We here at The Nassau Weekly love to hate the The Prince. Yet as the events surrounding the Printsanything scandal unfolded, we found that even our cold hearts were moved to sympathy. Sure, the Gaily Printsanything made us all shudder with embarrassment, like when our old uncle Herbert reenacts a Dave Chappelle skit at Thanksgiving dinner, but we were shocked and appalled to read about campus relations and the politics of campus publications in The New York Times. The important issue is not what is or is not appropriate to print in a campus publication, but rather the effect of the mainstream media watching over our shoulders.
The specter of the Adult World looms large on Princeton campus, like the dark eye of Sauron scorching the landscape with its piercing gaze. We run from interview to interview in a panic, dropping classes to maintain our GPAs, ‘penciling in’ social appointments and practicing our Go Getter Smile in front of the mirror. At its darkest, Princeton can feel like a training academy, and it is repeated over and over at every Freshman Orientation, at every commencement address and tap-room conversation, that the World is watching, waiting, listening. Does the Times report on every offensive article on every campus in America? Of course not. All eyes are on us.
There are a number of factors that contribute to this situation. We might point a finger at the Times, or, if we were feeling especially nasty, at the Times’ readership. We could loudly, and with great hypocrisy, rail against the U.S. News and World Report. To a great extent, however, the attention we receive from major publications is the product of the methodical, passionate labor of students within our community. Whole organizations within this university are dedicated to pushing campus events into the public eye. These organizations are, in our opinion, indefensible. But their actions are not our concern. What is important to the issue at hand is the atmosphere that such media attention engenders on campus and the implications of this attention for campus publications.
There are many damn fine magazines and journals on this campus. Articles in The Tory and American Foreign Policy are remarkable for their cogency, depth of analysis and style. The Princeton Progressive Nation has, by our count, done the best job in encouraging underclassmen to express their ideas, and Greenlight Magazine has posed exciting and comprehensive challenges to administrative policy. Yet we cannot deny that there is a palpable sense of Careerism that drains many publications of their flavor. Humble, timid rote-work litters our hallways and bathrooms. Articles betray themselves immediately as written for prospective employers, internship recruiters, parents, professors, grant foundations. Some publications devote the lion’s share of their human resources to fundraising, their magazines mere fronts for nefarious snugglefests with eager, drooling adults. This is all fear, of course, a trembling in the face of the outside world. There is no dance that we will not dance for Morgan Stanley or Lehman Brothers. Or the New York Times. We are petrified, and the gaze of Sauron boils us down to a morass of garbled apologies.
And they expect us to engage in a dialogue about diversity amidst such fear? Forget it.
We are proud to announce, then, that The Nassau Weekly is in debt. We have been in debt as long as anyone on this staff can remember. And our office is dirty as hell. Our raggedy family is unwashed, foul-breathed, pigeon-toed, bow-legged, half-literate and socially awkward, but we write crazy brilliant articles, and we write them for you. So pull up a toilet and relax. The articles between these here covers are many things, but they are not afraid.
Print that in the idiot Times.
Ross and Chris