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This Week in Princeton History for February 7-13

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, a junior defends the disproportionate number of Jews rejected in the Bicker process, students complain about seating arrangements in lecture halls, and more.

February 7, 1827—New York’s Jamestown Journal prints correspondence from a traveler from Brattleborough to Washington: “In travelling through New Jersey to Trenton, you pass Princeton celebrated for its college…The college buildings look venerable and afford more pleasure from their dark, rusty appearance of antiquity, than from any beauty in their construction style or finish.”

February 8, 1960—Jay Parsons ’61 acknowledges that Jews are disproportionately rejected during Bicker at Princeton’s eating clubs, but argues that this is not evidence of antisemitism.

Is this discrimination? No; any selective system must have some criterion. It is next to impossible to judge the ‘worth’ of a person, so some scale must be found. The one now used, of ‘fit,’ is as natural as any. The rejection of Jews is not rejection because of Jewishness, but a rejection because of their differentness. It is unfortunate for Bicker that Jews seem to be more ‘alien’ in personality to the clubs than any other easily recognizable and self-conscious group.

The questions of discrimination in Bicker had been a matter of discussion on campus for a few years before 1960. Here, the January 1959 cover of Princeton’s Tiger magazine accuses disinterested students of apathy.

February 11, 1881—Noting the injustice of always requiring those whose names fall at the end of the alphabet to sit in the rear of a lecture hall, where it is more difficult to hear the professor or see demonstrations in science courses, the Princetonian requests that the seating be put into reverse alphabetical order in the middle of the term, to make things more equitable.

February 13, 1902—The new Catalogue is available to students. For the first time, it includes a section on the history of the institution.

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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