Corrections or additions?
This article by Richard K. Rein was prepared for the May 29, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Join in the P-Rade
Maybe you will see me in the P-Rade. If you happen to
stop by the Princeton University campus this Saturday, June 1, at
around 2 p.m., maybe you will see me and my two kids marching along
with the rest of the Class of 1969 in the annual procession of gaudy
— but somehow heartwarming — orange and black costumes.
As much or even more than the vaunted undergraduate senior thesis
requirement, Reunions have always been one of the unique characteristics
of the Princeton experience. Name another college where the graduating
classes return every year — not just every five years — to
renew the old college ties. And part of the charm for area residents
has been that, in exchange for putting up with crowded streets and
clogged parking lots, you could also walk around the campus, enjoy
the sights and sounds, sit in on some of the many panel discussions
featuring prominent Princeton alumni, and even catch up with an old
friend or acquaintance at the P-Rade.
I think it was in 1990, when I stood in the big crowd and watched
as the Class of 1965 walked by. When Senator Bill Bradley came into
view I gave a holler in my most raucous, sports fan voice: "Hey,
Bradley! You still playin’ for the Knicks?" Bradley looked back
over his shoulder: "No," he replied. "Too slow." After
the P-Rade I ran into Bradley, to whom I been introduced on several
occasions over the years. Bradley, reputed to have a photographic
memory for names and faces, spoke first: "Rich Rein," he exclaimed
in mock anger. "You’re the one who heckled me."
That’s Princeton Reunions. Over the years, though, things have changed
somewhat. New concerns and liabilities regarding alcohol consumption
have been largely responsible. The beer that used to flow freely along
the P-Rade route is highly discouraged. The parties under the tents
that high school kids used to crash with impunity now are much more
tightly guarded. Once inside, cordoned off lines to the beer kegs
are accessible only to those with institutional wristbands that are
checked like boarding passes at the international terminal.
So as U.S. 1 edited the story that appears on page 38 of this issue,
about the piano and vocal concert being presented by the Class of
1952 on Friday, May 31, at Alexander Hall, the question was raised:
Is this event open to the public? The university’s own website (www.princeton.edu)
said yes: "The event is open to all, and the public is warmly
invited to attend."
That policy seems to jibe with the practice. If you could get away
from work on a Thursday or Friday, you could stop in on some fascinating
presentations. This week, for example, Professor Burt ("Random
Walk") Malkiel leads a panel on "Investment Directions in
the 21st Century;" Hodding Carter III ’57, former State Department
spokesman in the Carter administration, participates in a discussion
of "New World Order? The Emerging Geo-Political Structure;"
former Secretary of State George P. Shultz ’42 joins a panel on the
Middle East; and Meg Whitman ’77, CEO of eBay, helps address the issue
of "The Internet: Transforming Commerce."
And James Baker ’52 will spend the weekend on campus, beginning with
a ceremony at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 31, when he officially donates
his papers associated with his service as U.S. Secretary of State
and other positions during the course of his long career in government.
It’s all heady stuff and in the old days it was all there for the
picking for the intellectually motivated folks who read the fine print
of U.S. 1’s events listings and who probe the depths of the university
But this year, when asked point-blank if the Class of ’52 concert
was open to the public, the question got kicked around the halls and
came back: No, the public is not invited.
That response may be as much U.S. 1’s fault as the university’s: If
you have to ask the question (and our reporter had not seen the warm
welcome on the website) then the answer has to be no. If you don’t
ask and just show up and act as mature as any Princeton alumnus (which
gives you some leeway), then you would be welcome.
While all of us who live in town have our moments of frustration with
Princeton University, I still feel we should give the university generally
high marks as a neighbor. Especially in recent years the public has
been "warmly invited" to a host of lectures and performances
across the campus. As multi-million dollar conglomerates go, the place
is exceedingly accessible. After September 11, for example, when the
university set up a hotline to discuss concerns, our reporter phoned
to see what kinds of calls were coming in. The person on the other
end that Sunday afternoon was Shirley Tilghman, the university president.
So — weather and gimpy knee willing — I will be at the P-Rade
on Saturday. If you see me, give me a shout. If you feel like it,
jump on in and walk along for a few steps. It’s not a military procession
at West Point, after all, it’s just the P-Rade.
Corrections or additions?
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