Latest News and Commentary: Princeton

February 3, 2022
By Abigail Y. Anthony, Princeton Student
National Review

Excerpt: As a freshman, I joined Princeton University Ballet, the student-run club for recreational ballet. Auditions are required for membership, and we perform a show each semester. We have the luxury of practicing in multi-million dollar studios with Steinway pianos. But recently, the club has gained a new feature by adopting a trendy moral initiative: combating systemic racism.

I imagine readers wondering, “Why should I care about a tiny dance club at Princeton?” Today, these might be some random undergraduates, and it is easy to dismiss their activity as naive, inconsequential virtue-signaling. But these students will graduate soon, and they will implement similar demands when they occupy powerful positions at impressive companies and organizations.

February 2, 2022
By Keith E. Whittington
The Volokh Conspiracy, Reason Magazine

Excerpt: The Academic Freedom Alliance has released a public letter to the Georgetown University Law Center objecting to its treatment of a senior lecturer. Ilya Shapiro was director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute.

The Academic Freedom Alliance wrote to Dean Treanor explaining that the law school was itself violating the university's policies on free expression by investigating a member of the faculty for his Twitter posts and was threatening to erode free speech protections for all of its faculty. Unfortunately, Georgetown University Law Center does not have a good record of late in standing up for free speech and academic freedom.

January 31, 2022
By Myles McKnight
Daily Princetonian

The following is a guest contribution and reflects the author’s views alone. For information on how to submit an article to the Opinion Section, click here.   

Excerpt: To the Editor: On Jan. 19, The Daily Princetonian published an article entitled “Eisgruber defends SPIA Dean Jamal amid POCC criticism of statement on Rittenhouse verdict.” The subject was related to an exchange that I, as well as Abigail Anthony ’23 and sixty other Princeton Open Campus Coalition (POCC) members, had with University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 regarding a statement released by School of Public and International Affairs Dean Amaney Jamal after the Rittenhouse verdict. That exchange — though disappointing — addressed matters foundational to University life. Your readers deserved a balanced and thoughtful distillation of the arguments made by all. Instead, the coverage was snide, underdeveloped, and divulged a clear disdain for my organization.

January 31, 2022
By Logan Dubil
Campus Reform

Excerpt: Princetonians for Free Speech published a letter ahead of a Jan. 19 panel at the university, criticizing the event for its lack of "ideological diversity."  The panel, "Race, Speech, and the University," featured speakers Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of "The 1619 Project," Ulrich Baer, author of What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech, Truth, and Equality on Campus, and Stefan Bradley, author of Upending the Ivory Tower: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Ivy League.

Department of Politics Undergraduate Committee representatives Abigail Anthony and Myles McKnight penned the Jan. 11 letter "Students Praise Quality of Planned Panel But Prefer Ideological Diversity.” In addition to serving as the president of the Princeton Open Campus Coalition, McKnight is also a correspondent for Campus Reform. In the letter, Anthony and McKnight praise Princeton for "organizing an impressive panel of speakers," singling out the university's openness to host Hannah-Jones as a representative of "voices deemed too unorthodox for some universities to sponsor." 

January 27, 2022
By Aidan Iacobucci
Daily Princetonian

Excerpt: Princeton faculty members involved with the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) have expressed support for law professor Amy Wax’s academic freedom, after the University of Pennsylvania announced it had initiated a review process that could sanction her for her anti-Asian remarks.

Following the announcement, some professors at Princeton and other institutions argued that principles of academic freedom ought to shield Wax from consequences. University politics professor Keith Whittington, the Academic Chair of the AFA, told The Daily Princetonian that while he does not support her comments, he supports her right to make those comments.

January 26, 2022
By Apratim Vidyarthi and Keith E. Whittington
Philadelphia Inquirer

Excerpt: Penn Law professor Amy Wax is no stranger to offending people. She has a history of making controversial and racist comments. Wax has tenure — an “indefinite appointment,” according to the American Association of University Professors, which can only be terminated for “cause or under extraordinary circumstances.” The goal of tenure, says the AAUP, is to give professors the academic freedom to pursue ideas and knowledge without bowing to outside pressures.

But should a history of making racist remarks be considered part of academic freedom?

January 24, 2022
By John Craig
Philanthropy Daily

Excerpt: It is a tall order to criticize an institution you love and to which you are indebted; speaking out on problems that most others are unaware of (or may prefer to ignore) and challenging powerful academic leaders is no small task. And thus the Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought and Discourse (DFTD), which I helped found four years ago, took this on with some trepidation.

We were convinced that Davidson was at a crossroads: if it continued on that path, we feared that it would lose its status as a premier institution of learning over the long term.

January 24, 2022
By AJ Lonski
The Daily Princetonian

Excerpt: Princeton is supposed to be a place where everyone is welcome. People here frequently talk about their commitment to diversity and inclusion. That’s why, when I first committed to Princeton for varsity wrestling, I was ecstatic. But as it turns out, the commitment to diversity and inclusion often doesn’t extend to Princeton’s varsity sports teams.

One of the most salient memories I have from my time on the team occurred in the locker room, before practice. When an upperclassman was addressing the wrestling team, the topic of LGBTQ+ athletes came up. He stated, “The day that there is a gay person on this team is the day that the wrestling program has gone to s***.”

January 23, 2022
By Rod Dreher
The American Conservative

Excerpt: A source at Princeton University passed to me two documents sent out by the president of Princeton University Ballet (the student-run recreational ballet club), regarding the club’s diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives. I quote them both below, in full. The first was written by the club leaders, who in it affirm that “we are all entering this space with a mindset that what we see as perfect is a white standard” and “we aim to decolonize our practice of ballet, even as ballet remains an imperialist, colonialist, and white supremacist art form.”

The second document is about “Action Plan Guidelines”. I am told that it was not written by the students, but by Princeton alumni who led the “EDI Circuit.” The document was given to all the clubs that participated. The source says, "I don’t think it was mandatory for all the performing arts groups. Still, it was organized by the University’s offices, namely the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Lewis Center for the Arts." . . . This is how the American elites are being indoctrinated to think about art, race, their country, and themselves. They hate ballet. They hate art. They hate beauty. They hate their predecessors in the dance tradition. They hate freedom of thought. They hate white people (including, below, themselves). They hate America, and they hate the West. Above all, they hate.

January 22, 2022
By Princeton Professor Keith Whittington, in podcast interview by Brown Professor Glenn Loury
CNN

Below is a link to a CNN interview of Keith Whittington, who chairs the Academic Freedom Alliance, by Michael Smerconish of CNN over a tenure dispute involving widespread outrage about allegedly racist comments by Penn Law Professor Amy Wax. She spoke in a podcast interview by Brown University Professor Glenn Loury, generating widespread outrage. Now Penn Law Dean Theodore Ruger has started a process that could threaten her tenure. Whittington deplores Wax’s statements as “repugnant” and “wrong as a policy matter, wrong as a moral matter,” but says that tenured professors should not be punished for expressing their political views outside the classroom.