Friday, December 03, 2010

Hot Fight in Old Nassau

The Daily Princetonian has set off a real firestorm online with its publication of a series of articles on the Princeton admissions process.

The real fireworks started flying when on online poster claiming to be a long-time tenured Princeton professor expressed his/her outrage over the supposedly inferior academic abilities and performances of the athletes.

This supposed professor, (who based on the passages written seems to me to be much more likely a graduate school teacher’s assistant), repeats all the old stereotypes about student athletes.

This debate is boiling over at Princeton, mind you, a school that wins the most Ivy championships year after year.

Here are some of my favorite comments in response to the “outraged faculty member”:

@outraged faculty
I find your comments to be rooted in mean-spirited generalizations and stereotypes. I suspect if you took the time to actually interact with the athletes on campus you would find 700+ SAT scores and top 10% class rank are more the rule than the exception. As you know, the recruited athletes are given no special treatment in the classroom (quite the opposite in your classroom, I suspect). Handling the same workload as their non-athlete peers while devoting 3-4 hours each day to practice and representing Princeton academically is a huge challenge, and the great majority of these recruited athletes are able to accomplish it.
If you would prefer that Princeton give up on it's rich athletic tradition and stop recruiting, Princeton athletics will look a lot like MIT athletics in short order. I, for one, think that would be a shame.

@ outraged faculty
I am ashamed that one of our professors would have such a warped opinion of me, my teammates, and others who play varsity sports at Princeton. The rationale behind likely letters, as explained in the article, to prevent athletes from matriculating to other schools, which are allowed to promise scholarships, because they are unsure about their chances at Princeton. EVERY YEAR my sports team has recruits DENIED by the Admissions Office, PRECISELY because they, like other non-athlete candidates who apply to Princeton, do not meet academic standards! Being a recruited athlete is in no way an admissions guarantee, and recruits who do matriculate (as seen by the graduation rate) seem to be able to handle the academic rigors of Princeton. In fact, MANY go on to receive the University's highest accolades, such as the Spirit of Princeton Award or thesis prizes.
The fact that SO MANY varsity athletes are extremely academically successful is a testament to their organization and dedication to both their schoolwork and their sport (read yesterday's article for clarification). It is appalling that, after the hard work they do for themselves and to uphold Princeton pride, they are so often singled out by students, faculty, and administrators for being an underachieving section of the student body.

What, no vitriol against legacy and developmental admits as well? Why do they deserve admission to Princeon despite inferior academic qualfications? I seem to recall Princeton being at or near the top of the Ivies for percentage of legacy admissions. I suppose the reason this continues to be allowed is so the university can provide bodies to populate those snotty eating clubs only the very rich are allowed to belong to.
The haughty attitude expressed by outragedfaculty is one reason my athlete daughter turned down Princeton and Harvard advances. Students at those schools reported that athletes should hide the fact they play a sport from some professors or they will look down on them and give them as intellectually inferior. Since her GPA and SAT's were as high as that of any Princeton non-athlete, she opted for a school which respects their athletes.

Legacy admits have significantly higher scores and grades than the average admit. They don't pull the academic averages down, they pull it up.
As for the eating clubs, snotty or not, most are subscribed by lottery and even the ones that aren't have a diverse membership. As another surprise for you, if anything, the selective clubs slant toward sports team members if anything.
Finally, when you say your daughter's SATs and grades were as high as any PU student's, then I assume you mean she was number one in her class and had perfect SATs, since many many PU students are exactly that. More on point however, is that more validictory or 2400 scorering applicants are turned DOWN by PU than are accepted. The reason is that University has decided that a class made up of people vetted only by test taking and hoop jumping might make for a dull group overall. Pure academics is a great start, but not enough if the university is going to create leaders for the nation and world, which without much modesty, is what we claim to do.
The general theme for admissions is that first you need to be academically strong, and then what else can you bring to the party. Like 08Alum suggests, the real question Outraged Faculty points to, is what university mission is served by admitting athletes with lower scores and grades and has it be clearly articulated so that everyone can at least understand the rationale.


Don't hate the player, hate the game: It is not MY fault as a princeton lax alum that girls sweated me, i crushed it on the dfloor, and i destroyed a little property.
Its not MY fault. It is the nature of the school. The real reason the faculty are upset is because everyone on campus looked up to people like me and my lax buddies more than they looked up to some professor who has spent his entire life studying some worthless sociology theory about why Brokeback Mountain is the most critically acclaimed motion picture of the century.
Here's a research question for all you outraged faculty members:
you have the option to go to lecture and fall asleep, get a good 20 minute nap in before some nerd interrupts the class to spell out a point that is painfully obvious to the 300 other people in lecture - this is not a most enjoyable experience.
second option: go to Joe Canal's, buy a 30 rack of natty light, post up in the 1952 parking lot and drink that 30 rack. then, enter the men's lacrosse game vs. syracuse and watch your friends/idols on the lacrosse team take it to the orangemen...this, of course, would be followed by the opportunity to buy those same lacrosse players drinks at Winberry's after the game.
Option 2 sounds like a much more enjoyable experience.
My suggestion/theory/axiom: outraged faculty members - go sip on a little brew and relax your belts that are jacked half way to your nipples. let your belly button breath. switch your glasses for contact lenses. then, maybe someone will start coming to your lecture!
For now, I'm gonna go crush it at my day job.


The thing that I keep returning to, though, is that anyone who truly doesn't care about academics wouldn't choose to come to Princeton in the first place. If you are a real star athlete and all you want to do is skate by in school, you go to a top D1 athletic powerhouse where you are put on full scholarship. People only choose to come to Princeton if they are comfortable shouldering the academic burden-- which in most cases means they are at least on some level interested in intellectual challenge.

Concerned Parent again...
Someone at Princeton should be smart enough to remember the Olympian man of ancient times..."sound mind" + "sound body". The two are connected and not mutually exclusive. I am concerned that Princeton lets in too many one dimensional nerds. I don't care what your passion it and don't be embarassed by it.


At Fri Dec 03, 07:40:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son has already bumped into that type of grad assistant at Columbia. This has been a topic of discussion among football parents during tailgating. This snotty preconceived notion is just another hurdle for student athletes. All it creates is resentment in the long run. Counter productive for all.

At Fri Dec 03, 08:18:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your son has run into that sort of problem with grad assistants I would not hesitate to encourage him to call out the graduate assistant with a well placed complaint to the Dean's office. The Deans at Columbia have been very supportive of athletes. Unfortunately this type of attitude is pervas]ve in some faculty circles.

At Fri Dec 03, 10:46:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Chuck B '92 said...

Whenever I see a comment saying - and I quote - "a major academic institution panders year after year to high schoolers who by and large should not be here in the first place" - I wonder if they realize how bigoted that sounds, especially in terms of football. Should some of the African-American players that fall within the standard deviation and receive aid "not be here in the first place"? To me, it sounds like this person wants a whiter, richer, WASPier student body.

At Sat Dec 04, 12:33:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This type of debate pops up at Princeton on a regular basis, year after year. What drives a certain small segment of the faculty (or grad assistants, as Jake points out) to voice their complaints is not academic underperformance by athletes, because Princeton athletes do no worse in the classroom than, say, URM students who also are highly recruited by the Ivies.

No, what gets the complainers riled up is seeing all the Ivy championships won year after year. The inference is that, because the athletes are winning, they must be dumber than other athletes who are losing.

It's a weird kind of psychology these narrow minded academics hold. They find it hard to make the connection that because somebody has the drive, perseverance and organizational skills to achieve in the sports realm, those qualities might lead them to succeed in the classroom and after graduation as well.

There is a certain segment of the community at Columbia which habitually complains that our sports teams lose too much. Paradoxically, there is a certain segment of the community at Princeton which habitually complains because the Tigers win too much.

At Sat Dec 04, 12:52:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think race should be injected into this. It's a snobbish attitude problem that's colorblind. The intellectual life is marvelous but it's a broad channel, not a narrow tunnel for sports haters. Perhaps, and I'm serious, all non-snobs on Ivy campuses could be given pamphlets, to hand to snobs they run across, or place in reading areas, that list the topmost of the countless accomplishments of Ivy athletes in medicine, law, science, the arts, business, public service and indeed every walk of life.

At Mon Dec 06, 08:48:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Chuck B '92 I wish you hadn't made your post. This is an issue that is "color blind" and adding a racial factor to it is just insulting to all the players.


Post a Comment

<< Home