Speak . . . For Your President is Listening

Princeton University’s new president, Christopher Eisgruber, tells an Associated Press reporter , Geoff Mulvihill, that Princeton is a warmer place than it used to be (thanks in part to more ‘inclusiveness’ among students). He lauds the idea of a liberal arts education versus a job training period. (Andrew Delbanco’s book, just out in paperback, College: What Was, Is, and Should Be, takes the same tack.)Yet Eisgruber regrets that current students can’t share the experiences he had when arrived as a freshman in 1979, and here I’m quoting Mulvihill: 

‘Full faculty members sometimes served as discussion leaders for colleagues’ classes, it was more common for non-recruited athletes to walk on and join sports teams, and students weren’t so competitive from the moment they arrived on campus. But the last part, he said, is unlikely to change.’

In Not in Our Town discussions (NIOT holds discussions. ‘Continuing Conversations,’ on first Mondays at 7:30 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library),  that very subject — aggressive competitiveness — has come up several times. These discussions are open to the public but are “private,” not divulged afterwards. 

However, one of the discussion moderators, Roberto Schiraldi, published several documents on the NIOT blog. Schiraldi has retired from a job as a Princeton University counselor. He shared an open letter to the current university president, Shirley Tilghman, He also posted part of a paper, A White Man on the REZ: “Higher” Education In A Culture of Fear: A Journey Through Alienation and Privilege to Healing

The question: Have student values of competition — getting the best grades and the best job — superseded  humanistic values? 

The future president of Princeton University says he plans to “just listen” during his first year in office. If Eisgruber is listening, now is the time to speak.

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