The point that I think is missed in this response, that I think Gladwell gets right, is that the students who desired the change needed to consider the positions of those who disagreed with them and find a way for them to save face. That the students may or may not have risked something really isn’t the point. I think they risked very little, despite the response letter of Tanjong and her assertion that Gladwell overstated what Wenger gave up seems correct and validated by his own words.
I’m not sure how the students could have achieved their goal, or if they were doomed, but without giving some way for the administration and old guard to feel as if they were doing the right thing, to take a little credit, what they were demanding was a very tough sell. This isn’t to say that those in the position of granting the requested change deserved any particular credit, but people are vain, especially those who have their names placed on buildings at Princeton.