After over 100 hours of protest in front of Nassau Hall, Princeton Students for Title IX Reform (PIXR) updated their list of demands. Additionally, PIXR has called for a public statement from the University, signed by President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, “in order to demonstrate the University’s commitment to addressing students’ persistent suffering.”
In their press release sent to The Daily Princetonian at 4:01 p.m., PIXR called for Eisgruber’s signature on three actions: a "convening of a neutrally moderated town hall” with Eisgruber, Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun, and Provost Deborah A. Prentice present by 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 16; a series of five meetings from June 2 to Sept. 9 between PIXR representatives and Eisgruber, Calhoun, and Prentice; and a formal written report from the University with a detailed response to each of PIXR’s 11 demands by Sept. 23.
“PIXR will continue gathering in community in front of Nassau Hall until receiving this signature affirming the University’s commitment to fulfilling these three requests,” the statement concludes.
At 4 p.m., protesters gathered in front of Nassau Hall to release their “final calls to action.” Eleven students read aloud each of the revised demands. After explaining a demand, each student placed an orange flower on the steps of Nassau Hall beside a copy of their call to action.
For most of the revised demands, only slight changes were made between this most recent call to action and the past list. Most notably, however, PIXR’s eleventh demand changed in its entirety. Previously, the group demanded “the immediate dismissal of Reagan Crotty as the Title IX Coordinator, and the review of Michele Minter as Chief Compliance Officer of Title IX.” That demand has been removed and replaced with a call for the University to “publicly maintain its commitment to protecting survivors’ rights as outlined in current Title IX policies, in spite of proposed national rollback efforts.”
Aisha Tahir ’21 said there was a long discussion amongst PIXR about the change. Tahir said that the removal was personally painful for her because, she claims, “there are a lot of personal stories, anonymous stories, of [Crotty] acting egregiously.”
The 'Prince' cannot independently confirm the veracity of these stories.
University Spokesperson Ben Chang disputed the accuracy of the anonymous personal stories.
"While there is no question these are extremely difficult matters for those involved, many of the abbreviated, anonymous accounts of interactions with administrators, as well as investigations, adjudications, outcomes, and reasons for those outcomes, are simply inaccurate or incomplete in substantially important ways that distort what actually transpired,” Chang wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’
On May 10, Eisgruber authorized a request for an external review of the University’s Title IX office make by Minter, somewhat addressing the previous eleventh demand.
“In an act of good faith, we are going to accept, right now, an external review of her,” Tahir said. “There’s a larger movement, and we’re trying to figure out how we get to that end goal.”
Regarding the new eleventh demand, Tahir said she and other students realized that some very serious national conversations about Title IX were going to start happening and wanted to ensure that the University is prepared for those conversations and willing to keep current policies in place despite the possible loosening of minimum restrictions.
In November, Eisgruber co-authored a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in support of legal protections for transgender individuals in relation to Title IX, and in February, the University contributed to the drafting of comments critical of DeVos’ proposed changes to Title IX.
“The current implementation of Title IX is not good enough, so what happens when Obama’s policy of Title IX becomes even looser? Then the University is on even greater grounds to loosen it and violate even more,” Tahir said. The eleventh demand calls for the University to protect currently existing rights under Title IX.
Previously, PIXR’s fourth demand was that “Title IX cases that deal with compounded violations be considered with an intersectional framework.” This demand has been altered in the revised list, and the group is now calling “for the University to create a fully-staffed Office of Intersectional Violence Investigation.”
Also in their call to action, PIXR writes that “We have reason to believe that Princeton’s Title IX office has violated FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and Princeton’s own regulations listed in ‘Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities.’”
In an email to the ‘Prince’, the leadership of PIXR pointed to the anonymous stories on their website as examples of such violations. The 'Prince' cannot independently confirm the veracity of these stories.
Chang said the University is not aware of any such violations at this time.
"We take very seriously student privacy issues and complying with federal law," Chang said. "We are aware of a recent concern raised regarding FERPA, but we are aware of no violations."
The Department of Education found the University in violation of Title IX in 2014, but, according to a Department of Education press release, the University “implemented new consolidated policies and procedures that correct many of the deficiencies identified in [the Office for Civil Rights’] investigation.” According to Chang, every requirement in the University’s resolution agreement with the Department of Education has been met and documented with the department.
After reading the demands in front of Nassau Hall, the protesters chanted “In the service of survivors, fix Title IX.” Afterwards, Nathan Poland ’20 spoke to the rest of the protesters about keeping their movement confined to the area surrounding Nassau Hall.
“These can be very triggering and sensitive topics, so please ensure that we’re preserving survivors’ rights to go about their daily business on the rest of campus,” he said. “If you see posters around campus that could be potentially triggering, please remove them. If you see people harassing tour groups, please don’t let them do that.”
Tahir said that these comments were not made in reference to a confrontation that occurred between PIXR protesters and University officials outside of Vice President Robert K. Durkee’s retirement reception in Frick Chemistry Laboratory on May 10.
“I think Frick was not in any way triggering for anyone, from what I understand. We were simply just trying to get into Frick,” she said, noting that the comments were more in reference to confrontations between PIXR protesters and Orange Key tour guides outside of Firestone Library.
“It’s not okay that we’re asking an independent organization to be answering for the University. It is not okay that, in some ways, our members are, in a way, pushing and yelling at them to confront and talk to these tour groups,” Tahir said. “We’re trying to be very careful about that moving forward.”
Chang reiterated that the University Student Life Committee and the Faculty-Student Committee on Sexual Misconduct are meeting next week and warned against "prejudging the outcomes of those discussions."
Chang also pointed out that although the committees do act in an advisory capacity, all of the recommendations made by the 2014-15 and 2015-16 reports were fully implemented, and all but three recommendations in the 2016-17 report were also implemented.
As of the time of this publication, Eisgruber has not signed the three actions put forward by PIXR, and protesters still remain in front of Nassau Hall, where they have been since 10 a.m. on May 7.