Lawnparties, Sept. 20: On Prospect Avenue, all was well. Clothes were pastel. The sun shone bright and warm.
But as dusk drew its curtain on the end-of-summer blowout, one could just make out, on the horizon, something hazy, new, indistinct. Perhaps it was just a flareup at a refinery down the turnpike. Maybe, though, it was Change.
“President Tilghman and I have decided to form a task force composed of students, faculty, staff, and alumni to explore the relationships between the University and the eating clubs,” Connor Diemand-Yauman ’10, the Undergraduate Student Government president, wrote in a Sept. 17 e-mail to students.
Developments in recent years, such as the inclusion of membership fees in financial aid, have improved the relationship between the 10 eating clubs and the University — a relationship that has had its ups and downs. At a time when the economic downturn has challenged both institutions, this cooperation should be expanded, those involved with the project said.
“There have [historically] been a number of ways that the University has been helpful to the clubs in addressing some of their financial concerns,” University Vice President and Secretary Bob Durkee ’69, the task force’s chairman, told The Daily Princetonian. “I think one of the things that we’ll want to look at is what is the impact likely to be of current and maybe projected financial challenges on the clubs.”
The yearlong task force, which includes Diemand-Yauman and seven other students among its 18 members, is prepared to address a wide range of topics, including the clubs’ application processes.
Though club officers reacted cautiously to news of the task force, declining to speak for publication to the Prince or to PAW, some students welcomed the new undertaking.
“I really approve of this,” said Bilhuda Rasheed ’10, who sees the task force as an opportunity to address the concerns of unaffiliated students. “I’m not a big fan of the eating-club culture.”
But Shivani Sud ’12, who is considering joining a club, was skeptical: “You can’t expect eating clubs to change what they’ve been doing for years.”
For Zak Walker ’10, a member of Tower Club, the prospect of any dialogue was encouraging enough. “A sort of divide has been formed” between the administration and clubs, he said. “I think [the task force] is a good idea.”
By Isabel Pike ’11
Josue Lajeunesse is a lead janitor in Princeton’s building services department. Recently he took on another role as a featured subject in The Philosopher Kings, a documentary film that premiered June 18.
“No matter what happens, it is meant to happen,” said Lajeunesse, one of eight college custodians whose stories make up The Philosopher Kings.
The title comes from Plato, but the film endorses a far broader definition of philosopher. “Philosophers are all around us if we take the time to listen to people who we more often than not forget to acknowledge,” said Greg Bennick, co-producer of the film.
After a series of screen tests and interviews, Lajeunesse was chosen for the film because he offered “the perfect combination of a compelling story and the ability to tell it,” Bennick said.
Lajeunesse, a native of Haiti, runs a taxi service in addition to his work at the University. With income from two jobs, he supports five children who live with him and helps his home village in southern Haiti, where he and his brother run a clean-water project that their father started.
The filmmakers traveled to Haiti with Lajeunesse to see the project; it is featured in The Philosopher Kings and will be the focus of their next film.
An assistant supervisor at Whitman College who has worked at Princeton for 14 years, Lajeunesse is an honorary member of the Class of 1998. “I never feel disregard from the students or the staff,” he said. “People respect you the way you respect yourself.”
He described Princeton as a tree, one whole with many parts: “Everyone has to work hard to make Princeton great, from the president to the last employee.”
In a scene from the film, Lajeunesse stresses the value of a well-rounded life. “If you don’t have happiness, you don’t have a life,” he said, sharing a laugh with his son. “To be successful, you need the balance inside and outside.”
The film holds an important message, said Jonathan Baer, director of building services. “The folks who provide service duties on this campus have a great deal of wisdom,” he said. “They are not just men and women wearing green uniforms.”