The Class of 2011 celebrates at the Fountain of Freedom outside the Woodrow Wilson School.
Ricardo Barros

On May 27, the day before the P-rade, members of the Class of 2011 assembled for a more per­sonal procession: the senior victory lap.

“Despite all the hurdles we’ve faced along the way — Dean’s Dates, grade deflation, snow days — we’ve accomplished a lot in our time at Princeton,” class president Alex Rosen wrote in an e-mail to all classmates. “So we certainly deserve our moment to take over the campus and to raucously celebrate our collective success.”

The event, previously held in 2008, was also a last chance for seniors to snag free Princeton gear: Class officers handed out “2011”-branded T-shirts, sunglasses, and water bottles to some of the more than 400 seniors gathered in the East Pyne courtyard.

At 4 p.m., the group marched out of East Pyne with purpose: It was a sweltering day, and the victory lap’s end point, the Woodrow Wilson School fountain, promised cool relief.  

After an obligatory circling of Nassau Hall, the seniors headed down McCosh Walk toward the Woodrow Wilson School. Alumni passersby shouted encouragement, to which seniors added their own claps and cheers. The Princeton University Band urged the throng onward with a rendition of Foreigner’s “Eye of the Tiger.”

Once they arrived at the fountain, seniors hugged, splashed, and tossed around “Class of 2011” beachballs (theirs to keep for free, of course). Victory was complete.

But victory over what, exactly?

“Over life!” said senior Neha Bansal.  

“Over Princeton,” said classmate Natasha Benacerraf.

Senior Alyssa Pont was more conciliatory. “I felt like I was triumphing [both] over and with Princeton,” Pont said as she stood on the fountain’s steps. “It’s not like we were enemies. There were good times.”

Adam Tanaka, also a senior, said that those good times made the event feel “kind of undeserved ... because it was like a victory lap for the four funnest years of your life.”

Kaitlyn Hamilton said that while she often had run through the Woody Woo fountain during her four years at Princeton, this visit stood out from all the others. “This is the best it’s ever felt,” Hamilton said as she waded calf-deep in victory. “Because we’re just so happy! Also, the water isn’t as cold as usual.”

A plan to foster student leaders

By Angela Wu ’12

The recent report by the Steering Committee on Undergraduate Women’s Leadership opened a new conversation about leadership on campus — and particularly, about what it means to be a leader.  

The committee argued for a broader definition of leadership, beyond “the most visible campuswide organizations,” but also hoped that women, many of whom said they preferred working behind the scenes, would seek more high-profile positions.

Leadership for Change (LFC), a new partnership between students and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, takes a wider view.

The initiative, led by Claire Cole ’12 and Alexandra Landon ’12, aims to develop a campus community of student leaders and “a Princeton culture in which leaders are not defined by position or title, but rather by students’ ability and motivation to effect change within their organization, community, or field.” LFC will connect student ­leaders to each other and help them develop critical leadership skills.

“The report drew attention to the need for leadership training, and for us to think more critically about how we define leadership on campus,” Cole said. She and Landon began to develop LFC months before the report was released, but Cole said the group was excited about the report and hoped participants would be able to respond.  

The initiative launches its “peer to peer” pilot program next fall, which will give the leaders of a diverse set of 22 student groups opportunities to meet, offer feedback on leadership styles, and trade tips about everything from running effective meetings to selecting new officers. The program will be open to all student groups in spring 2012.  

“Through this kind of exchange, and the sharing of best practices among groups, I see Leadership for Change as the initiative that will bring about a new way of approaching leadership at Princeton,” said Jack Ching ’13, who helped develop LFC.

Members were working on that at a Reunions breakfast, where alumni and students stopped by to share ideas.  

At the event, Jacob Kosior ’10 and Brendan Daley ’10 wrote down advice from their first year as class reunion chairs. “I guess I’m just surprised this didn’t happen sooner,” Kosior said. “It seems like a natural fit at Princeton.”