Doctor Science Knows

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Blogcomment record: Speaking as a woman who was there

Another old comment: This one I left at Inside Higher Ed, in the discussion surrounding the nomination of Samuel Alito to SCOTUS and his membership in "Concerned Alumni of Princeton", or CAP.

I entered Princeton in 1974, in the 5th year of coeducation. Obviously I did not know Mr. Alito, but like all other undergrads I was very familiar with CAP and "Prospect", which was distributed free around campus.

Though this article did not show it, "reactionary" was indeed the only word for CAP. For instance, in 1973 Shelby Cullom Davis (CAP's founder and moneybags) said, "Why should not a goal of 10-20% women and minorities be appropriate?" (quoted in Jerome Karabel's "The Chosen") -- this at a time when the freshman class was already 25% female and at least 5% non-Jewish minorities, not to mention around 10-15% Jews. They wanted Princeton to reverse course to be again overwhelmingly white and male, and "reactionary" is the word that fits.

As Mr. Strauss said, most students found CAP mockworthy: e.g. the halftime show at the 1974 Harvard game:
(warning: sophmoric humor).

My problems with Judge Alito & CAP arise from his claim that he didn't remember what the organization stood for. Arguments over CAP went on for years in the Princeton Alumni Weekly (and I expect the next issue to be pretty exciting, too) and occasionally spilled over to the New York Times. Tigers don't forget things about Princeton, and we don't stop caring.

Far from being opposed to affirmative action, CAP was in favor of quotas. They wanted to limit the number of female & minority students at Princeton, and were in favor of "affirmative action" (though not so-called) to boost the acceptance rates for white males, especially those from boarding prep schools. Before Princeton went to sex-blind admissions (1974) our standards for female admits were much higher than for males, and CAP wanted to exacerbate that.

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