Author Archives: Ellis Liang

Falk Discusses Palestinian Tactics in Campus Lecture

Richard Falk delivered the Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture last week. (Photo: David Dooley)

Richard Falk delivered the Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture last week. (Photo: David Dooley)

Palestinians are increasingly using nonviolent tactics to oppose Israel, emeritus professor Richard Falk said in a campus lecture Feb. 18. Falk, who serves as the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, presented the annual Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture.

Despite the new use of tactics such as boycotts, in many fundamental ways, nothing has changed in the Palestinian situation, Falk said. “Oppressive occupation continues. The consolidation of Israeli control of Jerusalem has continued. Another decade of settlement expansion has given rise to growing realization that the occupation has become a form of annexation,” he said.

Falk has provoked controversy for his critical views of Israel as well as comments suggesting that the Boston marathon bombing resulted from aggressive U.S. global policies. Three senior faculty members in the English department published a letter in The Daily Princetonian dissenting from their department’s co-sponsorship of the lecture.

During his lecture, Falk was critical of Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as the U.N. But he highlighted the Palestinians’ growing emphasis on nonviolent tactics that put pressure on Israel, the U.N., and other governments in order to cast doubt on Israel’s legitimacy as an occupying power. Continue reading

Student Engineers Aim for Speed on the Racetrack

Members of Princeton Racing Electric

Members of Princeton Racing Electric, a new club that plans to build an electric race car. (Photo: Courtesy Princeton Racing Electric)

Student life at Princeton can be fast-paced, but for Princeton Racing Electric (PRE), this description takes on a whole new meaning. Student engineers in the new organization are working to design, build, and race an innovative electric race car. The group’s ultimate goal is to race at Dartmouth University’s Formula Hybrid Competition in late April.

More importantly, the competition is an opportunity for students to test their knowledge and contribute to the growing field of clean energy.

“What we are trying to do is take everything we’ve learned so far and apply it to make electric cars better. They’re what’s being built today, and it’s definitely going to be a big part of our future,” said Hafeez Sulaimon ’15, president of PRE.

Sulaimon, a mechanical and aerospace engineering student, helped to start PRE while working in a Princeton research lab over the summer. Throughout the fall semester, PRE recruited students for its four sub-teams: Three are devoted to designing different components of the car, and one is focused on fundraising. After spending three months designing the car using computer software, the group is now working on building the car.

The biggest challenge so far, members said, has not been engineering the car but securing funding. “In order to build a competitive car that is also very safe, a lot of capital must be raised in order to purchase quality materials,” said Benjamin Sorkin ’17. He adds that part of the planning involves figuring out which parts need to be purchased and which can be manufactured by the students.

Unlike most of the universities entering in the Formula Hybrid competition, Princeton is participating for the first time. Because of the team’s inexperience, Sulaimon says that members of PRE are approaching the competition with a two-year plan: This year is intended to be a learning experience, and next year, the team aims to compete for the championship.

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Volcker ’49 Speaks About Restoring Confidence in Government, Educating Future Leaders

Public institutions must regain the confidence of the American people, Paul A. Volcker ’49, former chair of the Federal Reserve, said in a lecture in Robertson Hall on Feb. 7. 

“I’ve never doubted the importance of our public institutions or the need for constant vigilance by our public leaders, by regulation institutions, and by our citizens generally. Today you can sense that those central propositions are questioned,” Volcker said.

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Paul A. Volcker ’49 (Photo: Ellis Liang ’15)

With his dry humor, Volcker elicited laughs from the audience even as he critiqued public administration and how universities educate future civil servants. He confessed that he had shied away from making speaking appearances but could not resist an invitation from his alma mater to speak about good governance.

“In that context, my speech can be both definitive and exceedingly short. The current state of our governing bodies is poor. Quite simply, they are not meeting the needs of our citizens. Are there questions?” Volcker said, jokingly.

Transitioning into a more serious tone, Volcker pointed out that while a certain amount of skepticism is an integral part of our government, what was once healthy skepticism has turned into corrosive distrust.

“No democracy — no government of the people, by the people, for the people, in Abraham Lincoln’s stirring words — can flourish or exist if the people themselves have lost confidence in the governing processes,” he said.

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Tilghman, Shapiro *64, Ambar *94, and Chopp Discuss the Future of Higher Education

Despite its number one spot on college rankings, Princeton must continue to experiment with how it educates students, former University president Harold Shapiro *64 said at a Sept. 29 conversation on education.

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From left, Charles Gibson ’65, Carmen Twillie Ambar *94, Harold Shapiro *64, Rebecca Chopp, and Shirley Tilghman participated in a Sept. 29 conversation about higher education, presented by the Princeton Adult School. (Photo: Ellis Liang ’15)

The conversation, held in the Friend Center, was part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the Princeton Adult School, a nonprofit organization that offers classes for adult residents of the Princeton area. University trustee and former ABC News anchor Charles Gibson ’65 discussed changes in higher education with four current or former college presidents: Shapiro, Shirley Tilghman, Carmen Twillie Ambar *94 of Cedar Crest College, and Rebecca Chopp of Swarthmore College.

Tilghman pointed out that at Princeton, one significant ongoing change is the diversity of the student body. “We have to continue to do a much better job at finding highly talented students from all over the world, and we’ve got to find them in all socioeconomic categories,” she said.

Tilghman also stressed that there still remain many high-achieving low-income students who are not getting the education they deserve and that Princeton should increase efforts to reach out to them.

Chopp added that at Swarthmore, not only is today’s student body more diverse in terms of socioeconomic status, but it is also more diverse in terms of learning styles. According to Chopp, one way institutions are addressing this change is by using technology to enhance education.

“I think about teaching in the future as improv jazz instead of handing down knowledge over generations,” she said. “We’re going to see more and more hands-on learning, more and more flipped classrooms, which means the students are first watching the lecture in their bedrooms and going in to the seminars.”

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Arts weekend to showcase performers, celebrate Tilghman’s tenure

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The Princeton campus will come alive this weekend with music, song, and dance. From April 25-28, Princeton Arts Weekend will celebrate the ways in which University and community members create art. The weekend will feature performances, exhibits, and collaborative projects. On Sunday, the weekend will culminate with Communiversity, the annual town-gown street festival, and Shirleypalooza, a tribute to President Tilghman’s dedication to the arts.

Some of the art that will be showcased is the product of classroom projects. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon and singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding taught an Atelier course this semester on songwriting. The students will perform their original songs Saturday night at Small World Coffee.

“It’s been a joy to work with these student writers and musicians,” Muldoon said. “Each and every one of them is remarkable in some way. I fully expect this class to throw up some people who will become household names.”

For some students, Princeton Arts Weekend marks their debut. Performing for the first time at Princeton, Avanthika Srinivasan ’16 will be singing classical Indian songs at Blair Arch.

“To be performing here in Princeton and to have all my friends come support me and learn more about my culture definitely means a lot to me,” said Srinivasan. She added that she also appreciates the University’s “willingness to give platforms for artists like me to share our passion for music, dance, or any other art form, with the community.”

For others, this weekend is the culmination of four years steeped in the arts. Daniel Rattner ’13 is presenting his senior thesis show “O Where Are You Going?” on Saturday and Sunday.

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Forbes ’70 advocates tax reform, return to gold standard

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Steve Forbes ’70 said that the Federal Reserve has "flooded the engine" of the U.S. economy by supplying too much money. (Photo: Ellis Liang ’15)

To revitalize the economy, the U.S. needs to return to a gold standard and simplify the tax code, Steve Forbes ’70 said at a lecture in McCosh Hall March 10. 

Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media and a two-time Republican presidential candidate, returned to his alma mater for an event sponsored by the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He told the audience that the recent economic decline was not the result of free market capitalism, but of flawed monetary and tax policy. 

“If the Federal Reserve does not supply enough money to meet the organic or natural needs of the marketplace, you’re going to stall the economy. If it prints too much money, you get the economic equivalence of flooding the engine,” Forbes said. With the right amount, he continued, you have the chance to grow. 

According to Forbes, the Federal Reserve in recent decades has “flooded the engine.” He added that an unstable currency also misdirects investment into illiquid assets such as land and buildings, which gave rise to the housing bubble. Furthermore, an unstable currency distorts market information, causes wages to stagnate, and undermines social trust, he said. 

What does Forbes think the U.S. should do? 

“The dollar will be re-linked to G-O-L-D,” he said. “Why gold? It’s the one thing in the world that keeps its intrinsic value better than anything else — like the North Star, Polaris, something you can fix off of.”

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