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It seems that, nowadays, cries for “free speech” ring from campus to campus. The term has become quite famous and quite popular. Perhaps it owes its popularity to how vague it is. It generally comes from conservatives in response to some sort of censoring of ideas. In its own way, "free speech" has become conservatives' rhetorical weapon of choice, defended by right-leaning groups and thinkers both on and off campus. Recently, Professor John Londregan and some of his fellows wrote a letter calling for an end to the “shared and pervasive reality of growing hostility to free expression on college campuses across the country and around the world.” But what exactly is free expression, or “free speech?”
President Eisgruber recently penned a letter to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, urging the Committee to “refrain from interrogating nominees about the religious or spiritual foundations of their jurisprudential views.” The issue arose at the confirmation hearing of Amy Barrett, a Catholic law professor and nominee for a judicial appointment. In the hearing, Barrett was told that “dogma lives loudly within you,” implying that she would not perform her judicial duties fairly on matters where her faith informs her views, from abortion to the death penalty.
Last week, I had a conversation that exemplified the University’s cultural hierarchy of majors. It occurred by Wilson, where I came across a first-year who was struggling to move an orange cart full of packages to Forbes. I stopped to help him, and we soon started chatting. Inevitably, talk turned to our studies, and I told him that I was a junior in the music department.
The Harvard administration set off a firestorm when it rejected a formerly incarcerated woman who had already been recommended by the Department of History. Numerous media outlets have covered the case of Michelle Jones, who is now pursuing a Ph.D. in history at New York University. While incarcerated, she completed an undergraduate degree and then became a published scholar in American studies with her paper “Magdalene Laundries: The First Prisons for Women in the United States.” She also wrote a play to be performed in a theater in Indianapolis.
More than anything, it was my interactions with the watermelon sellers that taught me about myself. Every day, I would hear them come around our neighborhood and yell at the top of their lungs that the watermelons were fresh, that they were the best, and that they only cost four somoni (about 50 cents). I was often tempted to buy one for my host parents, but I never did. Every once in awhile, we would pass each other on the street, and as any proper Tajik girl should, I looked down. But they still asked my 12-year-old host cousin for my number. My host sister told me to never give it to them.
The United States is currently experiencing an opiate epidemic, with the number of overdoses increasing every year. In 2015, 33,000 people in the United States died of overdoses. The total number of people who overdosed is much higher.
I’ve been thinking about Arthur Brooks' overly simplistic article in the New York Times. He takes a safe contrarian stance, offering a diluted and soft-ball criticism of modern liberal exceptionalism. Independent of where we stand in the tug-of-war between liberals and conservatives on campus, I wager most rational people would agree with him point-for-point that ideological inclusivity trumps conformity when it comes to fostering productive intellectual discourse.
I can remember first arriving on campus as a first-year student and soaking up the freedom of college life. Suddenly I could build my own schedule, study what I wanted, make meaningful friendships, and drink when I felt like it.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ignited a polarizing debate with her Sept. 7 speech explaining plans to repeal the Obama-era Title IX campus sexual misconduct guidelines. The Obama administration’s 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter addressed the problem of sexual assault on college campuses by offering guidelines for handling cases and threatening to withhold federal funds if universities failed to comply. These “suggestions” acted in practice as closely monitored rules as universities updated policies to avoid Title IX conflicts and potential punishments.
After Harvard University’s recent decision to rescind its fellowship offer to Chelsea Manning, following backlash from CIA Director Mike Pompeo as well as others, it has become evident that, once more, the fight for academic freedom and university autonomy is more important than ever. While Harvard’s decision demonstrates the university’s unwillingness, or perhaps inability, to grapple with difficult ideas, controversial figures, and important public debate, Princeton University should demonstrate its maturity and commitment to academic freedom by extending an invitation to Manning.
Just before Princeton students returned to campus this year, an open letter signed by 16 Ivy League professors appeared online, calling on inbound college first-years to “think for yourself.” Though the call to think critically and maintain an open mind is benign on its surface, the letter is in reality a thinly veiled call for resistance against progressive campus activism. Our own professor Robert George, a signatory of the letter, removed all doubt of this when he appeared on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on a segment titled “Professors to Class of 2021: Stop being snowflakes.” Neither the letter nor George’s televised comments ever call out the social justice movement by name, but the dog-whistle is unmistakable.
This summer, I returned home to Seoul, South Korea, to take a breather from an exhausting freshman year at Princeton and to engage in an internship opportunity at Yonsei University, one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea. During my time there, I learned much about the school’s affiliation with the 1987 June Struggle in South Korea against the Jeon-Doo-Hwan military dictatorship. During this turbulent time in South Korean history, students at Yonsei University marched into the streets of Seoul alongside tens of thousands of ordinary citizens in order to protest the military regime’s attempt to stifle a direct election of the nation’s president and brutal suppression of democratization protesters. During this struggle, Lee Han Yeol, a student of Yonsei University, was shot in the head with a gas pellet while demonstrating in front of the gates of the college. Due to his injury, Han Yeol fell into a coma that lasted for nearly a month, before he ultimatelypassed away. Before he breathed his last however, his and countless others’ sacrifices were rewarded as the military regime capitulated to the public’s pressure for democratization.
On Sept. 6, Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor at Notre Dame, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee as an appellate court nominee. In her questioning, she faced what has been dubbed a “religious test” — or nothing short of an inquisition — by Democratic senators. During her hearing, she refused to discuss the impact of her Catholic faith on her role as a judge.
This fall, The Daily Princetonian will revise its process for publishing unsigned editorials, which accompany the bylined columns, guest contributions, and letters on our Opinion pages. Historically, until about 12 years ago, these unsigned editorials generally were written by the most senior members of the ‘Prince.’ In recent years, they have been written by an Editorial Board consisting of students with no other ties to the ‘Prince.’
I hope the conservative students at Princeton join us for the many events planned for Latinx Heritage Month. I don’t mean that flippantly, or even as a challenge, but more of an invitation. The events planned for this year’s month include film screenings, lectures, talks, gatherings, and many meals that attempt to both showcase and explore the rich cultural diversity of the Latinx community at Princeton and beyond. Many of the events speak to the social and political issues the Latinx community faces, providing the opportunity for members of our community to reflect critically on our history, our present, and our future. In this sense, the month is about making our community more visible to us, the Latinx students at Princeton, as much as it is about making our community more visible to Princeton University. Situated between the value of diversity and the ethic of inclusion, the events this month are for everyone.
Affirmative action is under assault. In the 48 years since President Richard Nixon instituted its present form of racial preferences, lower-tier colleges have abandoned it, the Supreme Court has rolled back its policies, and voters in eight states have banned the use of race in admissions for public colleges.
To the Princeton community and administration,
This week, 17 student groups released a statement portrayed as seeking “unity and solidarity” in the aftermath of the senseless violence in Charlottesville. Yet the groups curiously seek such unity by listing contested and wide-ranging grievances against University policy that they insist must be corrected to help fight the evil seen in Charlottesville and other “oppressive structures and ideologies.” These Princeton-specific grievances have little to no relationship with the violence in Charlottesville. Moreover, they are unsettled matters the student body has debated passionately over the past several years. Many reasonable people of goodwill can and do respectfully disagree about these issues. Yet the statement invokes the Charlottesville violence to suggest that those who disagree with their complaints agree with and are “complicit” in the actions of white supremacists. This is false and could not be more counterproductive to unifying the campus community.