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Letters from alumni about June 5th On the Campus column

June 17, 2002

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 was mixed.

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 else.

I guess each generation has to learn this anew.

Dan Krimm '78
Los Angeles, Calif.

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June 5, 2002

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 occupation.

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?

Henry C. Lind ’43
Locust Grove, Va.

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