Aaron Sorkin is on the record in favor of plagiarism, so I am going to plagiarize him without worrying about it too much.
“Andrew Jackson, in the main foyer of the White House, had a two-ton block of cheese. It was there, for any and all who were hungry, it was there for the voiceless.” drones Leo McGarry in Season 2 of The West Wing, the 1999–2006 Sorkin TV show. In that episode, the staff of the White House have meetings with, in McGarry’s words, “those people representing organizations who have a difficult time getting our attention.”
Let’s also acknowledge that returning to The West Wing, more than 15 years after the show went off the air, is a classic Politics Kid choice. The show has its supporters and its detractors, but it is undeniably less relevant today than a wide variety of other cultural touchpoints.
Given the polarizing branding, why should we run this issue at all? The answer is that despite everything, the single idea of Big Block of Cheese Day is still more important than ever: who gets heard, and about what?
If you are a frequent reader of The Daily Princetonian, you know that Princeton students have strong opinions on a wide variety of topics: on geopolitics, on free speech, on mental health, on construction. You know where decisions are made: in Undergraduate Student Government (USG), and by a cadre of administrators with familiar names. You know what sports capture students’ attention and the most popular dance groups and orchestras. You’ve seen when there’s misconduct, when there’s tragedy, and when there’s achievement.
But I also hope that you’ve seen that Princeton students also care about the colors on the locks of their doors. I hope that you’ve seen that while some students are running for USG vice president, others are building a barn in the backyard of the architecture school. I hope that while you’ve read profiles of President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 and Conte’s Pizza and Bar and the men’s basketball team, you can also read profiles of an interesting student over brunch, of late meal, and of the Princeton Running Club. I hope you’ve also read about annoyances, joy, and the endless feeling of neutrality.
The latter should not feel unfamiliar. Every week, we’ve published stories that refocus on students’ daily lives. Yet those stories can sometimes get overshadowed by the sensational, the scandalous, the traditionally important. That’s why we take today, Big Block of Cheese Day, and devote our front page solely to the stories that might otherwise be undercovered or ignored.
Saving local and community journalism is an industry-wide effort, and naturally a core goal is, how do we make that journalism interesting? And while there are a lot of different answers to that question, it’s important to remember that focusing on the stories closest to the people that we cover does not mean we have to be uninteresting, or uncritical.
As part of this project, a team of 17 reporters staked out the Princeton Wawa in shifts for 24 hours. Over the course of the day, the members of our community were alive in their most normal, most human, most interesting forms.
As the clock struck midnight, one of the reporters, News contributor Meghana Veldhuis ’27 was inspired to write the following lines, “Surrounded by abundance, I am aware of all I have to be thankful for. These are truly special times we live in, in a truly special place. Our individual lives are as fleeting as the numbers they call on our tickets. But together we are part of something greater. Something that has the potential to take hold of the nation, like this Wawa took hold of the University students’ money.”
This Big Block of Cheese Day, let’s be thankful for the community that we get to cover. The Daily Princetonian, like any institution, should never delude itself into believing that it’s bigger than the people it serves.
December 8th, 2023
After barn-raising event on a chilly Saturday, 3 out of 4 remain standing
The School of Architecture hosted “the first-ever barn-raising on Princeton University's campus,’ according to a flier sent to residential college listservs on Monday, Nov. 27. The event started, held in the backyard of the School of Architecture, at 12:45 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, where participants to join architecture students in “rais[ing] an actual barn.”
Reactions: the opinions left unsaid
Over the course of the last year, the Opinion section has published 211 columns and guest contributions. Though there has been much opined, even more has been left unsaid. We asked our columnists to share their opinions on a topic of campus life that never made it into a full piece.
Hundreds apply for van certification as clubs plead for drivers
On Nov. 4, the Princeton Club Curling president Lara Katz ’24 emailed the undergraduate student body in need of a van driver: “We will rent a car and provide you food, lodging, and eternal friendship. you can curl if you like but not necessary, we do have a full team of curlers just no van-certified drivers lol. if you are our van-certified driver, we won’t have to take a Greyhound bus and Uber all weekend :)"
Singing for the Queen and voice acting on ‘Dora:’ Two performers’ journeys to Footnotes a cappella
As the tallest and shortest guys, respectively, in the Princeton Footnotes, Rupert Peacock ’24 and Koda Gursoy ’26 might not have much in common at first glance. But what brings the two singers together is their unconventional childhood performance careers.
Visiting the Forbes College dogs at home
In a festive, wreathed home just down the street from Forbes College, Head of Forbes College Maria Garlock and Dean of Forbes College Patrick Caddeau sit amidst a tornado of fur. Fonzie, a one-year-old golden retriever, and Lionela, a black Puerto Rican street dog, occasionally approach their humans for nuzzles. Lionela eventually races off after the toy in Fonzie’s mouth.
A sophomore’s journey from Teton Pass to Tallinn
The ‘Prince’ randomly chose to profile a student on TigerBook. We sat down with Will Aepli ’26, a Singaporean student from Wyoming, to learn about what communities he’s involved with on campus and his interests in Russian language and culture.
Taiko: a community that performs and grows to the beat of their own drums
Taiko began as a course around 2010 until 2015, when it was converted into a student group and a popular Wintersession workshop. The group grew until COVID-19 hit, causing membership to drop down to only two people at one point. However, the group has been growing ever since. Today, Taiko has around 20 members.
Underrated no more: Late Meal’s astounding meal choices
At The Prospect, writers often review one of the many restaurants in town, from those that students frequent to some of the restaurants farther out. But we've overlooked late meal on campus, which remains one of the most popular options for students.
Princeton students found first Fashion Institute of Princeton
Princeton students sport a range of fashion styles on campus. Whether students are dressing up for eating club formals or just walking to lecture, fashion serves as a form of expression on campus. However, in the past, there hasn’t been a premier fashion organization with a voice on campus. Nadine Allache ’26 and Bahia Kazemipour ’26 are hoping to change this by forming the Fashion Institute of Princeton (FIOP). Established last spring, FIOP hopes to shift the way we consume fashion by becoming an outlet for exploration, design, and entrepreneurship.
In the depths: The semi-secret tunnel networks of Princeton
Today, Daybreak took a very special tour of the University's little known tunnel network connecting the science buildings throughout campus. Listen in for a guided tour, a quest for coffee and a detour into tunnels of Princeton's past.
Princeton’s Club Ultimate Frisbee team sets sights on nationals as new season begins
It’s the start of a new season for Clockwork, Princeton’s men’s club ultimate frisbee team. Millions of kids play frisbee in physical education classes across the United States as a lighthearted way to get some exercise, but this is a whole other level to the familiar sport.
From hobby joggers to regular racers, Princeton Running Club offers a home for all
Rain or shine, the Princeton Running Club (PRC) doesn’t miss a day of training. Encompassing casual running, sub-elite racing, track events, and social gatherings, the group’s activities center around daily practice, which consists of either an easy run or a pre-structured workout.
Students find community and stress relief in intramural spikeball
On a daily basis, Princeton students face all sorts of stressors from academics to social life. But on a campus where, according to The Daily Princetonian’s Frosh Survey, 52.5 percent of the incoming Class of 2027 participated in a high school varsity sport, sports are a natural break for many students.
Another competitive 5 v. 5 intramural basketball season in the books
“After weeks of grinding and studying in East Pyne and Firestone, there’s nothing like fighting between the lines,” sophomore Braden Lalin told The Daily Princetonian after his team, the Travelers, emerged victorious from the championship game of this year’s 5v5 intramural basketball season.
Men’s Club Rugby continues tradition of playing against their alumni team, the Flying Tigers
On Nov. 18, Princeton Athletic Club Men’s Rugby played their semi-annual game against the men’s rugby alumni team, the Flying Tigers, in a matchup that seeped an aura of camaraderie and healthy competitiveness.
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