Tiger Inn, Princeton University eating club once run by Bob Hugin
Brett Kavanaugh. Bob Hugin. The alcohol-fueled privilege of the prep school –> to Ivy League –> frat boy –> Master of the Universe track to positions that run stuff – finance, corporate CEO, law. Kavanaugh was born to it; Hugin a late entry as a public high school kid who rose quickly at Princeton. Show up smart, half-smart, or even dim, and you get a better-than-average grab at the brass ring, mixed in with those competing on merit. George W. Bush, sauced and stupid at Yale, got all the way to the White House. Some of these guys never escape stereotype, frankly don’t want to, because everything in their glide path tells them that looking down on, excluding, even mistreating people in vulnerable positions, is their right as the superior men they’re told they are. This is privilege. It can generate crops of unformed, powerful men protected from accountability. It can be gross.
What interests me is that students at Bob Hugin’s alma mater, where he’s University Trustee, are calling him on his Princeton history – as student, adult & candidate. As only they can.
At Princeton University’s student-run The Daily Princetonian, the editorial board is out with a sharply critical assessment of Hugin’s self-described evolution on matters of discrimination, including revolting, aggressively dismissive actions women and LGBTQ people. A 1976 Princeton grad, Hugin was once undergrad president of Tiger Inn, a selective eating club on campus, one of hubs that can provide lifelong professional contacts, and a club with a very male-centric, naked and drunken initiation ceremony. In 1992, 16 years post-graduation, he fought admitting women to Tiger Inn as “politically correct fascism.” He was a member of Tiger Inn’s alumni governance board, and women students were already members, following Sally Frank’s gender discrimination suit against 3 holdout clubs (including Tiger Inn) that refused to admit women when the university became co-ed. It wasn’t just women Hugin had issue with; as a student running Tiger Inn, he threatened any gay man who might dare to join, telling a newspaper gay members “wouldn’t last long” if discovered. Hugin is now a Trustee of Princeton University.
Here’s a pull-out quote from The Daily Princetonian:
The Editorial Board does not deny Hugin’s right to change or refine his position on particular issues. Instead, we ask that Hugin prove his supposedly evolved views by releasing detailed policy proposals for the women he would like to represent. The Board asks that he apologize for his past remarks, not just lament his failure to support inclusion of women. And to eliminate any question over his suitability to serve as a University Trustee, Hugin must demonstrate in his actions what he has espoused with his words. Until Hugin has proposed and led pro-women and pro-LGBTQ+ policies and initiatives, as a Trustee or Senate candidate, the Board will continue to doubt the sincerity of his change of heart.
The fight to make Princeton an inclusive institution has been protracted, ugly, and tumultuous. Even after women and minority students gained admission, they experienced hate and discrimination throughout their undergraduate experiences — including in the eating clubs, a hallmark of Princeton’s social life. Princeton needs trustees and leaders who are aware of this history, sensitive to those it has affected, and capable of effecting change.