Tag: Princeton

Great Minds Think Alike

In a pathbreaking ruling, the National Labor Relations Board announced yesterday that graduate student workers at private universities are employees with the right to organize unions. For three decades, private universities have bitterly resisted this claim. Unions, these universities have argued, would impose a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach on the ineffably individual and heterogenous nature of graduate education. Unions might be appropriate for a factory, where all the work’s the same, but they would destroy the diversity of the academy, ironing out those delicate and delightful idiosyncrasies that make each university what it is. As virtually every elite university now facing an organizing drive of its graduate students is making clear (h/t David Marcus for discovering and pointing me to these specific links). Here, for example, is Columbia: Here’s […]

On Sentimentality and College

One of the issues this whole fracas over Woodrow Wilson and Princeton brings up for me is just how sentimental we can be about college campuses and education. To listen to the critics of these Princeton students, you would think that until these students came along, there was a vital discussion happening on the college quad. On any given afternoon, undergraduates, in groups of four or five, would look up through the fall leaves and see Wilson’s name on one building, Nassau’s name on another, Firestone’s name (yes, that Firestone) on a third, and ask, wondrously, why is this building named after Wilson, Nassau, Firestone? Who were these men, what did they do, why should we be honoring them in this way? Then along […]

What We Owe the Students at Princeton

On Wednesday, students at Princeton University occupied the president’s office. They had a list of demands regarding the status of students of color at Princeton. One of them was that Princeton remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from all campus buildings and programs because of Wilson’s enthusiasm, expressed in word and deed, for white supremacy. Having been an undergraduate at Princeton in the late 1980s, I knew this demand would generate a lot of heat. Unlike John C. Calhoun, whose name adorns one of Yale’s residential colleges, Wilson is Princeton. He was an undergraduate there, a professor there, and the university’s president. It was from Princeton that he launched his national political career, first as governor of New Jersey, then as president of the United States. […]

Going to My College Reunion

Tomorrow, I’m heading down to Princeton for my 25th year college reunion. It’s a four-day extravaganza, which prompted Moustafa Bayoumi to say to me, “I didn’t know Princeton folk could limit listing their accomplishments to four days only. I admire the restraint.” I’m only going for a day. I know that writing about one’s reunion has become a literary genre in its own right. But where I was excited to go to my high school reunion, my college reunion doesn’t awaken much in me. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow, but for now I’ve been wondering why. It’s not that I had better friends in, or memories of, high school. I’ve been lucky in both cases to have had very […]