The report that Brooke Shields ’87 would be this year’s Class Day speaker (Campus Notebook, May 11) mentioned the buttons worn by many of Ms. Shields’ classmates at her own Commencement. To provide some additional background:
When on break away from Princeton during my freshman year (1985–86), I often found that, upon learning that I attended Princeton, new acquaintances would ask, “Do you know Brooke Shields”? Unable to truthfully answer “yes,” I came up with some pat answers (e.g. “Brooke who?”), but repeatedly answering the question grew tiresome.
Surmising that many other Princeton students felt likewise, and having noticed that seemingly every group or activity at Princeton merited a T-shirt, I decided to utilize that medium to help my similarly beleaguered fellows publicly air their weariness — and to help pay for the plane ticket for a leave-of-absence year abroad I’d decided to take in 1986–87. Although I’d never heard of things like “right of publicity,” I still thought it best to avoid specifically naming Ms. Shields, and chose instead to use the more innocuous “her,” concluding that my target audience would know exactly to whom “her” referred (see photo below).
Before leaving the country, I spent freshman week on campus, sleeping on a friend’s couch and hawking my wares. The latter was done somewhat surreptitiously: Not being the Student T-Shirt Agency, I lacked the University’s blessing to sell on campus. The shirts were a hit, netting about an 80 percent return on investment, and evidently inspired the buttons mentioned in The New York Times article about ’87’s graduation — and in the aforementioned PAW blurb. My only regret was not making more shirts.