Latest News and Commentary: Princeton

December 15, 2021
By Keith E. Whittington
The Washington Post

Excerpt: Faculty members at public universities are under fire in numerous states: They face a serious and growing threat to the academic freedom that lets them choose their research topics and determine what happens in their classrooms without politicians looking over their shoulders.

Across the nation, state legislatures are proposing laws to limit the teaching of certain viewpoints on campus, curb the tenure system or otherwise blur the already thin line between higher education and state politics. If states continue down this path, they will undercut the excellence of their own institutions of higher education, some of which currently can be counted among the best universities in the world. They could send these institutions into a downward spiral, as the gap expands between the intellectual freedom secured at private universities and what is on offer at public universities.

December 12, 2021
By Liam Edgar
Tampa Free Press

Excerpt: A Wall Street Journal [contributor] who authored a scathing criticism of the drive to push transgenderism on young girls had some harsh words for some who support her cause during a recent appearance at Princeton University. Abigail Shrier, author of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” admonished her hosts last week for not standing up to the woke mob that threatened to run her off-campus.

“This is pathetic. Don’t accept this,” Shrier told the audience, according to The Fix. “What the hell am I doing off-campus? You know what, they won. Why? Because there are 35 people, and there were hundreds who wanted to attend.” “When students say that they’re afraid to be caught on audio because of fear of reprisal, they’re not free. That’s not what freedom looks like,” she said. “Don’t accept it. And don’t believe anyone who tells you that this is a free campus ― it’s obviously not.”

 

December 11, 2021
By Keith E. Whittington
The Volokh Conspiracy, Reason Magazine

Excerpt: On December 7, Lauryn Sudduth, an assistant attorney general of the state of Louisiana, appeared at a meeting of the faculty senate at Louisiana State University to read a letter from state attorney general Jeff Landry. The letter was responding to a faculty resolution regarding vaccine requirements at the university. Landry has been active in opposing vaccine mandates. The faculty senate resolution that Landry was criticizing was sponsored in part by Robert Mann, a professor in the School of Mass Communications and formerly the press secretary to several Democratic politicians in the state.

Mann took to twitter to criticize Landry for sending "some flunkie" to LSU to read his letter. Landry responded on twitter from his official government account, criticizing Mann for his "disparaging remarks" and expressing his expectation that LSU President William Tate will hold the professor "accountable" by taking "appropriate action" for his tweet.

 

December 10, 2021
By Bailey Glenetske
The Daily Princetonian

Excerpt: Abigail Shrier, the author of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” spoke to University students on Wednesday, Dec. 8, in an event hosted by The Princeton Tory and the Princeton Open Campus Coalition (POCC) with support from The Witherspoon Institute and the Tikvah Fund. In response to Shrier’s talk, the Princeton Pride Alliance, in collaboration with Princeton’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC), organized a teach-in as a way to “build a more inclusive campus community for transgender and non-binary students” and educate students on “how to serve as an ally in larger social and political movements.”

Asked by The Daily Princetonian about campus reactions to the event, POCC President Myles McKnight ’23 wrote, “Several POCC and Tory members reported that they were verbally harassed by peers during the lead-up to the event. Some students felt threatened.”

December 10, 2021
By Matthew Wilson
The College Fix

Journalist Abigail Shrier spoke to Princeton University students at a private event on Wednesday, discussing everything from free speech and academic freedom to gender ideology and parental rights. The talk was held at an off-campus venue, the location of which was revealed solely to RSVP’d guests just a few hours before the event due to “threats and harassment” organizers said were leveled against Shrier and student groups co-hosting the lecture.

That along with Princeton’s remaining coronavirus restrictions necessitated the heightened security measures, Adam Hoffman, publisher of The Princeton Tory and a student organizer of the event, said in his introduction of Shrier. But the talk did represent the start of a recommitment “to the relentless pursuit of the truth,” Hoffman said, adding that he hoped his peers’ scare tactics would no longer suppress open debate at the Ivy League institution. Shrier’s talk was co-hosted by The Princeton Tory, the Princeton Open Campus Coalition, and Public Discourse, the journal of the Witherspoon Institute, where the event was held. Shrier is author of the recent book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” which has made her a prime target for accusations of transphobia.

December 8, 2021
By Princeton Open Campus Coalition and Princeton Tory
Princeton Tory

Excerpt: The Princeton Tory and the Princeton Open Campus Coalition (POCC) are co-hosting a guest lecture by Abigail Shrier, author of the much-acclaimed book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters. The event will take place on the evening of Wednesday, December 8th. Woefully inaccurate characterizations of our attendance policy and other relevant decisions have abounded on social media and in conversations amongst Princeton’s community members. We offer here some clarifications. 

I. The location will be disclosed to attendees on the day of the event. In light of the visceral and censorious reaction we correctly anticipated from many community members, the decision to carefully manage information about the event location has proved necessary to ensure the safety of attendees. Mrs. Shrier’s national profile increases the likelihood of harmful targeting, since she has been the victim of serious threats in the past. The fact that several Tory and POCC affiliates have already been personally harassed and feel threatened further validates our careful management of information regarding the event’s location.

II. Some allege that we have sought, in defiance of our own commitment to viewpoint diversity and robust dialogue, to limit the presence of dissent. Far from seeking to insulate Tory and POCC members (and Mrs. Shrier) from reasonable opposition, we adopted a first-come-first-serve policy that allows for anyone—of any ideological commitment, background or affiliation—to RSVP. 

December 8, 2021
By Abigail Shrier
abigailshrier.substack.com

Excerpt: I was so honored tonight to be hosted by the Princeton Tory, the Witherspoon Institute and the Tikvah Fund. The undergraduates I met tonight were clear sighted and brilliant and astonishingly well read. There’s so much on their shoulders. Here was my message to them.

The question I get most often—the thing that most interviewers want to know, even when they’re pretending to care about more high-minded things—is:  What’s it like to be so hated?  . . . What’s it like to be on a GLAAD black list? What’s it like to have top ACLU lawyers come out in favor of banning your book? What’s it like to have prestigious institutions disavow you as an alum?

Why am I unwilling to back down? Why wouldn’t I prostrate myself before the petulant mobs who insist that my standard journalistic investigation into a medical mystery—specifically, why so many teen girls were suddenly identifying as transgender and clamoring to alter their bodies—makes me a hater? Why on earth would I have chosen to write this book in the first place and am I glad that I wrote it?

December 8, 2021
By Keith E. Whittington
Volokh Conspiracy, Reason Magazine

Excerpt: As part of an issue dedicated to freedom of thought in the journal Social Philosophy and Policy, I published on article focusing on ideological diversity on the faculty at American universities. You can find the published version behind a paywall here, but I have now posted a draft version that is freely accessible.

The paper takes up four questions. First, is it true that university faculty are not very ideologically diverse. It is remarkable how frequently this claim is denied, but we actually have a substantial amount of empirical evidence over many decades that pretty decisively demonstrate American academia is a political monoculture. The second section takes up the question of the question of why that is true, and here the evidence is much less clear. The third section asks whether any of this matters. A popular theme of political commentary is that it matters because students are being indoctrinated by tenured radicals, but there is no real evidence that this is true.

Finally, the paper asks what is to be done, and here I don't think there are any good answers, especially in the short term.

November 30, 2021
By Academic Freedom Alliance Press Release

Excerpt: The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) sent a letter to the University of Rochester on behalf of Professor David Bleich, who has been suspended from teaching for his use of the n-word in an English class. Bleich used the word first by reading from a short story that had been assigned to the class and then by reading from an article by Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy, who is a prominent expert on the history and use of the n-word.

“Professor Bleich’s case is a prime example of an increasingly prevalent violation of free speech and academic freedom on campuses today, in which certain words—often words that are culturally or historically significant—are banned from use even in relevant scholarly contexts,” said Samantha Harris, the attorney representing Professor Bleich.

 

November 25, 2021
By Robert P. George, Director of the James Madison Program
James Madison Progrm

Excerpt: A happy Thanksgiving to you! Although days of Thanksgiving in our country have been observed going all the way back to the presidency of George Washington, the national holiday we celebrate today was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863—in the very midst of the Civil War.

There are still abundant national blessings … and national sins … and divine mercy. And there is national division. On this Thanksgiving Day we are a polarized nation and too many Americans are stuck in silos. Half the country, it seems, gets its information and analysis exclusively from Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and American Greatness; the other half, from MSNBC or CNN, the New York Times, and the Nation. In their respective silos, people are constantly told they are right—reinforced in what they happen to believe—and taught to regard their fellow citizens who disagree as villains … and therefore enemies.

To decide where you should stand, I urge you to avoid the silos and listen attentively to what intelligent voices on the competing sides are saying. To allow oneself to be constantly reinforced in what one already believes is to court becoming a mere partisan, a dogmatist, an ideologue.