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A letter about Campus life improvements

I wish to state at the start that I do not believe that the views and preferences of PrincetonÇs graduates should closely determine administrative priorities or policies; nevertheless, it is an inescapable fact that the generosity of alumni in their support of the university is at the base of Princeton's endowment wealth and therefor of its ability to underwrite the education of today's students. Those students manifest a racial and gender diversity that is unprecedented in the university's history, so it is puzzling to read (On the Campus, March 21) of Associate Provost Joann Mitchell's opinion on campus diversity.

Ms. Mitchell is quoted as saying that "we are operating under the premise that if we advance the quality of life for students of color, it will advance the quality of life for all students, and that will attract a more diverse crowd." The goal is clear from the conclusion of her statement, but has the premise from which she hopes to achieve her goal ever been examined in any rigorous fashion? Further, is her logic based upon that premise tenable? Might one, for instance, substitute the phrase "white students" for "students of color" and expect comparable assent from the population currently on campus? Could a scholar wishing to publish in an academic journal base his thesis on such an unproved assumption, so casually supported with evidence?

I quibble with the apparent view of this administrator not because I want to score a debating point, but because advancing "the quality of life for students of color" will cost a lot of money, if one is to believe the results cited in Maria LoBiondo's (March 21) profile of the new vice president for campus life, Janet Dickerson, from a "Visions of Princeton" survey of undergraduate attitudes toward changes needed to make their alma mater "ideal." Even though the university has never before enjoyed such a variety and range of sports and extracurricular options -- as a visit to the campus calendar for almost any day of the semester would show -- the student respondents believed firmly that five crucial areas need "improvement and attention" (sic): student-group funding, athletics, health services, performance space, and, inevitably, diversity.

Are we to assume that the academic programs at Princeton are so splendid that little if any improvement is to be sought for them, or did the majority of students responding to the survey perhaps forget that course work might conceivably strike the defining note in their campus life? Finally, will the alumni be asked for their own visions of an ideal Princeton? After all, they will have had much longer contact with the university than have undergraduates, and more time to reflect on academic values in retrospect.

C. Webster Wheelock '60 *67
New York, N.Y.

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