Thanks to Abhi Raghunathan '02 (On
The Campus, June 5, "Paradise Lost") for a first-hand account
of how external events sometimes do intrude on the insulated haven of
college life. It resonated in many ways with my own college-era experiences.
I entered Princeton the fall of 1973, directly on the heels of the first
OPEC oil embargo and unprecedented gasoline rationing. Flush from the
optimistic idealism of the 60s and early 70s, all of a sudden America
had its first taste in many years of economic uncertainty, and the definitive
end of a long boom period. The utter confidence in the potential of our
generation was permanently replaced with questions, questions, questions.
Some of us have stubbornly retained the idealism we breathed through high
school, frustrated though we may have been over the years. But many of
our classmates embraced the values of "young urban professionals"
and joined the waves of yuppies descending upon the 80s as lawyers, investment
bankers and the like, often putting greater societal goals on the back
burner and focusing more on personal survival and narrow ambition. Reaction
The dot-bomb and 9/11 certainly must be equally if not more jarring to
the current student generation, especially those just entering
college in 2001 and 2002, and I wonder how they will respond to these
contextual developments. I've heard a few anecdotal whisperings that suggest
hope: there may be less emphasis on salary and more on meaning and value
in employment among the aughts. I'm crossing my fingers.
One epiphany from Abhi's column particularly struck me: "A Princeton
diploma is no longer a guarantee of a happy ending to our lives"
well, it never really was in the first place, was it? The paper
certification guarantees nothing without the effort and care one actually
puts into living thereafter. No free passes here, never were. If anyone
left Princeton with a free pass to success in life, they got it somewhere
I don't often write letters to the editor, but I am prompted
this time to respond to the "Paradise
Lost," the June 5th On the Campus essay by Abhi Raghunathan 02.
I am disturbed by the tenor of the article where he seems to say that
seniors are obsessed with money and that now, because of September 11
and other events, they have been deprived of their chance to go to Wall
Street or to work for an investment bank as if this was the only desirable
I am glad that he will work for the Washington Post (I am a subscriber),
and, perhaps, as a budding journalist he foresaw the article entitled
"Young and Jobless" in the June 10, 2002, issue of Time
magazine. I would like him to compare the plight of the Class of 2002
with the plight of the Class of 1943, my class. After Pearl Harbor, most
members of the Class of 1943 were either in the ROTC or were going to
be drafted, as I was. What choice of jobs did we have? I am sure that
we were not thinking about working on Wall Street and making a lot of
money. Paradise lost?