Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman and Undergraduate Student Government President Connor Diemand-Yauman are establishing a task force composed of students, faculty, staff and alumni to review the relationships between the University and the eating clubs. The charge to the task force also asks it to "examine whether there are steps that can and should be taken to strengthen those relationships for the mutual benefit of the clubs and the University, and for the benefit of Princeton students and the undergraduate experience."
Composition of the task force is expected to be announced within the next few weeks, and the task force is likely to begin meeting in early October. It is being asked to spend the year "consulting widely, thinking creatively and deliberating thoughtfully," before coming forward with observations and recommendations by the end of the spring semester.
The task force will be chaired by Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee, who several years ago chaired a similarly constituted task force on issues related to health and well-being. It is expected to have about 17 members, including Diemand-Yauman and six other undergraduates.
Private eating clubs have played an integral role in undergraduate student life at Princeton for more than a century. Over time the number of clubs has decreased, from a high of 18 to the current 10, and the nature of the club system has evolved, as have relationships between the clubs and the University. There have been times when relationships have been strained, but in recent years both the clubs and the University have launched initiatives that have led to closer and more beneficial relationships and an identification of "best practices."
"In establishing this task force we recognize the important role that the clubs play at Princeton and we seek to build on these positive developments of recent years," said Tilghman and Diemand-Yauman. "Given the increased size of the undergraduate student body, the financial challenges being faced by both the clubs and the University, and the full implementation of the four-year college system with the completion of the new Butler College dormitories, this seems an especially appropriate time to ask a broadly constituted task force to conduct a wide-ranging review of relationships between the University and the clubs," they said.
The charge to the task force asks it specifically to consider "whether there are ways to improve the club experience for students who are members and the application process for students who wish to become members; whether there are ways to increase engagement with the clubs for students who currently choose not to become members; whether there are ways to strengthen relationships between the clubs and the colleges and between students in the clubs and students who choose not to join the clubs; whether there are additional "best practices" that can and should be identified; and whether we can do a better job of describing the nature of the clubs to potential applicants and admitted students."