“While I am absolutely delighted that Princeton has remained number 1 in the US News College rankings, I am concerned about the continued decline in the rankings in the WSJ press release today.”
This post from Tara Cnoo was found on the Princeton Parents Facebook page, a forum where student families can stay in touch with their children’s lives and keep abreast of University news and campus events. Family members regularly use the platform to share concerns, announce student achievements, and exchange useful information.
“I am doing this post in the hopes of answering some questions I see frequently asked and perhaps allaying some concerns,” posted Shannon Livingston Victor, another parent at Princeton. “With the permission of my son (2025 and athlete), I would like to share his experience and hopefully help another family.”
Several parents on the page agree that the posts increase family comfort and strengthen the wider college community.
“This group is always so helpful,” LaDonna Nunn Roberts posted on the page on July 9.
And on August 18, Loraine Raine posted: “This community made me feel more comfortable and excited about the move of my son P25 to the Forbes building as well as the experience he will have as a whole. in Princeton!
“My mom thinks it’s really helpful,” said Sushma Miryala ’25. “There are all these parents who drop questions that other parents might have, so everyone leaves really helpful comments.”
But not all Princeton students are happy with their parents’ activities on the page. Although it is a useful tool for some families and students, the page has become a source of tension and anxiety for others. Students raised concerns about the limited scope of discussions on the page, social exclusivity and intrusions into student privacy.
“Is it too extreme to say that I wish it didn’t exist?” Annabelle Duval ’23 said when asked what she would change on the page if given the chance. Duval is associate editor for The Daily Princetonian. “A lot of parents are a bit intrusive. The page can turn into an echo chamber of parents obsessed with their children’s lives, and college is meant to be a time of independence.
Rohit Narayanan ’24 commented on how the page is “typical of big forums: they get dominated by a few people pretty quickly”. Narayanan is an opinion columnist for the “Prince”. He compared the page to the Class of 2024 GroupMe.
“I wish these forums were more inclusive, rather than creating their own community from the perspective of others,” Narayanan said.
Many students cannot stand the fact that their personal data can be shared without their permission on such a large platform. Some asked their parents not to post pictures of them, avoided sharing information about their campus life, and argued over the content posted.
“I told my mom she couldn’t post pictures of me,” Duval said.
“Sometimes the kids don’t share stuff,” noted parent Anne Pederson. “Parents should invite them. I do not think so [parents] do something really embarrassing. But sometimes my daughter will say ‘don’t be so embarrassing.’ ”
“Yes [my son] knew how many times I posted, he would find a way to ban me, ”said Evan Levine, one of the most active parents on the site. “I think most students would be embarrassed by their parents’ activity on the page.”
A junior explained how they felt exposed when their parents signaled they had to take a Greyhound bus home. “It wasn’t necessarily something I would have shared myself,” they said.
Students also cautioned that some of the “useful” information about campus life found on the page may be inaccurate or out of date.
“More [of the parents] get their information from other parents who know very little, ”said Fernando Aviles-Garcia ’24. “A lot of them don’t really wait to hear from the University, so even if someone sets off an uproar, a lot of them follow even if the information is false.”
While parents admit inaccurate information is present on the page, some interviewees were not overly concerned about it.
“Overall, Princeton officials will monitor and correct if the information is wrong,” Pederson said.
Some students themselves have recognized that the page can be an important resource and support system for families unfamiliar with the college culture of the East Coast.
“It’s interesting to have this space,” said Luke Bunday ’23, “given the variety of backgrounds present. Among the people who use it, it can be a useful resource, but the way it actually takes shape can be large and small. ”
Pederson described how much of his information about transporting, storing, and “learning the ropes” of being a Princeton parent came from the page.
Narayanan also commented on how the page builds community for a confluence of identity groups, contrasting the more diverse forum with discussions based on smaller affinities: “Every school has a WhatsApp Desi Parents,” he said. .
“I’m sure there is so much going on on Desi Parents’ WhatsApp too,” Zaiya Gandhi ’24 added. “Parents wanted to make sure their children ate and had other supports. WhatsApp parents who were closer to campus could help them have peace of mind with this stuff.
Even with the benefits of parental solidarity, some students recognize that many parents use these kinds of “parent pages” in an authoritarian manner.
“They seem like a great place to find community and talk to people who know what it is,” Rachel Chen ’24 said of Princeton Parents Page and Chinese Parents WeChat. “People who know where you are from … but some parents really act like crazy. Like, seriously.
Sydney Eck is a Features and Outlook writer for The Daily Princetonian. She can be contacted at [email protected] or through Instagram dm at @ sydney.eck.