In the July edition of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, known to alumni as PAW, the Chair of PAW’s Board, Marc Fisher, discusses in a letter to readers the efforts of Princeton to bring PAW under greater control of the University. While there may be legitimate reasons for some of the changes proposed by the University, it is very disturbing that the University at this point has not agreed to guarantee the continuing editorial independence of PAW.
As we stated in a letter published in PAW’s “In Box,” we believe all alumni should support Mr. Fisher’s efforts to maintain independent editorial control. We strongly agree with his statement that “PAW maintains and strengthens alumni engagement with Princeton through respectful and open discussion of University events and policies – an especially vital role in this time of national and campus debate about the nature of free speech.”
In recent months, we have seen the beginnings of a movement among alumni of universities to organize to promote free speech and academic freedom on their campuses, as Princetonians for Free Speech is doing for Princeton. As we discuss issues and concerns with these other alumni groups, one troubling trend is that universities are slowly moving to limit the independence of alumni groups and to bring the administration of such groups under the control of the university. Mr. Fisher’s letter to alumni alludes to this trend in discussing what other universities have done recently to limit the independent role of alumni publications.
Alumni should, and now must more than ever, have a strong voice in determining the direction of universities, especially private ones. Universities should not become solely captives of administrators and faculty, but that is the trend. A great university like Princeton should be more than that. An independent PAW is critical to allow other voices to be heard. It should stay “a magazine by alumni for alumni.” If the administration moves to kill PAW’s independent editorial control, it will send a signal to all Princeton alumni that your voices do not really count any more.
Edward L. Yingling, ’70 and Stuart Taylor, Jr. ’70, on behalf of Princetonians for Free Speech