I just finished your piece concerning the selection process for eating clubs. Supposedly a task force concluded that the bicker process is “harmful and cruel,” and can “leave lasting emotional scars.” This follows on a piece you ran earlier this year concerning a public forum on campus concerning the grade-deflation policy (On the Campus, Feb. 3). In that piece, as I recall, some students complained that the failure to accord everyone an “A” created competition, which was implied to be awful.
Does the University really act “in the nation’s service” by coddling the immature? Shouldn’t it be inculcating that competition is a positive thing? Perhaps the students “scarred” by their rejection from an eating club will have some sympathy for, and therefore be able to work collegially with, the 90 percent of applicants who were rejected when they applied to Princeton. Perhaps the students who have to earn their grades will learn that life is a constant competition.
Indeed, I recommend to the emotionally fragile another PAW article, “Nothing Succeeds Like Failure” by W. Barksdale Maynard ’88 (cover story, April 7), that should be required reading for all undergraduates. For example: “They [the professors interviewed] told candid stories of personal struggles and how, in the worst setbacks, they paradoxically pulled off big discoveries.” If we don’t challenge people to fail, then we, and they, will never learn their limits. As that article makes evident, introspection is much more valuable than unearned self-esteem. The first time a person is told that their work is not acceptable should not be when they are in their first full-time job.