Student responses to the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions have challenged the characterization of the University as a community that shies away from activism. The Nov. 25protest on Prospect Avenue and the Dec. 4“die-in,” along with other student-led events, have brought students of all backgrounds into a discussion on the ways in which race affects students’ experiences at the University and how the University can create a safer and more supportive environment. While policy recommendations from the Council of the Princeton University Community have yet to be released, the effects of student activism have already been felt. Topics regarding diversity, inclusion and equity have entered into both precept debates and dining hall discussions, as students more than ever have taken it upon themselves to critically evaluate the behavior in which they engage and the norms they perpetuate, inadvertently or otherwise. The Board believes the discourse surrounding pressing social issues should continue and commends the students who, through their activism, have inspired a respectful and open campus-wide discussion.
All too often, students here focus on their studies and extracurricular endeavors at the expense of engaging with important national and international events. The “die-in” following the Eric Garner grand jury decision, in particular, was tremendously successful at interrupting students’ regular schedules to draw attention to an issue that all individuals, especially those fortunate enough to receive a top-tier education, should engage with. The Board believes the “die-in” and similar events that force students to confront important questions from outside the “Orange Bubble” are an integral part of a Princeton education. Such events encourage students to apply the knowledge and analytical tools they have developed in courses to find solutions to the challenges of our society, making students internalize the University’s unofficial motto, “Princeton in the nation's service and in the service of all nations.” In order to further develop this important facet of a Princeton education, the Board encourages students to continue looking beyond FitzRandolph Gate to find issues of social justice about which they are passionate.
Furthermore, the Board appreciates that student activists communicated with the student body using a variety of platforms. Activists chose to balance more disruptive protests with more accessible town hall meetings and participation in a University-sponsored panel. The multitude of forums from which students could express their views gave students of all temperaments a home within the greater movement of students concerned with issues of diversity, inclusion and equity. Moreover, the campus’s willingness to hear multiple points of view has allowed all interested students to voice their opinions and contribute to the campus discussion. The Board appreciates this kind of open dialogue and encourages future activists to similarly operate in an inclusive manner.
Finally, the Board is proud of the more transparent and expressive environment that has developed over the past month. Students making their voices heard has resulted in an awareness of injustices on campus and in the University creating a task force to pose solutions to the hurdles certain students face. Moreover, the Board believes that students’ willingness to participate in the dialogue surrounding Ferguson has only positively contributed to more active discussions of other campus issues such as the challenges women face within the eating clubs. Continued activism and dialogue are key to improving campus culture and improving the Princeton educational experience.
Zach Horton abstained from this editorial.
TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinionsseparately from the regular staff and editors of the ‘Prince.’ The Board answers only to its chair, the opinion editor and the editor-in-chief.