A group of alumni have started an initiative to wear an orange-and-black version of the “PussyHats” worn at the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017.
Calling it the “TiGrrrHat Project,” the project organizers, who were inspired by the March for Science, People’s Climate March, and the University’s own Day of Action, launched a website where the hats can be purchased.
Sue Gemmell ’82, who started the project, noticed a number of shared values between the Women’s March on Washington and the University: “critical thinking, respect for free speech, commitment to science and fact, how diversity enriches our lives.”
As her classmate and project organizer Alison Holtzschue ’82 recalled, “the resonance seemed natural to [Sue].”
Holtzschue, who attended the Women’s March in New York City, said she was reminded of the way Reunions bring Princetonians together as a community.
"[The TiGrrrHat Project] represents a gentle, lighthearted way to bring that feeling of shared support to reunions,” Holtzschue added.
“The hat is iconic in that it refers to dissatisfaction with the direction away from science, away from civil rights,” Gemmell explained. “This is a situation different than any other, this is not business as usual.”
She added that the hats will provide a great sense of unity, regardless of political backgrounds.
“Princeton brings the world together,” she noted.
Addressing the fear that the project will bring politics into the alumni community, Holtzschue explained that Reunions have never been just a party.
"It’s also about community and lifelong learning,” she said.
During her time at the University, Gemmell, a daughter of Australian scientists, was involved with fighting wage inequality after food service workers went on strike, protesting the U.S. involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War and divestment from apartheid South Africa. She described active discussion on campus about the ethics of “where our money goes.”
“One of the greatest parts of Princeton is the effort they have made to bring people from all different backgrounds,” Gemmell said. “There's a clear understanding that [diversity] enriches the education we all get.”
Holtzschue added that she's proud that Elena Kagan ’81 and Sonia Sotomayor ’76 are on the Supreme Court, and that Michelle Obama ’85 was in the White House, nothing that these are all reasons to be proud to be a Princetonian.
“Wearing a hat is celebrating Princeton’s contributions to all of those things ... that are under threat right now,” she said.
The TiGrrrHat Project is a private initiative not affiliated with or sponsored by the University, and wearing TiGrrrHats at Reunions is considered a permitted expression of free speech, as long as the hats do not bear University insignia.
TiGrrrHats can be purchased on the project’s website, where alumni can also sponsor a student’s hat.
This story has been corrected to include both men and women in the project.