This fall PAW will feature excerpts from Elizabeth
Greenberg '02's senior thesis about Princeton rituals and student
traditions. Greenberg, who plans to publish a book based on her
thesis, seeks further anecdotes and memories from alumni and hopes
these excerpts will prompt readers to write to her about their experiences.
Readers can email her at email@example.com
or write to her c/o PAW Princeton Alumni Weekly, 194 Nassau
Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08542.
Elizabeth Greenberg 02 on her project,
as mentioned in PAW From the Archives:
Hundreds of books have been written about
Princeton University, but minimal attention is devoted to
the subject of student life. Even less space is dedicated
to student traditions, though these spirited events constitute
many of the most colorful and amusing anecdotes in the university's
history. When described in official literature, rites of passage
from freshmen hazing to the Nude Olympics are usually represented
by a picture and short paragraph, leaving many fundamental
issues unresolved: Why did the traditions start? Why did they
end? How did they change over time, and why?
Last year, I attempted to answer these questions
in my senior thesis. I wrote about four notable Princeton
rituals that began in the nineteenth century freshmen
hazing or "horsing," the Cane Spree, stealing the
Nassau Hall bell clapper, and the Poler's Recess as
well as the recent phenomenon of the Nude Olympics. During
the course of my research, I interviewed and emailed hundreds
of alumni who experienced and influenced these events. Their
overwhelmingly supportive and informative responses formed
the backbone of my research, and I once again thank everyone
who has contributed so far. Now, I am continuing my work so
it may be published, and I need your help.
For the next few months, the PAW will print
abbreviated excerpts of my thesis, which I hope will revive
memories and prompt you to contribute your own anecdotes so
they can become part of an accurate and balanced historical
record. Anything you can tell me, no matter how trivial, may
be useful. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or care of the PAW mailing address. I will assume your response
signifies permission to fully quote or cite recollections
unless told otherwise, in which case I will respect requests
I look forward to hearing from you!
Cheers and locomotives,
Elizabeth Greenberg '02
September 11, 2002:
Hazing was a part of Princeton student life since
the earliest days of the College of New Jersey, though the practice
had multiple names and forms over the years. Sophomores taught freshmen
their place in the social hierarchy by forcing them to perform degrading
acts, awakening "newys" with cold water, head shaving
and occasional physical abuse. Though hazing was technically forbidden
by the twentieth century, the nearly identical practice of "horsing"
rose in its place. After horsing was similarly abolished, freshmen
were still subjected to extensive restrictions on their behavior
and dress, such as mandatory "dink" wearing. Though these
customs eased up during the Second World War, postwar classes attempted
to revive some of the traditions, resulting in "dink wars"
and a revival of head shaving. By the mid-1960s, however, freshmen
hazing fell out of popularity and practice.
How were you hazed when you came to Princeton?
What was your view toward restricted behaviors, dink wearing and