Publisher’s Letter: Challenging and Constructive Dialogue

Congratulations!

On behalf of the staff and editors here at the Princeton Tory, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the class of 2016. As I’m sure you already know, you’ve chosen a wonderful university to attend for the next four years, and I hope that in your time here you will be able to discover in new ways just how special a place Princeton is.

One of the many benefits of coming to an institution like Princeton is the opportunity to grow intellectually through dialogue with one’s fellow students. Such dialogue can exist in all sorts of places, and can cover all sorts of subjects, and each forum and topic can be memorable and formative in its own way: from vigorous academic discussions on racial triangulation in precept to dorm-room foreign-policy debates that go on into all hours of the night. No matter the manner of such conversation, perhaps the most important things are that conversation be both constructive and challenging. Though we also act as the University’s premier published voice of politically moderate and conservative thought, here at the Tory it is our mission to comment on topics which pertain to student life in ways that are both constructive and challenging.

To spell out specific parameters for how such conversation can happen is difficult at best, and certainly impossible in the short space here. However, I’d like to offer some general conditions which I believe ought to be in place to allow for this possibility. First, interlocutors must be respectful towards one another: too often there is a tendency towards the polemic, which prevents us from expressing positions clearly and unnecessarily alienates people who might otherwise have potentially relevant opinions to lend to the debate. In so doing, a disrespectful tone contributes to a culture of talking past and around, rather than to one another. However, a second condition is that this mutual respect must be reinforced with fearlessness; for respectful dialogue to move past vague pleasantries and mild acquiescence, sides must be willing to advocate positions, not because they are necessarily the popular ones, but because the party believes that these positions are right. It is those conversationalists who are intrepid without being brash who are best suited to contributing to a more constructive campus dialogue on a variety of issues; whatever those issues may be.

This issue of the Tory includes pieces from the 2011-2012 school year which reflect our twin commitment to boldness and respect. In our lead story, Margaret Fortney comments on the University Administration’s decision to ban freshmen participation in the “rushing” of fraternities and sororities on pain of suspension, criticizing the Administration’s positions both on the grounds of principle and pragmatism. Andrew Min explores means by which American political conservatives can and ought to contribute meaningfully to the national conversation on the protection of the environment – a conversation which is perhaps too often ceded by conservatives within the political landscape. Jeremy Rosenthal profiles the University’s approach to funding and staffing academic majors which historically graduate fewer than twenty-five students every year. The rest of the articles in this issue offer an overview of the breadth of topics we explore at the Tory. Though we aim to make the Tory unique to the Princeton University student’s experience by writing about issues which specifically pertain to campus life, we also examine broader local, state, national, and global topics from a perspective relevant to our campus. By doing this we hope to provide a forum wherein students can journalistically engage the campus dialogue, the University Administration, and each other.

If any of these sorts of topics interest you – or if you’re interested in topics related to Campus life in any of the forms listed above – I encourage you to visit us at the Activities Fair and at our Open House. Please come by to learn more about our magazine and what we are all about. We would love to have you on board. But most importantly, wherever you do end up finding yourself over the next four years, do remember to enjoy yourself and make the most of the many opportunities this wonderful University affords you. Princeton can be the most exciting and formative four years of your life, if only you’ll let it.

In all sincerity,

Toni Alimi ‘13

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