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James Lee | The quest for nuance

(02/13/17 3:50am)

To fellow Politics, Philosophy, and Economics majors — have you noticed just how difficult it is to explain the major to non-Penn people? How many times have you received a puzzled look and a “Wait ... so you have 3 majors?” in response? Or applied to jobs and had to select your major from a drop down menu, only to find that PPE is nowhere to be found? In my personal case as a double major involving PPE, it’s practically impossible to fully explain what it is that I study exactly.

James Lee | Madness in method

(01/30/17 3:00am)

In Korea, you are considered one-year-old at birth, and turn a year older on the first day of every new year thereafter. I mention this because according to this system, I am now a quarter of a century old. This is alarming — my five-year high school reunion is coming up, and while my classmates will be working their way up to being titans of industry or tweed-clad savants wandering Gothic college campuses, I’ll still be here in college.

James Lee | Reflections of a former wisenheimer

(12/12/16 3:27am)

There are many ways to end up at a place like Penn, but I suspect that my own path was not a particularly original one. I was one of the many kids that talked and wrote myself a spot here, the kind who could be found caring a bit too much about the upcoming debate tournament or the school’s literary magazine and newspaper. You know the kind — the kind whose hand, shooting into the air with a sense of undue urgency, would cause English teachers to answer repeatedly with a resigned “Yes, James?”

James Lee | Breaking down fences

(11/28/16 2:35am)

When the Supreme Court ruled affirmative action constitutional earlier this year, it did so based partly on the long-held belief that there exist “education benefits that flow from diversity.” Even people who oppose affirmative action as a policy generally agree with this premise. The argument goes that a university ought to be a dynamic marketplace of ideas in which different people encounter different opinions, which is only possible if people have different backgrounds.

James Lee | The Nobel Prize in "Literature"

(10/17/16 3:34am)

“Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan ‘a great poet in the English-speaking tradition’ and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Ms. Danius jokingly responded, ‘The times they are a changing, perhaps,’ referencing one of Mr. Dylan’s songs.”

James Lee | The Siren Call of Campus Politics

(10/03/16 3:32am)

When I found out that I would be writing this column, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t write opinions that were so obvious no rational person could possibly disagree with them: the uselessness of bag checks at Van Pelt, the uselessness of Penn’s student government and Trump. After all, a column should seek to spark a discussion, not reflect popular views that virtually no one opposes. However, I’m going to break that promise today, and no, it won’t be about The Donald. Not yet.

James Lee | Freedom

(09/06/16 3:28am)

As the Class of 2020 begins to settle into their new lives at Penn, if its members are anything like me, I’m sure that they’re feeling a complex mix of emotions at entering the first step into adulthood. However, I can also definitely tell you above this complicated state of mind is a loud, shrill voice shouting “FREEDOM!” repeatedly while turning the music all the way up.