I was interested to read Alan McKenney ’75’s letter of April 6 decrying the attitudes of elitism allegedly fostered at Princeton. While Mr. McKenney’s broader point — that Princeton teaches students primarily to concern themselves with the interests/concerns of Princeton University due to some tribal class preference — may well be correct, that he managed to derive this from “town-gown” relations does not lend credibility to the argument.
Princeton Borough occupies one of the toniest ZIP codes in New Jersey, with very high median household income and home values. Of course, any drive up Witherspoon Street will show that the borough — despite its progressive politics — is a shockingly segregated community with a real gap between the (mostly) white “haves” and the (mostly) African-American and Hispanic “have-nots.”
Perhaps if the Salvadoran community were opposed to the “arts neighborhood” proposed by the University, then Mr. McKenney would have a point about “elite” Princeton behaving arrogantly toward the other. Yet the March 2 Campus Notebook article about the arts center offers no proof of this and, indeed, posits that moving the Dinky might foster “retail development” that presumably would favor the local working poor. In the end, I doubt that the local Hispanic immigrants stand to lose nearly as much as the wealthy of Hodge Road and Library Place who paid handsomely for — among other things — the convenience of the Dinky as we now know it.
Is Princeton elitist? Perhaps. Even if it is, that has little bearing on an intra-elite problem like planning to move the Dinky, which should be evaluated on the merits of the plan rather than on which very privileged groups are behaving badly toward each other.