Author Archives: Ellis Liang

Cross-Generational Career Tips: Classes of ’66, ’91, and ’16 Gather for Networking Event

Much has changed at Princeton between 1966 and today, but alumni can still recall the anxiety of deciding what to do after graduation. Through a special networking evening for the Class of 2016, members of the Class of 1966 and Class of 1991 returned to campus Feb. 24 to offer career advice and encourage current students to follow their passions.

The networking event helped to expose students to a wide range of fields, including law, finance, technology, and nonprofits, and revealed the nonlinear career paths of successful alumni. Planned in conjunction with Career Services, there were 48 students and 10 alumni at the event.

Students like Tiffany Chen ’16 said they enjoyed hearing anecdotes from alumni about their changing career goals. “For me, this was really reassuring and inspiring to see how many people didn’t have plans or completely went off what they were going to do. I don’t know yet what I want to do, and it’s nice to know that I’ll be OK eventually,” Chen said. Continue reading

Princeton Students Walk Out, Demonstrate Against Racism and Police Violence

Outside Frist Campus Center, Princeton students rallied against racialized state violence. (Ellis Liang ’15)

Outside Frist Campus Center, Princeton students rallied against “racialized state violence.” (Ellis Liang ’15)

At 11:30 am Thursday morning, more than 200 students streamed out of their classes chanting “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace.” They gathered on the North Lawn of Frist Campus Center, where they joined faculty and staff in expressing their solidarity with the demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, and demanding an end to “racialized state violence.” The protests were a response to decisions by two grand juries not to indict police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

“Today we interrupt the daily routine of Princeton students, faculty, and staff to draw attention to a national problem, a national disease, a plague that is American racism and racialized state violence,” senior Khallid Love said at the protest.

Dressed in black with their hands raised, the protesters had a moment of silence in solidarity with demonstrations around the country. The protesters proceeded to conduct a 45-minute “die-in,” a form of nonviolent demonstration in which participants lie down on the ground to simulate death.

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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.

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.

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


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

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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Terrorism prosecutor Martins emphasizes ‘justice, rather than vengeance’

Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, visited Princeton Feb. 27. (Photo: Ellis Liang ’15)

Military commissions are necessary judicial institutions, Chief Prosecutor of U.S. Military Commissions Brig. Gen. Mark Martins said in a Feb. 27 lecture at the Woodrow Wilson School.

Martins, the chief prosecutor for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, emphasized that in contrast to civilian courts, military commissions have a different standard of evidence and jury composition, which are essential for dealing with cases related to armed conflict. However, Martins added that new forms of conflict, such as terrorism, blur the lines between civilian and war crimes.

“The nature of the threat is that something can be regarded both as a violation of the law of war — a war crime — and a violation of the domestic law. Those are not mutually exclusive categories, and that’s where the controversy of how you’re regarding this challenge comes in,” Martins said. 

Martins pointed out that one difference of military commissions is in allowing hearsay evidence, prompting Director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs Kim Lane Scheppele to ask what that implies for evidence gathered through coercion.

“The hearsay rule in Anglo-American jurisprudence is the way that we screen out torture,” Scheppele said, “so when the hearsay rule is relaxed, it’s hitting the front line in the American system or the English system, the barrier that keeps out evidence collected by torture or by coercion.”

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Student volunteers aid recovery efforts on Long Beach Island

More than 60 student volunteers have traveled to storm-damaged towns on the New Jersey shore. (Photo: Courtesy Jennifer Bornkamp)
Desolate streets, broken sewer lines, and driveways piled high with debris. This was the scene that Princeton students encountered upon arriving on New Jersey’s Long Beach Island last weekend.  
The island, which was recently reopened to evacuated homeowners, was one of the areas ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Princeton students, organized by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, were among the first volunteers in the area.
More than 60 students arrived on Saturday and Sunday, going from door to door and offering help. Students did everything from ripping out Sheetrock and clearing debris to making a list of supplies requested by residents.
“Our group of volunteers were very enthusiastic and eager to get dirty, work hard, and reach people who really needed help,” said Jennifer Bornkamp, a physics faculty assistant who led a team of Princeton students. “When part of our group heard from several LBI residents [who had fared better] that there was a trailer park just south of Beach Haven that was hit particularly hard, the volunteers doggedly try to get to that area, even though they were turned away twice by the National Guard and police who informed them that access to the area was still limited to residents only.”

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Under the stars, a taste of life outside the bubble

(Photo: John O’Neill ’13)
The orange bubble was clad in white Oct. 25 for Forbes Diner Inn Blanc, a family-style dinner that brought together University students and Princeton community residents.
Inspired by “Diner en Blanc,” a flash-mob phenomenon in which hundreds of diners dressed in white picnic at landmarks, the event drew several hundred students from Forbes College and community members to Scudder Plaza in front of Robertson Hall.
The University and Corner House, a local family crisis counseling center, collaborated on the event in order to provide family-style dinners at an inexpensive price.
For University students, this was not only a much-needed taste of home but also a way to better connect with the community.
“It was nice to talk to people whose lives didn’t revolve around our crazy and weird Princeton schedule,” said Elizabeth LaMontagne ’14, who sat with a seventh grader from Princeton Middle School and her mother. “We talked about a range of things, from what Kate [the younger girl] was going to be for Halloween to the mother’s thoughts about an article by Peter Singer that my friends and I read for our Ethics and Public Policy class.”  
Though life outside FitzRandolph Gate often seems worlds away, it was refreshing to see an outside perspective of the University.
“I never realized how often people who live in Princeton take advantage of the opportunities Princeton has,” said LaMontagne. “Kate mentioned that she attended a bat mitzvah held at one of the eating clubs, the mother spoke of coming on campus for arts events … and both of them were huge fans of the arch sings that ‘seemed to just pop out of nowhere.’"
Both students and community members said they hoped that the success of Diner Inn Blanc would lead to similar events in the future.