This week, Beloit Collegeâs annual Mindset List noted several interesting tidbits about members of the incoming Class of 2018: Since most were born in 1996, their lives never overlapped with those of Tupac Shakur or Carl Sagan; the terrorist attacks of 2001 happened when they were in kindergarten; and theyâve never known a world without The Daily Show.
But what was happening at Princeton when the Class of â18 was still in diapers? Quite a lot: 1996 is the year when the Tigers upset UCLA in menâs basketball and said farewell to Pete Carril; President Bill Clinton delivered the Commencement address as Princeton celebrated its bicenquinquagenary (250th anniversary); and alumnus Richard Smalley *74 shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of a novel type of carbon molecules. The Pyne Prize that year went to Derek Kilmer â96, now a U.S. Congressman from the state of Washington, and Daniel Walter â96, who went on to earn a Ph.D. from Princetonâs physics department. Kilmerâs Congressional colleague Jared Polis â96 also was on campus. PAW wrote a column about his ambitious course load, which included 25 classes in his first two years (just over six per semester). [caption id="attachment_9625" align="alignright" width="300"] Princeton fans at the football teamâs final game in Palmer Stadium. (PAW Archives)[/caption] Getting into Princeton had ânever been tougher,â PAW reported in May, noting that just 11.3 percent of applicants were admitted to the Class of 2000. (The Class of 2018 also had a record-setting admit rate: 7.28 percent.) The trustees approved increases in tuition and fees, raising the cost of one year at Princeton to $28,325; the endowment reached $3.9 billion, fourth largest in the nation at the time (at the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year, it was up to $18.2 billion). Princetonâs 1996 menâs lacrosse team won the NCAA title â the first in what would be a three-year reign â while womenâs lacrosse lost in the Final Four. Football played its final season in Palmer Stadium, a 3-7 campaign that ended with a loss to Dartmouth. A campus poll found that Princeton students preferred Clinton to Bob Dole in the â96 presidential race (60 percent to 26 percent, with 1 percent supporting Ross Perot and the rest undecided). The campaign generated little enthusiasm from undergrads, according to PAW student columnist Jeremy Caplan â97. âIf politics were a religion,â he wrote, âPrinceton would be an atheistâs dream.â