As a recent graduate, I was disturbed to read professors George and Londregan’s recent letter (March 4). Premarital sexual activity seemed an odd topic for an alumni publication; these culture wars begin and end far beyond the Princeton campus. Indeed, I am not entirely sure what this letter aimed to say. That the University “stigmatize[s] traditional ideas about virtue, decency, and moral integrity” appears less likely than that some quarters find untraditional ideas on these concerns both discomfiting and philosophically unwelcome. Nor am I sure what this selective litany of details meant to accomplish. The calm language here ill-serves the positions in question; moreover, the absence of reasoning undercuts the presumed humanism of higher education. And regarding Tom Wolfe’s “best-selling” novel I Am Charlotte Simmons, the sales figures themselves may have spoken well of its topical relevance or accuracy (cf. Edward Wyatt, New York Times Feb. 9, 2005). The reams of remaindered copies in local bookstores certainly did.
To suggest college life alone intensifies or somehow causes promiscuity remains an undignified and facile argument. At Princeton, in particular, I should think this fails to grant due credit to the conscious character of its students, among the most motivated and self-disciplined in the world. Similarly, I do not understand just how the administration should support “romantic relationships with an eye toward marriage” beyond loosening the Chapel’s spring schedule. College is not “big government.” Allowing independence implies neither encouragement nor neglect. It entails trust.
Every year, an accomplished body of adults walks out from the Fitz-Randolph Gate. The decency and, indeed, courage to treat them as such comes from four years of mutual respect and support accorded by the University administration, faculty, Health Services, and the student body itself. Again, speaking as a recent graduate, I believe Princeton fulfills this trust rather magnificently.