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De Blasio Run Lacks Support in N.Y. Survey

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio takes questions at the second Democratic debate on July 31. Photo Credit: Brian Rokus

By the Staff of the Princeton Summer Journal and written by Jhoana Flores, Jarlem Lopez Morel, and JC Villon. 

New Yorkers don’t want their mayor running for president in 2020. In a survey of 154 New Yorkers, nearly three out of four voters said they are not happy Bill de Blasio is participating in the presidential election.

The survey results contradict de Blasio’s claims that his time running the biggest city in America means he should be elevated to the White House. De Blasio, who announced his campaign in May, is one of two dozen Democrats in the race. He has been polling at one percent or lower nationwide. Many New Yorkers told The Princeton Summer Journal they disapprove of not just his presidential campaign, but also his work as mayor of New York City.

“He isn’t worried about New York because he’s too concerned about his campaign for president,” said Kristie Summers, 20, from the Bronx. “If he can’t be a mayor, how can he be president?” She was one of many New Yorkers who said de Blasio has neglected his mayoral responsibilities to the city and as a result cannot rise to the challenges of the 2020 presidential race.

New Yorkers of both political parties disapprove of de Blasio. When asked if they approve of the job he is doing as mayor, slightly over half of both Democrats and Republicans responded “no,” as did nearly two-thirds of people who identified as a different political party. Three-quarters of both Democrats and Republicans also said they are not happy de Blasio is running for President.

When it came to the prospect of voting for de Blasio for President, New Yorkers were inclined to vote “no.” More than 80 percent of both Democrats and Republicans surveyed said they would not vote for him.

Not all New Yorkers are turning their backs on the mayor, however. “He is do-
ing his job correctly, eliminated crime from the city, got day care and made a
universal pre-K system,” said Steve Pastor, 68, a Queens resident.

Some New Yorkers cited not only de Blasio’s policy achievements, but also the community he is building within New York City. “I feel like he’s making the city better for both genders,” said Sandra Acuna, 30, of Manhattan. However, others have a dark outlook on de Blasio. Jason Woody, 35, from Brooklyn, criticized de Blasio’s pedestrian safety record. “He ran on a platform highlighting Vision Zero, but … I’ve had two friends killed on bikes by drivers, no one has been arrested,” Woody said.

Shawn Haz, a 28-year-old from Brooklyn, said he is frustrated with city zoning issues. “He rezoned everything…I’ve been rezoned, kicked out, and everything,” he said. “Gentrification is messing it all up. It doesn’t really help anything but the rich and white.” Phupinder Singh, 29, from Queens said, “He is not eligible to run for president, no qualification, no experience and not intelligent. He is a comedian.”

While New Yorkers largely do not approve of de Blasio running, many of them were willing to offer advice. “If you want to connect with people, you have to be authentic,” said Matthew Louis, a 29-year-old from Manhattan.

As the mayor tries to win votes across the country to earn the Democratic nomination for president, he is struggling at home.

Despite his efforts to use his title as a mayor of a huge and diverse city to boost his campaign, he appears to lack support from the residents of that city. Many New Yorkers, like Jason Kayne, a 24-year-old from Queens, have a sarcastic message for his campaign:

“Good luck.”

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Do you approve of the job de Blasio is doing as mayor?

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Are you happy de Blasio is running for president?

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Would you vote for de Blasio for president?

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Area Stores Stock Expired Food, Drugs

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Expired products were found at seven different area stores, including the above-pictured Family Dollar in Trenton. Photo credit: Brian Rokus

This story was reported by the staff of The Princeton Summer Journal and written by Emily Barrera Cedeno, Jasmyn Bednar, Justin Fajar, and Angela Nguyen.

Children’s ibuprofen. Pepto Bismol. Contraceptive sponges.

These are just a few of the expired products found in an investigation by reporters of The Princeton Summer Journal on the shelves of New Jersey’s pharmacies and convenience stores.

There were 41 expired products found among seven different stores—Walgreens, CVS, 7-Eleven, Tropical Supermarket, Family Dollar, Rite Aid, and Colonial Farms.

Eleven items were found at a New Brunswick Walgreens, including baby food, allergy medicine, and cold and flu medication. Ten were found at the Tropical Supermarket in North Brunswick, and nine at a neighboring North Brunswick CVS. A handful were found at Trenton’s Colonial Farms and Family Dollar, and a 7-Eleven and a Rite Aid in New Brunswick. The oldest expired product, a bottle of liquid Dial Soap found at Colonial Farms grocery store, expired in December 2017.

A majority of the products were three months past their expiration date, with two products over six months expired and three products over a year old. The products include aspirin, glucose testing strips, and baby food, which expired in April, May, and June 2019, respectively. Out of 41 items, 19 were medicinal, 17 were food products, and five were hygiene products.

Expiration dates are sometimes disregarded by consumers, who believe that they can still consume goods past the recommended date. According to an article on the FDA website, “expired medical products can be less effective or risky due to a change in chemical composition or a decrease in strength. Certain expired medications are at risk of bacterial growth and sub-potent antibiotics can fail to treat infections, leading to more serious illnesses and antibiotic resistance.” For instance, expired glucose testing strips like the ones found at a North Brunswick CVS may lead to inaccurate readings, which could be detrimental to diabetics.

The FDA began to require expiration dates on all medication in 1979. According to their site, “drug expiration dates reflect the time period during which the product is known to remain stable, which means it retains its strength, quality, and purity when it is stored.” However, the government does not regulate expiration dates within the food industry, with the exception of infant formula.

Many of the stores were located in low-income areas, where residents rely on local stores and don’t always have other options available.

The concept of people not having choices in the stores they shop at is called a food desert, which is defined by the USDA as “an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food.” New Jersey has food deserts, which contributes to food insecurity among residents, but it also has problems with a lack of medications. The number of stores selling expired products in New Jersey only adds to the problem of food and medicine insecurity. Notably, a few stores selected for the investigation in Trenton had closed in the previous year.

It’s important to note that the large majority of products investigated were unexpired. At one CVS in Trenton, no expired goods were found—the manager said they restock the shelves every Friday. All of these stores have a large inventory with a proportionally small staff, and products may slip through checks every so often. This does not necessarily speak to gross negligence across the board in these corporations, but rather can speak to human error.

According to the CDC, in the United States 76 million people a year get sick from the food they eat. When food expires, the nutrients they provide start to degrade—not to mention the fact that eating expired food can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Eating expired food can expose people to harmful bacteria such as E. coli.

At each store, managers declined to give a comment directly to reporters. When the owner of Colonial Farms was confronted about the expired products found in his store, reporters from this paper were asked to leave.

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Reporters from the Summer Journal found expired aspirin at a Rite Aid in New Brunswick. Photo credit: Alberto Lopez

When reached, Christopher Savarese, the director of public relations for Rite Aid, said, “We take this kind of incident very seriously, as we do the health and welfare of our customers. While we believe this to be an isolated case, this is totally unacceptable to Rite Aid. We have very strict policies, procedures and training in place to prevent outdated products on our shelves.” He added, “Our local management will be visiting the store, and we are using this as an opportunity to retrain our associates, to ensure that everyone understands our policies and procedures.”

Randy Guiler, a vice president for Family Dollar, replied with a similar statement, “We have store procedures to routinely check sell-by dates and to remove items from our shelves that have surpassed those dates. If instances occur where an item has been identified that surpassed its sell-by date, we immediately re-check the products in our store and reinforce these procedures with our store associates.”

CVS, Walgreens, 7-Eleven, Tropical Supermarket, and Colonial Farms did not respond to requests for comment.

The legal fights over expired products in the region have gone on for well over a decade. In October 2006, Rite Aid faced a civil suit in New Jersey for selling expired non-prescription medicine and baby food, which was settled for $650,000. The following year, the state pursued a civil suit against Duane Reade, a regional pharmacy chain, for similar reasons. It was settled for $175,000. In Pennsylvania, CVS settled a suit for $450,000 due to expired products.

These stores have significantly improved from last year’s findings, in which reporters for The Princeton Summer Journal found 75 expired products in 12 stores. The initial 2008 investigation found 191 expired products in seven stores.

The following stores had expired products: 7-Eleven, 358 George St., New Brunswick; Colonial Farms, 137 E. State St., Trenton; CVS, 949 Livingston Ave., North Brunswick; Family Dollar, 117 E. State St., Trenton; Rite Aid, 366 George Street, New Brunswick; Tropical Supermarket, 959 Livingston Ave., North Brunswick; Walgreens, 20 Jersey Ave., New Brunswick.

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‘Beloved’ Author Morrison Dies

 

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Nobel laureate and Princeton University professor emeritus Toni Morrison passed away on Aug. 5, aged 88. Photo credit: Mike Strasser

By Laila Nasher

Detroit, Mich.

Acclaimed author Toni Morrison passed away in a hospital in New York on Aug. 5. Over her career, she took readers on countless journeys—from the exploration of the devastating effects of racism and sexism in “The Bluest Eye” to the narration of the extreme psychological effects of slavery in “Beloved.” She won numerous honors and awards—the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and Barack Obama’s Presidential Medal of Freedom—as well as the hearts and tears of millions across the world.

From 1989 to 2006, Morrison was a professor at Princeton University, and her classes were some of Princeton’s most sought-after courses. Students from all majors would compete to be selected.

One of these students was journalist Elena Sheppard, who graduated in 2009. Sheppard was ecstatic when she found out that Morrison, who had retired in 2006, decided to teach a class her senior year. “I was so bummed that I’d graduate without having been taught by her … I always loved her work. Even when I was 15 or 16,” Sheppard said, “she brought me into this enthralled mental space that I couldn’t get anywhere else, and she just made me want to be a writer.” The realities of that class, called “The Foreigner’s Home,” far exceeded her expectations. One of the biggest lessons Sheppard took away from the class was the importance of writing untold stories of your community, and that lesson has inspired her to begin writing her own book.

Sheppard also wrote her senior thesis on Morrison’s most famous book, “Beloved.” For her thesis, she had the opportunity to interview the authorherself. After building up the courage to ask her for an interview, Sheppard was surprised when Morrison agreed. “She didn’t have to teach the course or do the interview. Yet she still came to Princeton three times a week to pass on her knowledge. It was humbling to see someone of her status want to pass on that knowledge,” Sheppard said. Morrison gave Sheppard a solid half hour for questions. “Just sitting in the same room as her, hearing her knowledge and that she was willing to help me was amazing. It’s my favorite memory from Princeton. When I found out she died, it was just a gut-punching feeling.”

Dan-el Padilla Peralta, an associate professor of classics at Princeton who graduated in 2006, had the opportunity to be lectured by the iconic author during his freshman year. Peralta’s professor Cornel West invited Morrison to speak to his class in the spring of 2003. Before the discussion, Peralta wasn’t too fond of Morrison’s work. “At the time, I had these received ideas about what constituted rich, textured, novelistic writing. And these received ideas or ideas that have been formed by exposure to texts authored by white men—it was incredibly difficult for me, especially on an initial reading of ‘Beloved,’ ‘Sula’ and ‘Song of Solomon,’ to get myself in the kind of mental space that would enable me not just to read Morrison, generously, but to feel that she was truly speaking to the experiences of those communities of womenfolk and menfolk that have shaped my own life.” But his mind quickly changed when he listened to her speaking.

“I was mesmerized from beginning to end,” he said. As a person of color at majority-white Princeton, Peralta understands the hardships and self-doubt it can cause. Watching West and Morrison converse was an inspiration to him. “It was one of the first times where I saw two folks like me, who could take an academic space over by the force of their conversation, their dialogue and their sheer presence, and not feel in any way like I had to perform to some preconceived standard of white male academic status.”

Morrison’s name will forever be etched in the minds of readers across the world—and on a 181-year-old building central to Princeton’s campus: Morrison Hall, dedicated to the author in 2017.

 

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Local Youth Undecided Among Dem Candidates

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Photo illustration by SJP staff

By Audry Themen

Jersey City, N.J.

On a recent afternoon, reporters from The Princeton Summer Journal scoured the town for opinions on the current 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Though the youth interviewed had varied opinions on which candidates appealed to them, many of the students also had a limited understanding of the candidates’ proposals.

Sophia, a rising senior from Bordentown, N.J., felt that Bernie Sanders was a promising candidate, citing his policies on free college and “Medicare for all” as compelling factors for her support. She likened Sanders to Trump in the sense that he “backed up his words with actions,” though she did not elaborate on the instances where Trump substantiated his words with policy.

Lauren, a rising senior from New Brunswick, New Jersey, also had Sanders as her candidate of choice. As an environmentally conscious democratic socialist, Sanders’ progressive policies, specifically his climate change proposals, appealed to her immensely. Lauren cited Joe Biden as her second choice based on his accomplishments as vice president under the Obama administration.

Grace Hutapea, a 16-year-old from Guam, liked Elizabeth Warren. As a citizen of an island territory, she advocated for action on climate change, especially since the coral reefs surrounding Guam are heavily impacted by global warming. Grace also believed that Biden would be a good presidential candidate because of his history, noting that in terms of political experience, he has a “strong foot in the door.”

Not every teenager advocated for a progressive candidate, however. Friends Shikar, Dean, and Siji, moderate Democrats from Texas, believed that Sanders was “too extreme” and impractical. “We can’t ‘Feel the Bern,’” Dean, a 16-year-old from Houston, said. He claimed that Bernie’s “Medicare for all” policies are “not feasible” and would take “too much time and legislation” to implement.

Siji, a Houstonian, admitted that he did not follow politics too closely, but he does favor Biden. “I just think he’s a fun guy,” Siji said. “I like him as a person.”

When asked which candidate has the best chance of winning the primaries, the three students agreed that the state of affairs were not settled. “All candidates, even the lower-tier candidates, have a shot,” Shikar said.

The other two boys agreed. “It’s really anyone’s game right now,” Dean added.

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Local Princeton Residents Remain Unsure of 2020 Election Stance

By Jarlem Lopez Morel and JC Villon

New York, N.Y. and Brooklyn, N.Y.

Two sets of Democratic debates and countless candidate interviews have sought to clarify the candidates’ stances on various issues. Yet some Princeton residents interviewed this month said they are still unsure what the 2020 hopefuls believe and what their policies and plans are. Jason Green, 42, who is “very interested” in following the campaign, said voters are not “receiving authenticity from the Democratic candidates.”

Cynthia Medley, 24, said she’s still waiting to find out “what the candidates are really about,” adding that she wasn’t following the race very closely. “Nobody is completely wrong on anything,” she said.

The theatrics seen on all four nights of Democratic debates led some Princeton viewers to feel indifferent regarding the candidates’ policies. Residents said the contenders focused too much on attacking the other candidates rather than discussing their own plans.

Annemarie Porter, 58, followed the debates attentively. The candidates, she said, failed to stand out and provide the Democrats with a “strong enough candidate to beat [President Donald] Trump.”

Many residents said they believe that, because the candidates were aiming to capture independent votes, they were not proposing extreme policy positions. However, independent voters, such as Porter and Medley, said a candidate who can beat Trump is as important as a candidate who represents their beliefs.

The August debates, which drew more than 10 million viewers, did little to change the position of frontrunner Joe Biden. The poll numbers of the candidates below him, however, did fluctuate.

Biden is still at 32 percent in the Aug. 6 Quinnipiac University poll, with Elizabeth Warren at 21 percent (an increase of six points from before the debate) and Bernie Sanders at 14 percent. Kamala Harris’ approval rating, which after the first debate surged to 13 percent, fell to seven percent in the poll.

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Princeton Residents Weigh in on 2020 Election

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Several local residents were skeptical that a Democratic challenger will be able to defeat President Trump. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the White House

By Rabeya Sultana

Bronx, N.Y.

Sam knows who he’s voting for in 2020—anyone but President Trump.

“Trump doesn’t have anything in his head,” the 48-year-old Princeton resident said. “He cut taxes from us even though he himself doesn’t pay taxes, and most importantly he is racist.”

Sam’s views are similar to those of several Princeton residents interviewed this month by The Princeton Summer Journal. Tom Goursen, 69, is unsure which of the many Democratic Party candidates should get his vote in the upcoming presidential election. But even though he’s voted for several Republican presidents, such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, he won’t be supporting the incumbent. “[Trump] is not capable,” he said. “I would rather vote [for] you than him.”

Many feel Joe Biden is the best option for the Democrats. For example, 45-year-old Add Henderson said, “Joe Biden is more electable, I like his points.” Patrick, a Democrat, echoed Henderson: “Joe Biden is a better candidate to defeat Trump,” he said. But, he said, any of the Democratic candidates would be more capable than Trump as president.

Additionally, residents think it is more important to defeat Trump than to choose between the particular candidates. Jimmy, a 64-year-old who lives in Trenton, said, it “doesn’t matter who is elected, as long as it’s someone who does their job, because Trump is not doing his job. He is just taking all the credit for what Obama did.”

Not only are residents dissatisfied with Trump’s job performance, they are also outraged at Trump’s morality. “He is evil,” Patrick said. “I do not like him.”

Despite the majority of respondents hoping to vote for a Democratic candidate to defeat Trump, however, some Democrats still doubt if someone from their party can defeat him. Mostly, though, Princetonians seem to believe the United States deserves a better president—not a president like Donald Trump.

 

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Zwicker Seeks Third Term in State House

 

By Jhoana Flores 

Queens, N.Y.

The election of President Donald Trump in 2016 raised alarm over whether he is qualified for the position because he was a businessman with no political background. However, other elected officials also have no political experience.

New Jersey Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, a Democrat who represents the state’s 16th legislative district, said at a press conference that he once believed that he was not qualified for a political position because he is a scientist who works at the Princeton University Plasma Physics Lab. But as a second-term assemblyman, he is advocating for more diversity of background in politics.

Zwicker said his scientific background helps him in his job in the legislature. As for Trump’s lack of experience, he said he prefers that candidates for the highest office in the land have more of a political background.

Still, he doesn’t advocate limiting the field. “Anyone who wants to run for president should run for president,” he said.

The issue of qualifications for public office can be complicated. What makes someone qualified? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, for instance, also had no political experience and worked as a waitress before becoming a congresswoman.

Should political experience be a qualification? Should that qualification only apply to those running for president? If yes, why should different political positions be weighted differently, since local politicians also impact our communities?

In Zwicker’s case, his voters don’t seem to mind his lack of political practice, as he’s won two elections. Now he’s campaigning for a third term after four years in the legislature, but he’s still learning on the job.

“I am not qualified,” Zwicker said with a smile. “I’m making it up as I go…I’m doing my best.”

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Physicist Prioritizes Climate Change in Third Campaign

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State Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker has made global warming one of his key issues. Photo Credit: Brian Rokus

By Emily Barrera Cedeno 

Miami Lakes, FLA.

President Trump may be the first person who comes to mind as a politician with zero political background, but the phenomenon started earlier than his campaign.

Until 2014, the thought of getting involved in politics had never crossed Andrew Zwicker’s mind. But one day, the physicist’s boss at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab suggested he should run for Congress. It was a casual comment, but as more people in Zwicker’s life brought up the idea, he began to entertain becoming a politician.

Zwicker gained the courage to enter the political world with few connections and even less advertising. Zwicker, a first-time candidate with a small reach, expected to get a whopping one percent of the vote. But when Election Day came, he amassed eight percent of the vote. Though he exceeded his expectations, he still lost the congressional race.

The loss did not discourage him. The next year, he began the process of running for the New Jersey Assembly in the 16th district. This time, he built a team, spread his message, visited the communities in his district, and built a platform. He honed in on a specific focus: he would help create jobs, preserve the environment, and protect democracy.

On election night, Zwicker won by a margin of only 78 votes. He was not only the first physicist elected assemblyman of the district, he was also the first Democrat to win there. Zwicker says that he won because of independent voters, and that his victory was a shining example of how important every citizen’s voice is.

His scientific experience gives him a different perspective than the candidates who have a typical political background. Through his work as a scientist, he’s an expert in climate change. He’s written legislation to create a more environmentally friendly New Jersey, such as his bill to make sure that the state follows the Paris climate agreement, which became law in 2018.

Zwicker concedes that, at times, he can be out of his depth. He often recognizes his inexperience and with a smile says, “I am not qualified.” He mentions that with each year, he grows a little wiser. But it has been slow-going. He good-naturedly jokes that it was “harder for [him] to become a quote-unquote politician than to get a Ph.D.”

Now, he’s campaign- ing for his third term. He’s sure that he can only do better in helping the people of New Jersey as time goes on, especially now that he’s more experienced as a politician.

There’s a lot of hesitance to trust people with no political background or experience who insert themselves into political spaces and brand themselves as politicians. While these concerns are not unfounded, Zwicker is an example that inexperience is not something to fear in candidates, whether they’re in local or federal government. Zwicker shows that a member of government—just like in most occupations—can learn on the job.

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A Lab Report On Princeton’s Ph.D. Assemblyman

By Kesia Oliveros

Doral, Fla.

OBJECTIVE:
To find the results of the election of a representative with a doctorate degree in physics and a career as a physicist to the highly energetic environment of the state legislature as well as to determine the effectiveness of experimentation in this environment.

THEORY:
If one elects a scientist to office then his proposed bills will be evidence-based, effective and conscious of long-term solutions.

PROCEDURE:
1. Inspire a lifelong advocate for science and education to run for elected office to champion unlimited clean energy, deterring global warming, and curing cancer.
2. Win the first election by a margin of 78 votes with bipartisan support.
3. Support declared goals of job growth and environmental protection with bills that:
• Require Rutgers University to study gun violence.
• Incentivize veterans to attend college and demand that they receive credit for their service.
• Provide grants for new farmers to implement sustainable agricultural practices as well as providing tax incentives to those who lease land to new farmers.
• Require New Jersey to uphold the Paris climate agreement.
• Add student representatives to the board of Rutgers University.
• Encourage planning for the location of electric car chargers.
• Provide a loan forgiveness plan for STEM professionals.
• Make the bog turtle the state reptile of New Jersey.

CONCLUSIONS:
The election of a pragmatist with a solution-based mindset that aims to improve the community’s future welfare is what the people wanted when they elected Andrew Zwicker in 2015. Charming and charismatic, Zwicker is down to earth and willing to admit that like the rest of his voters he’s “making it up as I go,” at least when it comes to his new life in politics.

It is a different type of trust that he gains from his supporters. Maybe every policy won’t be successful, but by experimenting in the legislature, he’s aiming to improve his district.

FUTURE EXPERIMENTS INCLUDE:
Engineers for Secretaries of Defense, data scientists for governors and chemists for senators.

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Program Builds Racial Literacy

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Priya Vulchi (left) and Winona Guo co-founded CHOOSE, which aims to build racial literacy among students. Photo credit: Brenna Kennedy-Moore

By Nellie Ghosheh and Yelena Serrato 

Burbank, ILL. and Floydada, Texas

While walking laps around their high school’s track during gym class, Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi began a conversation that exposed a deep interest in racial literacy. This connection arose from their shared experiences as children of immigrants and women of color.

These conversations led them to co-found CHOOSE in 2014 when they were both sophomores at Princeton High School. The nonprofit aims to drive meaningful conversations about race among grade-school students by creating a curriculum based on racial literacy.

“We had a personal responsibility to do something,” Guo said.

Guo and Vulchi define racial literacy as improving the world by sharing stories about race and identity. They want people to feel proud of their own background while also taking the time to listen to other people’s stories, no matter who they are. To them, racial literacy is not something that can just come to you, you need to aspire to search for it.

Racial literacy, they said, has two different barriers: a heart gap and a mind gap. The heart gap is an inability to understand other people’s experiences, while the mind gap is the inability to understand the systematic racism of many different countries, especially the United States.

Both have given two TED talks and published a book, “Tell Me Who You Are,” which features interviews with more than 150 Americans across the country about race and forms the backbone of the organization.

In order to pursue their understanding of racial literacy, Vulchi and Guo decided to take a gap year before they started college.

Vulchi and Guo are now sophomores at Princeton and Harvard, respectively. By going their separate ways, they were able to reach a wider audience, they said, and spread their message to even more people. “We thought splitting up would be the smarter thing to do,” Vulchi said.

Vulchi and Guo are hoping to expand their knowledge of racial literacy into law enforcement and business, and they are planning to visit Puerto Rico as they vow to immerse themselves in a wide variety of lives.

“This has been a tough challenge for us,” Guo said. “We really love learning.”

Vulchi and Guo said that other students shouldn’t be afraid to start something similar in their own community.

“Do not wait,” Guo said, “until you are out of school to do what you want to do.”

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Princeton Eviction Lab Chronicles National Challenge

By Natalee Litchfield

Molalla, Ore.

On his first day as an intern for a legal aid office in Cincinnati, Ohio, Scott Overbey was feeling hopeful. His boss had invited him to witness an average day in court, where he thought he’d see the law making a difference in people’s lives.

But on this day, a grandmother was being sued by her landlord. Her apartment had become mold-infested and her granddaughter had asthma, which made the home a danger zone. The grandmother had been holding her rent in an escrow fund while waiting to get the mold removed from her apartment. But the landlord refused to remove it, and sued her for the money. While the judge was examining her nails and fiddling with her watch, the grandmother gave her testimony. Overbey was aghast at what he saw. He wanted to do something to help people like the woman in court. That’s why he joined sociologist Matthew Desmond’s Eviction Lab at Princeton.

This story is not an extraordinary one, as eviction is a widespread epidemic in the United States. Researchers at Princeton’s Eviction Lab are studying the problem, and trying to figure out precisely how to fix it.

Desmond, who founded the lab in 2017, began his work on eviction in 2008 by living alongside poor tenants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Through studying the relationship between tenants and their landlords in poor communities, he became the first to recognize the need for a comprehensive set of data in order to analyze the crisis. In his acclaimed book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” he coined the idea that “eviction functions as a cause, not just a condition of poverty.”

“Between 2000 and 2016, the number [of evictions] we estimate is 84 million,” said Joe Fish, a newly hired research assistant at the Eviction Lab. That number accounts only for the cases filed in court, meaning the actual total is likely higher.

While there isn’t a singular cause for the eviction crisis, much of it can be attributed to a tremendous imbalance of power between tenants and landlords.

“Landlords definitely know what the rules [are] and what the laws are, but the tenants don’t always,” said Mary- Ann Placheril, an intern at the lab. Although there are restrictions to prevent landlords from discriminating against their tenants, the laws vary from one state to the next. In leases, landlords often use trivial fine print restrictions that are easily violated such as “no pets” or “no loud noises” in order to kick people out of their homes.

Fish and Overbey both hope that the work of the Eviction Lab will spur policy that changes the balance of power between landlord and tenant. In identifying the top 10 cities with the highest eviction rates, the lab was able to prompt community- based legislation that extends tenant rights throughout the United States.

“We have found that cities, when finding out they have high eviction rates, enact legislation,” Fish said. The fact is that the numbers the Eviction Lab are finding matter immensely. It is up to judges, legislators, home developers and landlords to fix the crisis. It means the difference between living and hardly surviving—for grandmothers like the one in Ohio, children, parents, and everyone else too.

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For One Reporter’s Family, Eviction Experience Is Personal

By Aminata Touray

East Orange, N.J.

I woke up to banging on my door. I thought it was the kids my mom babysits. Instead, it was my landlord. He barged into our apartment in East Orange, N.J., where my family had lived for 17 years.

“You guys have to leave. Now,” he said.

I will never forget the look in my mom’s eyes: anger and embarrassment.

“You’re gonna do this in front of my kids?” she said. The landlord ushered us out. I was still in my pajamas.

Between 2000 and 2016, more than 84 million evictions happened in America—and that’s almost certainly an undercount. Communities of color, like mine, have been the hardest hit.

These statistics come from the Eviction Lab at Princeton. More than a dozen researchers there are gathering data about evictions to raise awareness and change public policy. Professor Matthew Desmond created the lab after the publication of his book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” which vaulted the eviction crisis into the national conversation. Joe Fish, a research assistant at the lab, said, “If you don’t have a home, then kind of nothing else matters.”

Fish began working at the lab this summer. He decided to study evictions after seeing a close friend in his hometown of San Francisco kicked out of his place. He was surprised to discover that eviction wasn’t just a symptom of poverty—it was a cause.

There’s an imbalance of power between landlords and tenants, Fish said. Some landlords turn away renters with kids; others reject renters with housing vouchers. Even if you get the apartment, your lease is often larded with clauses that allow a landlord to easily break it if, for example, you have a pet or make too much noise. Because renters are often not aware of their rights, they can fall for discriminatory tactics. Then, once they’ve been evicted, it’s harder to rent a new apartment.

The Eviction Lab researchers hope their findings lead to new laws and more stability for renters. “Housing should basically be a right,” Fish said. People who’ve been evicted aren’t lazy or con artists; in many cases, he said, they’re working people struggling to navigate a system that’s rigged against them.

As for my family, we soon found a new apartment. But within a year, we were threatened with eviction again.

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Residents Confront Gentrification

By Sabrin Sultana

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Shirley Satterfield’s family has been living in Princeton for six generations. She was born in Philadelphia but was raised in Princeton’s Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. After college, she moved away, and when she came back in 1981, everything had changed.

Satterfield said she felt like “African Americans were not recognized in the community” for their hard work, and she worried that Princeton was “losing its history.” Outsiders started coming to this neighborhood, which forced African Americans to leave Witherspoon- Jackson for areas they could afford to live in.

Satterfield has created a tour for the Historical Society of Princeton to memorialize the neighborhood and the town’s extensive African American history. During the Great Migration, African Americans moved from the Deep South looking for jobs. They settled near the University, but much of that neighborhood was later demolished to make way for Palmer Square, a collection of high-end restaurants and shops.

African American Princetonians then moved to the Witherspoon- Jackson neighborhood. Witherspoon-Jackson included Princeton’s first integrated lower school, the “Colored Cemetery” where prominent African Americans are buried, and Miss Vann’s Ice Cream Parlor, one of many businesses run out of private homes.

Eventually, however, prices in the neighborhood began to rise. Now many properties cost as much as $1 million — far beyond what many families can afford.

Satterfield said she “wants the town’s history to stay forever.” But historical houses are either being renovated or knocked down in favor of more modern structures. In the meantime, the high prices are forcing people out.

Sharon “Nini” Campbell’s family has lived in Princeton since the 1930s. “People who grew up here can’t afford it,” she said. Campbell, 70, lives in a one-bedroom affordable housing unit in the Waxwood building, which used to be Princeton’s first integrated lower school.

Witherspoon-Jackson was too expensive for Debora Lapointe, who spoke to a reporter at a park in the neighborhood. So was every other area near the University. The 44-year-old had little choice but to live in Griggs Farm, a low-income community in Princeton.

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Area Programs Aim To Address Child-Care Crisis

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A teacher reads to children at the Princeton Nursery School. Photo courtesy of Princeton Nursery School

By Amoni Hinton

Essex, Md.

On Leigh Avenue, in between the aging homes, housing construction sites, and un-level sidewalks, you stumble upon a two-story home that has more to it than meets the eye. As you walk up the faded yellow wooden steps, you enter into a land of opportunity for the next generation. Located in the John Witherspoon community—once the heart of the African American population in Princeton—is the Princeton Nursery School.

The school, which recently celebrated its 90th anniversary, is a resource for low-income families in need of daycare. From 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, children between the ages of 2 and a half to 5 years old are fed breakfast, lunch, and a snack.

Executive director Rosanda Wong has been leading the school for two years. During that time, she saved the nursery from possibly closing down, started a program that provides each child with hygiene necessities called Bubbles and Brushes, and began a program that allows students to take home meals for the weekends called Send Hunger Packing.

Wong continues to raise money to renovate the roof and playground and for any other possible needs for the children and the school. Wong said that even though all of the staff at the nursery are underpaid, they love their jobs. Their mission is to provide an exceptional preschool education and childcare for low-income families.

Not far from the Princeton Nursery School is another building that houses opportunities for young children. Head east on Leigh Avenue to Clay Street, and you’ll find the Henry Pannell Learning Center, which is supported and run by the YMCA’s Princeton Young Achievers Program.

The center provides after-school homework assistance, tutoring, and literacy support for children from kindergarten to 5th grade. Pannell prepares students for the next day in the classroom and gives them skills to expand their resources.

“All of the parents are thankful from the beginning,” said Leigh Zink, who has been working with the YMCA for 12 years and has tremendous experience dealing with children in low-income neighborhoods.

Running non-profit organizations like these are not for the faint of heart. They have to fight and go above and beyond in ways they never imagined. Even for families receiving assistance, parents need to work long hours, and children walk around in tattered clothing. The kids can suffer from depression and bullying.

“The more you can give them,” said Zink, “the more successful they can be.”

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Local Nursery School Provides Relief to Low-income Families in Princeton

By Diana Padron 

McAllen, Texas

There are two worlds in Princeton. Walk out of the front gates of the University, and you are transported to a land rich with booming businesses, beautiful late-Victorian buildings, and clean-cut grass. High-end bookstores, a small independent theater, and quirky gift shops dot the downtown strip. No one can deny it: Princeton is the perfect place to raise your children.

However, in every community, there are pockets of people who live outside the majority. Walk farther from campus, and the landscape changes before your eyes. Suddenly, dignified white pillars become decaying columns with chipped paint. Plastic lawn chairs and broken flower pots litter the porches of the modest white houses that line the streets. The neighborhood radiates a warm familiarity, as if saying, “It’s not paradise, but it’s home.”

Rosanda Wong tends to the children of the other Princeton. She is the executive director of the Princeton Nursery School, a daycare center for minority and low-income children. The average cost of tuition to a child-care center is around $1,500 a month. The nursery serves countless struggling families, 95 percent of whom live below the poverty line. Wong provides aid to these families when no one else will.

Cost of tuition is based on a sliding scale that considers all aspects of every family’s living situation. Wong and her staff help prepare children for public school by teaching kids in both English and Spanish, incorporating the sciences into everyday learning, and practicing real-life skills such as gardening, among other activities.

Wong helps kids outside the classroom, too. Programs like Send Hunger Packing and Bubbles and Brushes provide students with food and personal hygiene products over the weekend when parents have trouble making ends meet. She once even bought shoes for a girl whose only pair were wrapped in duct tape. For parents who can’t afford tuition, Wong created the Angel Fund, a program that connects parents to “angel donors” who are ready to hear families’ stories and help with their cause. For three to six months, the Angel Fund covers the child’s tuition.

“They’re doing everything right,” Wong said of the families helped by the Angel Fund. She understands that sometimes life deals people a bad hand.

Without Wong, the children of Princeton’s working class would be greatly affected by steep child-care costs. She may not be an angel straight from heaven, but she comes pretty close.

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Princeton Organizations Combat the Rising Cost of Child-care

By Daniela Bolanos

Miami, Fla.

Finger paintings, pictures of smiling kids, and a colorfully decorated reception area greets anyone walking into the Princeton Nursery School, which serves mostly low-income families. Its house-like architecture and gray carpeting creates a sort of coziness. Inside a classroom is a young girl who is crying. The teacher eagerly goes to her side and asks what’s wrong. The girl looks down and a teardrop falls on her duct-tape covered shoes. Her parents had wrapped her old shoes in duct tape to keep them from falling apart. Her mom’s work hours had recently been cut and they couldn’t afford to buy their daughter a new pair of shoes.

This story—recounted to a group of reporters recently by Rosanda Wong, the school’s executive director— provides a glimpse into the lives of Princeton’s low-income community. While many see Princeton through a lens of affluence and status, the town separates two different communities through an invisible ivy-covered wall of socioeconomic status. On the one side, you have the wealthiest of the wealthiest who drive Porsches; on the complete other side, you have kids who are wearing shoes that are only being held together by old pieces of duct tape.

Wong—the kids call her Ms. Rose—understands the child-care crisis in Princeton, and she has made impressive efforts to do something about it. But she isn’t the only one. There is also the work of the Henry Pannell Learning Center, which partners with the Princeton YMCA to run an after-school program for low-income students called Princeton Young Achievers.

Leigh Zink, the Youth Development and Outreach Director at the Princeton YMCA, puts the challenge this way: “Cost of daycare is killer.” It is a silent killer, one that infiltrates homes and suffocates them until they have nothing left to give.

Princeton Nursery School and Princeton Young Achievers are making progress in addressing this problem, but they still face challenges of understaffing and funding. The institutions rely heavily on grants and donations to stay up and running. Most parents of Princeton Young Achievers only have to pay $20 a month for their children to participate in the afterschool program. Wong said Princeton Nursery School fundraises up to $250,000 per year for scholarships. As a result, the minimum the parents have to pay for the students at the daycare is $20 per month, but even this is negotiable. Wong is very generous about waiving a fee for a struggling family. She is able to do so by reaching out to companies such as Mercedes-Benz and persuading them with pictures and stories of adorable little kids with the biggest dimples and warmest smiles. Who can resist that?

Yet even with the significant amount of money that they raise, there are still issues, such as a lack of special education teachers in the facility. “I cannot afford it,” Wong said. In general, they are understaffed and depend mostly on volunteers.

These problems don’t stand in the way of providing quality education to the children of low-income neighborhoods. In a way, “their enrichment programs are sometimes better,” said Zink, with a chuckle. The kids at Pannell can learn about STEM and coding. Westminster Choir College helps the students host two performances a year; the kids also have “Art Fridays,” where local artists come in and teach them art. These children, unlike the ones who go to traditional after-school programs that cost upwards of $300 a month, often do not have the chance to join a sports club or take private art classes, so PYA’s enrichment programs are meant to fill in the gaps, Zink explained.

Similarly, the Princeton Nursery School has “a very strict curriculum,” said Wong. It not only sticks to the HighScope Preschool Curriculum of New Jersey, but also incorporates a stronger science curriculum. The school even started a gardening program where kids can take home the plants they grow. It doesn’t always take a whole lot of money and resources to provide a child with an extraordinary education, but instead it takes a whole lot of heart.

Wong and Zink have been able to make a difference in the lives of these children. They are giving them the confidence they need to take on the world. Regardless of all the obstacles these kids face, getting an education isn’t one of them. It is because of people like Zink and Wong that even students whose families struggle to afford shoes will see a brighter tomorrow.

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Police Work To Build Trust With Local Community

By Stacey Coleen Lubag

Las Vegas, Nev.

Some cops are in it for the thrill of the chase, but Lt. Johnathan Bucchere believes police also need to meet the emotional needs of their communities by acting as counselors, therapists, and social workers as needed. The almost 20-year-veteran of the Princeton Police Department urges officers to be “well-rounded” and promotes trustworthy, kind policing throughout the ranks.

Bucchere’s passion for law enforcement was born during his college years. As the younger brother of two, he found himself looking up to his siblings so much that, when his brother made the sudden switch from coaching basketball to serving as a New Jersey state trooper, Bucchere went in a similar direction. But he didn’t follow his brother to the state’s highways. Instead, he sought to help a community by joining the Princeton Police Department.

“I realized that criminal justice would be a good avenue [for me],” he said. “I learned a lot about the profession by watching my brother.”

Bucchere lit up when asked how he ensures a strong bond between the people and law enforcement. “The patrol division is required to do one community policing project per squad a year,” he explained. “At first we did Coffee with a Cop, but [then] we had to think outside the box.” Officers have bagged groceries on Senior Citizen Day, and recently the department hosted a “Bats and Badges” event, where officers brought hamburgers and hot dogs to the Princeton Little League, serving as coaches and helping the team. “Nobody was in uniform, but we were still representing the department,” he said. “It was unbelievable. That’s how you get external legitimacy, where the community values and trusts you.”

Bucchere is cheerful and outgoing, but even he can be frustrated by citizens who take their anger out on him after receiving tickets. His boss, police chief Nick Sutter, advised him to stay pleasant and polite in those situations, and Bucchere tries to put on a straight face and let incidents pass.

Bucchere said the department also tries to assist marginalized parts of the community, like undocumented residents. Princeton is a “welcoming community,” he said, and police do not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“I think the community trusts us,” he said, “because we give them a reason to.”

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Missing Teach for America

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Teach for America co-founder Wendy Kopp defends the value of the program. Photo credit: Sebastian Derungs

By Samanta Gonzalez Castro

Houston, Texas

A young, enthusiastic teacher stood in the middle of my seventh grade classroom, looking ready for whatever we threw at him. The teacher, a corps member with Teach for America (TFA), injected enthusiasm and liveliness into my class.

The image of a teacher has completely changed within the YES Prep Brays Oaks campus—my middle and high school— since 2016, when the Houston Independent School District ended its contract with TFA. The district cited, “among other reasons, its teachers’ relatively low retention rate,” according to an article in ProPublica. Education Dive wrote that “90 percent of TFA teachers reported they did not plan to stay in education long-term.” These criticisms are at the core of disputes over TFA and its role in educational systems.

Yet TFA leaders defend their system as bringing “academically able” but “nontraditional” teachers to the classroom. Anna Almore, a managing director for TFA in South Dakota, said the program’s goals include “bringing people who may not have typically, or traditionally, thought of themselves as a teacher” to the profession. They help corps members transition from college to teaching with a “rigorous five to six weeks” of extensive training, Almore said, where they learn “the art of teaching” with the goal of “equity.” Wendy Kopp, the co-founder and CEO of TFA, wrote that encountering low-qualified teachers motivated her to search for potential educators from non-traditional backgrounds who excel academically.

This plan has transformed American classrooms. A 2013 study by Emily K. Penner found that “students of TFA secondary math teachers outperformed students in comparison classrooms in 11 districts in eight states.” These conflicting views of Teach for America are what has made it a controversial organization. “No teacher is ready,” Almore says of her experience in South Dakota, both admitting their short preparation period and pointing out the complexity of the task at hand. TFA, in contrast to other programs, is “there during the process,” Almore adds. It’s that dedication that has made the TFA teachers’ absence so pronounced now that they’ve left YES Prep Brays Oaks.

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Cops Prioritize Outreach

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The Princeton Police Department has prioritized community engagement. Photo Credit: Brian Rokus

By Farinna Izquierdo 

Hialeah, FLA.

Lt. Johnathan Bucchere wears a gun in his holster, a weapon that often makes people feel threatened. But in an interview with The Princeton Summer Journal this week, Bucchere was anything but threatening: He sported a small smile and a fresh sunburn around the bridge of his nose.

Bucchere said that increasing the number of positive interactions the Princeton Police Department has with the community is a priority. They focus on reaching out to residents and establishing relationships with those around them, ensuring the safety of their fellow residents while also being shoulders to lean on.

Bucchere, who has been with the department for two decades, said the department has made progress since he started. When he was a young officer, the department was less connected with residents. “We’ve made adjustments to how we do things,” he said. “The community trusts us because we’ve given them reasons to. We’ve grown a lot in the last several years.”

A Princeton native, Bucchere detailed how one of the main priorities of the police department is to try and build trust among the people they serve. Aside from typical police work, each of the department’s four squads carries out a community project every year. One of these projects was “Coffee with a Cop,” where officers drank coffee with residents. Although this project was a great start, it wasn’t sufficient. Officers felt as if they were only meeting people rather than establishing true connections with them. They decided to put additional efforts into deeper engagement.

One day, off-duty officers bagged groceries for older shoppers. They brought burgers and hot dogs and served them for a local Little League game. The department also paid for a pool night for Princeton residents, complete with an officer dunk tank. At all of these events, officers presented themselves not as law enforcement, but as members of the community.

Police officers come into contact with many people on a daily basis. These experiences can often be negative—even if it’s just issuing a traffic ticket. Bucchere doesn’t want all of those interactions to be bad ones. “It’s critical that you police with a guardian mentality and rehabilitate those encounters,” says Bucchere, “so that it’s a positive experience.”

ICE raids and police brutality have given officers a bad reputation and ignited fear and resentment toward them. According to Bucchere, police brutality is not an issue in Princeton. While police face criticism on front-page head- lines, Bucchere reminds residents that a corrupt minority does not represent them all. Rather, the Princeton Police tries to live up to a sign hanging in their headquarters. It reads: “Police like a champion today.”

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New Eviction Lab Closes Data Gap For Policymakers

By Sarah Wang

San Gabriel, Calif.

I could hear the distinct rumble of Baba’s construction truck approaching. He came home every day with cuts from glass, calluses on his hands and an aching back, but he always greeted me with a warm smile.

When my father moved to America, he didn’t know any English, so he worked as a laborer. It didn’t pay much, so we frequently moved around.

One day, as Baba washed the rice for steaming, I finally asked the question I’ve been wondering for years. “Why do we move so much?”

“That’s just how it is,” Baba said.

My father’s hopelessness is not uncommon. According to collected data from the Princeton University Eviction Lab, displacement and poverty is a way of life for those immersed in the eviction crisis. Joe Fish, a research specialist at the facility, said that between 2000 and 2016, there were 84 million eviction cases in the U.S. That estimate does not take into account the number of evictions left unfiled. “In reality, that number should be higher,” Fish said.

Before the work of the Eviction Lab, estimates like this simply did not exist. Federal and local representatives, journalists, and the general public did not have access to clear data about the crisis occurring in their communities. It takes immense resources and time to sort out documents that provide valid evidence of the issue, Fish said. Due to this, individuals living in these communities endured a cycle where reform was not a priority. No one was aware of how immense the eviction crisis was. “[When] you don’t know, you don’t think about it,” Fish said.

Princeton sociology professor Matthew Desmond founded the Eviction Lab after writing “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.” To close the knowledge gap, the team analyzed millions of eviction records and published the first-ever nationwide dataset of evictions. Their findings showed that there is a direct relationship between poverty and housing. Yet that doesn’t necessarily mean eviction causes poverty. The housing system in America keeps low-income individuals in unstable economic conditions. This can eventually lead to their eviction because they are no longer able to afford rent.

The Eviction Lab’s work extends beyond providing the public with information. “Most everything we do is an attempt to sway policy,” Fish said. On a grassroots level, Fish emphasized the need for communities to start pressuring local officials with the facts. Now that Americans have tangible evidence, representatives must listen. “[We need to] protect what we have and push for what we don’t,” he said. “It’s about holding power accountable.”

Ultimately, uplifting those in poverty is like a construction site. The Eviction Lab holds the nail and hammer, restructuring broken communities one fact at a time.

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Princeton Mayor Discusses Keeping the Peace

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Before becoming Princeton’s mayor, Liz Lempert was an environmental journalist at National Public Radio. (Princeton Summer Journal File Photo)

By Sergio Reyes Aguilar

Arleta, Calif.

Princeton is a small New Jersey town that is well-known as the home of the prestigious Ivy League university of the same name. It is very peaceful and has very friendly residents—there are always people smiling everywhere, trees all over the place, shops on every corner.

But there was a time when public outrage broke out and the constant peace was shattered. In January, a white supremacist group threatened to hold a rally in Palmer Square. Ultimately, the white supremacists never showed up, and the rally didn’t happen. Even still, it caused concern within the small community.

For the mayor of Princeton, Liz Lempert, it was her toughest moment to date.

“I was very worried the morning of the rally,” Lempert said in a recent interview. “I didn’t know what was going to happen, or if it was in fact going to happen, so I just closed the central part of the town to make sure that everyone remained as safe as possible.”

She said it was important to make Princeton a very diverse and safe space for everyone. “Princeton is such a great community with smart, helpful people and although the town is small, it never gets boring,” she said.

Born in San Mateo, California, Lempert has a degree in history and symbolic systems from Stanford University, as well as a very political background: Her mother and brothers were deeply involved in politics. Despite that, she said she never planned to get into politics herself. Before taking office, she worked as an environmental journalist at National Public Radio, and was recruited to run in 2012.

Princeton is a relatively small town, but it carries so much prestige because of the University and its distinguished reputation. There are tourists, students and local residents who try to peacefully coexist with one another, which has worked so far.

“Princeton is and will always be a work in progress,” said Lempert, whose term expires in 2021. “It’s impossible to get a perfect community in which everyone is happy, but I’m doing my best efforts to get everyone satisfied and to support the local people.”

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In Divisive Climate, Mayor Recalls Threat of White Supremacist Rally

By Francin Vasquez

Brooklyn, N.Y.

The threat slowly forced itself forward, reaching every shadow, every corner, every chest, every heart. It yelled from the sidelines that it would walk inside, take over the streets, and tarnish everything with words of hatred.

It was January 2019, and rumors of a white supremacist rally in Princeton’s Palmer Square began circulating on social media. Flyers were spread in many areas in town and around the University.

In this type of situation, Mayor Liz Lempert’s hands were tied. Under the First Amendment, freedom of speech is protected—even if that speech consists of slurs from white supremacists. As long as there is no threat of violence, no legal action can be taken. “[We] have to make decisions where there are no real answers, and it’s painful,” Lempert recalled in a recent interview.

But neither Lempert nor Princeton were silent about the scheduled white supremacist rally. Shop owners, students, residents—everyone—united to say that they did not believe in those ideologies. 

Princeton’s white supremacist rally did not have a deadly ending. After all, it did not happen. Instead of expected hate signs and racism, the town was filled with love and welcoming. Hundreds of people showed up to protest against the white supremacists, and the white supremacists themselves stayed away.

“Forces from outside are repelled by the community. This is who we are, and there is no space for this speech,” said Lempert. “The people said ‘we don’t want you.’”

 

When one thinks about the name “Princeton,” their first thought might be the prestigious Ivy League university. However, the word Princeton is more than a private school with high expectations for their applicants. Princeton is where people come together to work with each other. By fighting off hatred, the Princeton community showed itself to be strong. By rallying against hatred, Princeton gave us all a reminder of the meaning of America.

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Bucchere Says Communication Is Greatest Asset in Building Trust

By Jimena Molina

Fayetteville, Ga.

Five years have passed since a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed a young African American man named Michael Brown. Brown’s death sparked a movement that exposed the brutality minorities suffer at the hands of the people charged with protecting them. But it also strained the relationship between police and the communities they serve.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to gain trust,” said Lt. Johnathan Bucchere of the Princeton Police Department, who’s been a cop in the area since 1999, in an interview with The Princeton Summer Journal. Communication is one of the department’s greatest assets in counteracting the problem. “We’re an open book,” he said.

The department achieves transparency by learning from past mistakes, he said. Every day when he comes to work, he reviews the previous day’s arrests. If he catches a mistake, he wants to figure out what he can learn from it.

“Our failure to learn from these incidents will lead to our failure” in the future, he said.

Princeton police work to win over the community. That’s done not through arrests, but through positive interactions. The department has regular community nights where residents and cops can talk to one another.

“It started off with coffee with a cop, but it’s expanded,” Bucchere said. “For example, recently officers made hamburgers and hot dogs for a local Little League, and the community loved it—the parents, the kids, the coaches.”

With a smile, Bucchere recalled a sign that hangs above his department door. He sees it every time he reports for duty: “Police like a champion today.” It’s a play on the Notre Dame football team motto.

Bucchere also often tells his officers: “Go out. Be guardians. Be good people.” He wants them to be the kind of officers that the people of the Princeton community can trust.

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‘Green Book’ Overcomes Controversy

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Viggo Mortensen (left) plays Mahershala Ali’s driver as their characters travel through the segregated Deep South in 1962. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

By Michelle Garza

Spring Valley, N.Y.

I went into “Green Book” expecting nothing substantial. While it may have won three Oscars, I was considerably skeptical.

I had closely read the derisive reviews and followed the controversy. The public was not pleased with a film having a white savior complex becoming a three-Oscar winner.

I went into the film with preconceived notions and biases. Nevertheless, I found myself captivated by the development of a complementary relationship between characters who expressed conflicting mentalities.

Set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, “Green Book” tells the story of Dr. Donald Shirley, an African American pianist embarking on a Deep South tour. Integration had not yet spread to that region, and he needed a driver for protection.

He hires Tony Lip, an Italian- American cliche who previously worked as a bouncer. The storytelling shone through from the very beginning. At first, I saw the criticisms, with Lip’s racism obvious from the get-go. Great, another racist-that-getsbetter story, I told myself.

However, Shirley’s appearance forced me to give the movie a second look. His grandiose apartment above Carnegie Hall makes him reminiscent of a king. Actor Mahershala Ali projects a royal image. On the other hand, Lip evidently hails from a humble upbringing and his wardrobe is mostly tattered wife-beaters.

The appeal of “Green Book” is rooted in the film’s use of its greatest asset: the uber-talented leads, Viggo Mortensen and Ali. It was a heartwarming experience for me to witness the unexpected friendship develop between their characters. It is their differences that bring them together.

Lip helps Shirley become less wary of new experiences, such as eating a piece of KFC fried chicken. In turn, Shirley helps Lip properly express his feelings for his wife in love letters. Moreover, the storytelling challenged my preconceived notion of Tony being a “white savior.” He is not by any means a savior. Shirley does not need “saving.” Rather, he needs companionship that a genuine person like Lip can provide him with.

The movie is littered with references to Shirley’s loneliness and struggles with alcohol. Despite living in what Lip describes as a “castle,” he lives alone and realized this when Lip invites him to Christmas dinner with his family, solidifying their bond.

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Character’s Evolution On Race Issues Lets ‘Green Book’ Shine

By Jakaylah Redmond

Isola, MISS.

“Green Book” follows the story of Dr. Donald Shirley and Tony Lip. The movie begins with Lip working at the Copacabana nightclub when it closes for renovation, putting Lip out of work. Lip finds creative ways to make money in order to sup- port his family until he gets an interview with Shirley, an African American pianist who is looking for a driver for his tour throughout the Midwest and Deep South. Lip, who is white, refuses to do certain jobs for Shirley and will only agree to be his driver. After Shirley receives approval from Lip’s wife, Dolores, the two begin an eight-week tour. Lip and Shirley don’t get along at first because of Lip’s ignorance and lack of manners. But Lip becomes Shirley’s bodyguard on the tour and helps him out of difficult situations that occur due to racism.

The major strength of “Green Book” lies in how the characters evolve over time. In the beginning of the movie you see how racist Lip is toward black people. His family makes derogatory comments about black people, and so does Lip. When two black men come over to work in his apartment, his wife gives the men a glass of water. Lip sees this and waits until the men and his wife leave to throw the glasses in the garbage. When I watched that scene, I thought he was a very ignorant man and I didn’t like him despite his charm. His racism toward African Americans really bothered me.

But over time, Lip changes. Going on the road with Shirley really alters his view of African Americans. At the end of the movie, you see Lip defending Shirley to his family for the first time by saying, “Don’t talk about him like that,” after someone calls Shirley a derogatory word. His wife smiles and rests her hands on his hand, indicating that she is proud of his growth as a person.

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Pulitzer Prize-Winner Parks Delivers Quirky, Chilling Play

By DayOnna Carson

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Lincoln sighs, hangs up his coat, and removes his face paint and beard. He trades out his dark slacks and top hat for gray sweatpants and a black satin durag. This all may sound strange to an outsider who couldn’t imagine a man named Lincoln wearing a durag—never mind being a black man. However, to the audience seated in Princeton’s Hamilton Murray Theater, this was the beginning of the quirky-yet-chilling “Topdog/Underdog.”

The story follows the plight of two African American brothers trying to make it through life as society and their past continues to work against them. Lincoln, the older brother played by Nathaniel J. Ryan, has a job re-enacting Abraham Lincoln’s assassination over and over again at an arcade that allows its patrons to brandish a gun and roleplay as John Wilkes Booth. His brother, Booth, portrayed by Travis Raeburn, has managed to scrape by with things that he has looted, or in his words, “boosted,” and is always open to any means of earning money.

The mind behind the emotional drama is playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. Parks won the Pulitzer Prize for the play in 2002, making history as the first black woman to receive the honor for a drama.

Throughout the production, a multitude of props and small details symbolize important themes. Parks uses the brothers’ hustle, a fast-paced card game, as an allegory for their destiny: Together, their competition hinders their success, and the only solution is for one of them to come out victorious. These elements, along with the play’s foreshadowing—like the characters’ names—effectively illuminate the systemic inequalities of the black experience.

“What I want people to get out of this story is that black men are in pain and need access to healing,” Ryan, who played Lincoln, said in an interview. “A lot of men don’t have access to mental health [care] or both parents, and on top of that, they are navigating a world in which they are suppressed. The main focus is to show black families that we need to love and rebuild the family.”

Ryan and Raeburn’s dedication to crafting realistic, relatable characters through expressive articulation and lively gestures further added to this astounding narrative. Their portrayal of these characters compels observers to reconsider their preconceived notions of the lives of black Americans. The genuine passion radiating from the cast and crew, coupled with the hardworking technical producers, created a sense of authenticity. Director Lori Elizabeth Parquet and set designer Rakesh Potluri did an excellent job bringing the script to life and immersing the audience in Parks’ universe. Through works of art like “Topdog/Underdog,” we can redefine the black narrative, and better understand the complicated strata behind the unique experience of minorities in America.

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Brave “Topdog” Impresses

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Nathaniel J. Ryan plays Lincoln in the
Summer Theater’s “Topdog/Underdog.” Photo Credit: Courtesy of Princeton Summer Theater

By Bryan Ventura 

New Brunswick, N.J.

Suzan-Lori Parks’ 2001 play, “Topdog/Underdog,” explores the story of two African American brothers in continuous competition with each other, and how tragedy can arise from a shared dark past. Most notably, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002, making Parks the first African American woman to achieve this honor.

In this particular stage adaptation directed by Lori Elizabeth Parquet and presented at Princeton’s Hamilton Murray Theater, Travis Raeburn plays Booth, the younger brother who tries to con people through deceptive card games, though it doesn’t come naturally to him. He houses his older brother, Lincoln, played by Nathaniel J. Ryan, who scams unsuspecting people with an ease Booth could only dream of. But Lincoln has since turned away from his hustler ways, and is now content with his low-paying Abraham Lincoln cosplay gig at the local arcade.

Viewers quickly pick up that the brothers have their problems. Booth rents an apartment in New York City, but sometimes can’t afford to pay the cable, phone, or electricity bills because he isn’t that great of a con man. His ex-girlfriend leaves him because he has no steady source of income, and his loneliness hardens into resentment.

Lincoln wants nothing more to do with the card games that so consumes his brother. He hates reflecting on his time as a con man, and gets angry when Booth brings it up. He screams at Booth, driving up tension and further dividing the two brothers.

The production consists of only two characters, but actors Ryan and Raeburn did them justice. They were exciting and emotional in their delivery, which created a very reactive crowd that laughed at every joke and gasped at every surprise. There was something about the unintentional humor that made the production very fascinating.

It’s supposed to be a serious moment, laden with underlying sibling rivalry, when Lincoln and Booth argue over money and begin to tear down the apartment in their ferocity. Yet the crowd, including myself, was dying of laughter.

A lot is foreshadowed in this play, and mentioning it would ruin the experience for viewers. However, this production provides a story like no other: how ceaseless emotional abuse can quickly turn brotherly love into malice. How, without structural support, those struggling can fall through the cracks. While these brothers, Lincoln and Booth—the topdog and underdog—care deeply for each other, it might not be enough to save them from each other, or the cards they’ve been dealt in life.

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Teach For America Must Work With Teachers

By Jasmyn Bednar

Eagle River, Alaska

To sa y that education is in my DNA is probably an understatement,” says Anna Almore. “It’s literally part of the fabric of my whole universe.” Almore, the managing director for Teach for America (TFA) in South Dakota, spoke recently to a group of reporters from the Princeton Summer Journalism Program.

Almore joined TFA in 2008, teaching fifth and sixth graders in New York; she later worked in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and along the border in El Paso. To Almore and the many TFA alums who continue to work in education, the organization is doing incredibly valuable work. But while it’s true that TFA has plenty of successes to its credit, the organization is also leaving a complicated legacy across the country.

Teach for America was founded in 1990 by Wendy Kopp, who, in a senior thesis at Princeton, stressed the need for increased education initiatives in low-income communities. She launched the program a year after her initial proposal, and its impacts were immediate. Since its founding, the program has served 410,000 students from 51 different regions where access to quality education is historically limited. Most of these regions are classified as “hard to teach” areas, where teacher turnover rates are high, and literacy and mathematical proficiency are low. Almore, like many alums, continues to carry on the work that TFA advocates for—in her case, training upcoming TFA members in rural South Dakota.

Yet as TFA has thrived, teachers’ unions have suffered. In recent decades, the educational reform movement has led to new non-unionized schools, including charter schools, and increased advocacy for education privatization. TFA has been accused multiple times of union busting.

According to the Associated Press and Education Week, the recent strikes in Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Denver are part of this pattern. Education Week reported that more than 300 TFA alums wrote an open letter to the Bay Area chapter of TFA, criticizing it for withholding payment to any member of TFA who joined the Oakland strike. (TFA has said that it doesn’t have a stance on how its members interact with unions.)

Teachers’ unions and Teach for America have gone head to head for years now. Much of the conflict stems from the recent push toward charter schools. TFA’s largest private funder, the Walton Foundation, is a major supporter of charter schools. A ProPublica report found that the foundation promised TFA $4,000 for every public school teacher and $6,000 for every charter school teacher. In 2018, nearly 40 percent of TFA teachers were sent to charter schools, despite the fact that those schools only educate seven percent of students in America.

As the interview with Almore makes clear, TFA is doing no shortage of admirable work. For instance, the organization is helping students on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota to pursue college access, she said. But TFA must figure out how to have a better relationship with teachers’ unions, so that all teachers—both those in TFA and others—can retain protections and turn the focus back to providing the best education possible for students.

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Staff Editorial: Leaving As Different People

Ten days ago, 36 students from all around the United States boarded planes, trains, and cars to come to the Princeton Summer Journalism Program. Leaving our homes behind, we felt a strange mix of excitement and anxiety at what the next 10 days would hold. Looking back at passionate debates, inside jokes, and learning more—and sleeping less—than any reasonable person can squeeze into a week and a half, we have built a home among each other.

PSJP is a unique experience. Students come from states ranging from Alaska to Florida, each bringing a unique story waiting to be heard. Our striking curiosity, love for challenges, and resilience— along with the passion and talent of the staff—transform the classroom into a learning paradise. Journalism is a field built on trust and honor, and that same feeling prevails within everyone in the program. On the first day, we were complete strangers, but we became more than acquaintances or friends—we became a family. A family that will provide each other with the emotional support they need in order to complete the odyssey of college applications. A family that will send each other memes, cat pictures, and gossip in the group chat. A family that will stay strong even if there are hundreds of miles in between them. This program is a treasure that everyone will keep forever.

PSJP is not about where we come from—it’s about giving students the opportunity to learn and thrive. Here, we are not just low-income students: We are writers learning investigative journalism, crime reporting, and topics such as sports and entertainment. We are people who are not afraid to take a stand. At PSJP, we learned to flourish and to not allow societal stereotypes to define or discourage us. From traveling to three states, to talking to strangers on the street, every experience was transformative, and helped us grow stronger. The road to college is stressful, but having a counselor to encourage and guide us makes students feel supported. No matter the obstacle, we will always have our army of counselors rooting for us.

However, not everything about PSJP is sweet. Time management is a huge issue. When the clock hits midnight, students are just walking back to their dorms, carrying with them an aura of exhaustion. There’s not enough time to explore the Princeton campus, meals are too close together, and there’s not enough time to cover every topic. But these are small tradeoffs for the experience of a lifetime.

By the end of the program, students leave as different people. We return to where we came from, but the effects of the relationships we built at Princeton will be everlasting.

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Gen Z Struggles With Anxiety

By Zandrea Evans

San Antonio, Texas

Young people are under so much pressure to surpass their peers. They’re anxious. They’re depressed. You don’t need scientific studies to prove this. The evidence is walking around America’s high schools.

I attend a school with an intensive curriculum. Schools like mine do help prepare students for the challenges of college, such as approaching teachers for help and developing critical thinking skills. However, they cause many students to develop mental health issues at a young age. According to a study by the American Psychological Association in 2018, members of Generation Z (ages 15 to 21) are the generation least likely to describe their mental health as “excellent or very good.”

My peers and I suffer from excessive stress that comes from at least five hours of homework a night—not including studying for tests and quizzes. In 2009, high school seniors took an average of 3.6 more credits than they did in 1990, according to The National Center for Educational Statistics.

On top of that, the pressure for students to score well on standardized tests like the SAT, AP, and ACT exams heightens stress levels. Some students find themselves stuck taking a slew of exams with little time to study. For instance, as a junior, I needed to study for the ACT and three SAT subject tests on top of the homework that came with my five AP classes. Because of the pressure high school students are constantly under, anxious and depressive statements are common. There are even memes about the prevalence of suicide jokes made by young adults.

This is an issue that should concern schools across the country, many of which are without a designated mental health counselor. The Washington Post recently reported that, in public schools, there is one psychologist for every 1,381 students. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends one for every 500 to 700 students. By not giving students the proper tools to deal with their mental health issues, schools negate their efforts to push students to higher levels of achievement. Mental health problems can hurt students’ grades, relationships, and quality of life.

The mental health of students is of vital importance, not just for their well-being, but for society’s. Today’s overtaxed teenagers will be tomorrow’s leaders.

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Why America Isn’t Great

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Illustration by Francin Vasquez

By Justin Fajar 

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Every day, thousands of people—some forced through social coercion or otherwise—put their hands on their hearts and pledge their allegiance to the United States flag. While some would see this as a beautiful showing of people who love their country, in reality this is an undeserved show of nationalism. The reality is that, while America has some strengths, it isn’t nearly as admirable a country as many of its citizens think it is.

The United States has one of the bloodiest histories in the world, having invaded or fought in dozens of countries around the globe. This would be fine if the U.S. made efforts to acknowledge and try to remedy the damage it has caused. But instead high school history textbooks often skew our country’s history. A prime example of this can be seen in the South, where many textbooks make sure that the Confederacy looks more sympathetic.

Discrimination against minorities is also common, particularly in the education system, including higher education. Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a classics professor at Princeton, recently shared his experience as a “token minority” in higher education and how he has had to deal with “a general aura and practice of exclusion.” He also discussed how bad he felt knowing how few minorities had the same opportunities he did. “It took me a long time to reconcile my place in being here [Princeton] with the fact that with the unluckiest of dice rolls I could have been dead at 24,” he said.

Meanwhile, our democracy is deeply flawed. In the United States it is constantly put into our heads that our votes matter. But if we look closely at the 2016 election we can see that is far from the truth. Although Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a few million, Donald Trump was selected as the president through the Electoral College. The ability to vote is also a huge issue. Voter suppression is a real and ongoing issue, particularly for minority voters. A country cannot call itself a democracy until all voices are heard.

And what about how we spend our money? According to NationalPri- orities.org, a recent budget deal calls for military spending to be 54 percent of federal discretionary expenditures in 2020. Historically, military spending dwarfs the amounts spent on energy, the environment, housing and community. How federal money is spent is a great indicator of what the United States prioritizes—apparently, it values invading countries over helping its citizens.

To be sure, there are a lot worse places to live, and there are positive aspects to this country. People around the world aspire to immigrate here and to live the American Dream. The United States has a Constitution that guarantees many rights. It also has thriving economic sectors, from technology to film to finance. Many people are making efforts to address the problems listed above: Many universities are trying to increase diversity, and reparations for the descendants of slaves are being seriously talked about as a way to rectify what has happened in history.

But Americans often put forward a facade in which we are a perfect country—and that is tragically far from the truth. We as a society have to demand better from our government, so that one day when we stand for our flag, hand on heart, we can truly mean it.

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Building My Confidence, Question By Question

By Savannah Joyner

Barnwell, S.C.

I was burning with embarrassment as I walked the humid streets of New Jersey. It was only my first day at the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program, but I still felt disappointed with myself.

My rapid footsteps on the paved sidewalk matched the pace of my heart. My person-on-the-street story about the 2020 election was not going so well. I breathed out.

A good journalist doesn’t give up on the first failure, so I couldn’t give up. I saw another person coming. I tried to speak but the words got caught in my throat. Time and again, I would find the courage to speak, and then I would choke.

My group and I walked to a small park, where I saw a woman with a dog. With a little push from my counselor, I approached.

“Hi, my name is Savannah and I’m a student journalist. Can I ask you a few questions about the 2020 Democratic debates?”

“Yeah, sure.”

My heart leaped with joy. Her dog shared the same emotion, as he jumped on me excitedly.

The woman’s name was Louise and she was 24, a native of Princeton.

“Who are your favorite candidates so far?” I asked.

“I would have to say Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. They agree about work, unions, civil liberties, and they know that the current administration is toxic.”

“Who do you think would win the 2020 election?”

“Umm, I’d have to say Bernie.”

My heart was racing but this time in a good way. Success.

As I left the park, I felt my anxiety begin to leave, and in its place, I felt confidence begin to bloom. I began to believe that I could do it. My heart rate slowed. I walked further, ignoring potential interviewees, because I didn’t want to lose this victory.

Eventually I stopped in front of a cute brick restaurant, which was where I met George, a 69-year-old Princeton resident. He said that his favorite candidates were Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

Most people associate Elizabeth Warren with Bernie Sanders. I asked him to explain his picks.

“I like how professional Elizabeth Warren is. She has a plan and goes point by point. And I like Kamala because of her experience in government.”

Walking away, I felt the self-doubt creeping back. What if I wrote a terrible article? What if I didn’t do well enough?

When I got back to my dorm, I went to sleep conflicted. I felt success for doing two interviews, but I also felt failure for not doing more.

Three days later, I found myself having to do person-on-the-street reporting again. But this time, the game was different—and the pressure even greater. I would have to walk the streets of New York City and ask its denizens how they felt about their mayor running for president. I felt the same feeling of despair and panic that I had felt on my first day. But I had to get out of my feelings.

In New York, I interviewed five people. Yes, I got rejected a lot but I managed to not let it get to me. I felt different. I felt proud of myself.

The thought of having to do this a third time completely terrifies me, but I have a feeling that I will interview even more people next time.

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Eagles Should Sign ‘Ready’ Kaepernick

By Angela Nguyen

Pennsauken, N.J.

The Eagles’ loss to the Titans in Thursday’s preseason game wasn’t their worst loss of the night: Backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld broke his left wrist in the second quarter and could miss the next six weeks. The Eagles need a strong, seasoned backup quarterback. The team would be wise to consider Colin Kaepernick.

Though Kaepernick hasn’t played since 2016, his past performance with the 49ers outshines the Eagles’ current options to back up Wentz. If the Eagles want to win another Super Bowl, signing Kaepernick could provide a much-needed sense of security.

In six years with San Francisco, Kaepernick guided the 49ers to two playoff berths, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2013. He gained notoriety for his running ability, but he was also a good passer, completing 59.8 percent of career attempts and throwing 72 touchdowns, with an 88.9 career passer rating. He led seven comebacks and seven game-winning drives.

Kaepernick decided to kneel during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality, and he has not been signed to any NFL team since. Kaepernick’s demonstration and his continued social activism have drawn critics, including President Trump, but that shouldn’t concern the Eagles. Not afraid of protest themselves, most of the team refused to visit the White House after their Super Bowl title, and defensive back Malcolm Jenkins has raised his fist during the anthem in solidarity with Kaepernick’s cause.

Last week, Kaepernick posted a video showcasing his training, declaring he is “still ready.” Considering his NFL accomplishments, it’s more than clear that he is.

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It’s Time For Journalists To Respect Women’s Soccer

By Alberto Lopez

Mission, Texas

When the U.S. Women’s National Team beat the Netherlands 2-0 in July’s Women’s World Cup final, 16 million Americans tuned in. The white home uniforms the USA wore that day in Lyon, France, became Nike’s top-selling soccer jersey of all time for a single season. Four years earlier, 25 million people watched the U.S. women beat Japan in the 2015 final, a record for a men’s or women’s match. But despite the obvious popularity of the team, the media still treats women’s soccer like a sideshow.

That doesn’t have to be the case. Fans may not be aware, but all 23 players who won the Women’s World Cup play in the National Women’s Soccer League, a collection of nine teams across the country.

But with the exception of Portland Thorns FC, who averaged 16,578 fans in 2018, NWSL teams struggle to draw crowds. Seven teams averaged fewer than 5,000 fans, including New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC, which averaged a league-worst 2,390.

Some journalists cover the women’s game with the enthusiasm it deserves. But far too many sports networks and publications overwhelmingly favor men’s soccer, even covering foreign leagues more than female teams—stacked with star footballers, from both the national team and elsewhere—in the U.S. That includes social media: @ FOXSoccer tweets eight or more times a day about men’s soccer, but the account’s last tweet about women’s soccer was on Aug. 3, during the USWNT’s win over Ireland on their World Cup victory tour.

But there are signs that the media is starting to appreciate the women’s game. The NWSL recently signed a television deal with ESPN to broadcast 14 games. And while those matches will be broadcast on ESPN News or ESPN2 rather than ESPN, it’s a step in the right direction.

After the announcement of the deal, ESPN executive Burke Magnus said, “We are pleased to once again televise the National Women’s Soccer League and showcase many of the world’s top female players when they return to their professional club teams.” It’s long overdue, but it’s a positive sign that ESPN is recognizing the value of pro women’s soccer.

Despite the inadequate coverage, fans are showing more interest in the league. NWSL attendance rose by 70 percent after the Women’s World Cup, according to USA Today, and even long-struggling Sky Blue had to relocate its upcoming match against Reign FC—featuring USWNT star Megan Rapinoe—to Red Bull Arena because of high ticket demand.

But as the World Cup fades from memory, the media needs to continue covering the NWSL. Women don’t just play soccer once every four years—they play every day.

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Tanguay Brings It On As Eagles’ Male Cheerleader

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Kyle Tanguay is the first male cheerleader on the Eagles squad in 35 years. Photo credit: Brian Rokus

By Jacky Huang

Simpsonville, S.C.

Backstage, a line of women in cocktail dresses with asymmetrical hemlines and off-the-shoulder straps waited anxiously, hoping for an announcer to call their number. Some of the 61 hopefuls would make the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles cheerleading squad. Some would not.

“Contestant number 32!” an announcer called out. “Kyle!”

A man in a black suit ran onto the stage, beaming, and took a bow. The crowd roared.

Kyle Tanguay had become the first male cheerleader on the Eagles squad in 35 years. As one of a small but elite group of NFL dancers, Tanguay challenges preconceived notions of cheerleading in the macho world of professional football. “All too often, whether it’s cheerleading or not, men that are going into dance often think about how other people are going to receive them,” Tanguay said. “I’m guilty of that, as I get nervous and sometimes think, ‘what if they don’t like me?’”

By all accounts, Philly likes him. A New Jersey native, Tanguay grew up with sports. He was a Boy Scout who played T-ball, hockey, and soccer. None of them stuck. Then he found dance. There was something about the gold floor and mirrors, and the twists and turns of his first jazz class that made him keep going back. He never felt like he was marginalized or outcasted because of his gender.

Later, Tanguay pursued dance at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. There, he became a fan of the Eagles after watching them play every Sunday with his friend and her boyfriend. Those two worlds combined on New Year’s Eve last year, when, while waiting for the ball to drop, he took a chance and emailed the Eagles.

They responded. An official told Tanguay they “were open to the idea of men trying out for the squad.” As it turned out, the team had had male dancers in the 1970s and ’80s. The Eagles, the team official said, have “always been inclusive and diverse.”

For weeks, Tanguay practiced with his roommate Rae Holtz, who was also auditioning for the squad. Tanguay and Holtz made it through three rounds of auditions before final cuts. He waited to hear his number called. “I was very nervous. I was shaking. I was very quiet,” Tanguay said.

He made the squad. “The world has never stopped spinning since,” he said, “and it’s been such an honor.”

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It’s Time For Equality In The WNBA

By La’Nisha Richardson

Yazoo City, MISS.

Last Summer, LeBron James signed a four-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. A’ja Wilson, a forward for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, responded to the news on Twitter: “154M… must.be.nice. We over here looking for a M but Lord, let me get back in my lane.”
Have you ever noticed that WNBA players don’t live in big mansions and ride in lavish cars like NBA players? The reason is that they can’t afford it. While 50 percent of NBA revenue goes to player salaries, WNBA players only receive an estimated 22 percent. The minimum starting salary in the NBA is nearly $600,000. In the WNBA: $50,000. Female basketball stars get paid much more overseas.

I’m a point guard on my high school team, which takes dedication and hard work. I can only imagine what it’s like for a WNBA player. I’m sure the top stars wonder why they’re spending so much time practicing to get paid so much less than an NBA benchwarmer.
To be sure, the NBA brings in more money than the WNBA. But the women put in the same amount of training, practice, travel, and time as the men, and should be compensated accordingly. Gender equality starts with income equality. Being a woman shouldn’t determine your pay rate.

WNBA players like Wilson and Skylar Diggins-Smith of the Dallas Wings have spoken out about the pay gap. But it feels like league officials haven’t heard them. They need to give players 50 percent of league revenue and find more marketing opportunities, such as sponsorships and commercials, for them. The league is trying to fix this, but it’s not moving fast enough, and it might take a strike to get equal pay.
And though the NBA’s Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook—as well as LeBron James—have attended games to show support, an NBA player shouldn’t have to show up to get people talking about the WNBA. This is sexism, plain and simple. Everyone should speak out.

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Titans Trounce Eagles, 27-10

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The Tennessee Titans kicked off their 2019 preseason with a resounding victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.  Photo Credit: Brian Rokus

By Ella Wilkerson

Philadelphia, PA.

Walking in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field, or the Linc, as native Philadelphians call it, you could feel the excitement of Eagles fans. Green was in view everywhere. It was just a preseason game be- tween the Eagles and the Tennessee Titans, but Philadelphia fans did not seem to care.
That level of energy from the fans didn’t transfer to the Eagles, who ended up losing their preseason opener 27-10 on Thursday.
With Nate Sudfeld starting at quarterback for the Eagles in place of Carson Wentz, the first quarter was a bit slow. Jake Elliott scored the first points of the game in the first quarter with a 53-yard field goal to give Philadelphia a 3-0 lead.
But Tennessee soon took control. In the second quarter, tight end MyCole Pruitt caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to give the Titans a lead, though Austin Barnard missed the extra point. The Eagles responded with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Nate Sudfeld to Marken Michel, but the Titans reclaimed the lead with Anthony Firkser’s 23-yard touchdown catch. A successful two-point conversion attempt gave Tennessee a 14-10 lead at the half.
Perhaps the most significant moment of the game came right before the quarter ended, when Sudfeld suffered a left wrist injury. The third-year quarterback was expected to take over as Philadelphia’s backup after Nick Foles’ departure this offseason, but he’ll reportedly miss several weeks while he recovers.
The Titans dominated the second half. Eagles fans started to leave during a scoreless third quarter, and two touchdown passes from Titans quarterback Logan Woodside in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach.
Meanwhile, Cody Kessler and rookie Clayton Thorson struggled at quarterback for Philadelphia. Kessler finished the game with three completions on six attempts, and Thorson completed two passes on nine attempts.
Could this preseason game be a glimpse of Philadelphia’s regular season? No one can say for sure, but Wentz is the starter, and if he stays healthy, they could have a chance to win some games. Otherwise, especially considering Wentz’s injury history, the season is not looking as pretty as 2017, which ended with the Eagles winning the Super Bowl.

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Local Dems Fear ‘Hot Mess’ Election

 

By Samanta Gonzalez Castro and Ella Wilkerson

Houston, TX and Philadelphia, PA

On a recent Friday afternoon, residents strolled Nassau Street in downtown Princeton, eating ice cream and sipping coffee while enjoying the serenity of Hinds Plaza.

It only took one phrase to break the mood: the 2020 election.

“It’s gonna be a hot mess,” said Deidra, a 72-year-old retired teacher.

If President Trump wins re-election, “I’ll move to Canada,” said a 52-year-old man named Dwight.

Sarah, an 18-year-old college freshman, simply said, “Oh,” as her face fell.

Election season has always stirred passions. But in the age of Don- ald Trump, Democrats are feeling drained and overwhelmed, according to a Princeton Summer Journal street survey of local residents. Some just stopped and walked away. Others said they were taking a break from politics after 2016. Still others were wad- ing back in, looking for the candidate with the best chance of beating Trump. (None wanted to use their full names.)

The sentiments of the three generations of Princeton voters in par- ticular reflects the larger currents shaping the presidential campaign.

Facing a field of 24 candidates, all three are sampling the field.

Dwight watched the first Democratic debate in June, looking for some- one to address immigra- tion and healthcare. After Julian Castro’s breakout moment, Dwight said he’d be “willing to vote” for the former San An- tonio mayor and onetime secretary of Housing and Urban Development. But healthcare is a key issue, and while he sup- ports “Medicare for all,” he wants any new plan to maintain the private in- surance system. “We do live in a capitalist nation,” he said.

Deidra agreed, arguing that many of the ideas of progressive contenders like Sen. Bernie Sanders are too liberal for many voters. She likes Joe Biden, largely because he was vice president under Barack Obama. Trump, she said, needs to be defeated because of his aggressive immigration policies, including the so- called Muslim ban.

“For the love of God,” Deidra said, “if he wins, there is no God.”

Sarah, a freshman at Princeton University, said she’s been less en- gaged in the 2020 cam- paign, but her favored candidates also reflect the tension between the progressive and centrist wings of the Democratic Party. “Bernie and Joe Biden,” she said, with- out hesitation. Sarah likes Biden because of his service in the Obama administration.

But for now, Sanders appears to have the edge. Sarah cited his proposal, first floated during his campaign in 2016, to pro- vide free public college tuition for all students.

A little more than a year before the 2020 election, these three different generations of Democrats show the po- litical uncertainty across the nation. But they are united in one belief: Anyone is better than Trump.

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Beyond platitudes, Ocasio-Cortez

By Aleina Dume

Richmond Hill, NY

When I first heard about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic candidate for New York’s 14th Congressional District, I was excited. She has advocated for issues I care about, like abolishing the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, reforming the prison system, and providing tuition-free public college nationwide. Like me, Ocasio-Cortez is a Latina who grew up in New York City. She embodies the demographics of my community. She looks more like a neighbor than a politician. Although I live in the 5th district, many of my family members live in the 14th. I was excited my community could vote for one of our own. 

With all of the media coverage surrounding her campaign, I tried to get more information on the specifics of her platform. On her website, Ocasio-Cortez advocates for things like a “Peace Economy,” and a national free public college tuition system. These are interesting ideas, but her website is light on details for how to finance or carry out these plans. 

In her proposal for higher education reform, for example, she references a “national education system,” which does not exist. She cites the University of California system as an example, but the system has struggled to remain affordable for many of its low-income students. The example also belies a broader problem with her plan, which is that tuition costs at public colleges are controlled by the state. She makes no explanation for how she would nationalize the system, which may not even be possible.

Similarly, she plans to turn America into a “Peace Economy” by bringing home our troops from engagements in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Though she is right to tap into America’s exhaustion with foreign wars, she does not lay out a plan for how to remove troops in a way that will maintain stability in the region.

A former community organizer and educator with real ties to her community, Ocasio-Cortez is qualified. But she is living in the world of ideas without providing specifics. It’s important that people feel demographically represented, however identity politics can only take a candidate so far. Their specific plans to address the issues on their platform is what should take them to Congress. 

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In thesis, Mueller stressed rule of law

By Ngan Chiem

Pennsauken, NJ 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been preparing for the Russia investigation for more than 50 years.

Mueller is currently investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including possible collusion by President Donald Trump’s campaign, but 52 years ago, when Mueller was an undergraduate at Princeton, he was fixated on another question.

The future FBI director, then 22, was thinking about Africa.    

In 1966, the International Court of Justice, the judicial branch of the United Nations, ruled on a case deciding whether South Africa had the right to expand apartheid—a system of racial segregation—to nearby Southwest Africa, now known as Namibia. At the time, South Africa had authority over the area, which came with the condition that South Africa would govern humanely and promote peace. It was this promise that encouraged Ethiopia and Liberia to bring the case to the United Nations, claiming apartheid was unethical.

Mueller’s thesis focused on one question: Did the International Court of Justice—or, the World Court —even have the right to rule on the case? The majority opinion at the time was that the Court did.

Historically, the World Court was designed to be a place where sovereign states could request the legal opinion of the United Nations. But the dissent argued that South Africa was completely within its rights under an agreement signed after South Africa took the territory after World War I.

In his thesis, Mueller recognized the legal strength of the dissenting judges’ opinion that the Court had no right to interfere with South Africa. But he also argued that the Court’s ethical responsibility to intervene was written into its mandate. In the face of strong legal arguments on both sides, Mueller turned his attention to the moral issue at the heart of the case: apartheid.

“He’s really saying, when the law is ambiguous, you should do the ethnically right thing,” said Mueller’s thesis adviser Richard Falk, an emeritus professor at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “That’s an issue that many lawyers don’t understand. And he understood it and at a very early age.”

In the end, Mueller concluded that despite the strength of the argument denying the court’s authority to rule on the issue, it was outweighed by the court’s ethical obligation to preserve human rights. The Court’s decision to take South Africa’s case, he wrote, “was a positive contribution … to the ultimate goal of a world peace founded upon a rule of law.”

Now, more than 50 years later, Mueller stands on the precipice of a decision in the Russia investigation, which is how to handle any potential misconduct by the President of the United States and his campaign. To predict a man’s judgement based on his writing from decades ago can be precarious, especially considering the high stakes. But at least during his undergraduate days, Mueller saw flexibility in the law. “What he wrote as a Princeton senior,” Falk said, remains “quite interesting—and relevant.”

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At Princeton, Mueller tackled rule of law issues in thesis

By Prettystar Lopez

Bronx, NY 

During his final year at Princeton University, in 1966, Robert Mueller wrote a senior thesis about the role of the law in a dramatic international crisis. Half a century later, as Special Counsel for the Russia investigation, Mueller finds himself at the center of another complex legal fight, fraught with political and ethical questions. It’s hard not to see parallels between the cases.

Mueller’s thesis concerned a narrow case with global implications. The World Court, or the International Court of Justice (ICJ), was called to rule on a legal complaint against South Africa’s extension of apartheid—the country’s brutal segregationist policy—to neighboring South West Africa (now Namibia). The Court was split on whether it even had the right to rule on the matter. Mueller, too, was conflicted. But he ultimately argued that the court’s job was not just to rule on narrow legal disputes, but large-scale moral questions, like apartheid.

Professor Richard Falk, an emeritus professor at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and Mueller’s thesis advisor at the time, thinks Mueller’s conclusion may shed light on his handling of the Russia investigation. “What he does is examine these legal arguments carefully and then he said, ‘This court is not just interested in legal analysis, it’s also a court set up to contribute to a more peaceful world, and to help with the promotion of human rights,’” Falk said. “The underlying question [of the Russia investigation] is, did [Trump] or did he not, do things that were subversive to the constitutional democracy? If [Mueller] was consistent with the way he handled his thesis, he would say, ‘We hold president Trump accountable for what he did because it’s very damaging to the quality of democracy.’”

But what if American democracy has bigger problems than Russia? While meddling in the 2016 election is antithetical to the democratic process, it is of little relevance to those who find themselves entangled with problems in their own communities. America isn’t an apartheid state, like South Africa was. Nor is it as racially segregated as when Mueller attended Princeton. But the rise of Donald Trump—with or without Russian help —has inflamed racial divisions that persist from that era.

Mueller built his thesis on the idea that legal bodies have moral responsibilities. And he may well apply those principles in his investigation. Yet, as a nation we face internal dilemmas around race and poverty that have barely been mitigated with the passing of time. To argue that our democracy is suddenly at stake, and that Mueller can save it, our country would have had to be doing well before. And it certainly wasn’t. Whatever Mueller concludes in the Russia investigation, there are broader societal problems he is unlikely to solve.

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Trump’s rhetoric is harmful, reporters say

By Kayla Ricumstrict

Detroit, MI

Though journalists are facing higher levels of mistrust and physical intimidation, two journalists say their work feels more important than ever.

In talks at The Princeton Summer Journalism Program, Gabriel Debenedetti of New York Magazine and Megan Garber of The Atlantic spoke to a small group of student journalists about the problems facing journalists in the age of Trump.

Criticism is a part of the job for journalists, but Trump’s words have made it worse. “The failing New York Times and the Amazon Washington Post do nothing but write bad stories, even on very positive achievements,” the president wrote in a recent tweet, “and they will never change!”

For some reporters, this mistrust has turned into intimidation—and even violence. At a recent Trump rally, a woman gave CNN reporters the finger. Verbal attacks and offensive gestures are only two of a number of issues journalists have to face. “I know a lot of political writers who’ve felt under physical threat,” said Debenedetti, who covers politics for New York. “That is not something we should get used to, and we should not just say ‘that’s just okay, that’s just what it is.’ We shouldn’t have to deal with that.”

Garber, the Atlantic staff writer, agreed. “There is a feeling of fear, I have to say, among journalists,” she said. “People will feel entitled to send me all kinds of terrible feedback, and I think that’s a very common experience for women. I’m pretty sure it’s worse for women of color.”

Intolerance for women and people of color is also a problem within the newsroom, said Garber. That has weakened the public’s trust in journalists because many people don’t see their stories represented. “Journalism has been a profession dominated by white men,” said Garber. “I think people now are responding to that narrowness by resenting journalism overall, but I don’t think that’s fair.” Despite that, Garber is excited to see more diversity. “We are getting more and more people into journalism, more and more voices,” she said. Those people are “able to share their own experiences to tell the stories of people whose stories weren’t always told before.”

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Beyond history, ‘Hamilton’ offers lesson in dangers of ambition

By Raho Faraha

San Jose, CA

You have married an Icarus,” sings Phillipa Soo broken-heartedly in the hit Broadway musical ‘Hamilton.’ Soo plays Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, who is devastated after finding out her husband had an affair with another woman. She continues:  “He has flown too close to the sun.”

This show is known for using an unconventional medium—musical theater—to teach history, and also for exclusively casting people of color to play America’s white founding fathers. But ‘Hamilton’ is also a lesson on the danger of ambition mixed with arrogance.

In the musical, Hamilton is portrayed as a highly-intelligent, headstrong, and ambitious character at the forefront of America’s birth. His ambition was fueled by a need to escape his penniless past in the Caribbean. To join New England’s elite faction, Hamilton becomes a major general in the Revolutionary War and marries Eliza Schuyler, the daughter of a decorated war hero. Over the course of his life, his drive turns him into a power-hungry politician who becomes Secretary of the Treasury. But he still wants more.

His arrogant and overly sensitive nature stem from a place of immense insecurity. But ambition can only hide deep-seated insecurities for so long. 

Icarus fell from grace when he ignored his father’s warnings, while Hamilton fell from grace when he published the Reynolds Pamphlet, needlessly exposing the intricate details of his affair and ensuing extortion. Both Icarus and Hamilton allowed their ambition to get the better of them. Ambition can be an asset, but these stories should serve as a warning: Don’t fly too close to the sun.

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Gen Z finds its voice in sublime ‘Eighth Grade’

By Lauren Herandez

Palm Harbor, FL

Imagine a 13-year-old girl vlogging to ultimately no viewers without a stitch of makeup. She talks about how to solve life issues and navigate daily struggles. This is not an uncommon trend among the younger generations; vlogging can help young people feel a sense of togetherness even when there may not be anyone else. ‘Eighth Grade’ is one of the first films to accurately represent what happens in many young teenagers’ lives instead of romanticizing them.

This is a nuanced coming-of-age story similar to those of John Hughes movies—with a 2018 spin. It thoughtfully captures what it is like for Generation Z, raising an important lesson not taught in other movies: It displays sexual misconduct between the main character, Kayla, a 13-year-old girl, and an older boy. That scene is hard to watch, but it was necessary: The feeling of her shame resonates because it is a realistic portrayal of the real world situations many women have experienced.

Kayla (Elsie Fisher) evokes the emotions many teenagers feel and captivates the audience with her portrayal of a teenager who experiences the effects of social media and anxiety. The character’s radical empathy juxtaposed with that of her peers makes her stand out—which illustrates how the younger generation is part of a disengaged culture. This is apparent when Kayla hands a note to her peer, who does not look up from a phone.

This movie also displays the dynamic of a father-daughter relationship. The movie displays not only the child’s difficulties, but the parent’s struggles raising a child. The film explores the ultimate bond with a heartfelt talk many children experience.

The director, Bo Burnham, a famous YouTuber, was well-equipped to direct this movie. The rhetoric used throughout the movie and the vlogs conveys Burnham’s understanding of the age demographic. Burnham made a movie about the struggles of vlogging—which he also knows—from an adolescent perspective while incorporating real life generational issues many struggle with.

‘Eighth Grade’ lives up to expectations, demonstrating its cultural awareness far better than typical movies.

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Imagining an end to police indifference

By Emily E. Navarette 

Los Angeles, CA

Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz was walking down a street in the Bronx, New York, when members of the Trinitarios gang spotted him. The 15-year-old, an aspiring detective and member of the NYPD Explorers Program, had been on his way to see a friend on June 20. Eight members of the gang—all grown men—savagely attacked him, stabbing him multiple times.

Guzman-Feliz collapsed outside St. Barnabas Hospital, blood streaming down his legs. People frantically called for help, but nobody came to his rescue. He died that night.

A video of his attack soon went viral. And another video, of the bloody aftermath, showed two officers standing to the side instead of helping him. This led to an NYPD review. “As part of the stabbing investigation,” ABC 7 reported, “the department became aware that two officers did not provide medical aid to Guzman-Feliz when he collapsed outside St. Barnabas Hospital.”

Police ineptitude does not only include excessive force, but also neglect of those in their community who require help. Though the police did not harm Junior, their neglect as bystanders may have hastened his death. It’s an officer’s job to protect everyone in their community. Police officers in Junior’s case had the opportunity to offer medical attention, but apparently chose not to.

Minority neighborhoods often have slower police response rates than affluent communities. According to a New York Post analysis of city data, ambulances in the Bronx arrived at emergencies, on average, in 14 minutes and 29 seconds. Meanwhile, Staten Island residents waited only 10 minutes and 26 seconds. With that difference, a medical situation can escalate and worsen—meaning some will die.

This was true in Laquan McDonald’s case. McDonald was a black teenager in Chicago. After a cop shot him 16 times, officers did not give him any aid. “In the dash cam video,” Fox 32 Chicago reported, “another officer walks up to McDonald’s body, kicks a knife out of his hand, but offers no first aid.” 

It is clear that many officers across the country show little concern for minorities. They are sworn to serve and protect us without discrimination. They should be held accountable for negligence, and fired if they don’t do their jobs. Our lives depend on it.

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Meeting a Trump voter

By Maliyah Lanier 

Philadelphia, PA

“He spoke for the working man.”

“Hillary could have won if she appealed to the everyday American.”

“He was the only candidate that advocated for the blue-collar worker.”

During my first ever experience in political interviewing, I was faced with the task of being introduced to the unimaginable. Since the 2016 presidential election, the stereotypical image of a Trump supporter has fit simple characteristics that are often accompanied by irresponsible pre-judgment. Racism, misogyny and xenophobia are associated with individuals who support Trump. To me, as a 17-year-old African American, and an aspiring political journalist from inner-city Philadelphia, these assumptions seemed logical. Until last week, when I learned that being a Trump voter and being completely irrational were not synonymous.

While roaming the streets of Princeton, New Jersey, a mostly liberal community, I asked strangers their political stance on President Trump. I led with two questions: “What do you like about Trump?” and “What do you hate about Trump?” Most of the responses included reasonable dislike for the president, recalling some of his more destructive policies such as the travel ban and the separation of immigrant families at the US-Mexico border. When I asked what people liked about the president, I mostly received answers like “nothing” and a few jokes, until I proceeded to interview a family sitting at a table outside a restaurant.

A white woman, dressed casually with short blonde hair, greeted me with welcoming eyes—excited because she herself had studied journalism in college. She sat with her 93-year-old father and kindly included him in the conversation. Claudia George, a 59-year-old from West Virginia, was the nicest person I met that evening. When asked about her political party, she proudly presented herself as an independent. Because of her warm, welcoming manner, I wasn’t expecting the answers she gave to my questions. She explained that she had “struggled with her vote” and that her moral identity ultimately determined her decision. Trump was her only option. He had been the only candidate, she said, that advocated for working-class America. While this reason isn’t uncommon within the pro-Trump community, her position didn’t offend me or threaten me like I expected.

When asked about the Trump administration’s recent immigration policies, she stated, “I’m not for families being separated. I am a human being.” When discussing immigrants, she explained, “Many of them are hard working.” When discussing education, she exclaimed, “Build more schools, not walls.” My first encounter with a Trump supporter wasn’t expected. Nor was it distasteful.

As politics has become a conversation in hell and Trump has become the poster child of prejudice, the idea of productive conversation has been lost. Conversation free of logical fallacies and dismissal seemed impossible to me. We indulge ourselves in false premises as we go into defensive mode while trying to make people understand the struggles we face. Therefore, we become lost in justification and the slightest disagreement causes extreme uproar. While there is no excuse for the constant discrimination and ignorance displayed by President Trump, we should be open to listening to his supporters. Everyone’s story is different.

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SJP students speak

STAFF EDITORIAL

While spending ten days at Princeton University, we participated in a program designed to give us insight into multiple areas of journalism. Toward the end of the program, we spent some time talking about what we enjoyed and what can be improved. We are appreciative for the support from the counselors and speakers, and for the knowledge we gained. We also think that improvements can be made regarding scheduling, interaction time, and campus experience.

SJP’s reliable counselors and encouraging support system were major highlights of the program. We really enjoyed having SJP alumni as part of the staff; they provided the “inside scoop” on what to expect from SJP. The staff constantly encouraged us to believe in the potential of our abilities; we found their guidance on the college application process very insightful and full of tips. The counselors explained that the second half of the program starts after students leave Princeton’s campus, when students will be in constant contact with their designated counselor, who will assist them through the college application process. The program also provided us with a network of sources to help navigate journalism, which was also very useful. Students attended varying workshops, on topics including photojournalism, food journalism, sports journalism and investigative journalism. Students also attended talks on basic skills that a journalist will need—things such as interviewing, researching, remaining ethical, and writing opinions. After experiencing something new every day, students are now prepared to succeed in the world of journalism. 

As a result of the super productive schedule that we had the opportunity to experience, lack of sleep was also a factor. Sleep deprivation is common and a genuine concern among students. Our argument is that, if you are going to have us working all day, at least supply coffee every morning. Lol. Moreover, students would have appreciated a full tour of the campus. Most of the program took place in two locations: the dining hall and the classroom. A campus tour would have provided students with a general idea of Princeton, and the beautiful aspects that make it a great place. Group discussions were popular among students, and we suggest adding more discussion time for bonding between students and counselors. Similarly, students wished for more social collaboration among their peers. Even though students were interested in listening to speakers during the workshops, we would have liked more time to interact with each other.

Over the past ten days, we—students from all over the country—have had the opportunity to learn about a field that interests us. We know we will be assisted in our college admission process this fall, and we now know the importance of sleep. We return home with strong mindsets—and the ability to seek knowledge and to document the world around us.

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It is time to do away with the SAT

By Aurora Rivera

Los Angeles, CA

I am a rising senior at an under-resourced charter school in Los Angeles. Our school currently offers an SAT-prep course that all students are required to take. Unfortunately, the teachers in this course were inexperienced and didn’t prepare us sufficiently for the exam. I understood at the time that SAT and ACT scores were a major factor in college admissions, so as a result I became extremely stressed and worried after the class. I was scared about not being able to compete with other students who were better prepared and had higher test scores. My “college preparatory” school made me feel as if I didn’t have a chance in the battle for college admissions. 

Bates College conducted a 20-year study about whether making SAT scores optional in college admissions affected the quality of admitted students. William C. Hiss, Bates’ former vice president of admissions, asked, “Does standardized testing narrow access to higher education, significantly reducing the pool of students who would succeed if admitted?” The study found that the difference in graduation rates between applicants who did and did not submit test scores was 0.1 percent. and the difference in GPAs was 0.05 on a four-point scale. 

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Princeton boasts dueling acai options

By Daniela Vivas

Arlando, FL

The acai craze is nationwide, and Princeton is no exception. A few steps away from the Princeton University campus are two popular acai bowl eateries, both family-run businesses owned by working moms who used to have 9-to-5 jobs.

Haydee Kapetanakis, 49, co-owns Frutta Bowls, on Nassau Street, with her husband, George, but she previously worked in human resources at a pharmaceutical company. She and her kids, who are 12 and 9, first tried acai four years ago and loved it. The store, which Kapetanakis calls their “little baby,” opened its doors in March. She’s very proud of providing jobs for 22 local residents.

A short distance away from Frutta Bowls is another well-known local business called Tico’s, which started in 2006 as the dream of a Costa Rican man and became the life of a whole family. Renee De Bernard, 48, co-owns the eatery with her husband, Ammel.

Tico’s started as a Latin food restaurant known for their tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and salads. De Bernard kept her day job, in accounting, until Tico’s was established enough for her to quit. When one of her customers introduced her to acai bowls two years ago, she added it to the menu. The superfood eventually became so popular that the kitchen ran out of space, and the couple decided to shrink the food choices on their menu.

Being part of the community for 12 years requires a lot of time and effort. De Bernard, her husband, and their two sons, 15 and 11, participate every Saturday in the West Windsor Community Farmers’ Market. At the market, the family offers acai bowls, smoothies, and juices from a food truck. It’s a way for the family to promote their business while staying involved in the community. In addition to the weekly market and their regular customers, the owners rely on their sons’ social-media skills to help them spread the word on Instagram and Facebook.

Despite two different initial approaches—Frutta Bowls jumped right into the acai trend, while Tico’s evolved from a Latin food restaurant—both businesses incorporate similar formulas for success: community outreach, family, and acai.

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In kneeling, Kaepernick and other players show patriotism

By Jayda Jones 

Brownsville, PA

The last few words of the national anthem—the home of the brave—could refer to Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, or any of the dozens of other National Football League players who have protested police brutality by kneeling during the song. Two years after Kaepernick first declined to stand during the pregame rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” NFL players are still exercising their first-amendment rights to demonstrate against racism. 

Some say the anthem is no time to protest. But far from being unpatriotic, the act of kneeling is a respectful form of civil disobedience that protests the fact that America does not treat its citizens equally. 

It’s important to remember why Kaepernick started his protest. A few weeks before Kaepernick first demonstrated during the anthem, Alton Sterling, an unarmed African-American man, was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “This is what lynchings look like in 2016,” Kaepernick said. Other players soon followed.

Peaceful protest, even during the national anthem, is protected under the First Amendment.  But while the players clearly have a right to speak, it’s important that we listen.

For too long, the voices of people of color in America have been overlooked, which is why kneeling is so important. It’s showing that we as African Americans cannot praise or pledge our full hearts to a country that is condoning the murder of our people. It’s showing that while we respect our country enough to refrain from speaking during the anthem, we still demand to be heard through our actions to protest this long history of injustice.

Kaepernick’s loudest critic has been President Trump, who has pushed the NFL to suspend players who protest during the national anthem. “Find another way to protest,” Trump tweeted last week. But the protest’s goals were never to disrespect. The true betrayal of America is the brutality and injustice many citizens continue to experience. 

The issue of police brutality has instilled fear in the black community, leading many of them to flee when a policeman is in sight lest they be targeted and terrorized. Of course, this only makes the situation worse and leads policemen to target black individuals more, but what are you supposed to do when the color of your skin is a danger to you, and apparently, a danger to someone else? 

We protest for 17-year-old high school student Antwon Rose, unarmed when he was killed by police in East Pittsburgh, Pa. We protest for Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist shot by police in North Miami, Fla., while helping a patient. We protest for Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark and too many others. African Americans are still being brutally and wrongfully murdered, and justice is rare. That’s why we protest. Until I, as a black female, or my brother, as a black male, can comfortably exist in a room with a police officer, or walk into a store without being accused of stealing, we will protest. Until society starts treating African-Americans like first-class citizens, we will protest.

You may not understand it, you may stand, but don’t be surprised if I kneel. That’s patriotism.