December 17, 2003: From the Editor

This issue of PAW landed in your mailbox with a slightly louder thud. It represents an experiment, and we’d like to know what you think about it.

The frequency of PAW’s publication – almost every two weeks during the academic year – helps seal the enviable connection many readers have both to the magazine and to Princeton itself. Yet it also presents special challenges, making it difficult for PAW to carry many in-depth stories that take much time to prepare. Over the years, surveys and letters from alumni have shown readers to be divided over the kinds of articles they would like to see in PAW. Some prefer shorter, less analytical stories; others wish the magazine carried longer pieces that probe deeper into their subjects.

The magazine you are reading is more than twice as large as the PAW you normally would receive at this time of year. There are more feature stories – and more stories that explore ideas in depth – as well as more and larger illustrations. To publish it, we are producing 16, instead of 17, issues this year. We call this issue “Campus Life 2003,” because we hope to present various insights about the way today’s students work, live, and play.

Student and athlete Theresa Sherry ’04 (Photo by Ricardo Barros)

In his piece about athletics, Doug Lederman ’84 has taken on one of the most complicated and difficult issues on Ivy League campuses. Seven years ago, Lederman wrote a controversial PAW piece that acknowledged the compromises Princeton makes in competing in big-time sports. In this article, he presents a different perspective. “I tried to critically explore how Princeton athletes fare academically and socially, and to give the reader some insight into how they see their own situation,” Lederman says of his article, for which he interviewed 55 people, including 31 athletes. “I came away feeling that these athletes contribute a great deal to the institution, and that while they certainly pay a cost from competing in sports, both they and the institution benefit from their joint arrangement.”

Senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83 offers a tale about how technology has changed teaching and learning at Princeton. Bernstein graduated at the close of the Age of the Electric Typewriter, and returned to find a campus in which online precept discussions take place in the middle of the night, and readings are posted on course Web sites. “The highest-tech thing I ever experienced was trying to type my thesis on a computer, which seemed like a very radical step at the time,” he recalls. “I had to go down to the E-Quad to find a computer, and it printed out on that long, green-lined paper with the holes down the side. My adviser refused to read it that way.”

Another feature, by graduate student and journalist Amy Sullivan, tells of the growing role of religion in the personal and academic lives of Princeton students. “Having been a religious student on an undergraduate campus, I was conscious of how much those students can feel isolated from the rest of the community,” says Sullivan, who has a master’s degree in theological studies. “What I found – and what surprised me – was that Princeton students don’t necessarily feel that way.”

We hope that these stories, and other offerings in this issue, provide insights into different dimensions of Princeton life. Some of you soon will receive questionnaires asking for your opinions. But we welcome comments from all alumni about this issue of PAW, and about what we can do to serve you better.


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