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Dec.9, 2009

Vol. 110, No. 6

Spending money on comfy dorms

In response to: Not your parent's dorm room

I was informed and entertained by W. Barksdale Maynard’s article on Princeton dorm rooms. What really riveted me was his report that expensive construction to provide comfortable dorm rooms for students has been “spurred in part by fierce competition for top applicants.” I also was disturbed to read the suggestion that such expense was driven by the expectations of “parents spending more than $50,000 a year.”

First, is Princeton at such a disadvantage in recruiting that it must spend a lot of money to make comfy dorms to attract applicants? (The acceptance percentages suggest that Princeton has its choice of applicants.)

Second, is Princeton spending a lot of money on making comfy dorms to attract the children of only the wealthy, who can afford unsubsidized $50,000 in annual college expenses? I certainly hope not.

Let’s be clear: I am not supporting a return to chamber pots that are thrown out of upper-story windows. But the notion that Princeton has to provide upscale housing in order to attract applicants is nonsense. Yes, Jersey in late May can be hot and humid, but does knowledge of that deter students from applying? I think not.

Norman R. Williams ’65 p’01
Rye, Colo.

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