Student groups and bloggers forcefully criticized The Daily Princetonian for a column published in the paper on Wednesday, which they claim expressed anti-Asian bigotry.
Part of the 'Prince's' annual joke issue, the column was written in broken English and drew on several stereotypes about Asians. It ran with the byline "Lian Ji," referring to Yale freshman Jian Li, who filed a bias complaint against the University last year, alleging that the Admission Office discriminates against Asian applicants.
The column begins, "Hi Princeton! Remember me? I so good at math and science. Perfect 2400 SAT score. Ring bells?" It also refers to "yellow people" who "cook greasy food, wash your clothes and let you copy our homework."
Members of the paper's managing board, whose terms end next week, wrote the column, which appeared in an issue comprising fake stories.
"The article was completely distasteful," Asian-American Students Association (AASA) co-president Katherine Chiang '08 said. AASA is coordinating with other Asian student groups on campus to present a unified response on behalf of those offended by the column.
"Even in the context of a joke," she said, "it made reference to so many stereotypes such as yellow fever or eating dogs. What really pushed us over the edge is that we don't speak like that, and we don't write like that."
'Prince' editor-in-chief Chanakya Sethi '07 said in an e-mail statement on behalf of his board that its members "did not seek to offend" and "sincerely regret having upset" some readers.
But Sethi defended the paper's decision to publish the column, noting that its authors' intent was not to insult Asians, but rather to mock the very stereotypes racism employs.
"The column in question was penned by a diverse group of students — including several Asians on our senior editorial staff — who had no malicious intent," Sethi said. "Given our purpose, we are deeply troubled by and reject the allegation of racism."
Chiang said that the editorial might hurt Princeton's efforts to maintain a friendly environment for Asian-American students. "AASA wants to make clear that this behavior, that might set the University back, is unacceptable," she said.
Chinese Students Association co-president Jin Ge '08 said in an e-mail that he is also "worried about the effect this editorial will have on outside perceptions of Princeton."
Other Asian student leaders felt that the article was less objectionable, however.
Ben Chen '09, the vice president of the Taiwanese-American Students Association, said that "he could see how students could be offended, but the authors' intent wasn't clear." He added that "if they had sent it through the Triangle Club before publishing [it], it might have been funnier ... but it seemed to be more of a stereotype of stereotypes."
Chiang said that AASA has contacted members of the Asian-American Alumni Association of Princeton, as well as members of the University administration. The group also plans to bring its concerns before an audience of more than a thousand students at the East Coast Asian-American Students Union conference in February.
"We're hoping to spark a dialogue, so we can prevent this sort of thing from happening again," she said. "A lot of alumni have e-mailed expressing their concerns."
Other students outraged over the editorial formed a Facebook group called, "Dear Daily Prince, This Isn't Funny, It's Racist," which now has nearly 200 members. The Ivy League blog IvyGate and the Boston Globe's "Braniac" blog linked to the editorial and voiced concerns that the column was insensitive.
Sethi said that many of the column's critics have misconstrued its intent. "Using hyperbole and an unbelievable string of stereotypes, we hoped to lampoon racism by showing it at its most outrageous," he said.
Jess Wey '07, a former TASA president, wrote a letter to the editor expressing her concerns.
"When something crosses the line," she added in an e-mail, "I feel that the Asian community should stand up for itself, to overcome this stasis, the tendency to 'do nothing about it.' " No members of the 130th managing board of The Daily Princetonian were involved in writing or editing this article.
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