All Posts Tagged With: "Princeton University"
Find a husband on campus before I graduate? No thanks.
When Anne-Marie Slaughter spoke at the Women and Leadership conference at Princeton University in February, there was at least one person in the packed audience who did not agree with her call for the “next wave of an equal rights revolution.”
That person was the now infamous Susan A. Patton, who spoke at one of the breakout sessions afterward and then wrote a letter to the editor of The Daily Princetonian dismissing both Slaughter’s discussion of whether women can have it all and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s suggestion that women “lean in” to advance their careers.
According to Patton, instead of worrying about their future work-life balance, university women’s priority should be this: “Find a husband on campus before you graduate.”
What students are talking about today (April 1st)
1. In a letter to the editor of a campus newspaper, a Princeton University alumna whose sons now attend the Ivy Leage school, has told female students, “forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out. Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate.” Susan A. Patton says that Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s suggestion that women “lean in” to advance in their careers is missing the point. Here’s a sample of the controversial letter from the Daily Princetonian:
I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians. My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless. Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.
You can imagine the reaction this caused over the weekend. “What an excruciatingly retro understanding of relationships she has,” wrote Susan O’Connor of Nymag.com, to which Patton responded in The Huffington Post, “honestly, it was intended as little more than honest advice from a Jewish mother.” It’s rare that such views make it into print, so I’m certain we’ll hear more on this.
Former top banker on his days at Queen’s
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here, David Dodge, former Governor of the Bank of Canada and Chancellor of Queen’s University, looks back on his days in university.
I graduated with a B.A. in economics from Queen’s University and later a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. It was a very exciting time: neither of my parents had been to university, and I was going down the highway from Toronto to Kingston. I thought I was going to do mathematics and chemistry but I ended up studying economics. Out of high school you know some things, you don’t know others. At that time at Queen’s—it is fair to say it is the same now—you had to take a pretty broad range of things in first year. I took economics. It was relevant to the world, whereas seeing OHs run around the page in organic chemistry didn’t seem quite so exciting.
University for me was a formative period. I was lucky enough to be able to live away from home. You learn a lot about yourself and about the world when you are out of the environment in which you have been comfortable. There is a tremendous advantage, I think, to going away to university. Queen’s had an advantage too in that you were in a relatively small town—Kingston. I lived in residence and you got to meet different folks.
I was in the Naval Reserve Officer Training program. It wasn’t like a job but it took six to seven hours a week. I worked on the student newspaper too. We had ancient Underwood typewriters and the paper was still produced on hot type downtown. That was quite an experience.
As told to Julie Smyth
But can boycotts really change the dynamic in the Middle East?
Students at DePaul University in Chicago have launched a crusade against a popular chickpea dip. Despite a similar, failed attempt at Princeton late last year, a group of students at DePaul University are pushing to ban the sale of Israeli-made Sabra hummus on campus. Students for Justice in Palestine launched the movement at DePaul, claiming that Sabra’s parent brand, the Strauss Group, supports Israeli military units accused of human rights abuses against Palestinians. DePaul’s student body is voting in a referendum this week.
It appears students are convinced that those are some mighty tainted peas. And, for whatever reason, they must also believe that restricting the sale of said tainted peas will culminate in a massive boycott, putting such dire economic strain on the state of Israel that it will have no choice but to change its military tactics. Here’s why I think it won’t work.
When the issue was being considered at Princeton back in December, I argued that the movement and (similar boycott attempts) will undoubtedly fail to get the Israeli army to change course for three main reasons. The first is the counter-boycott movement, also known as BUYcott, which acts in reverse of the boycott protesters. When a group in Maryland called for a boycott of an Israeli beauty product last summer, BUYcotters organized to buy the product instead and ended up clearing out the shelves. The same thing happened when protesters called for a boycott of Israeli-made wine in Toronto. If, indeed, DePaul students are successful in banning the sale of Sabra hummus on campus, I have a feeling sales may spike elsewhere.
The second reason DePaul and similar boycott attempts will likely fail to achieve their goal is because of the selective nature of the products chosen for boycott. Hummus, face creams, coffees—even academics—have all been targeted by the movement, while computer chips, medical technologies, and other Israeli products and scientific breakthroughs have been allowed to seamlessly cross borders. How persuasive can a boycott possibly be if activists pick and choose which products they can do without?
The third reason is the most intangible and arguably ideological. (Forgive me, I’m still in my 20’s.) Simply put, the situation that has been festering in the Middle East is not strictly about economics. In fact, I would argue economics has little to do with, but I know there are those who would debate me on that. Either way, the struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians is largely one of existential values, boiling down to religious claim to land. As I said before, and I’ll reiterate now, not buying fruit juice from one side or the other won’t throw anyone off course. Core values are impervious to such external pressure.
So, if perhaps DePaul’s boycott of Sabra Hummus is more symbolic than pragmatic (a symbolic student movement, you say?! How novel!), is there really a reason to take issue? On the one hand, no. Each member of the student body has the opportunity to exercise his or her opinion via the non-binding referendum, so it is not as though a few ardent activists have totally seized control of the cafeteria.
That said, squabbling over hummus–even if just symbolically–does little more than cheapen the overall discourse surrounding the Middle East conflict, nevermind ignite hostility on already brewing bed of Israeli-Palestinian tension. Still, if one feels compelled to fuel campus fires, why not do so in a more pragmatic way? Perhaps it’s because “I’m working with my local government after reading up on both sides” doesn’t look as good on a poster board. Indeed, until then, it seems the war on delicious dips shall wage on.
It is no longer just about the women’s movement
Princeton University is taking the right approach when it comes to revamping their women’s studies department. The program, previously known as Study of Women and Gender, will now be called Gender and Sexuality Studies after a unanimous vote of the department’s faculty.
The latter half of 2009 saw many similar moves by Canadian universities. Queen’s University renamed their program Gender Studies, while Simon Fraser University’s program is now called Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. Catherine Murray, SFU’s program chair, hit the nail on the head regarding the titular change movement:
“We’re not abandoning women’s studies, or saying the women’s movement is dead. We’re saying things are changing. It’s about moving forward, staying ahead of the game and recognizing the need to include broader discussions surrounding gender,” she told the National Post in late January.
The National Post found itself in hot water a day later when their editorial board tried to claim that “these angry, divisive and dubious programs are simply being renamed to make them appear less controversial.” The national response only proved that discussions around gender are still necessary.
Women’s studies are important, and the firestorm that surrounded the Post in January proved just that. But there’s also room for other discussions that surround gender and sexuality to be addressed as well. Princeton’s latest move is showing us that it has no intention of reducing its focus on women; they are simply including more voices. The department is keeping most of its original course names, but adding some new ones to address a wider scope of gender issues that are part of modern discussions.
It’s about evolution.
“The newly renamed Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton will continue to address each phase of the field’s development, maintaining its historical commitment to the specificity of women’s experience while offering feminist analytic tools across disciplines,” program director Jill Dolan told the Daily Princetonian.
Women’s studies programs first came on the scene over 40 years ago — the first at San Diego State University in 1970 — to address many of the same concerns that are facing other areas of the gender discussion now — gay, lesbian and transgender people are just some examples of the groups whose voices now need to be heard. At first, it was the result of pressure from women’s liberation movements to include female perspectives in education. Modern discussions around “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and “It gets better” are proof that gender discussions are still an important part of our daily lives.
“The first women’s studies programs were created as scholars attempted to re-examine history, literature, anthropology, psychology and other subjects, and to explore the missing perspective,” explains an article on About.com. And today, it’s more missing perspectives that are propelling the expansion of gender programs at universities.
Margaret, a Maclean’s commenter, sums it up beautifully: “I would love to see the day come when women’s contributions (and the contributions of people of colour, alternative sexualities, etc etc) are given the same airtime as the contributions of white men. Until that day comes, we need programs such as women’s studies and first nations studies to bring other perspectives to higher education.”
And while detractors like the National Post’s editorial board will always be around to try and stop those perspectives, universities are right in rising above their ignorance and trying to lend a hand to bring them along for the ride.
You can’t solve Israel-Palestine crisis by watching what you eat
There’s a scene in the movie Brüno where Sacha Baron Cohen’s character shares a table with former Mossad chief Yossi Alpher and former Palestinian minister Ghassan Khatib. Cohen turns to Alpher and asks, “Why are you so anti-Hamas? I mean, isn’t pita bread the real enemy?” Bewildered, Alpher replies, “You’re confusing Hamas with hummus, I believe.” Khatib pipes in: “You think there’s a relation between Hamas and hummus?”
Unmoved, Cohen continues to probe. “Was the founder of Hamas a chef?” he asks.
“Hummus has nothing to do with Hamas,” Alpher explains. “It’s a food, OK? We eat it. They eat it.” “It’s vegetarian,” adds Khatib. “It’s healthy.”
Despite these merits, some students at Princeton University in New Jersey (who probably didn’t make it to the end of this scene in the movie) have decided to wage a political war on the chickpea dip. The Princeton Committee on Palestine (PCP) has created a Facebook event called “Boycott Sabra Hummus” and held a referendum Monday calling for alternatives to the Israeli brand of hummus being sold around campus. Yoel Bitran, the group’s creator, wrote that the PCP objects to the fact that “students who wish to eat this traditional Arab food are forced to buy a product that is connected to human rights abuses against Arab civilians.”
Sabra indeed provides care packages of dips and sports equipment to Israeli soldiers, but unless we consider these packages “weapons of ultimate deliciousness,” the connection between Sabra and human rights abuses is a weak one. Further undermining PCP’s position is the fact that there are other hummus alternatives available on campus, as pointed out by the Daily Princetonian staff.
So why is there so much fuss over food? Well hummus is just the latest target in a long line of commercial and ideological boycotts targeted at the Israeli government. Not simply an American movement, Canadian students have also actively supported the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) campaign, which was initiated in 2005 with the intention of pressuring the Israeli government to “end its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and “[recognize] the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
Heather Kere was a vocal campaigner for the BDS movement when she was vice-president of education for Ryerson’s student union back in 2008, for example. Kere moved to rid Ryerson of Starbucks coffee, alleging that “The CEO and chairman of Starbucks (Howard Schultz) is a financial supporter of the state of Israel, an oppressive state that violates many UN resolutions, and so by supporting Starbucks, we’re supporting the apartheid system in Israel.” Starbucks has flatly denied the claim.
Then there was the more sensational attempt by the Canadian Union of Public Employees in 2009, which passed a motion calling for an academic boycott of Israeli lecturers. “We are ready to say Israeli academics should not be on our campuses unless they explicitly condemn the university bombing and the assault on Gaza in general,” Sid Ryan, president of CUPE Ontario said in a release. After someone slipped CUPE a note saying, “Hey, umm . . . that’s a little reminiscent of totalitarian demands of subservience and thought control . . .” CUPE revised its position to focus on Israeli academic institutions, not individuals. In any case, I’m still waiting for CUPE to demand all visiting Russian lecturers explicitly condemn Putin’s targeting of Chechnyan separatists.
Either way, these boycott attempts have been largely unsuccessful, especially considering the umbrella objective of persuading the Israeli government to change its tactics. For one, the campaigns to boycott products often backfire, as was the case in April 2009, when a protest and boycott of Israeli wine at a Toronto LCBO resulted in the entire stock being bought out by supporters of Israel. Secondly, these boycotts often focus on non-essential, “superficial” products of Israel, such as face cream or hummus, and ignore products such as the Given Imaging swallowable camera pill used to diagnose gastrointestinal disorders worldwide, a device which was developed in Israel. Why are we not boycotting hospitals that use the “Zionist” device?
Thirdly, and perhaps most fundamentally, I would argue that the Middle East crisis at its most raw boils down to a clash of ideology; ideology that is impervious to external pressure. Economics, borders, government, allies aside–Israelis and Palestinians disagree on fundamental values rooted in faith. Not buying fruit juice from one side or the other is not going to throw off anyone’s religious claim to land.
Nevertheless, I have no doubt that impassioned students will continue to try to dry up the Starbucks wells on campus or demand only clear-conscious chickpeas be available at universities. In any case, can’t we just agree that pita bread is the real enemy?