Latest News and Commentary: Princeton

January 18, 2023
By Eleanor Clemans-Cope
Daily Princetonian

Excerpt: George F. Will GS ’68 recently took to the pages of the Washington Post, where he is a regular columnist, to announce to the world that wokeness at Princeton is destroying free speech. Liberal censorship on college campuses has become an obsession on the political right, a pillar of their case that conservatives are under attack. It’s absurd — and reminiscent of the Red Scare — to declare a national slide into progressive tyranny due to “wokeness” at elite universities. But beyond that, the foundational argument that Princeton is “too woke” and therefore intolerant is a lie.

January 17, 2023
By Kathy Kiely
Princetonians for Maria, Substack

Excerpt: For once, I am writing to you with good news: A few hours ago — Wednesday morning in Manila — the Philippines tax court of appeals threw out four charges of tax evasion against Maria Ressa ‘86 and Rappler, the news organization she founded. You can read more about the decision on Rappler.

Rappler’s video of Maria’s very emotional reaction gives a rare insight into what kind of pressure this remarkably upbeat woman has been enduring. This ends a four-year legal battle initiated by the administration of former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, which falsely claimed that Rappler was foreign-owned. But this does not end Maria’s trials — both literal and figurative.

January 14, 2023
By Stuart Taylor, Jr., Co-founder, Princetonians for Free Speech
National Review

After the woke take down Witherspoon, if they succeed, who might be next? Maybe President (of the United States) James Madison, Founding genius and drafter of the First Amendment? A Princeton graduate (1771), Madison stayed on an extra year to study under Witherspoon and lends his name to the university’s James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service. He had far more than two slaves. Would Princeton spare the two iconic paintings of George Washington — with his hand on a cannon and with the College of New Jersey, as Princeton was then known, in the background during the Battle of Princeton, and at ease after winning it — by Charles Willson Peale, who himself experienced the battle firsthand? 

January 13, 2023
By Sam Fendler '21
Letter to the Editor, Princeton Alumni Weekly

Excerpt: This article offered an interesting high-level view of conservatism at Princeton. Its finest feature is its presentation of Professor Robby George as Princeton’s last great hope for conservative students. Beyond his tremendous instruction, Professor George was a source of sanity for me during my tenure at Princeton, and I feel deeply grateful for his example. 

I think the current state of affairs at Princeton should worry alumni of all political persuasions because the campus climate is producing closed-mindedness and distrust amongst students. 

January 13, 2023
By Jamie Saxon
Office of Communications, Princeton University

Russell Banks, award-winning novelist and the Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, and professor of the Humanities Council and creative writing, emeritus, died Jan. 8 from cancer at his home in Saratoga Springs, New York. He was 82. . . . Joyce Carol Oates, the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor of the Humanities, . . . said a favorite memory of their years-long friendship took place in March 1989, when they gave a reading together for Princeton students — along with Toni Morrison and several other creative writing faculty members — of Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses,” who was under death threats at the time, to show their support of free speech. “Russell was a moral compass for many, in the tradition of such writers as Melville, Hawthorne and Conrad, for whom the moral ambiguities of life are of fundamental concern, . . .” said Oates, who has taught at the University for 44 years.

January 11, 2023
By Bill Hewitt
Daily Princetonian

Excerpt: “And when these walls in dust are laid … ” shall any sing praise of Old Nassau? How should future Princetonians judge our actions? How should we ourselves now remember — even honor — our forebears? And how shall we attempt to inform and persuade one another on these and other concerns? This question lies at the heart of the debate over Princeton’s Witherspoon statue. I firmly believe that this debate must be governed by principles of free speech. Furthermore, rather than condemn and erase Witherspoon’s legacy, I maintain that we ought to remember and honor him. 

I commend the petitioners for their advocacy by reason and persuasion, rather than by such means troubling to me as the seizure of a campus office or building. Their statement not only induced me to better understand what the Witherspoon statue means to them, but also led me to learn more about Witherspoon himself. 

January 9, 2023
By Academic Freedom Alliance Press Release

Excerpt: The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) today released a statement urging policymakers to refrain from adopting “divisive concepts” policies that limit classroom discussion, scholarly inquiry, or public debate on controversial topics. The statement responds to the rising tide of proposed legislation seeking to ban the expression of viewpoints deemed objectionable by those in power. This trend followed a move by President Trump in September 2020 to prohibit “divisive concepts” in federal workplace training programs. 

January 9, 2023
By John Sailer
The Free Press

Excerpt: The principles commonly known as “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) are meant to sound like a promise to provide welcome and opportunity to all on campus. And to the ordinary American, those values sound virtuous and unobjectionable.

But many working in academia increasingly understand that they instead imply a set of controversial political and social views. And that in order to advance in their careers, they must demonstrate fealty to vague and ever-expanding DEI demands and to the people who enforce them. Failing to comply, or expressing doubt or concern, means risking career ruin. 

January 5, 2023
By Keith E. Whittington
The Volokh Conspiracy, Reason Magazine

Excerpt: Hamline University is going through some things. After terminating an instructor of art history for showing a class artwork that offended some Muslim students, numerous scholars and advocacy groups have denounced the university's actions as a serious affront to academic freedom. FIRE has gone further an filed a complaint with an accreditation agency. 

Part of what made the case particularly remarkable was the unusual degree of clarity about their priorities from the university leadership. Usually university presidents try not to be so explicit about what they are doing when they ride roughshod over academic freedom. But Hamline's president tells you how things are.

January 3, 2023
By Academic Freedom Alliance Press Release

Excerpt: The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) today sent a letter to Hamline University regarding its handling of complaints involving a class on the global history of art. During a class session on Islamic art, an instructor showed an image of a well-known medieval Islamic painting of the Prophet Muhammad. The professor reportedly took care to give a “content warning” during the virtual class and provided students an opportunity to turn off their own video feed to avoid viewing the image. Nonetheless, Hamline University denounced and ultimately dismissed the professor without due process.