Like Every Other Normal Human Being Would, Michelle Obama Runs Away from Princeton Screaming

Princeton is notable for a lot of reasons—its lack of a law school, its eating clubs (the bicker process in particular), the fact that it employs novelists like Toni Morrison and Jeffrey Eugenides who then produce ones like Jonathan Safran Foer and Jennifer Wiener, and on and on—but as this Prince story makes clear, the most notable thing about Princeton is the relationship alumni have with their alma mater.

At the yearly Reunions, graduates frock themselves in orange, sing Old Nassau, and get drunk—much, of course, like many other schools. But Princetonians do so with an intensity unmatched even by its Ivy League peers, so that the alumni who don’t partake in Reunions’ communal obliteration (and the entire culture of self-congratulation such gatherings encourage) can appear bitter, like frowny scolds who don’t appreciate everything that was given to them.

Over the past seven years, as her husband rose to national prominence, University officials made at least six direct overtures to [Michelle] Obama to return to Princeton or speak at Princeton-affiliated events. In all but one case, Obama has rebuffed the University’s advances, often citing a busy schedule.

Later:

Obama rebuffed the University’s attempt to establish a relationship in the years before she became first lady. Jones added that Obama did not seem to have an interest in reconnecting with Princeton and pointed out that many other alumni who were prominent in national politics at the time, such as former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld ’54 and former White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten ’76, remained connected with the University.

So, on one hand, Obama’s reticence remains mysterious. On the other hand: Donald Rumsfeld! George W. Bush’s chief of staff! Is it unfair to say that Princeton tends to produce more conservative politicians than liberal ones? And that this reflects its culture? If not, then it’s easy to imagine why Michelle Obama would decline, repeatedly, to associate herself with Princeton.

  • anon

    The Obama’s will not speak at Princeton, Columbia, or Harvard, until after they are out of office. The Clinton’s never went to Yale while he was in office.

    • Statistician

      Poster “anon” is correct. No politician (or spouse thereof) in today’s economy or polarized election landscape wants to remind the voting public that he or she attended an Ivy League university. When they’re trying to market themselves as in touch with the common man (or common woman, as the case may be), reminding people that they once spent time in the ivory tower is seen, rightly or wrongly, as a political kiss of death.

    • Name

      Does Barnard count?

      • anon

        No, it is a seven sisters college affiliated with Columbia University.

  • nerdface

    let’s not forget where Jeffrey Eugenides went to school…

  • ivy-aholes

    Ivies suck! Stanford for the win

    • rick131

      Accept for the fact that Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia always rank higher than Stanford. They are more well rounded and excel in more departments.

      • Just Stop

        Holy fuck don’t embarrass the Ivies like that ever again. “Accept”…Really man?

        Also, don’t squeeze Columbia in there. I have no affiliation with Stanford, but saying that Columbia is superior to Stanford is just bullshit. Maybe in 50 years, but right now it’s not much of a comparison unless you count the 2-3 years of U.S. News rankings.

        • Columbia and Chicago Edition

          As a general rule, whenever a poster casually lists HYP and one other Ivy, they’re trolling. The aggressiveness of the trolls varies proportionally and in real time with their US News ranking. Columbia and Chicago are currently tied for #4 so, predictably, their trolls are out in full force. At some point in the future, when Columbia and Chicago recede with the tide which brought them in, their trolls will quiet down just as those from Penn did in the last ebb and flow.

  • Jared

    “Is it unfair to say that Princeton tends to produce more conservative politicians than liberal ones? And that this reflects its culture?”

    Yes, it is unfair. Having gone to Princeton for three years, I’ve met less than ten conservative students. This stereotype could not be less valid in today’s Princeton.