As of Thursday, 1,931 Princeton applicants received their acceptance letters and can officially be called “prefrosh.” The tables have turned, as the University must now convince these prefrosh to choose Princeton. An important aspect of this decision process takes place during the two Princeton Preview sessions, which, this year, will take place on April 11-13 and April 22-24. The purpose of Princeton Preview is to provide admitted students insight into campus life through interactions with current students, attending classes and getting a feel for the campus culture.
While at Preview, prefrosh are exposed to an array of social events that are, in many ways, not representative of a typical Princeton weekend. This disparity is primarily a product of the lack of exposure prefrosh receive to the eating clubs, which form an integral part of Princeton’s culture and social life. Although the clubs are mentioned briefly on campus tours and prefrosh are permitted to tour certain clubs during the Preview sessions, these experiences fail to adequately capture the eating club experience. As such, the Board believes that the University, rather than shield students from the eating clubs, ought to take more proactive steps to enable prefrosh to learn about the eating club system.
Eating clubs, for better or for worse, are the center of Princeton’s social system. Denying Preview students a representative experience of the eating clubs is deceptive and perhaps unfair; admitted students may require this type of information in order to make an informed decision. Uncertainty or misinformation about the social aspects of Princeton may deter students from attending, and it may ultimately lead to an unhappier student body. The Board believes that students who choose to attend Princeton when fully informed about all of its idiosyncrasies are more likely to enjoy their time as students. While the admission office has an interest in maximizing yield, it also has an interest in producing a class that will enjoy their time at Princeton. That latter goal is more easily accomplished if prefrosh leave Princeton Preview with a full understanding of our social life. While the University successfully informs students about the formal aspects of eating clubs by addressing such topics as cost and financial aid through information sessions at Preview, it fails to adequately introduce students to the more informal, social aspects of the clubs.
The Board recognizes that the administration has legitimate reasons for not promoting further access to the Street during Princeton Preview. In particular, we sympathize with the University’s concerns about alcohol consumption by prefrosh and the possibility that prospective students might negatively react to the exclusivity of certain clubs. Accordingly, the Board suggests that eating clubs remain open for Princeton Preview, under the condition that no alcohol is served. If offered alcohol-free social events at the eating clubs, prefrosh would be able to learn more about eating club culture without the University assuming the risk associated with consumption of alcohol by prefrosh. In addition, the University should consider sponsoring meals for admitted students at eating clubs. Much like the current program that randomly assigns sophomores to meals at the eating clubs before Bicker, this program would enable prefrosh to learn more about the clubs. Because events for admitted students are sponsored by the residential colleges, this initiative would have the added benefit of promoting interaction between upperclassmen and prefrosh. The Board does not, however, believe that clubs should be compelled to host such events. Instead, we believe that it will be in the interest of certain clubs to host these events because it would increase interest in their club. We further believe that once a few clubs offer these events, a group dynamic will lead to an even greater number of clubs willing to participate — provided, of course, that the University encourages these events.
In her welcoming speech, Dean of Admission Rapelye tells accepted students that they cannot touch alcohol while on campus, or their applications will be rescinded. As long as it is made clear to students that they may not have any alcohol, going to the Street would be a positive, informative experience for these students. The University thus ought to work with the clubs to find additional means by which admitted students can visit the Street in an informative but safe fashion.
Editorials represent the joint view of The Daily Princetonian Editorial Board. The 15-member Board reports to the Opinion editor and is independent of other departments of the ‘Prince.’