This Week in Princeton History for February 6-12

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, students request that their grades not be shared publicly, a writer cites a Princeton president to bolster an argument against dancing, and more.

February 6, 1879—Students ask that the College cease the custom of printing their grades for public review, on the basis that it is embarrassing to some after a New York newspaper reprinted them.

February 7, 1901—Two Princeton students are arrested at the stage door of the Herald Square theater in New York for “mashing” (i.e., making unwelcome advances toward or harassing) the chorus girls, according to a report in the Albany Times-Union.

February 9, 1819—A letter to the editor of Utica, New York’s Patriot cites former Princeton president Samuel Davies to bolster its anti-dancing argument: “Dr. Davies, one of the venerable and learned presidents of Princeton College, speaking on this subject, while he does not rank this amusement among the most heinous offences, says in substance, that he should have very little hope of seeing religion flourish in a church composed of dancing, frolicking Christians.”

Though the Patriot writer may have appealed to a Princetonian’s ideas to argue against dancing, there was plenty of dancing and frolicking going on in town in the early 19th century, especially at the annual ball celebrating Princeton’s Commencement. Commencement Ball invitation, 1824. Princeton University Commencement Records (AC115), Box 1.

February 12, 1927—A Daily Princetonian editorial ends up in a Philosophy 201 exam, in which students are asked to evaluate the veracity of the claim, “True education may be measured by a man’s capacity to enjoy life.”

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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This Week in Princeton History for October 5-11

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, women gather to discuss sexism on campus, a new kind of roof is being installed for Nassau Hall, and more.

October 5, 1978—Female students and staff hold an exclusive meeting to discuss sexism on campus. Barring men from the meeting is controversial, but the women say this is necessary, “because a lot of women feel uncomfortable saying things in front of men that they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable saying in front of women.” At the meeting, women complain about inadequate medical care, discriminatory employment practices, and professors who penalize female students for refusing their sexual advances.

Marsha Rosenthal ’76 collected a variety of material on women’s issues while she was a student at Princeton University. This pamphlet, published by Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood in 1973, is among the reading material apparently available to Princetonians in the 1970s and is evidence of the concerns of the community.  Marsha Rosenthal Course Materials and Student Activism Materials (AC409), Box 2.

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This Week in Princeton History for April 22-28

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Earth Day is observed for the first time, professors hold a rummage sale to raise money for the ambulance corps in France, and more.

April 22, 1970—Princeton Ecology Action leads the University’s first celebration of Earth Day.

Princeton Ecology Action’s 1970 Earth Day program. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 26.

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This Week in Princeton History for May 21-27

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a rally pushes for the expulsion of repeat sexual harassers, the New Jersey State Board of Health investigates a typhoid outbreak, and more.

May 22, 1931—The Daily Princetonian laments the suicide of influential cartoonist Ralph Barton and notes it reflects a larger societal phenomenon. “Among the more sensitive, which naturally includes men of talent and genius, this psychopathic condition is as common as measles. … The germ is in the age itself…and no-one has yet found means to combat it.” (Those interested in the work of Ralph Barton can find examples at Firestone Library in the Graphic Arts Collection.)

May 23, 1988—Students hold a demonstration advocating the expulsion of those who repeatedly engage in sexual harassment.

Flyer advertising rally, May 23, 1988. Women’s Center Records (AC248), Box 1.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 5-11

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, more than 150 people show up at a forum on sexual harassment, a Native American faculty member and an undergraduate support the occupation of Wounded Knee, and more.

March 5, 1987—The Women’s Center sponsors a forum to discuss an incident in which a male student physically attacked a female student at an eating club, following which both faced disciplinary action. The Discipline Committee gave her a warning for behavior that was deemed “hostile, unfriendly and provocative” and put her attacker on probation. Tensions remain high on campus as many feel this approach fails to address sexual harassment properly. More than 150 people show up, setting a record for the highest attendance ever at a forum of this kind.

March 7, 1882—Large posters mysteriously appear on campus reading “It will be let loose this Evening after Chapel. Admission, 25 cents.” Students and faculty alike are baffled until Tiger Magazine’s first issue comes out this evening.

The first issue of Princeton’s Tiger magazine, March 7, 1882.

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“We Envision a World Where the Night Belongs to No One”: Intersectionality and Take Back the Night

By Mario Garcia ’18

“I’m white, I’m male, I’m middle class,” he said. “This isn’t supposed to happen to me.” On the evening of April 26, 1989, hundreds of students listened to their peer’s testimony as a part of Princeton University’s third annual Take Back the Night march. As one of many speakers throughout the night sharing their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault, the student related to the crowd that he had been raped by his stepfather as a child. Echoing the sentiments of many female students at Princeton, he added that he no longer felt safe in his own home.

During the 1991 march, a speaker argued that women of color face this threat of sexual violence systemically as a manifestation of racism: “Rape is the crudest and most direct form of racism. You can’t separate it from the culture of domination, violence and exploitation and women of color are stuck at the bottom of that culture.” Her words concerning sexual violence serve as a testament to his: in a culture of domination over marginalized peoples, privileged individuals are not supposed to face the threat of sexual violence to the extent that marginalized individuals do. Feminist theorist Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” to describe the ways different kinds of oppression come together and compound the experience of marginalization. Multiple types of oppression involving multiple marginalized identities interact with sexual violence.

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Flyers, 1990-1993, Women’s Center Records (AC248), Box 13.

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This Week in Princeton History for July 17-23

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, a magazine runs an unsettling story about a professor, a graduate tells a federal prosecutor he has been pressured to commit perjury, and more.

July 17, 1989—New York Magazine runs a 7-page article on Thomas McFarland, an English professor at Princeton University accused of sexually assaulting a male graduate student. McFarland explains, “I’ve never liked anybody who wasn’t heterosexual. Most of the people I’ve liked tend to be of an age when they would be students. All the great loves of my life have been students.”

The Thomas McFarland matter and its aftermath had far-reaching implications for Princeton, as is detailed in several of the University’s publications for the late 1980s and early 1990s. In this April 19, 1990 issue of the Nassau Weekly, the graduate student involved took an administrator to task for his response to the article that appeared in New York Magazine. Click to enlarge this image.

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