Latest News and Commentary: Princeton

June 2, 2023
By Michael Camp
Princetonians for Free Speech

Excerpt: Recently members of the senior class at Princeton University were asked to respond to an opinion survey. Among the many questions asked, one was “How would you describe your political persuasions?” Another question asked, “On a scale from one to five, how comfortable do you feel sharing your political views on campus?” Of the total population of 1296 seniors 542 answered both of these questions.  The results are shown in [a table in the full article, linked below]: . . .

There is a remarkably clear pattern. If you compare any two political categories, the respondents in the more liberal category are also more comfortable expressing their views. Another way to look at it is that 71% of those in the three most liberal categories rate themselves as 4 or 5 in terms of comfort, while 60% of those in the three most conservative categories rate themselves as 1 or 2. Why is it that liberal students are more comfortable than conservative students in sharing their political views on campus? I can think of three explanations.

May 31, 2023
By Adrienne Lu
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt: As a growing number of colleges around the country have stopped using diversity statements, a lawsuit filed against the University of California system in May appears to be the first to directly challenge their legality. Experts are divided on whether the use of such statements by public colleges will pass legal muster.

Keith E. Whittington, a professor of politics at Princeton University, said that diversity statements, as they are commonly used in academe, “definitely run afoul of these kinds of viewpoint discrimination concerns.”

May 31, 2023
By Danielle Shapiro

Excerpt: Watching the Class of 2023’s Commencement, I felt grateful, nostalgic, and pensive. Liminal periods implore us to consider our place within the world and the decisions we’ve made at each stage. Speaking before the graduating class, President Eisgruber offered his own commentary, praising the work of political activists for their commitment to Princeton’s motto, “In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity.”

But Eisgruber’s departing message was misguided for its substantial focus on political activism and its departure from the core purpose of Princeton and universities like it: truth-seeking and the production and dissemination of knowledge. Moreover, though he extolled freedom of speech, he crucially neglected how freedom of speech ought to operate within the University’s mission.

May 31, 2023
By Matthew Wilson
Daily Princetonian

Excerpt: On Tuesday, I had the privilege of watching several of my close friends in the Class of 2023 don their caps and gowns and take part in Princeton’s annual Commencement. It was an idyllic day for the occasion — the weather could not have been better, and a joyful, festive feeling filled the air as the ceremony began. All around me, parents, grandparents, relatives, and friends beamed with pride for their graduates and eagerly awaited inspiring and uplifting remarks from the individuals slated to speak at the ceremony.

Then came University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83. While Eisgruber began his remarks by proposing to offer graduates “a few words about your time here,” what followed was an invective tirade delivered with the fervor of a preacher’s sermon, excoriating the sins of those who would dare to disagree with his views on a wide array of highly contestable topics.

May 30, 2023
By Jessica Wills
Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

Excerpt: Princeton University is one of the worst colleges for free speech in the country, according to FIRE’s annual College Free Speech Rankings. But just how bad is it?

That’s the question some alumni started asking back in 2020 when they founded Princetonians for Free Speech, a group of alumni committed to protecting free speech and academic freedom at Princeton. Now, in partnership with College Pulse, the group has surveyed 250 Princeton undergraduates to learn more about the state of free expression on campus and determine how best to leverage their activism. The results are concerning.

May 30, 2023
By Emily Aronson, Office of Communications Princeton University

Excerpt: “We must stand up and speak up together for the values of free expression and full inclusivity for people of all identities,” Eisgruber said, followed by rousing applause from the students, families, friends and other guests seated inside Princeton Stadium. “To all of you who receive your undergraduate or graduate degree from Princeton University today: Your help is urgently needed — now!” he said. “So, as you go forth from this University, let your voices rise. Let them rise for equality. Let them rise for the value of diversity. Let them rise for freedom, for justice, and for love among the people of this earth.”

May 29, 2023
By Isabel Yip
Daily Princetonian

Excerpt: With a looming Supreme Court decision that experts predict will strike down affirmative action, University President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 maintained that the University will find ways to achieve a diverse campus in an annual address to alumni delivered during Reunions.

The majority of President Eisgruber’s address was focused on familiar themes of campus expansion, the benefits campus expansion will have on serving underrepresented communities, and the effects of technology on society. In his tenth year in office, most of Eisgruber’s sentiments were familiar from past public statements, with no major surprises in the hour-long event.

May 26, 2023
By Michael Poliakoff

Excerpt: Is it education or indoctrination? A credibility gap concerning such basic professional ethics imperils the reputation of colleges and universities and for public institutions could well affect a state legislature’s funding decisions. And data from new surveys, each asking an overlapping range of questions about freedom of expression on campus, are disquieting.

A large number self-censor while also seeking to silence viewpoints that they judge to be hurtful or offensive. They feel pressure from institutional leadership, their professors, and their peers to conform both inside the classroom and on campus. Such findings should worry university leadership, and they should worry all who consider debate, dialogue, and civil disagreement essential for a free society.

May 26, 2023
By Ronen Shoval
Minding the Campus

Excerpt: In 1927, Julien Benda’s The Treason of the Intellectuals denounced those who would forsake truth in service of political aims. Nearly a century later, as a researcher and lecturer at Princeton University, I’m embroiled in a modern-day version of Benda’s tale. Indeed, I have become the target of a campaign to eradicate intellectual diversity on campus.

This struggle has evolved into a bureaucratic battle wherein radical professors at Princeton are seeking to alter the hiring process for new research fellows. It will no longer test academic excellence, but rather political ideology. McCarthyism 2023. Their goal is clear: to eliminate the inclusion of conservative voices on campus.

May 25, 2023
By Bill Hewitt '74
Princeton Alumni Weekly

Excerpt: Thanks to the PAW for providing much needed coverage to the highly important – and timely – April 21 scholarly symposium “John Witherspoon in Historical Context.” This symposium provided important new information about Witherspoon’s relation to slavery. Additionally, I found the symposium an example of Princeton at its best in its earnest and forthright evaluation of certain controversial aspects of Witherspoon’s life and legacy.

I note further that the Princeton & Slavery Project, which describes itself as “an ongoing research project that will continue to grow, as users contribute new documents and additional research,” has not even acknowledged the important new information about Witherspoon’s relation to slavery published in January by Witherspoon scholar Kevin DeYoung (himself one of the presenters at the April 21 symposium).