Category Archives: Campus News

Faculty Members Assess the Iran Nuclear Deal

On July 14, the United States and five other nations announced an agreement with Iran to limit Iran’s development of nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting international sanctions. The agreement has already generated considerable controversy. Israel and some in the United States have been sharply critical, while President Obama and others have defended it. Congress has until mid-September to review the agreement.

PAW asked several faculty members for their assessments of the agreement. Is this a good deal? A bad deal? A missed opportunity? The best that could be hoped for under the circumstances? We present their conclusions below.

Daniel Kurtzer (Frank Wojciechowski)

Daniel Kurtzer (Frank Wojciechowski)

Daniel Kurtzer, S. Daniel Abraham Visiting Professor in Middle East Policy Studies and former U.S. ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001) and Israel (2001-2005)

As a nonproliferation agreement, the agreement is quite strong. It blocks several pathways Iran had been employing to potentially reach a nuclear capability. It sets a severe limit on the amount of enriched uranium that can remain in the country. And it limits the number of centrifuges Iran is permitted to keep.

There are three issues that matter most. One, to what extent can inspectors catch Iran should it cheat? That is an open question. Two, what happens if we catch them cheating? This goes to the will of the administration to take action. Will the president of the United States hold Iran to a very high standard, or will he accept some ambiguity in their behavior? Third, will Iran come clean on its previous nuclear program? This is part of a separate agreement Iran has made with the International Atomic Energy Agency. If Iran doesn’t report things that we know they have been doing, that would be another violation.

Would we have been better off holding on to sanctions and squeezing Iran harder until it capitulated and abandoned its nuclear program altogether? That is unrealistic. Most experts believe that the sanctions were not going to be effective for much longer. Russia and China certainly would have backed away from them if the United States had walked away from negotiations.

Some have asked why we did not include all of Iran’s other bad behavior in the deal. The explanation comes down to tactics. The administration made a choice to isolate the nuclear issue from all the others. We know Iran is doing other bad things in the region, such as backing Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, but the administration believes that we are in a stronger position to address those problems if Iran is not also developing a nuclear capability.

David Menashri, visiting fellow at Princeton; founding director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University

The Iranians made a pragmatic decision to make some concessions on the nuclear issue in order to get relief from the sanctions. The end result is that those who wanted just to delay the Iranian nuclear program can be satisfied.

Still, I would say the Iranians won. Two years ago, the Iranians were desperate. The international sanctions were ruining their economy, and the currency lost much of its value. Unemployment was high and so was inflation. Their regional allies (Syria, Hizballah, Iraqi government) were in trouble. Disillusionment and disenchantment were mounting. So the Iranian government realized that they needed to make some concessions on the nuclear front to achieve their other interests. Continue reading

Names in the News: Berlin ’07 on Lunch Ladies and Admissions; Berlind ’52’s Tony Winners; More

Lev Berlin ’07 (Courtesy Lev Berlin)

Lev Berlin ’07 (Courtesy Lev Berlin)

Can a high-school lunch lady help you get into Princeton? Maybe, LEV BERLIN ’07 wrote in an essay for — or maybe not. It’s not clear whether a phone call from his lunch lady to a prominent alumnus helped his application, but in any case, Berlin advises, “Be nice to your lunch ladies, people.”

Broadway producer ROGER BERLIND ’52’s string of hits continues. Berlind co-produced two of the 2015 Tony Award winners: Best Play honoree The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Skylight, which won in the Best Revival of a Play category.

Author and professor RUTH BEHAR *83 has joined with poet and fellow Cuban-American Richard Blanco to launch a new writing project called “Bridges to/from Cuba,” which aims to give Cubans a forum for sharing their hopes for the future of U.S.-Cuba relations. Behar, who moved from Cuba to New York City at age 5, is the author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in Between Journeys. Continue reading

Names in the News: Taub ’14 Explores ISIS Recruiting; Gowin Exhibit at The Morgan

BEN TAUB ’14 wrote “Journey to Jihad,” the lead story in the June 1 issue of The New Yorker on European teenagers who join ISIS. Taub used money he received as a contestant on The Voice to fund reporting trips to the Turkish-Syrian border, he said in an MSNBC interview.

Influential photographer and emeritus professor EMMET GOWIN’s work is featured in a new exhibit, “Hidden Likeness,” at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City through Sept. 20. Peggy Fogelman, the Morgan’s acting director, said that Gowin’s art has “creative and often surprising linkages with Morgan objects of widely different eras and artistic disciplines.” Continue reading

The Princetoniana Committee: Keepers of Traditions Old and New

ptoniana-jacketsIf you’ve ever noticed the quotations rendered in large block letters on the walls of Frist Campus Center, watched a freshman Pre-rade and Step Sing, or viewed the Reunion and beer jacket exhibits in Maclean House, then you’ve experienced the handiwork of the Princetoniana Committee.

“The Princetoniana Committee is focused around the history and traditions of Princeton, familiarizing people with those and constructing traditions as they go along,” said former committee chair Gregg Lange ’70. “One reason we do that … is to give people a sense of belonging, a sense of import, and a sense of context to what they’re doing and why.”

More than archivists, members of the Princetoniana Committee are actively contributing to the University’s traditions. Just 11 years ago, the committee inaugurated the Pre-rade as a way to welcome freshmen to the Princeton community. A few years later, the committee added a Step Sing on the steps of Blair Arch after the Pre-rade as a way to ensure that freshmen knew the words to “Old Nassau.”

According to current chair Sev Onyshkevych ’83, the Princetoniana Committee was founded in 1981 after the death of Frederic Fox ’39, who was the University’s recording secretary for 17 years and earned the title “Keeper of Princetoniana.” Fox’s classmate Hugh (“Bud”) Wynne established the committee under the Alumni Council as a way to continue Fox’s work in preserving Princeton traditions.

“What one person did, we now have a committee of 40 doing,” Onyshkevych said. Continue reading

PAW Goes to the Movies: Does Pitch Perfect 2 Resonate with the Wildcats?

From left, Wildcats a cappella members Kat Giordano ’18, Arianna Lanz ’17, and Samone Blair ’18 review Pitch Perfect 2 with PAW senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83. (Beverly Schaefer)

From left, Wildcats a cappella members Kat Giordano ’18, Arianna Lanz ’17, and Samone Blair ’18 review Pitch Perfect 2 with PAW senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83. (Beverly Schaefer)

The Barden Bellas are back. The Bellas, the female singing group from fictional Barden College, showed the inner workings of a cappella and made Pitch Perfect a surprise box office hit in 2012. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and the rest of the group return in this summer’s sequel, Pitch Perfect 2. After winning the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) tournament in the original, the Bellas set their sights on the world championships in Copenhagen, with a new member joining the group. Did the filmmakers get it right? Who better to ask than a group of a cappella singers?

In another installment of our periodic series, PAW Goes to the Movies, senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83 took three members of the Wildcats — Arianna Lanz ’17, Kat Giordano ’18, and Samone Blair ’18 — to see Pitch Perfect 2 and then discuss how Hollywood’s conception of a cappella compares with the real thing. Here are some excerpts from their conversation.

MFB: What did you think of the movie?

SB: I loved it.

KD: The original was funnier, but the sequel definitely built on it. The central themes of a cappella and intergroup love were all there.

AL: The movie is dripping in clichés but it’s still enjoyable and entertaining. As far as life in a cappella goes, we’re not a sorority and we don’t all live together. The Wildcats are like sisters and we love each other, but it’s not like we spend all of our time together. We all have other interests and activities. Continue reading

Q&A: Mibs Southerland Mara, the Guru of Reunions

Mibs Southerland Mara (Kaitlin Lutz)

Mibs Southerland Mara (Kaitlin Lutz)

As associate director for Reunions, Mibs Southerland Mara is an authority on the University’s signature event. Coordinating University staff and alumni volunteers, she often begins working with major-reunion classes two years before their celebrations. Mara grew up within walking distance of campus and worked in secondary-school administration before joining the Office of Alumni Affairs in 2005 — making this her 10th Reunions.

You are k’26. Did you go to Reunions as a child?

My grandfather was Class of 1926, and growing up in Princeton, I always looked forward to Reunions, especially the P-rade. One of my favorite photos (below) is from 1966, when my grandfather carried me in the P-rade. Seeing the Clydesdale horses clomp down Prospect Street was always a highlight.

How has Reunions changed in the past 10 years?

I started working in the Office of Alumni Affairs in 2005, and Reunions have definitely changed since. There has been significant growth in attendance and events for Reunions weekend. We are always trying to enhance the Reunions experience — from adding water stations and portable restrooms along the P-rade route to adding food trucks on campus last year. We rolled out Reunions Mobile in 2009, and last year we introduced Reunions Rover — a student-driven golf-cart service for people with mobility issues. And there is the Battle of the Bands Friday afternoon. Continue reading