From the Editor - June 7, 2000
A century ago, paw didn't make much of the Class of 1900, but its one entry, an essay by graduating senior Walter C. Booth, provides a few insights into the make-up of that long-ago class. Its 203 members-all male and all white-were overwhelmingly enrolled in the humanities, with just 44 science majors and 14 engineers. Sixteen earned a "P" as varsity athletes, and, Booth noted with approval, 58 did not belong to an eating club-leaving, of course, 145 who did.
Princeton has changed drastically in 100 years. The size of the graduating class has increased fivefold; students include men and women of all races, ethnicities, and religions; and tuition, well, Booth listed the average four-year expenditure in 1900 as $719.56.
These changes and the seismic shifts in society seemed to call for a deeper look at the Class of 2000. Besides, I like the weight of all those zeroes. (I also like that you have to say the Class of 2000, that the class resists a nickname-though a century ago they called themselves the "Naughty-Naughts." Maybe that's appropriate today, for the last class of Nude Olympians.)
For our class profile, we obstinately decided not to select a meticulously diverse subsection, or to poll exhaustively the whole class, but to do what we knew was impossible: to select a single graduating student to represent the entire class. The numbers from the registrar said to find someone from New Jersey, a major in one of the social sciences, a student with a significant extracurricular interest. After a brief search, we came across Molly Hall '00, a politics major from Bernardsville, New Jersey, and cocaptain of the lacrosse team. It was our good fortune that she is also intelligent, thoughtful, and willing, despite her well-founded skepticism, to serve as a symbol of her class.
What we discovered was-well, you'll have to read the story, but let's just say that although Hall's thesis and job offers revolve around the Internet, certifying her as a next millennium student, her academic curiosity, her drive, and her love for Princeton could place her in any decade, or any century.
In the June 9, 1900, issue of paw, Booth wrote, "Taken all in all, and allowing for the principles of evolution, the Princeton senior can probably be recognized as readily today as twenty years ago. The college bond is as fast as ever, and golf trousers and striped flannels don't change the nurture of 153 years."
Make that Gap khakis and T-shirts, and 253 years.
--Jane Chapman Martin '89
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