December 20, 2017

To the Editor:

The results of last year’s Stanford Challenge Success survey of student experiences at Princeton High School are alarming:

Forty-seven percent of students reported that a stress-related health or emotional problem caused them to miss more than one day of school.

Fifty-six percent reported that a stress-related health or emotional problem caused them to miss a social, extracurricular, or recreational activity more than once in the past month.

Sixty-one percent of students surveyed experienced stress induced headaches, and 33 percent reported difficulty breathing in the past month

These statistics, and what they indicate about the imperiled health and well-being of our young people, are a concern not just for our schools, but our whole community.

Earlier this year, Corner House brought together other representatives from the municipal government, local public and private schools, Princeton University, Trinity Counseling, and student members of Princeton’s Youth Advisory Committee to form the Mayor’s Task Force on Teen Stress. The goal of the task force is to engage parents and other community partners in supporting and complementing the schools’ efforts to tackle this health challenge.

As a first step, members of the Youth Advisory Committee have assembled a Teen Stress Resource Guide, a suggested reading list for parents, adults, and teens. This list contains book recommendations and links to online articles to better inform parents and aid in family conversation. The guide can be found on the town’s website: www.princetonnj.gov.

I invite all members of the community to support the teens of Princeton by learning more about the stressors affecting their health and well-being, and please stay tuned for more ways to engage throughout 2018.

Liz Lempert

Mayor

To the Editor:

The Princeton Public School district is currently considering delaying the start time for both the high school and middle school. I recognize that such a move is remarkably complex and challenging for both the district and many families, yet I am proud that we are taking the time to consider this option. The health consequences for our children are so compelling, we simply must take action.

For decades, scientists have known that teens experience a pronounced shift in their sleep-wake cycle. As they enter puberty, adolescents become naturally wired to fall asleep later. So, it’s no surprise that research has shown that when school start times are delayed, our students sleep longer, are more alert, have higher attendance rates, and achieve greater academic performance. In addition, delayed school start times are associated with fewer car crashes and better mental health outcomes, including fewer suicidal thoughts for our teens. Convincingly, because of these health and academic benefits, a recent RAND report estimated the U.S. economy would gain at least $9 billion a year, simply by delaying school start times to 8:30 a.m.

While we can teach our kids to better manage time, we simply can’t redesign their biological clock. Instead, we need to respect our students during a uniquely vulnerable stage of their lives and do our part to maximize their success. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and N.J. Department of Education (NJDOE) all recommend that the start times for both high schools and middle schools be delayed until 8:30 a.m. or later.

For far too long we’ve ignored this research, forcing teens to wake earlier than they are wired, only to wonder why they are so stressed. Fortunately, we can now join schools all around the country in righting this wrong.

Jenny Ludmer

Caldwell Drive

December 13, 2017

To the Editor:

I appreciated the article about Clifford Zink’s book, The Eating Clubs of Princeton [“Book About Princeton’s Eating Clubs Details Architecture and Preservation,” page 5, Dec. 6]. The book illustrates the beautiful architecture of the Princeton University campus and describes the interesting stories around 16 unique entities, many over 100 years old. While the University now owns six of the lots, some with the original structures, 11 still operate as private clubs drawing members from Princeton’s undergraduate community.

Without any burden on our town’s schools or garbage collection services, 10 of the clubs pay property taxes that total over $665,000/year. Through diligent partnership with the University and TIPS training of the undergraduate officers, the clubs endeavor to be “good neighbors” and, in recent years, have required minimal intervention from the police as well.

Doug Rubin

Secretary of the Graduate Board, Charter Club

To the Editor:

Last Monday offered a stunning presentation during Not In Our Town’s (NIOT) monthly “Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege” at the Princeton Public Library on the necessary topic, “Is Truth and Reconciliation Possible in Princeton?” The panel, moderated by Professor Ruha Benjamin, associate professor of African American Studies, Princeton University, began with Shirley Satterfield, Fern Spruill, and Larry Spruill, leading spokespeople in the black community who gave deeply-moving personal histories.

Over 100 engaged Princeton-area residents heard firsthand narratives about growing up black: stories of discrimination in hospitals, mistreatment by faculty as our schools were first desegregated (1948), hatred and fear of police, the witnessing of the lynching of a family member.

When we then broke up into small groups to discuss what we’d heard, the Community Room became electric, animated to a pitch I had rarely witnessed as a “Continuing Conversations” participant. I was personally humbled by the presenters’ courage and commitment — offering up, yet once again, for (mostly) white ears and hearts, their knowledge of personal historical pasts, riddled still by trauma. They barely catch breath to acknowledge they’re “tired” of teaching those of us who don’t “get it.”

My concern is not that “things have gotten better,” rather, much remains the same. My group said/heard that Princeton parents of children of color still have deep fears about their children on the streets every day, despite much progress made in sensitizing law-enforcement personnel to recognize and reject racial profiling. We heard a former School Board representative say that many problems of the 1990s remain — although a dedicated group of people (many from NIOT) is working with school Superintendent Steve Cochrane and other school personnel to achieve an accurate, eyes-open understanding of white American violence against blacks in the school curricula, along with rebalancing of faculty. We (who are older …) discussed the strain of gathering socially with unfamiliar people — the un-comfort zone we must risk for us to make change happen.

Resisting the status quo is hard. Princeton was once known, well into the 20th century, as the “northernmost city of The South.” The very mixed legacy of Woodrow Wilson (who as president segregated “the races” in federal department buildings) indicates as much.

Much work remains. Rabbi Hillel asks, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” (Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14). And Roberto Schiraldi, NIOT’s moderator last Monday, pointedly asked us, “If not here, where?” His question was reiterated by Professor Benjamin, who sharply observed that the word “re-conciliation” assumes that somewhere, in the deep abysm of time, we were unified, not sundered: truth-telling is the beginning of conciliation — yes, the truths some of us carry (too lightly) of being born into cultures of white supremacy and continue to benefit from those inexhaustible granaries.

Come to “Continuing Conversations” meetings (first Monday, every month, 7 p.m., Princeton Public Library, Community Room). You will find many others who want to tell truths, disburden, learn, attempt conciliation.

Daniel Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

The front page article [“University Announces Development Plans,” Town Topics, Dec. 6] looks like it was written in toto by the public relations arm of the University. The piece is filled with vague but upbeat platitudes from University officials about the positive aspects of the plan while making it clear that the initiative is huge both in geographic footprint and enrollment increases.

Nowhere is anyone interviewed who has legitimate concerns about how this mega expansionary plan could disrupt the fabric of our community. I would deem this kind of journalism “unbalanced” without a counter viewpoint.

Thirty years ago when I first moved to Princeton and the University was lobbying for another of their “transformational” campus enhancements, a sage skeptic of their plans warned me that the University played a “long game” and was prepared to outlive all opposition.

I almost started laughing when I saw that all their new proposals were cast towards the year 2026, a truly “long game” until I realized that the time to begin seriously questioning this latest University-driven juggernaut, though a decade away from completion, is right now.

Nelson Obus

Russell Road

December 6, 2017

To the Editor:

I am writing in reaction to the front page article titled, “School and Community Call On All Parties to Help Combat Hate” (Town Topics, Nov. 22). Clearly racism and hatred have no place in our schools, or frankly anywhere. I applaud the efforts of our community leaders to combat it. While I abhor the thought of racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic language being written into an assignment visible to all eigth grade students, what also struck me about this episode is the absence of reflection on the circumstances that enabled it to occur. Behavior is most often attributable to a combination of personal traits and situational factors. Likely the person who wrote the racist and sexist language does not behave as a racist and sexist in every situation, and obviously not every student wrote hate speech on the assignment. We do not know the motivations of the student or students who wrote this. While the most salient motivator may be that he or she is a racist and sexist teenager, I can also easily imagine that this student is a mischievous kid who saw an opportunity to create some havoc and chose to do so. To me, discussion of this issue ought to be as much about the circumstances that enabled this to occur as it is concern for finding the perpetrator of the vile language.

From what I have read locally, the assignment was sent home in the interest of speeding up data entry. Expediency should not be the driving force when determining whether or not to use technology to facilitate learning. Raising children in this digital age requires a heightened understanding of the capabilities of the technology we allow our children to use and appropriate safeguards to positively direct their use of it. It strikes me that in this instance, a casual use of technology to support a lesson provided the opportunity for abuse of the technology, and someone took advantage of that opportunity. This suggests a need for a conversation about how technology is used inside and outside the classroom so we can minimize the opportunity for abuse. Two salient recommendations I would offer are appropriate training for those involved with technology-assisted assignments, and rigorous standards for the use of technology to support learning. Either proper protocols were in place and not followed, or lax protocols created an easy opportunity for misuse. Neither scenario should be tolerated.

Greg Robinson

Clearview Avenue

To the Editor:

Is employment so high in Princeton and are wages so inflated that no one wants a job that pays $45 for just 90 minutes of unskilled work? The job is crossing guard at the intersection of Rosedale Road and the road that leads to Johnson Park School. It involves two shifts, one from 7:45-8:30 a.m. and the other from 2:45-3:30 p.m. You can apply on line at www.princetonnj.gov/employment.html. But Liz Lempert, our mayor, says the town cannot find anyone to fill the job. And without a crossing guard, children who live across the road from the school, less than a mile away, are forced to take a school bus when it is easier and faster to simply walk or ride a bike.

I just find it hard to believe that no one — no retired person, no student or student’s spouse, no one who just wants a little extra income — wants this job.

Gina Kolata

Hun Road

November 29, 2017

To the Editor:

We invite and encourage interested Princeton residents to submit an application to serve on a municipal board or commission. There will be several spots opening up at the beginning of the new year on many of Princeton’s boards and commissions, including but not limited to the Planning Board, the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee, and the Civil Rights Commission. There are currently more than 20 boards and commissions that advise the governing body on a vast array of issues.

Being on a board or commission is a rewarding way to make a meaningful contribution to our town. It does require a significant personal commitment, so applicants should consider their ability to commit their time and personal energy before applying. We are making an effort to increase diversity, and welcome applications from all residents of Princeton.

If you are interested in serving on a board or commission, please visit www.princetonnj.gov to submit an application. In the meantime, we encourage all potential applicants to sit in on monthly meetings. Even if you don’t have time to serve on a board, you are welcome to attend occasional meetings. All board, committee, and commission meetings are open to the public. The agendas, minutes, and some videos are available online as well.

Mayor Liz Lempert

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller

To the Editor:

Princeton Child Development Institute, a school for children and adults with autism with nearly 50 years of service to the Princeton and surrounding communities, recently hosted ​Meadows Miler, our first 10K/5K and 1-mile fun run at Rosedale Park. The ​November 4 event was a fabulous success with approximately 500 runners and walkers participating on a crisp fall morning​. ​Over $30,000 ​was raised to support our programs​, which include an early intervention program, a preschool, a K-12 school, adult life and job skills programs, and group residences.

We could not have done this without the support of numerous organizations. Mercer County Parks Commission allowed us the use of their beautiful trail system. We were flooded with volunteers from Rider University, The College of New Jersey, L’Oréal, Apple, Trenton Elks Lodge and many other groups. Let Me Run, ​a nonprofit running program for fourth through eighth grade boys, sent a large number of participants to our event. Several vendors, including REI, Starbucks, the Gingered Peach, Eastern Mountain Sports, and Centercourt, provided food, drinks, and entertainment. Even the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders attended to add excitement to the race kickoff.

Meadows Miler was a chance for many of our students and former students to take part in their first run. Over 20 people with autism, both children and adults, enthusiastically participated with their families or with our PCDI staff. Most importantly, Meadows Miler provided evidence that when nonprofit and for-profit companies work together for the common good, anything is possible. We thank all of our participants, our volunteers, and the Mercer Meadows Park Commission for their support. Together, we not only made this inaugural run a success, we also raised awareness of autism and the amazing potential of children and adults with autism.

Patrick R. Progar

Executive Director

Princeton Child Development Institute

To the Editor:

The rain had stopped but the skies were still grey. I had been on automatic since waking. Coffee. Shower. Dress for work. Out the door. My senses dulled by the routine of a workday morning. Or, as Shelley, in his essay, “On Life,” put it: “The mist of familiarity obscures us from the wonder of our being.” But then the morning took a turn. On my way back to my car, I walked through Dohm Alley. I looked up at the “living hand” of John Keats and my eye followed the trajectory of his pen dripping water upwards into a fountain. I paused to look at each of the poets mounted in their mossy frames on the alley wall. And for a little while on an otherwise far from supernal morning, I felt a soft breeze from Parnassus. I hope this town, wealthy as it is, finds a way to make Dohm Alley a permanent respite from the traffic and the tourism. Traffic and tourism dull the senses, but a brief transit through Dohm Alley revives them.

Patricia Donahue

Hamilton Avenue

To the Editor:

The rain had stopped but the skies were still grey. I had been on automatic since waking. Coffee. Shower. Dress for work. Out the door. My senses dulled by the routine of a workday morning. Or, as Shelley, in his essay, “On Life,” put it: “The mist of familiarity obscures us from the wonder of our being.” But then the morning took a turn. On my way back to my car, I walked through Dohm Alley. I looked up at the “living hand” of John Keats and my eye followed the trajectory of his pen dripping water upwards into a fountain. I paused to look at each of the poets mounted in their mossy frames on the alley wall. And for a little while on an otherwise far from supernal morning, I felt a soft breeze from Parnassus. I hope this town, wealthy as it is, finds a way to make Dohm Alley a permanent respite from the traffic and the tourism. Traffic and tourism dull the senses, but a brief transit through Dohm Alley revives them.

Patricia Donahue

Hamilton Avenue

To the Editor:

We have listened for decades to Princeton’s downtown merchants complain about a lack of parking space in spite of efforts by the town that actually increased the number of spaces in the business district. Now we learn from an excellent parking study that the demand can be met by better utilization and management of existing spaces of which there are a surplus. But that does not explain why officials extended the study to include residential-zoned areas such as the Tree Streets where there are no businesses. Maps used in the study name an elongated stretch from Moore to Linden between Hamilton and Nassau as part of the downtown business district. This area is a distinct neighborhood of homes, some of them more than 100 years old.

Has the Planning Board targeted the Tree Streets for rezoning to mixed use to allow businesses in a residential neighborhood? That could be done with a decision to put parking meters on Maple Street or any other street and need rezoning to do. This would not increase parking spaces. But it does look like part of the plan to transform the village of Princeton into a city using economic development and increased population density as the way to go. This may happen anyway due to judges who consistently render decisions favoring real estate development over local control of growth. Sooner or later it becomes a numbers game counting winners and losers. Ask yourself whose ox is being gored. It may be the whole town.

Louis Slee

Spruce Street

To the Editor:

I am wakened every night by the sound of barking dogs left outside not far from my house. I love dogs and I certainly do not mind being awoken by them. My concern is this: it is cold and getting colder. Why are they outside in these temperatures? The other night I checked and it was 29 degrees. Now unless these dogs I hear are Huskies, Malamutes, or other dogs that prefer the cold, no dog (or cat) should be out at this time of year.

If you have animals, please protect them from all harm. If you know of an animal in distress, please talk with the people involved, or animal control, or the police. Animals give us SO MUCH. We need to care for them in a manner that is worthy of their love for us.

Gina Laidlaw

Cherry Valley Road

November 22, 2017

To the Editor:

This past Saturday evening we attended a wonderful performance of Tallis’s Lamentations of Jeremiah and other works at Bristol Chapel on the Westminster Choir campus. The excellent Westminster Choir student group Kantorei performed the works most beautifully.

Westminster Choir College and the Westminster Conservatory both greatly enrich the cultural life of our community and are key factors in making the Princeton High School instrumental and choral programs as strong as they are. If the choir college and conservatory are forced to close, it will be a tremendous loss to our town and surrounding communities.

Steven Weiss, Martha Himmelfarb

Madison Street

Bob Freedman, Sally Freedman

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

On November 7, I was honored to have been elected to the Princeton Board of Education. In this election, the candidates for School Board were a stellar group — smart, committed, thoughtful, and most important, willing to do the hard work to make our schools the best they can be. Because voters had such excellent candidates to choose from, I am particularly grateful to have been selected to serve.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to the voters of Princeton for their confidence in me, to all those who took the time to learn about issues, engage the candidates, and express their thoughts and concerns. I look forward to serving on the PPS Board and working toward securing an excellent educational experience for ALL students.

Michele Tuck-Ponder

Laurel Circle

To the Editor:

On November 7, I was honored to have been elected to the Princeton Board of Education. In this election, the candidates for School Board were a stellar group — smart, committed, thoughtful, and most important, willing to do the hard work to make our schools the best they can be. Because voters had such excellent candidates to choose from, I am particularly grateful to have been selected to serve.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to the voters of Princeton for their confidence in me, to all those who took the time to learn about issues, engage the candidates, and express their thoughts and concerns. I look forward to serving on the PPS Board and working toward securing an excellent educational experience for ALL students.

Michele Tuck-Ponder

Laurel Circle

To the Editor:

I write to express my gratitude to Princeton voters for electing me to the Princeton School Board.

Over the past few months, it has been my privilege to engage with so many thoughtful, concerned, and passionate Princeton residents, talking through the complex issues facing our schools and our community. I’ve been inspired and touched by those who encouraged me to run and supported my candidacy in so many ways — opening your homes for neighborhood meetings, writing letters, speaking with friends and colleagues, spreading the word on social media …. Thank you!! It will be an honor to serve all of you, and I look forward to continued dialogue and collaboration as we work together to secure the best possible education for all of our children.

Finally, I have deep respect for my fellow candidates, all of whom are dedicated to the call of public service and care deeply about our children. By stepping forward to engage in a demanding and competitive race, diving deeply into policy issues while remaining collegial, together we’ve shown that functional democracy is alive and well in Princeton.

Thank you!

Beth Behrend

Riverside Drive

November 15, 2017

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to the Princeton community as I prepare to join the PPS Board of Education. As this was my first time running for public office, I certainly learned a great deal from the process. I appreciated the public opportunities to share views about education and service, the respectful dialogue with fellow candidates, and the serious engagement of community members in learning about the critical issues facing the school district. I thank all those who supported me and I very much look forward to serving our whole community as a member of the Board of Education.

Jess Deutsch

Riverside Drive

To the Editor:

The “Princeton & Slavery” project’s revelations have blurred distinctions between good and evil, North and South. For me, they also blur distinctions between past and present. The symposium will rightly focus on racial injustice, but additional insight can come from comparing economies dependent on unethical energy, slave-based or otherwise.

To make the point, here’s what I’ve learned thus far from “Princeton & Slavery’s” events, exhibits, and website, plus some additional reading:

Slaves were sold on Nassau Street. Slavery was common in Princeton, a part of everyday life, and seldom discussed. The university benefitted from wealth generated by the slave economy. Nationally, the Bible and junk science were used to rationalize the continued use of slaves and to claim that victims were actually beneficiaries. Those most victimized by slavery had no vote. Those calling for a rapid end to slave use were considered radical. New Jersey chose to phase out slavery over many decades. Everyone supported the slave economy by buying its products. A few people of conscience sought to buy slave-free goods, but struggled with issues of higher cost and verification. A technological breakthrough made slavery much more profitable as time went on, expanding U.S. exports and stiffening political resistance to ending the slave economy. Ending slave use would mean stripping slave owners of the tremendous wealth bound up in the slaves themselves. The political party advocating continued slave use became radicalized, in part because demographic trends might erode its power. That Party chose to secede rather than face the unethical nature of the slave economy. Even after slave use was abolished, its harmful effects would linger for centuries.

Now, reread the above paragraph, substituting the word “fossil fuel” for slave and slavery. The technological breakthrough, by the way, was the cotton gin then, fracking now, and secession was from the Union then, from reality-based thinking now.

There are, of course, important distinctions. Slavery in the U.S. was an intentional subjugation, a race-based exploitation of one person by another, with much of the overt or covert cruelty playing out in real time.

Climate change, by contrast, is collective, unintentional, and impersonal, essentially collateral damage from the carbon-based economy. Its veiled, crowd-sourced form of cruelty is largely indirect, displaced in distance and time, disguised within the natural variations of the weather. Climate change most directly targets earth, which can be thought of as a body, physically scarred by extraction, its oceans acidified, its land and sea made feverish by a 40 percent increase in carbon dioxide. These radical changes to atmosphere and oceans cripple nature and increasingly endanger people through a devastating intensification of winds, floods, droughts, and heat waves.

And yet we drive down freeways, which function as climate change factories, with the best of motivations — to get to work, run an errand, or do a favor — exiling awareness of collective consequence. To more deeply understand slavery’s grip on society, consider how unethical energy continues to trap even free people in dependencies that can be viewed as both perfectly normal and unconscionable.

Stephen K. Hiltner

North Harrison Street

To the Editor:

I was away from my home when I received a call from my alarm service. The alarm had gone off. What was I to do being so far away? I called the Princeton Police Blue Angel Emergency Access dispatcher. The police were sent to my home and found a side door had blown open. They called me and told me everything was okay. They closed the door, reset the alarm, and replaced the key in the Blue Angel lock box. What a wonderful service for seniors, people who live alone, and people with medical conditions. I have lived in our community for over 50 years and the Blue Angel Emergency Service, the wonderful dispatchers and police, makes it possible to enjoy living in our Princeton community for many more years because I feel safe.

Frances Zeitler

Princeton Avenue

To the Editor:

It is with a heavy heart that the leaders of our YWCA have decided not to bring Crafters Marketplace to our community this weekend, despite a tradition that has spanned more than four decades.

As we make this announcement, we would be remiss not to acknowledge and recognize the hundreds of YWCA women, especially all of the women who served as Crafters Chair over the years, as well as on the committee, and the members of our Newcomers and Friends Club, who created and produced a marketplace and cafe that brought joy to our community while raising much-needed funding. They should be proud of their success because it fueled the Pearl Bates Scholarship Program, which has awarded over two million dollars in scholarship for a half century. This has allowed YWCA Princeton to welcome participants, regardless of ability to pay.

While we recognize and respect the rich history of Crafters Marketplace, we must also keep our mission focused on the here and now. Social, gender, and racial justice issues are as raw and unsettling as ever. As we work diligently to understand the news reports of the day, we have found hope, comfort, and wisdom in revisiting the legacy of Pearl Nelson Bates. While we remember her and learn more about her, we know it is time to redirect our energy and resources to our educational and advocacy initiatives. In doing so, we are asking our neighbors to remember who Mrs. Bates was … and why the scholarship in her name is so important.

One of our favorite neighbors, Tatianna Sims, is a graduate of Princeton High School, a recipient of the Princeton University Prize in Race Relations and a rising talent at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Sims has answered our call by producing a short film that will be previewed at a special reception for our YWCA’s top supporters. Those supporters, led by Barbara Purnell, have been hard at work to continue to boost the Pearl Bates Scholarship Program in new and meaningful ways.

Thanks to significant contributions from PNC Wealth Management and ETS, Barbara and her committee will celebrate their success this Sunday at ETS’s Chauncey Center. Pearl Bates was one of the first African Americans to work at ETS, during the challenging time of desegregation and unprecedented racial tension in Princeton. When she unexpectedly died in 1963, following surgery, her colleagues made a donation to the YWCA in her memory. Two years later, the YWCA Board of Directors formally dedicated the Pearl Bates Scholarship Fund in recognition of her volunteer service as a leader of the organization.

Our YWCA will share Tatianna’s film entitled Who was Pearl Bates? for all to see when we unveil our new website on New Year’s Day. In the meantime, if you would like to visit our campus and learn more about Pearl Bates and our mission work, please stop in to our Welcome Desk and ask for a tour.

With gratitude and in solidarity,

Judy Hutton

CEO, YWCA Princeton

To the Editor:

On Friday, October 27, 2017, more than 1,000 costume-clad community members gathered on Palmer Square​ Green to join our annual Hometown Halloween Parade — a 30-plus year tradition of family-friendly Halloween fun right here in downtown Princeton. After the amazing Princeton University Marching Band entertained us on the Green, we paraded around Palmer Square to meet up with our friend and co-sponsor, the Princeton Family YMCA. Hundreds and hundreds of children participated in Halloween-themed fun and games, including face painting and the ever-popular trunk or treat. It was a wonderful evening in our community.

On behalf of the Arts Council of Princeton’s Board of Trustees, staff, and members, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to the town of Princeton, the Princeton Police Department, Mayor Liz Lempert, Palmer Square Management, co-sponsor, Princeton Family YMCA, KINDsnacks, Princeton High School student volunteers and to the thousands of people who attended.

In this year of ‘firsts’ for me as the Arts Council’s Executive Director, this was a truly memorable event.

Taneshia Nash Laird

Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton

To the Editor:

Nearly 5,000 people visited our five-day display of 50 massive carved pumpkins, making “The Amazing Pumpkin Carve” the Hopewell Valley Arts Council’s biggest event of the year and a local autumn tradition.

Our thanks to all who joined us for this fun celebration of the arts in our community, especially our sponsors, members, volunteers, artists, and supporters.

This year, we partnered with the Hopewell Valley Uniformed Firefighters Association IAFF Local 3897 and Hopewell Township Fire District No. 1, along with the Hopewell Valley volunteer fire departments and rescue squads, for the Third Annual Fire Safety Open House. We also teamed up the Hopewell Valley Historic Preservation Committee for the rededication of Woolsey Park, which proved to be a popular new location for the Carve right in the heart of Hopewell Valley, making this truly a community-wide celebration.

The outpouring of support makes this and future art-inspired events a successful part of the Hopewell Valley’s vibrant culture. We are grateful. Thank you so much for helping the Hopewell Valley Arts Council “celebrate art in the everyday!”

Carol Lipson

President

Hopewell Valley Arts Council Board of Trustees 

To the Editor:

On Friday, October 13, Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC) held its annual Soirée Under the Stars at Springdale Golf Club in Princeton. The event raised close to $70,000 to support our Summer Bridge Program, which addresses the “summer learning gap” for youth from low-income communities in Trenton, Newark and New York City.

More than 170 guests attended the event at Springdale Golf Club which included inspirational speeches by Axel Velazquez, a Summer Bridge student from Partnerships for Trenton, and our Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) Intern, Elisabeth (Liz) Juechser. The night included hors d’oeuvres and international fare; sangria, beer, and wine; and live music by the Logan Roth Trio. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the 2017 Frank Broderick Award to Reverend David McAlpin, Jr. ’50.

PBC empowers young people, primarily from under-resourced communities, to strengthen their social-emotional skills through experiential, environmental, and adventure-based programming. Our Summer Bridge Program is a week-long leadership development and academic enrichment program that provides three hours a day of STEM, STEAM, and project-based learning enrichment; several hours a day of ropes and challenge course work that builds critical 21st century skills like collaboration, creativity, communication, and cooperation skills; daily waterfront time; and student choice activities.

We are grateful to all our event sponsors and attendees. We are particularly grateful to Soirée Co-Chairs, Board Member, Christina Bailey and Advisory Council Member, Denise Fredericksen, and to Meredith Murray, Director of Development, for their hard work and leadership surrounding the very successful event.

Pam Gregory

President and CEO

November 8, 2017

To the Editor:

The AAUP [American Association of University Professors] is extremely concerned about the direction that the University has been taking for several years, and recent news has only deepened our concern. Continuation of the path that we are on can only lead to disaster. We believe that we must work together to put Rider on a new path, one that unites all the stakeholders.

On November 1, 2017, Moody’s downgraded Rider’s bond rating:

“Moody’s Investors Service has revised the outlook on Rider University (NJ) to negative from stable, reflecting continuation of thin operating performance, a material increase in debt which will result in increased debt service, and the uncertainty around the timeline and potential impact of Westminster campus (WCC) sale on the university’s enrollment and operating performance.”

What is notable about the Moody’s report is that it is not citing environmental factors as the reason for its downgrade. It is clearly citing choices made by our leaders as the reason for its downgrade. These choices are 1) the decision to accumulate significantly more debt during a period in which revenue generation is compromised by various factors, including administrative judgments concerning tuition discounting, and 2) the decision to sell WCC and the (unknown) impact of such a decision.

We strongly encourage the board to consider these factors carefully. We have had significant concerns about the fiscal responsibility of this administration, and the statements in Moody’s recent report echo our concerns. Taking on significant new debt while revenue growth is relatively flat is imprudent. Likewise, the decision to sell Westminster Choir College was poorly planned, has been and continues to be an expensive effort, was based on unsupported claims of the cost of running Westminster, has entangled Rider in lawsuits, has generated much bad publicity, and is unlikely to produce the cash influx president Dell’Omo has claimed it will.

Student satisfaction and morale have been eroding over the last two years as reflected in the NSSE survey of student satisfaction. Dissatisfied students do not help in our attempts to recruit new students, and dissatisfied students certainly do not become alumni who develop into donors.

Faculty morale is at an historic low with distrust of the administration central to that low morale. The 2016 climate survey found morale across the campus much lower than in previous surveys. Our recent survey of members found 84.5 percent of all faculty dissatisfied with the direction of the institution, 66 percent considering leaving, 75 percent saying the administration does not value faculty research, 64 percent saying the administration does not value faculty teaching, and 62 percent saying that the administration does not appreciate faculty value contributions. One has only to speak to faculty to understand the level of anger, depression, and anxiety. Faculty members have been leaving in unprecedented numbers and not just senior faculty. There is hardly a junior faculty member who is not looking to leave. Faculty are the heart of any university, and it cannot bode well for the implementation of Rider’s strategic plan of starting new programs and majors that faculty expected to implement those programs no longer think Rider is a good place for a career.

We therefore call on the Board of Trustees to weigh these factors and consider whether or not we can change the path that we are on under our present leadership. We stand ready to work with you and other key stakeholders to put us on track to unite us all for future success.

Elizabeth Scheiber

President, AAUP Executive Committee