Princeton Open Campus Coalition opposes BJL protests in letter to Eisgruber ’83| Nov 23, 2015
A new student group called the Princeton Open Campus Coalition delivered a letter opposing the methods and demands of the Black Justice League protests to University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 on Sunday night.
The letter requested a meeting with Eisgruber in his office to present arguments regarding the events of the past week.
“We are concerned mainly with the importance of preserving an intellectual culture in which all members of the Princeton community feel free to engage in civil discussion and to express their convictions without fear of being subjected to intimidation or abuse,” the students wrote. “Thanks to recent polls, surveys and petitions, we have reason to believe that our concerns are shared by a majority of our fellow Princeton undergraduates.”
The letter was signed by the 10 members of POCC’s Legislative Committee: Allie Burton ’17 , Evan Draim ’16, Josh Freeman ’18, Sofia Gallo ’17, Solveig Gold ’17, Andy Loo ’16, Sebastian Marotta ’16, Devon Naftzger ’16, Beni Snow ’19 and Josh Zuckerman ’16.
Gold said that the group's goal was to make sure that different viewpoints on the sit-in protest and protests in other universities were equally represented.
“This dialogue is necessary because many students have shared with us that they are afraid to state publicly their opinions on recent events for fear of being vilified, slandered and subjected to hatred, either by fellow students or faculty,” the letter reads. “Many who questioned the protest were labeled racist, and black students who expressed disagreement with the protesters were called ‘white sympathizers’ and were told they were ‘not black.’ ”
The letter mentioned POCC’s two-pronged aim of first discussing the recently employed protest methods and, next, welcoming a fair debate about the protesters’ demands.
POCC opposes the removal of the legacy of Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, from campus. They also raised concerns about the proposed distribution requirement, cultural competency training for faculty and having a “safe” space on campus.
“We are all members of the Princeton community. We denounce the notion that our basic interactions with each other should be defined by demographic traits,” the signatories wrote to explain their disapproval of affinity housing for certain races.
Throughout the message, the writers emphasized that they will behave in a civil manner that they wish to maintain and reinforce as the norm on campus.
“Unlike their counterparts at other universities, Princeton undergraduates opposed to the curtailment of academic freedom refuse to remain silent out of fear of being slandered,” the students wrote. “We will not stop fighting for what we believe in.”
POCC aims to protect diversity of thought and the right of all students to advance their academic and personal convictions in a manner free from intimidation, according to the organization’s Facebook page.
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the response to requests for comment from signatories of the petition. The 'Prince' regrets the error.