Excerpt: For some students, the first day of a Princeton class — whether on campus or on a Zoom call — is very different than in previous eras, regardless of the pandemic. Before diving into the material, some professors begin with what is known as a land acknowledgement. A version recommended by the University includes the following: “In 1756, the College of New Jersey moved from Newark and erected Nassau Hall on this land with no recorded consultation with the Lenni-Lenape peoples, and now Princeton University sits on land considered part of the ancient homelands of the Lenni-Lenape peoples.” When students get a turn to introduce themselves, some professors ask them to share the pronouns they prefer. These efforts seek to address some of the important — and at times divisive — cultural issues being debated in the last several years.
Latest News and Commentary: Princeton
Excerpt: The New York Times the other day profiled Princeton classicist Dan-el Padilla Peralta, who wants to destroy the study of classics as a blow for racial justice. The critique of classics as stultifying and privileged isn’t new, but in the woke era, this attack is more potent than ever and has a better chance of demolishing a foundation of Western education. At a time when Abraham Lincoln doesn’t pass muster in the progressive precincts of America, poor benighted Homer, whose chief subject was toxic masculinity, probably doesn’t stand a chance. The Times reports that the critics believe that the study of classics “has been instrumental to the invention of ‘whiteness’ and its continued domination.” To look at all these marvels [of classical antiquity] and see only “whiteness” speaks to a reductive obsession with race that is destructive, self-defeating and, in the end, profoundly depressing. Of course, the Greeks and Romans were blinkered, exclusionary, repressive and violent, but who wasn’t? Where in the ancient world did slavery not exist? What society afforded women equal status with men?
Excerpt: In his annual State of the University letter to faculty, students and staff on Feb. 4, President Eisgruber began: “In the twelve months since my last annual letter to the Princeton community, our nation and our world have experienced a series of crises that made this year among the most challenging and difficult in the University’s history.” He devoted 10 of his 67 paragraphs to “free speech and truth-seeking” and 10 more to President Robert Goheen’s “unstinting commitments to both free speech and racial justice” as “models for our own day.” Eisgruber stressed: “I am a passionate defender of free speech. Vigorous argument is essential to truth-seeking and scholarship. On college campuses in particular, we should meet falsehoods and offensive arguments with better speech, not with censorship, suppression, or punishment. . . . The reckless expression of offensive or false ideas may be protected speech, but [universities] must steadfastly resist any suggestion that they owe equal respect to opinions that are false, regardless of how popular those views may be.”
Excerpt: Dan-El Padilla Peralta, a leading historian of Rome who teaches at Princeton and was born in the Dominican Republic, has been speaking openly about the harm caused by practitioners of classics in the two millenniums since antiquity: the classical justifications of slavery, race science, colonialism, Nazism and other 20th-century fascisms. Classics was a discipline around which the modern Western university grew, and Padilla believes that it has sown racism through the entirety of higher education. Surveying the damage done by people who lay claim to the classical tradition, Padilla argues, one can only conclude that classics has been instrumental to the invention of “whiteness” and its continued domination.
The Princeton Open Campus Coalition (POCC), a student group that has advocated for academic freedom on campus, received the 2020 Outstanding Student Group Award from Heterodox Academy. The award announcement cited POCC’s opposition to a June 2020 student petition that promoted anti-racist policies.
Excerpt: A number of undergraduates and alumni are calling on the University to formally and preemptively abstain from honoring Sen. Ted Cruz ’92’s (R-Texas) legacy on campus. The group is also calling on President Eisgruber to consider revoking Cruz’s degree and calling on Cruz to resign from the Senate. The petition, created by Joshua Faires ’20, has 1,529 signatures at the time of publication, many of which are from students and alumni. It represents one of several calls for action against Cruz following his objections to the certification of election results in both Arizona and Pennsylvania and amplification of debunked voter fraud claims before the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol Building. Faires’ petition is directed towards University administration with explicit demands for University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83.
Summary: The President and Secretary/Treasurer of PFS comment on the on-going controversy at Princeton over a possible speaking invitation to George F. Will by Whig-Clio, the most historic debating society at any American University. Two undergraduate members of Whig-Clio have written conflicting reports, all excerpted and linked on this website, about the reason no invitation was extended. In their article, the PFS officers say that whichever report one believes, the inability of Whig-Clio to agree to extend an invitation to Will, a distinguished Princeton graduate school alumnus and one of the most venerated news commentators of our time, demonstrates the pervasive reach of the suppression of free speech on America’s campuses and at Princeton specifically.
Summary: Adam Hoffman, a Princeton sophomore, responds point by point to a detailed article by Terrell Seabrooks, former Vice President of the American Whig-Cliosophic Society at Princeton (known as Whig Clio), disputing an earlier Hoffman article recounting how, in his view, Whig-Clio rejected two conservative speakers. They are anti-Trump conservative columnist George F. Will and Trump-appointed Federal Judge Neomi Rao. Both previous articles were also posted on this website.
Excerpt: POCC affirms its stance as an apolitical organization. We call no shots between political parties, and have members with a great assortment of political affiliations, religions, gender-identities, races, and socio-economic statuses. We will not comment on the protests turned violent in DC by Trump supporters, just as we have not commented as a group on the protests turned violent by BLM supporters. That is not our mandate, nor our concern. Instead, our calling is to act as the Socratic ‘gadfly’ to both parties, incessantly insisting that free speech rights be protected for all groups. As such we, as a group have voted to condemn efforts by Google, Apple, and now Amazon to “marginalize” and attack the free speech alternative social media app Parler.
Excerpt: Sen. Ted Cruz ’92 (R-Texas), one of Princeton’s most prominent alumni, was an active and willing participant in former President Donald Trump’s voter-fraud disinformation campaign that disproportionately targeted Black and brown Americans, seeking to discount their votes in an effort to overturn an election deemed by many officials as the most secure in American history. It was this effort that culminated in a day of white supremacist violence that will live in infamy in our nation’s history. Cruz’s hands are all over this fraudulent effort. We call on President Eisgruber to acknowledge the racist nature of this voter-fraud disinformation campaign and to explicitly condemn Cruz for his role in it.