Campus Quality

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Campus Quality


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5 College Freshman

Campus Quality: One of the things that I think every Princeton student can agree on is how pretty the campus is. The campus sprawls but it's neither too big nor too small. Since I've come to campus, there are plenty of new places I've discovered. It's a rather old campus so while it maintains the old style for which it owes its famous (IMO) it also addresses that yeah, we live in the 21st century, silly.

10 people found this useful Report
5 College Sophomore

Campus Quality: Princeton is the most gorgeous campus around. It has started to combine its gothic architecture with more modern buildings, and the blend is quite refreshing. Frist, the campus center, offers a variety of food options, study spaces, and relaxation areas. Dillon gym has plenty of machines and treadmills.

3 people found this useful Report
5 Recent Alumnus

Campus Quality: Princeton keeps everything nice, tidy and functional for the most part.

1 person found this useful Report
4 Recent Alumnus

Campus Quality: The range of opportunities Princeton provides has to be the most extraordinary aspect. You can get funding to travel the world and study the topic of your choice, engage in diverse service initiatives and receive support for virtually any endeavor you are passionate about.

5 Recent Alumnus

Campus Quality: Great free gym for working out, safe campus paths for running, beautiful libraries, comfortable and fun campus center with food (convenient store, desserts, icecream, cafe, etc), tables, lounge chairs, study rooms with chalk/marker boards, televisions, piano, etc.

2 people found this useful Report

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Common student facilities, such as the gym and student center, are state-of-the-art. The student gym, Stephens Fitness Center in Dillon Gym, was recently renovated and the machines updated, but the biggest problem in the minds of the vastly health-conscious students is how long the wait is for a treadmill or elliptical machine. The student government continues to battle with the issue of gym overpopulation, and machines are added to the limited space on a regular basis. The Frist Campus Center opened in 2000, increasing student space dramatically. Students now have a campus coffee shop, convenience store, food court, and smoothie stand where they can charge everything to their student account, much to the chagrin of many Princeton parents suffering from the phenomenon known as "Frist sticker shock."

Princeton has made a lot of recent strides to catch up with other major universities in terms of campus facilities. Until 2000, students were forced to cram into the small but character-filled Chancellor Green, which was recently renovated and now has a gorgeous reading room in the rotunda. Perhaps it was poor planning or just not realizing how popular new facilities would be, but Frist Campus Center and Stephens Fitness Center both face overcrowding problems, which will only get worse as the University expands its student body.

Facts & Statistics

Service & Maintenance Staff
Campus Size
500 acres
Student Centers
Frist Campus Center
Campus Library?
Main Libraries
Popular Places to Chill
  • 1903 Courtyard
  • Café Vivian
  • Frist Dining Level
  • Wilson Courtyard
Bar on Campus
None for underclassmen, but the grad school has a members-only club called the Debasement Bar in the basement of Pyne Tower in the Graduate College
Bowling on Campus
Coffeehouse on Campus
Café Vivian
Movie Theater on Campus
Frist Campus Center Film/Performance Theater in Frist Campus Center shows movies.
School Slang
  • Academic Advisor: The professor your residential college matches you with who will (hopefully) guide you through the stresses of distribution requirements and writing and foreign language requirements.
  • Alexander Beach: Central New Jersey's answer to a beach. The grassy area between Blair, Witherspoon, Alexander, and West College where students sun themselves.
  • Arch sing: Event in either Blair Arch or 1879 Arch during which a cappella groups serenade audiences with popular songs.
  • Bicker: The five-day period at the start of second semester during which sophomores wishing to join selective eating clubs go through a rush-like process in order to gain an invitation.
  • Big Three: Harvard, Princeton, and Yale; an issue mostly during football season.
  • Cane Spree: Traditional multi-sport competition held at end of second week of classes between freshmen and sophomores. Central event is cane wrestling between classes.
  • Cannon Green: Green behind Nassau Hall with cannon partially buried in the center. Location of coveted Big Three bonfire.
  • Carrel: Cell-like room located all around Firestone Library granted to pairs of seniors to give them a place to store books and other materials for their theses.
  • CJL: Center for Jewish Life.
  • Clapper: The part of the Nassau Hall bell that tradition requires the incoming class must capture each year. This tradition came to a halt when a member of the Class of 1995 fell from the bell tower in an attempt to steal the clapper.
  • Communiversity: Day-long event each April that tries to unify town and gown through activities along Nassau Street and on Nassau Green.
  • Dean's Date: The last day of reading period when all written course work is due. If a student cannot complete his work, he has to go see a dean. This is also one of the biggest nights out at the eating clubs.
  • Dei Sub Numine Viget: Princeton's motto in Latin. Translation: "Under God's Will She Flourishes."
  • Dinky: Two-car New Jersey train that connects Princeton to Princeton Junction.
  • Entryway: Section of a dorm or classroom building. Only way to get from one entryway to another is to go outside and back in again.
  • E-Quad: Engineering Quadrangle.
  • Fall Break: Week-long vacation at the end of fall term midterms.
  • Finals: Three-week period following the end of classes during January and May.
  • FitzRandolph Gate: Gate in front of Nassau Hall.
  • Freshman Week: Also called "frosh week." Time for sophomores and upperclassmen to settle in while freshmen attend events organized to help them learn more about campus life.
  • Frist: Short for Frist Campus Center, the student center.
  • Hoagie Haven: Also "the Haven." Famed eatery along Nassau Street that stays open late and offers cheap prices.
  • Honor Code: A Princeton institution that is taken very seriously. Students sign a pledge at the end of every paper and exam and are expected to turn in students who they witness cheating.
  • Hose: Reject from a bicker club.
  • Houseparties: Three-day party weekend at the end of spring semester. On Friday, students go to a formal, followed by a semi-formal on Saturday, and then Lawnparties on Sunday.
  • Independent: Upperclassman who is not a member of an eating club, University dining hall, or co-op.
  • JP: Short for junior paper, the independent paper to be completed by all A.B. students. Some A.B. departments only mandate one JP while others ask for two during the course of junior year.
  • Kiosk: Security booths at the top and bottom of Elm Drive. Drivers must obtain a parking permit here before being permitted to drive onto campus.
  • Lake Carnegie: Five mile man-made lake at the bottom of campus. Gift of Andrew Carnegie so that Princeton could have a crew team; the boathouse was given by a fellow Pittsburgher.
  • McCarter Theatre: Theater across University Place from the Dinky station. Hosts Triangle Club shows, public concerts, film series, and plays.
  • McCosh Hall: Major classroom facility for A.B. students.
  • Newman's Day: Popular student "holiday," April 24. Participating students try to drink 24 beers in 24 hours without going to sleep, vomiting, or missing class.
  • Nude Olympics: Now-banned tradition; sophomores would participate in naked frolicking in Holder courtyard during the first snowfall of the year.
  • Old Nassau: Nickname for Princeton University and title of Princeton's alma mater, which is sung at most campus events.
  • P/D/F: Short for Pass/Drop/Fail. Students are given four P/D/Fs to use during the course of their Princeton education. They can only use one at a time and adhere to the strict deadlines associated with this option.
  • P-rade: Annual procession of alumni down Elm Drive during Reunions.
  • Precept: Weekly mandatory supplement to lecture courses to go over problem sets, assignments, and readings. Led by professors or graduate students.
  • Proctor: Public Safety officer.
  • Prospect 11: Popular campus drinking challenge. Students must drink a beer at each of the eating clubs during the course of a night.
  • Prox: Also called PUID (Princeton University ID); allows students to unlock dorm doors, charge purchases at the Frist Campus Center, and gain admission to the library, athletic events, and eating clubs.
  • RA: Abbreviation for Resident Adviser, a junior or senior who helps freshmen get acclimated to life at Princeton
  • Reading period: Week-and-a-half period at the end of classes for students to work on independent work and catch up on reading before exams.
  • Reunions: Weekend before commencement when alumni gather on campus for activities such as the P-rade. Famous for its widespread consumption of Budweiser beer under  class tents.
  • Room draw: Computerized lottery that assigns draw times to students for picking rooms each spring for the following academic year. Students have tried for years to figure out how the draw is "randomized" with little success.
  • Suite: Common type of room on campus that at the very least includes a common room and two bedrooms. Some of the larger ones, which may house up to eleven students, have nicknames such as "the Zoo," "the Kitchen Suite," and "the Cuckoo's Nest."
  • Thesis: The biggest killjoy for each senior class until the spring deadline. All A.B. students must complete a senior thesis. While some engineering students may avoid a traditional thesis, they will not get past mandatory independent work. For most seniors, finishing thesis work becomes the major activity of their last spring break.
  • U-Store: Abbreviation for University Store, the campus bookstore. The U-Store is the only place where students can find the few rare appliances that are approved by the Fire Safety Code.
  • Wa: Short for the WaWa Food Market.
  • 'Zees: Short for advisees, the freshmen in an RA group. There are usually groups of approximately 15 to 20 'zees for each RA.
  • Baccalaureate Address: Baccalaureate is one of Princeton's most time-honored traditions. Originally referred to as a sermon, the Baccalaureate Address marks the end of Reunions and the start of Commencement activities for graduating seniors. Held in the University Chapel, recent speakers have included retiring Dean of Admission Fred Hargadon and e-Bay CEO Meg Whitman '77.
  • Beer Jackets: Traditionally made of white denim, beer jackets are part of the Reunions uniform for each class. This tradition began with a few members of the Class of 1912, who noticed that that the foam from their beers would spot their clothing. To avoid pricey cleaning charges, they developed the idea of a beer jacket, a jacket that could be worn to protect clothing from stains while drinking. The following year, the Class of 1913 adopted this tradition and wore their signature beer jackets throughout the spring. In recent times, the graduating class will vote on a design for their jacket, which is distributed during reading period of their final exam period.
  • Big Three Bonfire: The Bonfire is by no means a regular occurrence on Princeton's campus. According to tradition, a bonfire is to be built after Princeton's football team beats both Harvard and Yale, thus serving as a celebration of the much-coveted Big Three Title. Students construct the bonfire in the center of Cannon Green behind Nassau Hall.
  • Cane Spree: Organized to foster class spirit, Cane Spree is a series of athletic competitions pitting the entering freshman class and the sophomore class against each other. Traditionally, the event occurs at the end of the second week of classes. A tradition dating back to the 1860s, Cane Spree's competitions have changed, but the customary cane wrestling still remains. The victorious class gets the shirts from the other class.
  • Colors: Even after the Civil War, Princeton did not have official school colors. A member of the Class of 1869 suggested orange as a school color in honor of the Prince of Orange, William III of the House of Nassau, as Nassau Hall had been named for him. Orange was not adopted until Princeton students found success in a baseball game against Yale students while wearing badges with orange ribbons.
  • Commencement Season: Commencement season at Princeton takes almost a week, starting with the annual Reunions, which begin the Thursday before commencement. The alumni parade, the P-rade, takes place Saturday morning, and the alumni leave campus the following day in time for the Baccalaureate Address to the graduating seniors and their families. Monday is dedicated to Class Day exercises, departmental receptions, and senior prom. Recent Class Day speakers include such Bill Cosby and Jerry Seinfeld. On Tuesday, commencement exercises include an invocation, the Latin salutatory, the conferring of degrees, the valedictory, a speech from the University's president, and the singing of "Old Nassau" before graduates pass through FitzRandolph Gate.
  • FitzRandolph Gate: Across Nassau Green is the all-important Nassau Street, the so-called "main drag" through town. In order to get into town from Nassau Hall, students must pass through the infamous FitzRandolph Gate. Legend has it that any student who passes out of the Gate before graduation will not graduate with his class or at all. Students take this very seriously, and it has become a rite of passage for graduating seniors to walk out the gates at the end of their graduation ceremony, which is held every year on Nassau Green.
  • Honor Code: Princeton's Honor System was adopted in 1893 at the demand of students. Some technical changes have been made to the system over the years, but the essential principles still remain. Students take responsibility for their academic integrity and sign a pledge at the end of every paper and exam stating that they have neither given nor received assistance.
  • Locomotive: Princeton's oldest cheer, dating by some accounts from the 1890s, has the sound of a locomotive. It starts slowly and picks up speed and volume. This is a popular cheer during the annual P-rade.
  • Nude Olympics: Shortly after women began to enroll as Princeton undergraduates in the fall of 1969, the tradition of the Nude Olympics was born. During their sophomore year, the first completely coed class, the Class of 1973, participated in naked revelry in Holder Courtyard. Over the years, some aspects of the Nude Olympics have changed except for the central rules: the Nude Olympics would occur at midnight in Holder Courtyard during the first major snowfall of the year, and sophomores would participate. After much debate, the Nude Olympics was banned several years ago, and incoming students must sign a pledge agreeing not to participate.
  • Old Nassau: Princeton's alma mater is sung at the end of most campus events, including athletic events and Triangle shows. The song was composed by Harlan Page Peck, Class of 1862.
  • P-rade: Formally, the Alumni Parade-the P-rade-occurs the Saturday of class reunions. The 25th reunion class heads the parade, followed by each of alumni classes wearing their signature beer jackets. At the end of the P-rade, the graduating class runs onto Elm Drive to join the procession.
  • Reunions: Today, alumni Reunions are the biggest alumni event of the year. As a time for lecture series, class gifts, and fanfare, campus becomes a sea of orange and black. Classes identify themselves by way of banners, blazers, and beer jackets. With thousands of alumni returning each year, Reunions have become one of Budweiser's biggest events of the year, with sleeping quarters for alumni all over campus.
  • Theft of the Nassau Hall Clapper: The bell in the tower of Nassau Hall used to ring at 9 p.m. to signal the freshman curfew. On the nights that the bell did not sound, freshmen would be allowed to stay out later. As early as the 1860s, freshmen would steal the clapper, and the bell would have to rung with a hammer. Throughout the years, it became almost an expectation for the freshman class to steal the bell's clapper, but the reward changed. Eventually, a victorious theft of the clapper would lead to the cancellation of early classes. The tradition ended when a member of the Class of 1995 fell from the bell tower while trying to steal the clapper his freshman year.
Urban Legends
  • A curse placed on the University when it was originally founded brought bad luck and death to all of the University presidents, which is why there were so many presidents in Princeton's first years.
  • Alexander Hall was originally designed as an architecture thesis. After the senior received an F on the thesis, he went on to become a wealthy architect and donated the building to Princeton on the condition that his thesis design would be used.
  • Butler College was designed in such a depressing manor to remind students of the horrors of the Holocaust, which explains the barbed-wire-esque structures atop each of the buildings.
  • James Buchanan Duke offered Princeton a large sum of money in the 1920s to change its name to Duke. When the University refused, he donated the money instead to Trinity College in North Carolina, which is why Duke is now called the Princeton of the South.
  • The black squirrels that roam around campus are a biology project gone wrong.
  • The eating clubs were formed to promote better understanding of gourmet food amongst the uncouth Princeton men.
Favorite Things To Do
Princeton students are avid sports fans, so football, basketball, ice hockey, and lacrosse games tend to draw huge student contingents. The Frist Campus Center is a popular place, as it houses an extensive dining facility, the campus coffeehouse Café Vivian, the campus movie theater, and vast classroom space. In addition to the performance space in Frist, many campus performance spaces are used on almost a weekly basis for the various dance groups, acting troupes, and a cappella groups on campus. Without even leaving campus, students can take a run around Carnegie Lake, go to a movie for $2, watch excellent live theater including the famous Triangle Club kick line (of cross-dressing men), work out in the state-of-the-art gym facilities, practice their musical instruments or have a music lesson, develop photos in one of several campus dark rooms, or sip a latte in the Campus Center’s Café Vivian, which is named for the wife of former University President Harold Shapiro.
Clubs and Organizations on Campus
This is only a brief sampling of the clubs and organizations offered.
Student Activities Offered
  • Campus ministries
  • Choral groups
  • Concert band
  • Dance
  • Drama/theater
  • International student organization
  • Jazz band
  • Literary magazine
  • Marching band
  • Model UN
  • Music ensembles
  • Musical theater
  • Opera
  • Pep band
  • Radio station
  • Student government
  • Student newspaper
  • Student-run film society
  • Symphony orchestra
  • Yearbook
Air Force ROTC: Yes
Navy ROTC: No
Army ROTC: Yes

Student Polls

What are your favorite campus events or traditions?    Based on 7 responses

  • 14% Big Three Bonfire
  • 14% P-rade
  • 14% Commencement Season
  • 10% FitzRandolph Gate
  • 5% Colors
  • 5% Honor Code
  • 5% Old Nassau
  • 5% Locomotive
  • 5% Beer Jackets
  • 5% Baccalaureate Address
  • 5% Orange and Black Ball
  • 5% Prince-toween
  • 5% Lawnparties
  • 5% Frosh Week
  • 0% Nude Olympics
  • 0% Theft of the Nassau Hall Clapper
  • 0% Reunions
  • 0% Cane Spree

Rate the campus facilities in the following areas    Based on 26 responses

Very poor
  • Athletics/recreation
  • Classrooms
  • Computer labs
  • Dining
  • General aesthetics/architecture of campus
  • "Green" buildings/initiatives
  • Housing
  • Lawns/green space
  • Library
  • Modernity of facilities
  • Performing arts
  • Science/research labs
  • Student center
  • Study spots
  • Visual arts (work spaces, galleries)

What are your favorite things to do around campus?    Based on 6 responses

  • 33% Study breaks; off-campus class council study break
  • 33% Movie Nights at the Princeton Garden Theatre
  • 11% Blackbox is my semiannual tradition.
  • 11% Going to Labyrinth Books
  • 11% Following around Orange Key Tour Groups

How accommodating is this school to students with physical disabilities?    Based on 6 responses

  • 67% Very accommodating. The school does everything in their power to make sure the needs of every student are met.
  • 17% Pretty accommodating. The school has taken a lot of steps to accommodate the needs of students, but they've missed a few things.
  • 17% Slightly accommodating. The school has taken a few steps to accommodate students, but not nearly enough.
  • 0% Not accommodating. Students with physical disabilities are practically ignored here.

What is your overall opinion of your school and the campus community?    Based on 21 responses

  • 33% I love everything about my school and have a lot of campus pride.
  • 57% I like mostly everything about my school, but there are some things I wish were different.
  • 10% The school community is okay-we're all just here for an education, nothing more.
  • 0% I hate my school and have no school spirit.



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