President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 defended University admissions’ consideration of race in his annual letter to the University community on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Eisgruber stated that the need to take race into account is a function of the United States’ failure to “eliminate racial inequalities in schooling, in policing, in healthcare, in housing, and in employment.”
“America’s quest for equality remains unfinished, and so we at Princeton, like our counterparts at other leading research universities, continue to believe that we can best find the students who will make a difference on our campus and beyond if we consider race as one factor among others in a holistic admission process,” Eisgruber wrote.
His defense was largely prompted by the current lawsuit alleging that Harvard discriminated against Asian American applicants, an issue that Eisgruber said he is asked about more often than any other.
Although Eisgruber admitted he was not as familiar with Harvard’s admissions policy, he stated that he expected Harvard was “complying with the strictest standards of constitutional law.”
Eisgruber also emphasized that the consideration of race does not make the application to the University any less merit-focused.
“Every single student on this campus is here because of merit,” he wrote. “They all have the talent needed to benefit from the transformative education made possible by our superb faculty and staff.”
Eisgruber also commented on the Department of Education’s recent changes to Title IX policies. The changes would allow lawyers to play larger roles in case proceedings, which may deter victims from speaking out.
He referenced the Association of American Universities’ criticisms of the regulations, and said that the University supports the Association’s positions.
“The federal government’s intrusive regulatory seesawing on these issues is, in my view, unfortunate and damaging,” Eisgruber wrote. “If the proposal is finalized without changes, the proposed regulations would compel us to make significant modifications to the procedures we use to investigate and adjudicate complaints of sexual harassment and assault.”
On the subject of immigration, Eisgruber emphasized his continued support for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
“We continue to urge Congress to provide long-term relief for DACA beneficiaries; America benefits tremendously from the talent of these honest, hard-working young people who know this country as their home,” Eisgruber wrote.
The University remains co-plaintiffs with Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez ’18 and Microsoft in a challenge to the federal government’s rescission of the DACA policy. A federal district court ruled in the University’s favor in April and reaffirmed that ruling in August. According to Eisgruber, the case is currently on appeal.
Eisgruber spent much of the letter praising the University’s accomplishments in innovation and diversity, from collaboration with companies like Google and Microsoft, to the “She Roars” conference which was, according to Eisgruber, “the largest term-time gathering of Princeton alums in the University’s history.”
In light of the upcoming changes to the academic calendar, Eisgruber noted that the University is working towards offerings for non-credit-bearing opportunities and classes for the optional two-week “Wintersession” in January. The new calendar and “Wintersession” opportunities will take effect January 2021.
Eisgruber also reaffirmed plans for campus expansion with new athletic facilities and graduate housing south of Lake Carnegie as well as two new residential colleges, including Perelman College. Eisgruber stated the University’s hope to open both colleges in the fall of 2022.
“Much remains to be done, but we are making excellent progress,” Eisgruber wrote.
According to a press release from the Office of Communications, Eisgruber will summarize the letter at the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) meeting from 4:30 to 6 p.m on Monday, Feb. 11, in Betts Auditorium in the School of Architecture. Additionally, he will address the letter at a town hall for University employees from 10 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall.