargadon regarding the Yale caper, under normal circumstances would have provoked an enormous belly laugh. Had they been written 50 years ago we all would have recognized the tongue and cheek nature of the commentary and given three cheers for the offending party.
Sadly such is not the case in the politically correct atmosphere of Princeton.
One can become outraged by the over competitive nature of a staff member
while at the same time condoning student courses in aberrant sexual behavior,
over sight of honor code, the need for massive protection against theft
(which never occurred during my undergraduate years) or a one-sided political
bias which is totally dismissive of the university's traditional demand
for balanced and fair inquiry.
Tilghman's statement of August 13, 2002, is, in sum and substance,
a ritualistic apology devoid of substantive consequences to the Princeton
administrators who embarrassed the university, compromised its integrity,
and caused the diversion of its resources to underwrite an "independent
Associate Dean LeMenager, who demonstrated both a profound lack of judgment and any sense whatsoever of professional courtesy to a sister institution notwithstanding his "almost twenty years" at Princeton, is reassigned.
Although President Tilghman's statement is ambiguous on the subject, Dean LeMenager appears to have a continuing place on Princeton's payroll.
Both Messrs. Hargadon and LeMenager are affirmatively praised by President Tilghman on the occasion of their respective malfeasances, for being such wonderful people. The underlings in our stellar admission office, who, charitably, cannot be expected to tell right from wrong because obviously their leadership cannot, are to be the subject of unspecified "disciplinary actions." Of course, there will be re-education, training, and new policies for all.
This, then, is President Tilghman's response to administrators who by all accounts displayed an astounding lack of propriety and common sense, whose behavior piqued the curiosity of a U.S. attorney, and who generally made Princeton a laughing stock.
Does President Tilghman really expect Princeton graduates of any era
to be impressed by her handling of this incident?
The public expiations of President Shirley Tilghman and admission dean Fred Hargadon over the use of private data to access Yale's admission website seem to echo the victims of Stalin's purge trials of the 1930s.
The Princeton intruders seemed motivated either by curiosity or concerns over website security. No victims, no compromising of either school's admission decisions.
Yes, it was a mistake, from which one should learn not to do it again.
But sacking the associate director of admission after 20 years of service,
and implying that Hargadon must leave earlier than he otherwise would,
seems incredibly harsh. One strike and you're out.
Editor's note: The associate dean of admission was not sacked, as the
letterwriter states, but reassigned. Dean Hargadon was not asked to leave
earlier than he otherwise would have. The announcement of his retirement
was made earlier than had been planned.
August 19, 2002
Acting only out of impulsive curiosity, and after it was too late to inappropriately use any "confidential" information gathered (even if it were so inclined to do so, which does not appear to be the case at all), the admissions office acted naively in accessing the site.
It failed to take into account the potential for a media frenzy and possible legal ramifications for its careless but not ill-intentioned actions.
Though guilty of poor judgment and neglectful oversight in the heat of battle, the subsequent sincere apology by Princeton to Yale, and its commitment to ensure that the situation does not occur again, is enough of a remedy. But heads rolling is an unforgiving over-reaction by Princeton done mostly because of political correctness, intimidation by the media, and hyper-concern over its pristine moral stature.
And who at Yale has been reprimanded for its own (and arguably more serious) neglect in this matter? And why did the Yale admissions officer (or anyone else) not rise up in indignation when the insufficient lack of security on the Yale website was first discussed in a meeting of admissions officers in May?
If I were a Yale applicant, I might be flattered to learn that the Princeton took enough interest in me to ascertain simply whether I was admitted.
Dr. LeManager and the other staff members at worse should be grounded
for the weekend, but not kicked out of the house.
What is going on at our beloved Old Nassau?
Has our fear of Yale become so obsessive that we have reached the same low level of morality as those who would place our economic system in jeopardy by bending the rules in some cases and outright breaking thern in others?
I ask what was in it for Mr. LeMenager? What possibly could have been in it for him to put the university in this most embarrassing situation a better performance review maybe, a promotion for doing outstanding sleuthing for the admission office maybe, a pat on the back for getting information illegally maybe, or heaven knows what else?
I do not deny that the world of university admissions is competitive,
but it's a competitive world everywhere. I was not aware we are supposed
to accept not playing by the rules is, in fact, one of the rules. Do we
really need to have the reputation of Princeton sullied by this act of
arrogance? Is this the kind of culture we are subconsciously fostering
in our staff? What kind of signal does this send to our students? It seems
we have strayed more than a little from the days of signing the honor
Having said this I am willing to accept suspension with pay for Mr. LeMenager until all the facts are in but assuming his action was willful and the facts as we know them today are true how can we accept anything but dismissal and pursuit of any legal recourse available.
In the Wall Street Journal article of July 26, the Boston attorney
Mr. Lee Gesmer mentioned potential trouble for Princeton in the areas
of civil trespass, fraud, and invasion of privacy. That sounds like pretty
heavy stuff to me! Go after it administration! The rest of us will just
live with the shame.
We can't have it both ways a slap on the wrist (reassignment) on the one hand and the dean of admissions admitting "inappropriate actions" and promising to restore integrity to the admission process on the other.
Sorry, but I don't buy it! Too bad we didn't take the opportunity to
send the right message.
The unwelcome headlines involving the Office of Admission bring to mind
an alumni luncheon I attended many years ago in Philadelphia. The guest
speaker was an admission officer who offered, for our entertainment, a
30-minute recitation of gross misrepresentations he had uncovered in the
prior couple of years from applicants desperate to become Princetonians.
It was sad to hear about debasements self-inflicted by otherwise promising
young people; but it was much sadder and more unseemly to witness the
jocularity with which the speaker presented and much of the audience received
Now that it is the admission office whose dishonor is the subject of
gleeful retelling nationwide perhaps that humility is at
July 29, 2002
On July 27, 2002 I read in the Newark Star-Ledger that Princeton admission officers had hacked into Yale's admission website as an "experiment." This behavior, if it occurred, is certainly juvenile and possibly much worse. It demonstrates a serious lack of judgment in people with a prominent role in determining the nature of the university.
On October 10, 2001 PAW carried my letter expressing concern about the lack of response to a letter of recommendation by me to the admission office. Through other sources (I still have not received a response) I learned that the official excuse for not acknowledging recommendation letters is that there are too many of them.
Perhaps if Princeton's admission office would spend more time on its files rather than Yale's, these letters could be acknowledged. Or maybe the letters should be sent to Yale?
Robert C. Lang, Jr. 70
July 29, 2002
July 29, 2002
It would be tragic to see the career of Director of Admission Stephen LeMenager demolished if his hacking of the Yale files truly stemmed from an effort to test their security.
Of course, he should have let Yale know he planned to do just that, but who among us has not made a dumb move with good intentions?
Brad Bradford 44
Highland Park, Ill.
July 29, 2002
As a Princeton alumnus, it is an understatement to say that I was dismayed and humiliated by the actions of admission officials who have apparently found it more valuable to pry into the confidential information of Yale applicants rather than spend their time carefully and thoughtfully evaluating the credentials of those hard-working high school students who decided to apply to Princeton as an institution they believed to be at the forefront of education.
To add to my frustration is the thought that law enforcement officials will now have to expend valuable resources investigating Princeton personnel rather than pursuing more important concerns.
I urge that Princetons significant misstep, which
belies any signs of good judgment or ethical consideration, is in no way
representative of its student body, present or former. We can only hope
that the discovery of this unfortunate practice on a campus that prides
itself with an honor code is not an ominous forewarning of the integrity
and competence, or lack thereof, of the new administration under President
July 27, 2002
"Crash through the line of blue ......Princeton's honor to defend."
There are other ways to crash through that line. It is dispiriting indeed to learn of this breach of honor, especially in this season of corporate malfeasance.
One of the highest rated universities had little to gain
and now has a whole lot to lose. It is not up to the admission office
to "send backs 'round the end!"
July 25, 2002
Sadly, Princeton's attempt to out-Harvard that grand but not very viable place in Cambridge is reflected in the absurd competition for faculty members who'll never be seen by ordinary undergraduates, by an admission policy which discounts any interest in or loyalty to Princeton, and now in this engaging in "dirty tricks" in the admissions game.
I will continue to revere the four years I spent at Princeton,
and will continue to be active with my class 1957, and will give
to my class forever and to our groundbreaking Classmates Fund, which cares
for our own, regardless of whatever fates have left them less fortunate
than the rest of us. But I will not contribute to the Princeton, which
now, sadly, is in the news for its intense efforts to become something
it was never intended to be.
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