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On Nov. 16, Luke Gamble wrote an opinion article titled “Mr. Hollande, No new wars”. In the article, Gamble cautioned France against making the same mistakes the US did after 9/11 by creating a “broad and blind war on terror.” While I agree with the sentiment of restraint shown in the article, I believe that such absolute pacifism is not the answer. Rather, we must use a combination of drone strikes and local allies both to destroy the Islamic State and to fight similar wars in the future.
Here’s the thing: Ours is a campus with a long history and an infinite future that’s wrestling with the currents of the roiling present. We’re part of the Ivy League, but Princeton is hardly an ivory tower. And although we like our “orange bubble,” it’s not really the protective skin we sometimes believe. Nor should it be. Everything we do at Princeton has some relationship to the world outside our doors. That relationship should be robust, as well as continually revised, reconsidered and renovated.
Intrigued by rumors about inflammatory posts about the protests in Nassau Hall, I made the mistake of downloading YikYak again last week. Frankly, the conversation on YikYak and other social media about the protests disgusted me. Behind the veil of anonymity, the id of Princeton University came out in full force. Posts on social media of all kinds seemed to fall into one of two categories. One category unequivocally supported the protestors in Nassau Hall. Another category would unequivocally denounce them. And the vitriol between the two sides effectively left no room in the middle for a conversation to be held.
Dear Princeton Student Protesters:
I am pleased to hear that students finally decided it was time for Woodrow Wilson’s name to be expunged from our campus. Now that it has been conclusively shown that this President of the United States and of Princeton supported — as did most of his contemporaries, undoubtedly — segregation, any other contribution he had as a national and world leader becomes of course immediately irrelevant. To imagine that for all this time we thought our school of public policy was named after the man who, in the wake of the First World War, founded the League of Nations, supported global democracy (against many of his contemporaries), was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919, and supported women’s suffrage! These so-called contributions do nothing to efface his racism: and so he should be effaced from our campus and our collective memory.
I sat with the Black Justice League for over six hours during Wednesday’s sit-in protest in the office of University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83. I listened. I applaud the group’s unapologetic passion. I defend the group’s ability to fight to shape their educational experience. I, too, want their education at Princeton to be filled with inclusivity and equality.
By now there has been a lot written about the recent activism at Yale and Mizzou both within and outside the Orange Bubble. Though the heart of the issue is about the systemic and structural racism that still pervades college campuses, including the University’s, the debate has largely become one about free speech. While most pieces have centered around debating this right and to what extent, if any, it should be restricted, few have discussed the responsibilities that go along with that right. And because of the dearth of conversation on that important ethical aspect of this discussion, I’d like to add one more log to the pile.
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, in their novel “Good Omens,”wrote “most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.” I remembered these words this month as I watched the world bleed, this week as campus tore itself apart over race, and this year as dear friends, despite (or because of) their senses of justice, loyalty and love, hurt each other and me. We are all ineffable, magnificent beings, but that same ineffability all too often builds walls of hate and misunderstanding.
There are many in this country that argue political correctness is killing our constitutional right to freedom of speech. I usually contest such notions, particularly when they concern events such as those that have occurred at Yale, the University of Missouri and other campuses where students feel unsafe. However, last week I came to the conclusion that perhaps political correctness may be murdering something else: the way in which we can express our feelings about race relations in this country.
On Wednesday, the Black Justice League presented to the student body and the administration a list of three demands, designed to make Princeton more welcoming to black students. The first of these demands was to problematize the legacy of former University president Woodrow Wilson and remove his name from the Woodrow Wilson School and Wilson residential college, and to remove the mural of his face from Wilson dining hall. Problematizing his legacy is an important and worthwhile goal. However, removing his name and picture from Princeton’s campus, although well-intentioned, is short sighted and detrimental to real debate and discussion.
There are probably very few people who have not heard of the tragedy that struck Paris this past Friday. As the horrific events unfolded and the number of lives lost continued to escalate, the genuine threat of terrorism — of ISIS — and the havoc it has been wreaking in the Middle East and Africa hit home. People of all nationalities took to social media to show their support for the French. Facebook let its users overlay the French flag over profile pictures. People began using hashtags like “#prayforparis.” It seemed that overnight, the world had come together in a moment of solemn solidarity.
To Beni Snow, who authored a recent piece defending the Christakises, and anyone else who conflates racism and a culture of anti-Blackness with “freedom of speech.”
In the days following the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, Nov. 13, the world has come together in remarkable ways to show France solidarity. Sporting events across the United States took a moment of silence to honor the victims. Facebook implemented a temporary French flag profile picture. President Obama made a statement that the United States was prepared to aid France with whatever it needed in the coming days. Here at Princeton, a candlelight vigil was held.
It seems that each time a minority student population confronts University administrators about incidents of racial insensitivity within their communities, a predictable response emerges. Typically, a chorus of voices from both within and outside the campus reacts against the demands of some students for policies or administrative action to punish problematic speech.
I’m writing this column to propose that the salary of President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 be lowered to $538,667, or precisely $1 above the 1 percent income line for New Jersey in 2012 . His current salary, according to Princeton’s 2013 financial report, is about $750,000, although it’s hard to tell exactly, as he’s not yet listed as President in that report. It’s likely more than that now, assuming Eisgruber’s salary follows the trend of President Emerita Shirley Tilghman’s salary, which climbed while she was in office.
Since Oct. 1, over 50 attacks, mainly stabbings, against Jews by Palestinians have occurred in Israel. This has brought back into focus a lot of questions about this broad and difficult issue. It also further fuels an on campus debate that admittedly never really stopped. Although the issue directly could merit many columns, here I instead aim to discuss the problematic way in which many of us approach this issue, and many other controversial issues as well.
In light of the protests and controversy around racism at Yale University and the University of Missouri, college students across the country took to Facebook to show solidarity with students of color whose lives were threatened at these institutions. This status (or some derivation thereof) inundated newsfeeds:
There was a certain magic to frosh week. We all remember the feeling, whether like me, this year’s was your first, or whether you’ve experienced it from the enlightened perspective of a frosh week veteran. However, time has passed and that magic is now gone, the unique sensation that permeated the week now a distant memory. What changed? Well, an inundation of problem sets, essays and other responsibilities that prohibit daily prolific consumption of alcohol to start. But, there’s something else.
Recent emails sent by Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun reminded the student body of the resources available from UHS’s Counseling and Psychological Services and encouraged students to “function as a community of care and responsibility” in looking out for one another’s well-being. The Editorial Board commends Vice President Calhoun for the tone of these messages and recognizes the excellent work of CPS, the UMatter campaign, University administrators and many individual students in addressing mental health issues at Princeton. Nevertheless, there is more we can do: the Board suggests a number of measures to help create a safer and more comfortable work environment and to raise awareness about the availability of mental health resources at the University.
In this column, I argue that freedom of expression is a good and worthwhile thing. It is an uncontroversial stance on the face of it, for our country guarantees the freedom in its Constitution. It should be altogether less controversial at academic institutions where freedoms are yet more important. There is, however, a growing call from university students who demand severe restrictions to individual expression and the cultural crossover that results from it.