In 1992, University Trustee Bob Hugin ’76, then in his mid-30s, said that attempts to allow women to join his former eating club, Tiger Inn, amounted to “politically correct fascism.” The New Jersey Supreme Court had just mandated that the Princeton eating clubs accept female members, and Hugin actively opposed the decision. Hugin is now running as a Republican to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, and his remarks on co-ed eating club membership have resurfaced, raising questions about the history of discrimination — sexual and otherwise — at Princeton.
In 1979, Princeton undergraduate Sally Frank ’80 sued TI, Ivy Club, and Cottage Club for gender discrimination. These three clubs were the last holdouts in barring women from membership. A decade later, when Hugin made his remark as a member of TI’s alumni governance board, the club was no longer all-male. While he was TI’s undergraduate president, Hugin told the Central Jersey Home News that gay members “wouldn’t last long” if they were discovered by club members.
Hugin’s entry into politics has exposed these hateful and exclusionary comments. He had no choice but to address the statements after Bob Menendez, his Democratic opponent, brought them to the public’s attention. Hugin expressed regret. “Everyone evolves over time,” he acknowledged. “I view many things differently today than I did 25 years ago. The Tiger Inn becoming co-ed was a very positive development…. The decision, made by the undergraduate members, to admit women back in the early ’90s was without question the right thing to do. Personally, I wish I had taken a leadership role in making it happen sooner.” Despite these claims, we have not seen actions that would prove Hugin’s alleged evolution.
Hugin was a leader — but a leader in opposition to women’s membership. His past stances exemplified the University’s long-standing resistance to institutional equity and inclusion.
The Editorial Board does not deny Hugin’s right to change or refine his position on particular issues. Instead, we ask that Hugin prove his supposedly evolved views by releasing detailed policy proposals for the women he would like to represent. The Board asks that he apologize for his past remarks, not just lament his failure to support inclusion of women. And to eliminate any question over his suitability to serve as a University Trustee, Hugin must demonstrate in his actions what he has espoused with his words. Until Hugin has proposed and led pro-women and pro-LGBTQ+ policies and initiatives, as a Trustee or Senate candidate, the Board will continue to doubt the sincerity of his change of heart.
The fight to make Princeton an inclusive institution has been protracted, ugly, and tumultuous. Even after women and minority students gained admission, they experienced hate and discrimination throughout their undergraduate experiences — including in the eating clubs, a hallmark of Princeton’s social life. Princeton needs trustees and leaders who are aware of this history, sensitive to those it has affected, and capable of effecting change.
President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 defended Hugin as a “terrific trustee for this University … somebody who is an extraordinary source of judgment and counsel on the board and an important ally on a number of different issues, including issues with respect to diversity.”
The Board calls on Hugin to prove he is the person Eisgruber believes him to be.
Marcia Brown ’19
Emily Erdos ’19
Samuel Aftel ’20
Isabel Hsu ’19
Crystal Liu ’19
Jon Ort ’21
Samuel Parsons ’19
Cy Watsky ’21
Dora Zhao ’21
Sebastian Quiroz ’20