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White wins 'Prince' award for dedication to student activism

Brian White '00 has a lot of experience under his belt.

An altruistic activist, he has participated in a cross-section of activities both on and off campus during his years at the University. His involvement has spanned from SPEAC to OA to SVC — all organizations of which he has been a longstanding member.


Monday night, White received the 2000 Daily Princetonian Award in recognition of his service to the community.

White associates his deep-seated interest in political activism with an SVC project in Ecuador he led during his sophomore year.

He said he was shocked by the human suffering he witnessed while working in the Latin American country on reforestation and construction as well as with local children.

White said his experiences in Ecuador made him realize that he had the power and skills to speak out against injustice — something people who are victims of oppression often cannot do.

"As a result of my education and the country that I live in, I have a privileged position to have my voice heard by the people who make decisions all over the world," he said. "I feel a responsibility when I see or hear things that I think are unjust, and to speak up about them."

Working with Amnesty International in Washington, D.C. during the summer of his sophomore year also contributed to White's political activism. "I learned so much . . . especially the fact that [non-government organizations] can gain direct access and influence to decision-makers," said White, a politics major. "This really energized me."


Kit Cutler '01, who worked closely with White as part of a canvassing effort for then-presidential candidate Bill Bradley '65 during Fall Break, commended White for his accomplishments. "He's one of the most socially aware people at Princeton because he has a real drive to do something about his concern and convictions," Cutler said. "He ought to be a role model to Princeton students."

Though White exhibits the exemplary qualities of a committed activist, he said he sometimes gets frustrated in his role. "To be a student activist is a very hard position," he said. "You're transient, while the administration is permanent. So because of this quick turnover rate, it's hard to have a sense of consistency."

Overall though, White said he does not regret taking on so much responsibility. In fact, his commitment to social issues will take him to the Democratic Republic of Congo next year, where he will work with displaced refugees.

White articulated the importance of determined activism. "We are indicating to government officials that people are interested in what's going on. Injustice happens when people don't pay attention and let the veil of secrecy remain," he said. "I want to be the light in the back room."

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