Each P-rade I look forward to the visuals and the cheers of the increasingly diverse classes as we march toward the present. The eloquent, thoughtful, and passionate views expressed in PAW’s special issue on race paint a much more complex picture.
Much has changed. My class had a handful of fellow Asian-Americans and two African-Americans — one of whom left freshman year. Professor Fritz Mote tailored for me courses of language, history, and literature that gave substance and understanding to my pride of being Chinese when everything else around me pulled toward assimilation. In essence, I had a one-on-one introduction to Asian-American studies. Not only did it not distract from my engineering and other humanities studies, athletic pursuits, and forging lifelong friendships, it enriched my treasured Princeton experience. The need to understand diverse backgrounds is no longer limited to one’s own heritage. Asian-American-studies courses will benefit all who hope to thrive in a global society of equals.
As an interested alum and parent, I have observed how the University has addressed the challenges and the opportunities to provide an environment that celebrates the differences and builds on the similarities that diversity brings. It remains an evolutionary process that is not without detractors.
However, we have witnessed the power of equal opportunity and the results of collaboration. Diversity is a necessary and enriching ingredient for the University to continue to develop leaders in every field.
Princeton’s student body today bears little resemblance to what I imagined at my commencement. As I look forward to my 50th reunion in May, I am no more capable of imagining how our University will evolve in the next 50 years. However, when I march along the P-rade, I will be reassured that we are headed in the right direction. I envy, support, and applaud those who will create the future Princeton.