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by Peter Moskos

May 23, 2012

The Ivy League Hustle

I rarely talk about college, except negatively. But this is the funniest thing to come out of Princeton since... I don't know, what ever funny comes out of Princeton?

I went to Princeton, Bitch! (And yes, all the cool kids were in Terrace. Food does indeed equal love.)


Jay Livingston said...

The Wharton dude is spot on.

Anonymous said...


I have some questions about your experience at Princeton.

In the James Q. Wilson thread you mentioned that you have known a lot of people who have used cocaine and didn't debase themselves. Were they Princetonians? Was there a lot of coke use there? What about the drug culture in general?

How does your experience compare to your father's in the 1950s?

Are these private elite schools good for American democracy? From my perspective as a foreigner it seems as though a degree from these schools is essential to join the American power elite i.e. Wall Street, high level politics, the cabinet and the Supreme Court. Americans are investing a lot faith in the judgments of 18-year-olds by college admission committees. If you don't gain admission to one of these schools at 18, well say goodbye to that supreme court spot.

Are these schools bad for the concept of social equality- the idea that Americans are equal in the eyes of each other? These schools seem to instill in their graduates a tremendous sense of superiority. Something that strikes me as especially dangerous since they are on the fast track to power. For instance a few months ago video went viral of a woman being confronted by a New York transit authority officer on a train. When confronted about her misbhaviour- talking loudly on her phone in a quiet car- her reply was "Excuse, but do you know what schools I have been to?"

From Canada

PCM said...

Rumor had it that was a lot of cocaine use in some of the eating clubs at Princeton. But I don't know if they were true or false rumors; it wasn't my crowd. (I would assume true, however.)

Personally I saw a lot more pot in college. That was more my crowd. But the drug of choice at Princeton for most people is beer, and lots of it.

I think *of course* the elite schools are bad for social equality. That is their very purpose, it has been argued. But it has also been argued that maybe things were better when they were unabashedly classist.

I think what has changed since my father's day is the public service aspect. The draft certainly helped enforce that service, but service it was. And maybe that came out of greater class inequality. Many Ivy Leaguers knew they were there because of privilege. Now there is the mistaken belief that they've earned it, that the the system is a meritocracy, and hence they're better than everybody else.

The school's slogan is Princeton in the Nation's Service. It's hard to imagine most graduates actually exemplifying that. Or even worse, thinking they are doing the Nation's Service by working in finance.

DB said...


I'm not sure if your interested, but I would love to have your input / involvement. I am creating a police use of force discussion blog with a twist. I want scholars and practitioners in the same area making comments. I've reached out to practitioners in psychology and criminal justice as well as use of force trainers. I think this is a great opportunity for learning on various levels. I consider myself a scholar / practitioner and would love to have a no nonsense scholar / practitioner like yourself involved. Please come over and check it out...


Anonymous said...


As a Princeton grad ('96) who is an Air Force veteran and now a cop, I would like to offer two comments.

1. The video is absolutely hilarious but I don't know that many outside of those of us who tread the paths of Old Nassau would really get it.

2. You are spot on in your comments above about Princeton. I have lost some of my connection to the school as it seems more elitist now that I have chosen a career that Princeton grads are not "supposed" to choose. As a cop, I also just leave it at "I went to school in New Jersey" when asked, and I never go to the local alumni events. It is too bad that money is valued above service for most of the grads of our alma mater. Although, it is funny that at my 15th reunion last year, nobody wanted to talk about their career in corporate law or finance, but everyone wanted to hear my stories of chasing and locking up bad guys. Some satisfaction there, I guess.

Enjoy your blog and your 1st book (still have to read In Defense of Flogging).

PCM said...

Wow. A Princeton-grad cop (and A.F. vet to boot). There aren't many of us. I know there's one in San Fran. I suspect you, me, and her makes three.