“The University’s Role in a Time of Crisis”

Christopher L. Eisgruber
State of the University Letter

Excerpt: In his annual State of the University letter to faculty, students and staff on Feb. 4, President Eisgruber began: “In the twelve months since my last annual letter to the Princeton community, our nation and our world have experienced a series of crises that made this year among the most challenging and difficult in the University’s history.” He devoted 10 of his 67 paragraphs to “free speech and truth-seeking” and 10 more to President Robert Goheen’s “unstinting commitments to both free speech and racial justice” as “models for our own day.” Eisgruber stressed: “I am a passionate defender of free speech. Vigorous argument is essential to truth-seeking and scholarship. On college campuses in particular, we should meet falsehoods and offensive arguments with better speech, not with censorship, suppression, or punishment. . . . The reckless expression of offensive or false ideas may be protected speech, but [universities] must steadfastly resist any suggestion that they owe equal respect to opinions that are false, regardless of how popular those views may be.”