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If I told you Nazis were marching down the street, chanting “Blood and Soil,” waving the infamous red with black swastika flag, you’d think I were giving a history report. 2017 would not appear in your mind; 1938 would. But, guess what? That exact thing happened. This month in Virginia, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the KKK, and other hate groups gathered with lit torches and Confederate and Nazi flags. Heavily militarized, they terrorized the town. Groups like antifa, BLM — organizations that stand for equality — bravely faced off with the supremacists. One counter-protestor died in action. Our own Dr. Cornel West, along with other clergy who were at the counter-protest, said that if it was not for antifa, they “would have been crushed like cockroaches.”
Last spring, affirmative action came under scrutiny at Princeton. The University is involved in a lawsuit over the release of admissions practices, and my fellow columnist Hayley Siegel argued that “Princeton engages in discriminatory admissions policies under the pretext of ‘affirmative action’ despite having lost sight of the goals that the concept was originally intended to promote.” Siegel cites the University’s ostensible Asian quota and lack of focus on socioeconomic inequality as indicators of a failure of affirmative action policy.
In August, the Department of Justice announced an investigation into a complaint that Harvard discriminated against Asian applicants. The following week, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 appeared on CBS to explain that Princeton does consider race in admissions, but that every applicant is nonetheless given “a fair shake.”
As the Pastor of Christ Congregation, an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ and American Baptist Church — and as a friend and family member to many who have served in the military — I emphatically denounce the White House’s most recent policy denying transgender people the privilege and right to serve in our nation’s military.
*This piece provides satirical advice for moving to Princeton.
I've wondered what I would write in this column. What would I have told myself three years ago, in the summer of 2014? It feels like so long ago now that I was a starry-eyed prefrosh trying to figure out which classes I’d take, where I’d live, or what clubs I’d join.
To the Class of 2021,
To the Incoming Latinx Class of 2021,
The University’s policy on the Student Health Plan (SHP) and financial aid is indefensible. An article published over the summer by The Daily Princetonian details Nasir Ismael ‘21's decision to start a funding campaign in order to ensure the $1,800 fee for SHP would be covered, despite receiving a full financial aid package, because the SHP fee was not covered at the time of his financial aid package’s awarding. Although some could have mixed opinions about Nasir’s decision, the fact still exists that SHP grants are released after University grants. So, even though it may look as if one has the necessary funds to attend, that may not be the case. For the 60 percent of students who receive financial aid, this results in an all too common problem: a feeling of frustration, bordering on resentment, towards Princeton that’s amplified by socioeconomic disadvantage. To combat this, make the University more inclusive, and alleviate the discontent, we need to update the way financial aid works with SHP. The University should guarantee medical coverage for all students receiving financial aid.
To the Black Members of the Class of 2021:
I’m going to be honest, at times your peers won’t recognize you as Native American. People will casually joke, “I thought you were Asian the first time I saw you,” or at best, “I wasn’t sure of your background.” In situations such as these, I laugh along with them, proudly declaring my Diné ancestry. Often alleviating the confusion of declaring I’m Diné with a sub explanation that I’m Native American and that my tribe is the Diné. Or more commonly known as the Navajo.
Our contemporary societies are slowly moving toward an irreversible erosion of political and democratic institutions. In this current social drama, it is not surprising that the West is being overtaken by a populist surge. From Brexit to the National Front in France, from the election of President Trump to the emergence of the Spanish party Podemos, populism has reemerged to confront current fears and drastic spatial-economic rifts.
Your class is taking – and will take – unprecedented strides forward in many respects, as the first class to enroll more women than men, the class with the highest percentage of first-generation college students, at 16.9 percent, and the first class to enroll five military veterans.
When I started to write this column, I intended it to be about freshman seminars. Apply, I was going to say, because they are the best courses you will ever take. I began to relate my experience — how my first freshman seminar professor let me join him at his home on the coast of Tuscany, or how my second professor had been a trailblazer in the field of science she now taught.
I got an email from my editor. Ryan, the frosh are coming, he said. We need some articles for them. So that got me wondering, what exactly could I tell the incoming (and great) Class of 2021, because I can tell you all this right now — you all know jack. To prove my point, soon you will all be partying at Colonial. Ah, the blissful ignorance of youth.
Editor's Note: This letter from President Eisgruber was written in response to the Letter to the Editor entitled "Sign on to 'We Are Still In'" from Princeton Advocates for Justice and other groups published on June 9, 2017.
The choice of the group Naughty by Nature as entertainment for the 25th Reunion of the Class of 1992 was short-sighted at best, deplorable at worst. I am not a music critic, nor do I typically engage in artistic censorship. However, this group spouted a constant stream of offensive lyrics that were not worthy of the students, alumni, nor an institution which is already trying to distance itself from a hateful, intolerant past. This choice did not further that goal.
Dear President Eisgruber and members of the University Board of Trustees:
As a glaring disclaimer, I did not write a thesis. As a BSE COS major, I opted to complete my independent research requirement during my junior year. However, I believe that my unusual identity as a thesis-less senior allows me to observe thesis season with an objective lens. First, let me say that I support the thesis as a quintessential part of the Princeton experience. For many, it is the first taste of serious research and an effective bridge to graduate level work. But after witnessing the full spectrum of attitudes and approaches to the senior thesis, I emerged with the firm conviction that the institution could be massively improved with one simple change. Specifically, there should be a single deadline across all departments.
The old motto “actions speak louder than words” has always contained a grave misunderstanding: it assumes that words and actions are fundamentally different modes of communication. This assumption, I shall argue, is ill-founded. One result of abandoning such a clear-cut distinction between speech and action is, as we shall see, a harmony between the modern culture of political correctness and our First Amendment rights.