Dean’s Date

The Great Paper Race

On Tuesday, January 17, four writers were given a seemingly impossible task: write a paper on a topic they knew nothing about in 45 minutes or less.  This is their story.

The Topic

What qualities does the work of Wallace Stevens share with the Street on a Saturday night?

The Essays

Rodrigo Menezes

Matthew Gwin

Abigail Williams

Jim Valcourt

The Writers

Our first and most senior competitor, although you would never tell from his boyish good looks, is Mr. Jim “Alpha-Male” Valcourt, class of 2012 and current beloved chairman of The Princeton Tiger Magazine. Hailing from Sterling, Massachusetts, Jim likes to think that the show Archer is actually based on his life, with the main character given his stage name via his own unique formula: first name = hometown, last name = favorite arrow-based long-range medieval military unit.  Jim’s hobbies include purposefully putting typos into his essays to see if his professors catch them, coordinating outfits with people he doesn’t know, and counting the legs on centipedes.

Our second competitor, a jack-of-all-trades and clearly the beta-male next to Jim, is Mister Matt “And-Bingo-Was-His-Name-O” Gwin, class of 2014 and beloved editor for the Tiger. Matt comes to us from Loudonville, Ohio, a bustling village surrounded by myriad tourist attractions, such as St. Peter Cemetery, the Ohio Theater, Loudonville Cemetery, a swimming pool, and Ullman Cemetery. In his free time at home, Matt likes to throw pennies into rusty old cans of Folgers behind Sprang’s Truck and RV Center, but at Princeton unfortunately the lack of rusty old Folgers cans requires him to settle for throwing pennies at Forbesians, instead. “They just sit there and take it,” laments Matt, “at least the Folgers cans give a satisfying ding when you hit them.”

Our third competitor is Miss Abigail “This-Fulfills-Our-Diversity-Quota, Right?” Williams, class of 2014, Tiger’s beloved Social Chair and surprisingly not only female member. What far off land had the pleasure of bringing us Abby Williams, you ask? Why, Johns Creeks, Georgia, of course, a land of golf courses and gated communities which like many southern towns finds itself at the meeting point of chivalric young gentlemen and racially insensitive old people. In the rare moments where she’s not writing articles for Tiger, Abby enjoys collecting famous people’s toenails, putting up posters for Expressions, and trying to force monkeys to sit still at typewriters, which, ironically, she finds herself on the other side of today.

Rodrigo “I Didn’t Have Time to Come up With a Nickname” Menezes was a late entry to the race, only joining with 30 minutes left to write his essay.  He has been described by the few who know him as a “mystery wrapped in an enigma.”  We tried to find out more about him after the competition, but he had already disappeared into the night.


-AJ ’14 and TDM ’14

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