Excerpt: Joshua Katz, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, addressed the "awfulness" of his experience at Princeton University, the "good" that eventually resulted, and suggestions for restoring "sanity to a world gone mad" at an invite-only conference on academic freedom hosted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business on Nov 4 and 5.
Latest News and Commentary: Princeton
Excerpt: Princeton University has amended its procedures for the granting of No Communication and No Contact Orders (NCOs), the university equivalent of restraining orders. But the amendment is as asinine as it is likely to be misunderstood. Let me, as the President of the Princeton Open Campus Coalition, express my deep disappointment in the foolish new policy.
Excerpt: Outspoken conservatism puts a target on your back; hold any other views, and you are free to skirt accepted norms and University regulations as you please. That is what I discovered through a dive into a case of sexual assault and academic fraud by a Princeton employee in the early 2000s. In 2006, Princeton failed to investigate a sexual harassment allegation against one of its librarians, referred to in this story by the first-name pseudonym Ava.
The very same librarian was discovered to have faked three degrees but inexplicably walked away scot-free until internal pressure finally forced the University to quietly ask for her resignation in 2008. In 2022, a plagiarism allegation against Princeton professor Kevin Kruse has similarly been swept under the rug.
Excerpt: Speaking on November 4 at the Stanford Academic Freedom Conference, Gold summarized Plato’s efforts to build academies after Socrates’ death, and lamented “now our own academy is facing execution at the hands of the people Socrates warned us about: zealous, unreflective Sophists.” Gold said she would “love to see justice prevail, but if it does not, let us take a page from Plato’s book and start building.”
Excerpt: Several campus organizations, including the Princeton Open Campus Coalition (POCC) and the James Madison Program (JMP), sponsored an event on Tuesday, Nov. 1, where students and faculty debated the role of parents in control over public education.
The debate, titled “Should Parents Have the Primary Say in Their Child’s Publicly Funded Education?” was hosted by the organization Braver Angels, which along with the sponsoring campus groups invited University community members to participate in a “respectful conversation touching all sides of a challenging issue,” according to the event’s description.
Excerpt: One of the hardest challenges for a free-speech advocate is to hold to your principles when speech you encounter hurts you to your core. That’s where the rubber meets the road. As an observant Jew and a committed supporter of Israel, I personally struggle the most with my own reflexive “hey, you can’t say that!” reaction when it comes to antisemitic and anti-Israel speech, which often overlap. Those are the moments when I most understand the urge to cancel speech and speakers whose odious ideas feel, in real ways, to be personally threatening.
Ultimately, though, I believe deeply in the right to free speech — including deeply offensive speech — because I believe that it promotes freedom and tolerance.
Samantha Harris is a member of the Princetonians for Free Speech Board of Directors
Excerpt: For over a century, the American Association of University Professors has urged universities to recognize a robust freedom for professors to speak in public "as citizens" without fear of retaliation from their university employers even when such expression is controversial with either external or internal constituencies. That right is now widely recognized by American universities and incorporated into governing documents and policy statements.
So-called "extramural speech" has become a particular area of controversy in recent years, however, as the political opinions of professors become more visible in the age of the Internet and social media.
Excerpt: Princeton sophomore Nate Howard recently added his voice to the string of criticisms of my group, the Princeton Open Campus Coalition (POCC). His criticism––entitled “Campus Conservatives in the POCC Don’t Deserve a Monopoly on Free Speech”––has the dual distinction of being the least charitable and the least compelling.
Howard claims that the POCC uses the free-speech cause as a mere fig leaf for our “culture war grievances.” The POCC, he says, is simply obsessed with “conservative outrage politics.” Of course, I am dismayed to hear that Howard feels our events are only for students who “ascribe” (sic) to conservative ideals. But this is a silly accusation. The POCC is not simply conservative (the picture is more complicated) and the criticisms Howard proffers are hopeless.
Excerpt: The culture wars are fought by volunteer armies, but like Vladimir Putin and the old British navy, they sometimes grab unsuspecting conscripts and force them into battle against their will. Maitland Jones, Jr. is trying to avoid being one of them.
Jones, an emeritus professor of chemistry at Princeton, was on the front page of The New York Times in October after New York University, where he has taught organic chemistry since 2007, notified him that it would not renew his contract. That decision came following a student petition last spring that accused him of being too demanding in his expectations and too harsh in his grading. Though he resists becoming a political football, Jones has strong views about what happened to him.
Excerpt: On Thursday, Oct. 6, the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions hosted a panel about free speech controversies on- and off-campus. Former American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) president Nadine Strossen and Assistant Professor of Politics Greg Conti discussed, among other topics, the partisanship associated with free speech and the specific role of universities.
Strossen discussed the University of Chicago’s Kalven Report, which emphasizes institutional neutrality on free speech issues, and whose adoption has recently been encouraged by some Princeton professors and students.