The Daily Princetonian’s Unseemly Affair with David Petraeus

Yesterday the critic Glenn Greenwald published an excellent column describing the meretricious dynamic — recently thrust to the fore by the sudden resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus — between the American military and the individuals paid to report on it:

The military is by far the most respected and beloved institution among the US population — a dangerous fact in any democracy — and, even assuming they wanted to (which they don’t), our brave denizens of establishment journalism are petrified of running afoul of that kind of popular sentiment.

While Greenwald calls out several TV anchors for emoting, he misses one of “establishment journalism”‘s worst offenders: The Daily Princetonian.

Six weeks ago, in a 3,000-word story, the paper reported rumors that Petraeus was seeking Princeton’s presidency. (He’s an alum of the Graduate School.) A representative passage (bolding ours):

Other classmates of Petraeus described him as serious, intense and hardworking, which some said was necessary because of his desire to acquire a doctoral degree on a compressed schedule. Yet despite this indefatigable commitment to his academics, he still maintained a separate commitment that he would never cheat on: physical exercise. Petraeus ran competitively at the time and would always find time to fit a lengthy run into his schedule, classmates said.

Fast-forward to Friday. Within hours of Petraeus’s resignation, the Prince reported that, during interviews conducted for the article quoted above, Paula Broadwell’s relationship with Petraeus seemed sort of vague:  Read the rest of this entry »

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: Read the rest of this entry »

Work for IvyGate: Back to School Edition

It’s that time of year again. While the Ancient Eight are preparing themselves for the quickly upcoming academic year, here at IvyGate, we’re looking for new talented contributors to join our elite ranks. And, as we’ve said before, “Experience is arbitrary.”

Seriously though, we want you! We’re looking for the next crop of newsies to break the big stories, investigate enticing leads, and cover the day-to-day foibles of the Ivy League. We’re looking for columnists to give their opinions on Ivy League sports, ethics, and whatever else you can think of (we’re open). We’re looking for design and multimedia mavens to create images, cut videos, and generally make us look as pretty as possible.

Have your work read by literally thousands of eyes every day, including some of the snarkiest most beautiful and intelligent commenters in the game. Join the entity recently referred to as a “blog” by The Huffington Post, ABC News, and many other equally impressive outfits. And look out, because there’s a website redesign coming soon that’ll knock your socks off.

If anything here appeals to you, or you have something slightly/wildly different in mind, or you have no idea what you’d want to do, hit us up at tips@ivygateblog.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Mitch Daniels, Known Drug User, Now in Charge of Big 10 University

When he attended Princeton during the late sixties and early seventies, Mitch Daniels ’71 was arrested, fined, (but not jailed) and jailed (for two days) for possessing LSD, some pills, and two shoeboxes full of marijuana. In a Washington Post op-ed published in 1989, Daniels blamed the whole affair on an “unfortunate confluence of [his] wild oats period and America’s libertine apogee,” whatever that means.

This week, Daniels was named president of Purdue University, where no one, ever, smokes marijuana, does drugs, or consumes alcohol underage.

Daniels is uniquely unsuited to head a university. (To take any kind of employment in higher education, really.) In the same op-ed he detailed his collegiate indiscretion, Daniels argued for strict sanctions on users caught with quantities of drugs far smaller than those he himself, at Princeton in 1970, was caught with.

Last year Jacob Sullum, at Reason, detailed the extent to which Daniels escaped a much harsher penalty:

Daniels’ assertion that “justice was served” obscures what a huge break he got. Under current New Jersey law, possessing more than 50 grams (about 1.8 ounces) of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison. Given the amount of pot Daniels had (enough to fill two shoeboxes), he easily could have been charged with intent to distribute, which under current law triggers a penalty of three to five years (for less than five pounds). And at the time of Daniels’ arrest in May 1970, New Jersey’s marijuana penalties were even more severe. Six months after his arrest, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided a case involving an 18-year-old who was caught with a tiny amount of pot (clearly just for personal use) and got a sentence of two to three years in prison.

The policy content of Daniels’s op-ed doesn’t really do him any favors, either (from ProQuest):  Read the rest of this entry »

The Not-So-Far-Fetched Fictitious Alumni and Attendees of the Ivy League, Part II of II

Previously: The Not-So-Far-Fetched Fictitious Alumni and Attendees of the Ivy League, Part I of II

HARVARD

Harvard University’s Thurston Howell III (Gilligan’s Island), besides having the whitest name in history, is, of course, an allegory representing his brethren from Cambridge.  Trapped on an island, he’s just like every other Harvard alumnus: alone.  Harvardian isolation comes from many sources—an abnormal inflation of self, a woeful lack of social skills, or having gone so batshit crazy in Lamebridge that you lock yourself in a cabin in the woods and mail people bombs. However, Howell sticks out in his solitude by literally being isolated on an island—albeit with some commoners. (Of course, he retains the famed Harvard “work ethic” by refusing to perform physical labor.) Preferring Bearitas to Veritas, he further shows a social disconnect by sleeping with his Teddy more than his wife.

PRINCETON

Students at Princeton University have a particular and peculiar translation for their motto, Dei sub numine viget: God went to Princeton. Uhh, what?  Either Princeton’s Classics department is failing, or the school has one heck of an ego problem.  Anyways, here’s a guy (God) who claims to be all for justice, but likes to kill little boys (Exodus 11:5), is super possessive of a tree (Genesis 2:17, not unlike that other Princetonian from Harold & Kumar), and just generally doesn’t want us to have a good time.

Speaking of people with multiple personas, another Princephonian is Bruce Wayne.  A Classics major, Wayne (hopefully) knows that Princeton’s motto actually means Under God’s power she flourishes. Otherwise? Leave it to a Princeton guy to lack any superpowers, but still have the audacity to fight crime in tight clothes—and leave it to a Classics major to revive pederasty. Gotham’s defending knight?  Or weird pedophile? Probably a little of both; either way, the new film is gonna be way better than The Avengers, in addition to actually staring an Ivy League superhero. (Like, c’mon, Tony Stark went to MIT…sooo not Ivy League.)  Read the rest of this entry »

Outgoing Brown President Ruth Simmons Taking Her Talents (Back) to Princeton

Generally beloved Brown president Ruth Simmons announced last September that this year would be her last at the helm of the university, and since then there has been a lingering question: What is the next move for someone as accomplished as Simmons?

We now have at least part of an answer. Simmons will swing some of her energy back to Princeton, where she was previously a vice provost in the early 90s, to serve a four year term on the university’s Board of Trustees. Simmons is the only non-Princeton graduate of the seven new trustees announced Tuesday, but does hold an honorary degree from the school.

While it is unlikely Simmons was planning for this position in September, it will be interesting to see where her focus now lies. In her original email to the Brown community announcing her plans, Simmons wrote that she hoped to take a leave to “take up projects that have been on hold far too long,” before returning to teach at Brown. While we can’t claim to know how much of a commitment being a trustee at Princeton is (still waiting for that phone call), it’s probably not just a line on her CV. Add to that her duties already as a member of the Howard University Board of Trustees, and Simmons should have an interesting balancing act between the three institutions. However, if any former Ivy president can handle it, it’s probably the one with the 80-percent approval.

Can Students Fix the Ivy League?

Three weeks ago, we suggested that Occupy Princeton should drop out of Princeton. Because it’s a little silly to protest Wall Street—or the present economic order, or income inequality, and so on—if you attend a school which both perpetuates all of those things and benefits from them. A school which, arguably, is less a university than a finishing school for bankers. (And which employs Jeffrey Eugenides and Joyce Carol Oates for the same reason Goldman Sachs installed a Franz Ackerman mural in the lobby of its New York headquarters.)

Here’s how one commenter answered:

No. That would be dumb. That’s like saying “If you don’t want Romney for president you should totally just leave the country if he’s elected.”

It’s like retreating. Giving up! White-flagging! Total pussy move.

It’s totally OK for people to criticize something they’re part of if they’re asking it to change for the better and they themselves are working to be better.   Read the rest of this entry »

Princeton Student Worked Really Hard On This Rap Video

Princeton Occupiers Have the Most Condescending Sign Ever

A photographer onscene at Occupy Wall Street’s May Day demonstration caught a gaggle of Princetonians marching with the commoners. Guess what their banner said.

EVEN PRINCETON. Get it? Edgy. Cool. SubversiveMore photos here.

Given that Princeton is less a university than the X-Mansion of Wall Street analysts, it would seem vastly more serious—and so much cooler, frankly—if, in addition to interrupting on-campus recruiting sessions for Goldman and JP Morgan, these earnest students left. Dropped out. Transferred.

For good.

Remember that Goldman VP who wrote mean things about his employer in the New York Times? Well, he quit.

Until Princetonians make some kind of transfer-to-Hampshire-College pact, the eyeballs of every New Yorker shall continue to roll throughout Midtown, sort of like that Sony commercial with the bouncy balls:

Photos by Michael Discenza

“This Is Just The Beginning” of Princeton’s Worst Website

FuluMail, the online intimidation tool recently founded by two Princeton students, is undergoing renovation. Here might be why: over the past few weeks, FuluMail has transmitted a staggering amount of intimidating, threatening, semi-illiterate FuluMails—most of which are quickly deleted from the website, but not before delivery to their intended recipients.

“We are not a hate mail service,” according to the footer of FuluMail.com.

We were able to capture a handful of the nastier messages before the site went down a few days ago. They’re like dark emissions from Princeton University’s collective id: stalking, bullying, threesomes in the Charter Club’s bathroom, and so on. Here are five samples from FuluMail’s Hall of Fame: Read the rest of this entry »