At Princeton, A Bitter Tradition of Exclusion


Mandy Hamilton sits listlessly, gazing out of her window as the cold late winter sun descends. Friends and neighbors fondly recall a girl who volunteered at soup kitchens and danced happily in meadows. She loved ponies, the color blue, smaller ponies, and laughing at Scientology.

This was not the Mandy I interviewed. She has become sullen and withdrawn, leaving her room only to buy food. Her grades have plummeted. No longer does sunlight dance upon her brow; her only music – the bitter chords of despair.

“I have nothing,” she says. “All is lost.”

Mandy’s story is just one of many that speak of discontent and rejection at Princeton where silent desperation festers among perfectly-manicured lawns. Of the hundreds of Princeton sophomores who compete for membership at one of the university’s exclusive eating clubs, during a process known as “bickering,” only a fraction win a coveted spot. Of those remaining, a mere fifth make it to graduation, the rest having succumbed to unpopularity, the leading cause of death among ugly Ivy League students.

“I can’t stop worrying about her,” said Mandy’s mother, Faye. “If she fails to gain the acceptance of her peer group, what reason does she have to live?”

Her mother has good reason to worry. Ever since being rejected by the Cap and Gown Club, Mandy spends her days wallowing in misery, gradually wasting away, as if a parasite had descended upon her innards and had begun gnawing away at her life force from the inside. A parasite called Bicker. And instead of having tentacles or whatever parasites have, it has five grotesque heads, each one symbolically representing one of the bicker clubs.

[Editor’s Note: Actually, that sounds pretty awesome.]

Mandy fails to find solace even in religion. “I just wish Jesus had come through for me,” she says. “Thanks a fucking lot, Jesus.”

But for Mandy, Jesus never came. Probably because she’s really kind of a bitch.

Those who had bickered successfully offered a radically different perspective.

“Bicker is an opportunity to ensure that our club remains free of classless individuals,” said Ivy Club junior Biffy von Wilminghampton while stroking her manservant suggestively. “And Mexicans.”

Members of the Princeton Tower Club were less forthcoming with information, but from what I could tell the club serves as a gathering place for Jewish homosexuals.

The bicker process requires more than just social finesse. Among the humiliating tasks that await potential Ivy members are animal sacrifice, hour upon mind-numbing hour of karaoke, and forced sexual encounters involving a midget and a three-legged nubian goat.

The last of these is just the tip of the iceberg. The sexual assault iceberg, that is. By the most conservative estimate, over 34,000 women were sexually assaulted while bickering an eating club this year alone.

Princeton President Shirley Tilghman offered little insight on the issue. “YOU A MUTHAFUCKIN COP?!?!” she screamed, pinning me to the ground and forcing a switchblade up against my throat.


But behind her rough exterior I saw a broken woman, a woman worn down by the toll that bicker has taken on her school, a woman whose soft, pleading eyes glistened with desperation. A woman in dire need of the tender caress of another woman.

And that’s where our story ends, not because there’s not more to it, but because I’ve already sold the rest of this article to Penthouse.

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