To the Class of 2021,
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To the Class of 2021,
To the Incoming Latinx Class of 2021,
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.
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.
“Ya se agotó,” I said, incredulous (I shouldn’t have been; it’s a weekly occurrence). It’s already run out. The marker I was dragging across the whiteboard was leaving the dingy surface whiter than it had been before I tried to explain the difference between “food” and “foot.” And we were only twenty minutes into the lesson. I ran upstairs, interrupted the Level 1 class, grabbed a handful of markers from the bottom of our bag. They were all bright colors — pink, green, orange — that I knew no one sitting more than two seats from the front of the class would be able to see.
Over the last 3 years, there has been a surprising new trend across student groups: back-to-back women leaders of student groups including the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Whig-Clio, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Princetonian, and Business Today.
When I graduated from high school, every member of our class received a book called “The Noticer.” I didn’t read the book, but Amazon says that the story revolves around a mysterious man named Jones who has been given a gift of noticing things that others miss. There’s nothing in particular about the story that prompted me to write this letter. But I always remembered the title, because I wanted to be able to describe myself as a “noticer” like Jones.
Uri Schwartz ’20, a Mexican-American student, recently wrote an opinion piece condemning the responses from Princeton Latinos y Amigos and the Princeton University Latinx Perspectives Organization on the recent Cinco de Mayo-themed party. In it, Schwartz calls PLA’s and PULPO’s responses to the party “excessive, unnecessarily harsh toward the University, and, in some respects, unsubstantiated.”
Nearly forty years ago, anthropology was forced to reckon with its colonial past and present in a period of upheaval that nearly ended the discipline as we know it. Concerns ranged from the role of anthropologists in imperial expeditions and colonial governing efforts, to the intellectual conclusions that talked of “primitive” peoples and human development. With the goal of reimagining the discipline beyond its colonial origins, decolonizing anthropology sought to undo the complex legacies of colonialism. What it precisely means to decolonize remains a hotly debated topic, even as it is an unfolding process that has taken multiple pathways, from active efforts to include the voices of people historically underrepresented in the discipline, to anthropologists calling on academia as a whole to be more actively engaged in addressing the larger political forces that prop up the elite institutions where many of us work and study.
As a Mexican citizen, I felt my skin crawl when I saw the headline “BREAKING: Racist Princeton Students Host Mexican-themed Party” posted by the Princeton University Latinx Perspectives Organization (PULPO). Almost immediately, my phone buzzed with emails from Princeton Latinos y Amigos (PLA), one of which stated that PLA “stands in solidarity” with the Mexican community on campus and that they are “here to support” me and my community during these times.
To my conservative friends,
“Design tells the story” is the type of lofty phrase an artsy friend might use while gushing about the supposed elegance of a paper clip lying on a white sheet of paper that has somehow been elevated to “work of art” level. Notwithstanding my skepticism over what constitutes art, the architecture of Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust remembrance center, frames not only the walls of the museum but also two key lessons which are ever relevant.
My grandfather was born and raised in rural Jamaica in the late 1920s. His mother died as an infant, and his father died when he was 13, leaving him, the oldest male in the family, to take care of his stepmother and his siblings. Although he had already been working in the cane fields as a boy, he now had to work extreme hours, often sleeping in a hammock connected to trees. Because of this, he never attended school and therefore never learned to read, much to his detriment. Later, he and a friend entered into a business partnership and he was cheated out of everything because he did not understand the terms of the contract.
While I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, my grandfather Alan Fitz Randolph (B.S., Chemistry, Princeton, 1913), a descendant of Nathaniel Fitz Randolph, who had contributed the original land for Princeton University in 1753, spoke often of his pride in the University. It wasn’t until I was nineteen years old that I discovered, by accident, that he had received a degree in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University in 1916. When I asked my parents why my grandfather never talked about his time at Columbia, they told me that he never discussed it because he did not feel it was a gentlemen’s school, due to having monitors in the exam rooms, instead of an honor code like Princeton.
We, the Executive Board of Princeton’s chapter of the Network of enlightened Women, write in response to this week’s opinion piece “The conservative persecution complex.” We do not consider ourselves persecuted or oppressed, either as conservatives or as women. Yet the piece’s author, Bhaamati Borkhetaria, charges that “social and even fiscal conservatism in the government often directly contributes to creating an imbalance of power against ethnic minority groups and women.” She goes on to describe conservative viewpoints as “racist, misogynistic, and often ignorant.” These claims present a biased and incorrect assumption that conservatives are not people of good will, as well as a fundamental misunderstanding of what conservative policy ideas seek to accomplish.