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Last Thursday evening, the prominent Francophone novelist Patrice Nganang was arrested as he was about to board a flight leaving Cameroon. Initially charged with “insulting” the president, Nganang has been a vocal and visible critic of the oppressive and brutal tactics that Paul Biya’s regime is using against Cameroonian citizens in the English-speaking western part of the country. Nganang had just finished an extended visit to the area and had written a piece highly critical of Biya for a French newspaper. Since being arrested, he has been held in a detention center in the capital, Yaoundé, awaiting a hearing.
Note: The Honor Committee case described below is a true case. The student in question granted the author permission to share this story. That student’s name and identifying details have been changed or omitted to protect the privacy of the individual.
This semester, a group of graduate students at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs has been working to improve diversity and inclusion at WWS as part of a new organization, Students for Educational Equity and Diversity. This organizing culminated in a letter, signed by 71.7 percent of all WWS graduate students and 79.7 percent of Masters in Public Affairs students, that was sent to the WWS administration and offered several proposals toward SEED's goals. The letter was shared with the Wilson School's Dean, and SEED members are in open and productive communication with the administration regarding the letter's contents. Moreover, over the past two weeks, two op-eds have been published by members of SEED referencing these efforts. In the spirit of openness and accountability, the full text of the letter is available here, and an abridged version is reproduced below. Faculty, alumni and undergraduate allies are welcomed to express their support by signing this support letter.
“I totally got raped.”
Editor's Note: As a clarification, the Honor Constitution, as adopted in 1895, determines a punishment of expulsion for sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and recommends a punishment of suspension for first-years who violate the Honor System.
To the Editor,
As a referendum sponsor who served on the Honor Committee for two years, I write with the hope that my fellow Princetonians will exercise their right to amend the Honor Constitution and seize the opportunity to create a fairer system by voting “yes” on the four referenda up for voting between Tuesday, Dec. 12, and Thursday, Dec. 14. These referenda reflect many frequent student concerns in addition to issues stemming from dynamics that I bore witness to while a member of the Honor Committee.
I joined the Undergraduate Student Government as a class senator because I saw a gap in student representation on the Senate. As a first-generation, low-income woman of color, I was not familiar with anyone on the USG Senate who also identified with all three of these backgrounds. I viewed this as an opportunity to bring to the table the visions people of these communities on campus have for Princeton’s present and future.
By now, you’ve likely heard that there are four referenda on the ballot for next Tuesday proposing reform to the Honor Code. Why is such reform necessary? I hope you’ll read this and find out.
“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness…. [O]ne ever feels his twoness — an American, a [Black person]; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” — W.E.B. Du Bois
Academic integrity is one of the core values of the University community. For many of us, it influenced our decision in choosing Princeton over other schools. Maintaining the highest standard of academic integrity is indeed a cardinal responsibility of all Princeton students. However, as a former Honor Committee member, I solemnly believe that the current Honor Constitution is not serving its core objective to the best of its capabilities, and therefore requires immediate reform.
This week, the student body will be asked to vote on four referendum questions that would make significant changes to Princeton’s student-run Honor System. As members of Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and a former member of the Honor Committee (HC), we the undersigned believe that these referenda are the result of a highly problematic deliberative process by certain members of USG. On substance, these referenda would make the Honor Constitution untenable as a meaningful way to handle academic integrity violations on in-class examinations at Princeton. Most notably, the proposal to change the standard penalty for Honor Code violations from a one-year suspension to disciplinary probation would result in an unsustainable disparity between penalties in cases before the Honor Committee and the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline (CoD), creating an unfair system with inconsistent penalties for similar violations. The student body should reject these proposals and, instead, support a more responsible process for potential Honor System reforms already being undertaken this spring by a University Task Force composed of students, faculty, and administrators.
Hey, Princeton! My name’s Matt Miller, and I’m running for Undergraduate Student Group president because I see a whole host of problems with easy fixes. I’m the only candidate that has been on USG this past year (I worked in communications), and while I was on USG, I saw some problems that I wanted to fix but couldn’t. You can read my whole platform on my website matt4usg.com, but here are some highlights:
The Undergraduate Students Government Academics Committee Subcommittee on the Honor Constitution has sponsored four referenda on which students will vote from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14. We write, as students with a connection to the Honor Committee, to express our opposition to these four referenda. We are not opposed in principle to Honor Code reform; indeed, we believe strongly that the Honor Constitution is a living and evolving document with which students should continually engage to ensure that it is reflective of our community values and norms. Our opposition to these referenda pertains to the process by which they have come about, which has not allowed for the kind of comprehensive discussion with faculty, students, administrators, and legal counsel that reforms of this magnitude require. This is the first in a series of articles in which we will outline our concerns about the language and substance of the proposed reforms and advocate for a more thorough Honor Code reform process which effectively engages all relevant constituencies over the coming semester.
I generally keep a low profile on campus. I’m not really involved with much outside of my team, eating club, close friends, classes, etc. I apologize for the very personal nature of this piece as it is not something I am naturally inclined to do nor something I take any pleasure in. However, I feel the need to speak up due to the questions of the character of Ryan Ozminkowski ’19 in the current Undergraduate Student Government presidential election. To be completely transparent, I will be voting for Ryan, but I think Matt Miller ’19 and Rachel Yee ’19 seem like great people and candidates, and I encourage my fellow students to vote for whomever they think will make the best president. This piece is not an attempt to persuade your vote, rather a defense of the character of my friend.
I first met Rachel Yee ’19 exactly one year and five days ago. I was getting late meal with a friend after a particularly unhappy meeting with a counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services. I have bipolar disorder and despite CPS’s best, if limited, efforts, I was depressed as all hell. Rachel was going around talking to everyone. She was campaigning, I suppose, but I didn’t know that until later, and by then, I didn’t care. I didn’t care because Rachel did something that is unfortunately rare now. She asked me, a total stranger, how I was doing, and I unloaded onto her entirely too much personal information about how pointless my life was and how stupid I felt on a campus that was so smart and talented.
Ten years ago, in 2007, Whitman College was built. Designed by the Greek architect Demetri Porphyrios, this 250,000-square foot complex now houses 500 students each year, as well as a dining area and the Writing Center. Despite this prominent role in campus life, there is surprisingly little discussion within the Princeton community about Whitman’s architecture. Busy students and faculty walk, eat, and sleep in it without thinking deeply about the space itself.
In this petition, Princeton University graduate students call upon the University to oppose currently proposed federal tax legislation, and to keep our take-home pay from decreasing in the event that such legislation passes.
Our country is in the midst of an examination of diversity and equality that, while not new, has taken on a new tenor and urgency over the last few years. The conversation has been particularly pronounced on campuses, including here in Princeton.