The latest monthly meeting of the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC), which took place on Monday, had an agenda packed with a wide variety of presentations and became the site of a large-scale student protest.
The CPUC meeting kicked off with a Q&A session, during which representatives from Undergraduate Housing issued an apology for the mishandling of room draw and stated that the department was actively looking into both the source of the problem and a viable solution.
When The Daily Princetonian asked about a claim that Housing had already conducted analysis of the situation, undertaken in response to a student complaint, the representatives said that they needed more time to clarify the results of that analysis before they could release them.
The Q&A quickly segued into a walk-out protest when Michaela Daniel ’21 read a statement on behalf of “Ban the Box,” a campaign advocating for the rights of formerly incarcerated individuals and condemning the University administration for remaining complicit in perpetuating systemic racism and classism.
“We will not have one more moment of peace as long as you continue to obstruct justice,” Daniel said, referring to the presence of a criminal history question on the University’s supplemental undergraduate application.
Ban the Box has been brought up by members of Students for Prison Education and Reform (SPEAR) at multiple CPUC meetings throughout the academic year. President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 has continually asserted the University’s commitment to a “holistic approach” to admission, backed by the Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid (CUAFA).
When Daniel finished her statement, she and dozens of students occupying the auditorium walked out to attend a teach-in, chanting “Ban the box! Ban the box!” Several SPEAR members stayed behind, holding signs with slogans such as “Ban the Box” and “Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.” They were told to move to the back of the auditorium, so that they would not obstruct the view of other audience members.
The Q&A was capped off by a question about Title IX protests and the punishment of a student who had been leaving graffiti around campus, to which the University Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity and Title IX coordinator Michele Minter responded that there was currently no “formal plan” in place to address prevailing concerns.
Following the Q&A, Associate Professor Blair Schoene, Chair of the Resources Committee, delivered a presentation about the committee’s decision not to recommend that the University divest from private prison companies or affiliated contractors.
Reminding the audience that the University has only ever taken divestment action twice, once on apartheid in South Africa, and once on genocide in Sudan, Schoene maintained that the issues surrounding private prisons were too complex for a straightforward divestment recommendation.
Professor Angela Creager, Chair of the Committee on Naming, went next, discussing the most recently named space on campus – Rivers Way, a driveway between Firestone Library and the Andlinger Center for the Humanities.
Rivers Way is named after Robert J. Rivers Jr. ’53, a distinguished surgeon who was one of the first African-American undergraduate students to attend the University and was also the first African American elected to serve as a University trustee.
Next, representatives from the Ad Hoc Committee on Calendar Reform unveiled their plans for “Wintersession,” a two-week period between the end of winter break and the beginning of spring semester that will be instated once the revised academic calendar takes effect.
The representatives envisioned a series of on-campus programs, centered around topics ranging from service to career development to art, that would give students the chance “to explore and to fail” at new endeavors without putting anything at stake.
Dean of the College and acting Dean of Admission Jill Dolan and Dean of the Graduate School Sarah-Jane Leslie GS ’07 presented the statistics from the University’s latest round of admissions. Dolan underscored the unprecedentedly high proportions of female to male admitted undergraduate students, while Leslie drew emphasis to the declining numbers of international students applying to masters programs at the University.
Graduate Student Government President Noah Apthorpe GS presented on the initiatives that GSG had taken over the past year to improve the quality of life for the graduate student body, such as community-building social events and increased programming to address and bring awareness to mental health.
This month’s CPUC meeting was held on May 6 at 4:30 p.m. in Betts Auditorium in the Architecture Building.