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I am not in the habit of reading the editorial page of The Daily Princetonian, and moreover, I am normally inclined to forbear rather than publicly single out an undergraduate for criticism. Nevertheless, an ad hominem reference to me in the Sept. 26 edition came to my attention, and the circumstances in this case are special. In his column, Ryan Born takes umbrage at what he supposes is the vagueness of the term “free speech,” and he goes on to dismiss it as a rhetorical weapon. He then incorrectly imputes sinister motives to others in their defense of freedom of speech. The lengthy screed groans on, column after column, making a series of increasingly bizarre assertions, including the particularly egregious claim that what he calls “the arguments of hate” were “laid to rest at Dachau.” A great many good people were murdered at Dachau. Does Born approve of those murders? Does he approve of the suppression of ideas or religious beliefs held by the people who were murdered at Dachau? Is he simply making a reckless allusion to mass murder and genocide for effect? In any one of these cases, he is within his First Amendment rights to express his appalling point of view, and in each of these possible interpretations of his intent, the rest of us have a moral obligation to condemn what he has said. Shame on him!
Dear Mr. Ryan Born,
Last week, the Spanish police arrested 14 Catalan officials in Barcelona. The conflict between the Catalan and Spanish governments has escalated in recent weeks, ahead of a referendum scheduled for October 1, in which Catalans want to decide whether to remain in Spain or to become independent. Friends and colleagues have been asking, with equal bewilderment: “Why is Spain so adamant in preventing you [Catalans] from voting in the self-determination referendum? Didn’t Scotland vote on independence recently?” But also, “Why is Catalonia so stubborn about holding this referendum? There must be some alternative.”
You’re sitting in class, trying to take notes, but the only thing on your mind is the fact that your family group chat is quiet. Reports then come out with the body count, news articles pop up detailing the damage, and images of a home you once knew cover your feed.
Dear Vice President Calhoun, Dean Crittenden, and Dean Dolan,
When I walked onto the Princeton campus eight years ago, I wasn't sure what to expect. It didn’t feel right to step inside the perfect Gothic architecture in my flip flops and shorts. On my application, I promised to major in molecular biology, but after sitting behind a microscope for year years in high school, cells and molecules were the last thing on my mind. I knew I wanted to empower others in some way and decided that I could figure it out over the next four years.
I had just finished a packed summer working in the Frick Chemistry Lab at Princeton and was therefore so relieved and excited to see my parents. I had not seen them in over eight months, the longest I have ever gone without seeing them. Stepping off the plane and walking into the airport lobby, I was warmly greeted by my parents and two shots of flavored Cruzan Rum, a true reminder that I was home and a taste that I missed. We spent the next couple of weeks getting back to our old family life, living life how it was before I went to college.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am honored to join fourteen distinguished colleagues at three of the world’s foremost institutions of higher learning in encouraging the young people joining us on campus this year to think for themselves, and to speak their minds. Each of us came to our joint statement by an idiosyncratic pathway, but each of us was drawn by the shared and pervasive reality of growing hostility to free expression on college campuses across the country and around the world. While I can only speak authoritatively about my own reasons for becoming a part of the communique, my reasons are evidently somewhat similar to those of the other signers.
On Tuesday, Aug. 29, the Princeton campus was placed on lockdown for ten minutes while officials investigated reports of an armed person. Thankfully, the armed man turned out to be an out-of-uniform police officer with a holstered firearm and badge escorting teens to the University Art Museum. Because Princeton is a world-renowned university, this incident made national news.
As a single student, you may feel frustrated that you cannot impact world affairs, or that even if you really tried to, the time commitment would take away from your future career. My experience says differently. Student advocates can make an enormous impact with much less effort than any activist outside college, while still building valuable skills for their own futures.
The events in Charlottesville, Va., have made the presence of neo-Nazism and white nationalism in the United States undeniable. Regardless of when one became aware of the issue, let it be clear that we will not accept fascism or racism at our University, in our country, or in our lives. Nazism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and all forms of racism are repugnant and dehumanizing. We all have an obligation to oppose those who seek to foster hatred and discord by adopting these beliefs and actions.
"Inclusiveness through Diversity." No, it’s not an oxymoron, at least not at residential dining at Princeton University. At Princeton residential dining, there is a program called “Heritage Month” where students are encouraged to share their heritage and culture through traditional, ethnic, or national foods. In this wide and diverse world, there are few things we all have in common, but food is one. Everyone needs to eat, but that’s where the commonality ends. Food separates us because of many historical factors; geography, culture, religion and countless others. However, by sharing foods with people from other cultures, the distance between us is diminished. With modern communications and transportation, the food world is more immersive than ever.
To the Muslim students of the Class of 2021:
To the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville Community:
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.