“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people… more
Princetonians for Free Speech is hosting a breakfast on Sunday, May 28 at the Nassau Inn. Meet the founders and hear about the state of academic freedom and free speech on campus, as well as PFS’s accomplishments and goals for the future.
By Leslie Spencer
March 9, 2023
Nadine Strossen, a liberal feminist and civil liberties activist, led the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991 to 2008, the first woman to do so. She is the author of Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship, and was until 2019 a professor at New York Law School. “I stopped teaching to devote all my time to advocating for free speech and academic freedom, it’s just so important right now,” she says.
Most days now she can be found traveling to speaking engagements at college campuses and elsewhere throughout the country, often in her new role as senior fellow at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). At 72 she shows no signs of slowing down, making over 250 appearance a year.
Wherever she goes, a central thread of her message is clear: Free speech and academic freedom are for EVERYBODY. “I am constantly telling liberals and progressives, contrary to what they believe, free speech and academic freedom are not only or primarily to protect conservatives and libertarians, and I have to tell my conservative and libertarian allies the very same message,” she says, to drive home her non-partisan imperative.
For her taste, there is a bit too much demonization of liberals and progressives by many conservatives, who often claim it is only their views that are being suppressed. “Unfortunately, this is not true,” she says, pointing to the many instances catalogued in a FIRE database showing that of the 800 instances of documented attempted retaliation against professors for exercising constitutionally protected speech nationwide (a shocking 60 percent of which have been successful), 40 percent of these attacks have come from the right, 60 percent from the left. Most important, of these attacks, by far the most come from extremes on both sides, with the victims representing the moderates.
She articulates a principled as well as a strategic reason to make common cause across the ideological spectrum. “It is essential that the moral high ground be maintained. You forfeit this if you are uneven in your application of principles,” she says.
For the second time this academic year, Strossen will appear at Princeton. On March 21 at 7 pm in Arthur Lewis Auditorium, she will be in conversation with Princeton legal scholar and political philosopher Robert P. George on the topic Civil Liberties, On Campus and Beyond. Strossen and George both serve on the Advisory Counsel of Heterodox Academy, whose mission is to promote viewpoint diversity and constructive disagreement in higher education, and which currently boasts 5,000 members from 49 states and 65 countries. Their conversation is sure to demonstrate how two people with widely divergent beliefs and ideologies can agree and disagree on a variety of subjects and remain civil while doing so.
March 27, 2023
This is the title of a recently published empirical study in The Missing Data Depot on Substack. The fact that administrative bloat has far exceeded the growth of faculty and students in numbers and power on American campuses is widely acknowledged. And as bureaucrats reshape and control campus life, anecdotal evidence abounds of the corrupting effects of their power on a university’s primary mission, the production and dissemination of knowledge. This first-of-its kind empirical study focuses exclusively on DEI bureaucracies, and concludes that they “often hurt and almost never help the speech climate on college campuses.” The data shows that the bigger the DEI bureaucracy the more pervasive the climate of fear among students, particularly outside the classroom, on social media and in informal conversations in public settings like the quad or dining hall. This study gives evidence for what close observers have long suspected -- that the growth of DEI bureaucracies correlates closely with the demise of free speech and academic freedom on college campuses. Graphs in this study show that Stanford, currently plagued by free speech scandals, has more DEI staff per 1,000 students than any university in the study. And among the Ivy League, Princeton holds the dubious rank of second only to Harvard. Have a look here at this deep dive into the data.
Tuesday April 11, 4:30 pm
Greg Lukianoff, attorney, New York Times best-selling author and President and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). He is the author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, Freedom of Speech, and FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech on Campus. He co-authored The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure with Jonathan Haidt.
Location: Arthur Lewis Auditorium, Robertson Hall. Click here to reserve a spot.
By Ethan Hicks ‘26
March 24, 2023
On Tuesday, March 21, Professor Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, and Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU, sat down to discuss the history and modern state of free speech in America in their joint talk “Civil Liberties: On Campus and Beyond.” An engaged audience of students, faculty, and community members filled Lewis Auditorium to join George and Strossen for their fireside style chat hosted by Princetonians for Free Speech and Princeton Open Campus Coalition.
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March 1, 2023
To: President Eisgruber
Members of the Board of Trustees of Princeton University
We are writing to you on behalf of Princetonians for Free Speech (PFS) to bring to your attention important new information relating to the petition to remove the statue of John Witherspoon from its prominent place on the plaza near Firestone Library and the Chapel. PFS is a Princeton alumni organization devoted to promoting free speech, academic freedom, and viewpoint diversity at Princeton. Thousands of Princeton alumni, as well as many students, faculty, and university staff, follow PFS on our website.
PFS believes that this new information, particularly that obtained from tax records pertaining to Witherspoon’s ownership of slaves, changes the narrative of the debate on removal of the statue and challenges the basic assertions in the petition. In addition, the listening sessions took place without participants being aware of the true history of Witherspoon. Furthermore, this new information shows the history of Witherspoon on the University’s Princeton and Slavery Project website to be both incomplete and misleading.
Click here for link to full article