Excerpt: The ubiquity of race obsession on campuses in the age of Black Lives Matter and George Floyd showed itself at Princeton University, too, so much so that in September its President, Christopher L. Eisgruber, published a self-flagellating open letter in which he bemoaned the fact that “[r]acism and the damage it does to people of color persist at Princeton” and that “racist assumptions” are “embedded in structures of the University itself.” At least one federal agency took Eisgruber at his word and Princeton subsequently received a letter from the Department of Education (DOE) questioning if the university was, in light of this self-professed racism, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That investigation by the DOE may be of concern for Princeton officials, but the frenzy over racism from inside the campus community is proving to be a thornier problem as the campus has reacted vocally to some recent instances of alleged racism by faculty and students—even questioning whether or not academic freedom should be restricted to make sure no one’s feelings are hurt by racist expression.
Latest News and Commentary: Princeton
These are heroes of academic freedom and integrity. Bursting with pride in the brave and brilliant students of the Princeton Open Campus Coalition! [The Heterodox Academy, HxA, which calls itself “the preeminent voice for open inquiry and viewpoint diversity,” announced on December 17: “We are thrilled to announce the 2020 Open Inquiry Awards winners: @John McWhorter, Leadership; @Amy Lai, Exceptional Scholarship; @JustinTosi & @BrandonWarmke, Exceptional Scholarship; Princeton Open Campus Coalition, Outstanding Student Group; and @matthewgburgess, Teaching.” The Princeton Open Campus Coalition, POCC, says its mission is “Protecting diversity of thought and the right of all students to advance their academic and personal convictions in a manner free from intimidation.”]
Excerpt: I wrote about Princeton University Professor Joshua Katz in “Professor Katz’s declaration,” citing his essay “A declaration of independence.” Professor Katz has now followed up on his “declaration” in remarks to Yale’s William F. Buckley, Jr., Program with a speech titled “How to lose friends and influence people.” In the course of his remarks Professor Katz cites Matt Taibbi’s essay “The left is now the right” and refers to Andrew Sullivan’s 2018 observation “We all live on campus now.” Professor Katz is an exemplary figure with an important story to tell. This video deserves the widest possible audience.
Professor Katz’s remarks make for a learned cry from the heart by a brave scholar who speaks out from inside the asylum of higher education. In attaching his name to his “declaration” and following up in this speech, Professor Katz walks in the footsteps of American heroes of old.
Excerpt: On this episode of The Orange Table, we sit down with Princeton Open Campus Coalition (POCC) President Rebekah Adams ’21 to discuss what it is like to be a Black female conservative on Princeton's campus. We also dive into the important conversation happening on campus right now around free speech, while touching on more global issues of race like police brutality and white privilege.
Excerpt: In response to Hannah Reynold’s Nov. 25 opinion column, “‘Speak Freely,’ except on fossil fuel divestment,” I write to address any misconceptions about the rights and responsibilities of University staff when speaking on matters of political, public policy, or civic interest. Consistent with its statement on freedom of expression, the University encourages and supports the free expression and exchange of ideas and views by all members of our community. That means that every staff member is free to engage on their own behalf and on their own time in discourse and advocacy on political or policy matters.
Excerpt: Upon matriculating at Princeton, I received two things in the mail: the classic black Princeton t-shirt and a copy of the pre-read, “Speak Freely.” I wasn’t the only one: the entire student body was encouraged to read the book. That’s how seriously the University takes freedom of speech — at least on the surface. Over the summer, we saw Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun and President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 defend students and staff’s freedom to use racial slurs. Last month, President Eisgruber reaffirmed that stance. Time and again, University officials have defended the right to free speech on Princeton’s campus. Even so, free speech isn’t equal at Princeton, especially when it comes to issues deemed political or controversial. For months now, I have worked on Divest Princeton’s campaign for fossil fuel divestment.
Excerpt: At a virtual town hall last month, President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 stood by the University’s hardline free-speech policy, which came under fire this summer, after his administration declined to respond to instances of racist speech, citing free speech protections. We have received many messages professing the University’s commitment to the ongoing fight for racial equality in the United States. But actions speak louder than words. What does it mean to increase faculty and staff diversity, as President Eisgruber announced he intends to do, if the community they join does not stand against racism they may encounter? The incidents over the summer — most notably, Professor Joshua Katz’s op-ed, in which he referred to Black student activists as “terrorists,” and a student’s use of the n-word in a Facebook post — are just the latest in a long history of racism on campus. While administrators have criticized both Katz and the student’s choice of words, they refused to take meaningful action.
Excerpt: As the election impends, I feel an irresistible need to explain why I am going to vote for President Donald Trump. It is considered suicidal for an academic today to be upfront about this. Indeed, it is said that 95 percent of all U.S. academics hold Trump in contempt—and most of the remaining 5 percent, who may agree with me, would never dare to admit it in public. So why do it? As a former refugee from totalitarian, communist Romania, I feel a moral obligation to speak out and prove that academics don't need to think and act in lockstep. Like many of my colleagues, I find much of what Trump says and tweets on impulse distasteful, though his prepared speeches can be inspiring. I didn't vote for him in 2016. Though a registered independent, I find myself almost always opposed to the Democratic candidate. I am opposed to many of the things Democrats push for: big-government programs, heavy regulations, higher taxes, weak foreign policy with an over-reliance on ineffective and often corrupt international institutions and, worst of all, raw identity politics. But I have learned to distinguish between what Trump says and what he does.
Excerpt: At a panel conversation on free speech and revisionism held yesterday, Rep. Ken Buck ’81 (R-Colo.) and Professor of Mathematics Sergiu Klainerman criticized the recent removal of Woodrow Wilson’s name from the residential college and the School of Public and International Affairs. Buck opened the event by remarking on the rise of “cancel culture.” Klainerman, who recalled growing up in Communist Romania, echoed Buck’s concerns. “I feel,” he said, “that we live at a time when many people feel that free speech is a real impediment to social justice, and this is social justice in this modern, post-modernist version of radical equality, and it’s a time when the silent majority, most people on campuses and everywhere, are either confused or intimidated and quite afraid to speak out for fear of being ostracized.”
In a wide-ranging town hall yesterday, President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 and top administrators answered student questions about their plans to address systemic racism and promote racial equity and inclusion. Topics ranged from the University’s free speech policy on racial epithets to affinity spaces and faculty diversity. The discussion saw very little direct engagement from the student body. The event began with discussion of the Department of Education’s (DOE) civil rights investigation into the University. One student asked whether Princeton faces specific allegations of racism and whether Nassau Hall is complying with the investigation in a manner that protects student privacy. Pushing back against the investigation’s premise, President Eisgruber said he is not aware of any civil rights violations that the University had committed.