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A denouncement of ‘A Declaration of Independence by a Princeton Professor’

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We, the undersigned students and alumni of the Princeton Department of Classics and Program in Linguistics, unequivocally denounce “A Declaration of Independence by a Princeton Professor,” written by professor of classics Joshua T. Katz. We condemn its demonization of student organizers, its belittlement of faculty members in their support of anti-racism, and its flippant dismissal of efforts to combat systemic racism at Princeton while minimizing the very presence of that racism itself.

In his declaration, Katz called the Black Justice League a “local terrorist organization,” misgendered one of its alumni leaders, and wrote that a recent Instagram live stream naming the racism of former classmates was “one of the most evil things [he has] ever witnessed,” comparing it to the Communist Party of China’s brutal struggle sessions in which people were beaten and killed. Considering that this declaration comes in response to a faculty letter on anti-Blackness at Princeton, spearheaded by Black faculty and addressing a history of exclusion and gaslighting against Black students and faculty, it is disturbing that Katz reserves the word “evil” for the students who championed these changes, rather than for racism itself. Not only is the content of this declaration poorly conceived, but it is also an attempt to distract from the necessity of making anti-racist changes throughout the University as a whole.


Finally, we want to share our utmost appreciation for and solidarity with the members of the classics faculty who co-authored and signed the faculty letter. We applaud faculty members who have taken proactive rather than reactive stances, and we challenge the classics department and the University more broadly to bolster their commitments in reforming curricula, pedagogy, and hiring practices. The spirit of Katz’s writing is not new for him, the University, or the field of classics. Yet when the institutional memory of an undergraduate concentrator is so narrow, many students only realize the unique complicity of classics in white supremacy and Eurocentrism toward the end of their undergraduate education. This is beginning to change, and it must change. A list of anti-racist policy changes is currently being drafted to submit to the department, and the implementation of these policies should take center stage. For the sake of urgency, however, we want to denounce Katz’s words as swiftly as possible. We reiterate that Katz’s declaration should not come as a surprise to classicists, but we hope that this behavior will not be met with traditional silence.


Students and Alumni of Princeton Classics and Linguistics

Visala Alagappan, undergraduate alum, ’17

Tyler Archer, graduate student, G4

Preston Bannard, undergraduate alum, ’05


Frances Bernstein, graduate student, G5

Anna Bonnell Freidin, graduate alum, GS ’18

Rachel Brill, undergraduate alum, ’19

Jermaine Bryant, graduate student, G2

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Elizabeth Butterworth, undergraduate alum, ’12

Malina Buturovic, graduate student, G4

Emilio Capettini, graduate alum, GS ’16

Yung In Chae, undergraduate alum, ’15

Erica Choi, undergraduate alum, ’18

Christopher Cochran, undergraduate alum, ’14

James Corran, undergraduate alum, ’13

Kathleen Cruz, graduate student

Emma Curran, graduate alum, GS ’19

Nicolette D’Angelo, undergraduate alum, ’19

Tom Davies, graduate student

Katie Dennis, graduate student, G4

William Dingee, graduate student, G5

Bridget Reilly Durkin, undergraduate alum, ’07

Paul Eberwine, graduate student, G2

Brigid Ehrmantraut, undergraduate alum, ’18

Nadirah Farah Foley, undergraduate alum, ’11

Ameena Faruki, undergraduate, ’22

Angela Feng, undergraduate alum, ’19

Joseph Feng, undergraduate, ’22

Neyat Fiseha, undergraduate alum, ’17

Erik Fredericksen, graduate alum, GS ’19

Kay Gabriel, graduate alum, GS ’20

Andrew Gallia, undergraduate alum, ’97

Elliot Galvis, undergraduate, ’21

Amy Garland, undergraduate alum, ’14

Hanna Golab, graduate alum, GS ’17

Avner Goldstein, undergraduate, ’21

Caroline de Brito Gottlieb, undergraduate alum, ’19

Lisa Han, undergraduate alum, ’13

Ella Haselswerdt, graduate alum, GS ’18

Ali Harris, undergraduate, ’21

Sebastian Holt, undergraduate alum, ’19

Katherine Lu Hsu, undergraduate alum, ’05

Kat Huemoeller, graduate alum, GS ’16

Emily Hulme Kozey, graduate alum, GS ’19

Joonho Jo, undergraduate, ’21

Sarah Johnson, graduate student, G4

David Kaufman, graduate alum, GS ’13

Scarlett Kingsley, graduate alum, GS ’16

Amanda Klause, graduate alum, GS ’17

Brahm Kleinman, graduate alum, GS ’18

Daniel Kosasa, graduate student, G4

Cat Lambert, undergraduate alum, ’15

Jaylin Lugardo, undergraduate alum, ’20

Anna Macknick, undergraduate, ’21

Oscar Mahoney, undergraduate alum, ’18

Caroline Mann, graduate alum, GS ’19

Fares Marayati, undergraduate alum, ’19

Linda McNulty Perez, graduate student

Rose MacLean, graduate alum, GS ’12

Kassi Miller, undergraduate alum, ’07

Cait Mongrain, graduate student, G3

Sarah Norvell, graduate student, G3

Ronan O’Brien, undergraduate alum, ’16

Molly O’Neill, undergraduate alum, ’14

Meaghan O’Neill, undergraduate alum, ’17

Danielle Perry, undergraduate alum, ’13

Olufeyikewa Popoola, undergraduate alum, ’20

Olivia Pugh, undergraduate, ’21

Irma Qavolli, undergraduate alum, ’20

Kelly Rafey, undergraduate alum, ’16

Heather Schmidt, graduate alum, GS ’10

Carey Seal, graduate alum, GS ’09

Ruth Schultz, undergraduate, ’22

Mali Skotheim, graduate alum, GS ’16

Carolyn Tobin, graduate alum, GS ’20

Leina Thurn, undergraduate alum, ’20

Kirsten Traudt, undergraduate alum, ’20

Emma Treadway, undergraduate, ’22

Tashi Treadway, undergraduate alum, ’19

Anna Uhlig, graduate alum, GS ’11

Mathura Umachandran, graduate alum, GS ’18

Keegan J. Valbuena, graduate student, G6

Christopher Villani, undergraduate, ’21

Andrew White, undergraduate, ’22

Reis White, undergraduate, ’22

Elliot Wilson, graduate student, G4

Thomas Wilson, graduate student, G6

Justin Wittekind, undergraduate, ’22

Clem Wood, graduate alum, ’18

Jessica Wright, graduate alum, GS ’16

Donna Zuckerberg, graduate alum, GS ’14