During my time at Princeton, I lived in a fetid, cramped, beer-drenched all-male entryway in Joline called the Monastery; a one-room double in the same dorm with a low, triangle-shaped ceiling and a private hallway (don’t ask); a sweaty (even in winter) Laughlin double in the “slums”; an air-conditioned, antiseptic Scully semi-single; and finally a tenement-style studio on Nassau Street. I signed up for a room in Brown before taking time off from school, played video games in a palatial Blair quad, walked across the street to do my laundry in Holder while living off campus, sang with the Nassoons in the 1901 basement, crashed in Dod during Reunions, and made safari-like journeys to Saturday-night bashes in Wilson and Sunday brunches in Forbes.
Princeton does well to offer its students such a wide variety of residential options, and the effort that goes into designing, constructing, and maintaining the places where Tigers live, work, and play is more than appropriate. But administrators should not lose sight of the fact that a building itself is secondary to what happens inside.
The new Butler College may be shiny, green, and extremely expensive, but I would bet dollars to donuts that its current residents will have no more or less fun than my colleagues who started their Princeton careers in the New New Quad. Parties are just as loud in a dorm with air conditioning, late-night bull sessions are no less enjoyable under waffle ceilings, and midterm cramming is no more tolerable under a leafy, carbon-neutral roof.