Follow us on Instagram
Try our daily mini crossword
Play our latest news quiz
Download our new app on iOS/Android!

CPUC discusses divestment policies and video recording as sit-in forms across campus

IMG_0459.JPG
Eisgruber at the CPUC meeting.
Calvin Grover / The Daily Princetonian

Pro-Palestine protesters were escorted out of the Monday afternoon meeting of the Council of the Princeton University Committee (CPUC), while a sit-in was taking place ten minutes up-campus in Clio Hall. They chanted “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest,” as they left the meeting.

The meeting, led by President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, included discussions of protest regulations and the timeline for disinvestment, a successful parliamentary maneuver by U-Council Chair Daniel Shaw ’25 to delay a vote on banning video recording at meetings, and confirmation that a confidential recommendation on the John Witherspoon statue had been sent to the Board of Trustees. 

ADVERTISEMENT

As news of the Clio sit-in spread throughout the meeting, Dean of the College Jill Dolan and Vice President of Student Life W. Rochelle Calhoun, who was supposed to provide an update from the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Climate, Culture and Conduct, left the meeting. PSAFE officers stood in the corner of Frist Multipurpose Room (MPR), where the meeting took place, and by the stairs leading to Frist basement.

The sit-in was not addressed at any point in the meeting by CPUC members and the meeting followed its planned agenda. 

The session opened with pre-submitted questions from Shaw and U-Councilor Aishwarya Swamidurai ’26. Shaw asked members whether the University is committed to ensure that any regulations applied are applied in a viewpoint neutral matter, proportionally, and in keeping with  past practice. He also asked if the University would commit to not use violence against peaceful protesters.

Eisgruber responded that not all University regulations are viewpoint-neutral, specifically noting that viewpoints can be relevant in tenure decisions. He also distinguished time, place, and manner restrictions, which he said are in general “not only viewpoint neutral, but content neutral.”

When pressed by Shaw to commit to non-violence, Eisgruber responded, “We‘re going to apply the University policies in the way that they are set forth by the University and pursuant to University procedures.”  

“One thing that I should stress in that regard is that it's not only about peacefulness,” Eisgruber continued, “The overall purpose of those restrictions is to ensure the functioning of the University to continue to pursue its scholarly teaching and other missions.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Swamidurai questioned the Council on the University webpage referring to the policy on camping and sleeping on public grounds, noting the page has been changed since December.  Vice-President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun responded that University policies are periodically updated with this particular change being made on March 19. 

An amendment to the charter of the CPUC adding a permanent representative for the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL) was proposed by Michael May GS, a student in the department of Astrophysical Sciences. May noted unique concerns of PPPL staff including facility closures and bus routes. The amendment passed unanimously.

The CPUC also considered a motion by Provost Jennifer Rexford to prohibit independent video recording of CPUC meetings. This motion was first proposed at the March CPUC meeting, where student representatives on the committee raised concerns about transparency. Rexford proposed the motion for a vote. An initial motion to table from Shaw failed with 15 in favor, primarily students, and 24 opposed.

Shaw made a second motion to refer the amendment to the Committee on Rights and Rules. The committee would be given until Sept. to report whether the amendment is in violation of Chapter 8 of the CPUC charter guaranteeing freedom of publication. Swamidurai seconded and after a couple minutes of discussion between the Executive Secretary and the Parliamentarian about how to proceed, they ruled that the motion merited debate.

Subscribe
Get the best of ‘the Prince’ delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe now »
IMG_0444.jpeg
The executive secretary and parliamentarian consider how to proceed on the motion of Daniel Shaw ’25 on the right to record video.
Rohit Narayanan / The Daily Princetonian

Shaw, Swamidurai, and U-Councilor Isabella Shutt ’24 defended the motion, while General Council Ramona Romero opposed it, saying, “This could go on forever and ever if we continue doing this.”  

Romero cited the precedent that no other governance body of the University allows video recording, prompting an interruption from Shutt who asserted that video recording is permitted by USG. USG President Avi Attar ’25 claimed that no video recording policy exists for USG.  Text was distributed to all CPUC members: “No other governance body of the University allows video recording (USG, GSG, Faculty and Board of Trustee meetings).” 

Professor Max Weinberg of the Computer Science department asked why Shaw’s motion was not raised in the Executive Committee meeting, which Shaw attends. Shaw responded that he had learned about the charter provision guaranteeing freedom of publication from a column in the ‘Prince’ that morning.

At the end of the debate, 29 members voted to refer the amendment to the committee, including Romero and Eisgruber. Seven opposed and three abstained. 

Following the debate, the room received an update from the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Climate, Culture and Conduct, from Vice Provost for Institutional Equity Michelle Minter who, presented on Calhoun’s behalf. Calhoun chairs the committee. Two graduate students and a postdoc resigned from the Committee on Sunday, condemning the Thursday morning arrests of Achinthya Sivalingam GS and Hassan Sayed GS. 

Professor of Chemistry John Groves presented on behalf of the Resources Committee, which is the core committee responsible for divestment. The committee was founded in 1970, and Groves referred to four separate divestments from South Africa, one from Sudan, and a 2022 divestment from over 90 fossil fuel companies.

Groves shared that no formal inquiry regarding divestments related to the war in Gaza had been submitted through the committee’s website, though he noted that there had been a number of emails and phone calls. He added that the committee had not yet had time to consider them since many came in that day.

Barbara Nagel, a professor of German, asked how consensus was measured for divestment, noting “in the case of South Africa it would have been great if Princeton had divested earlier,” and Groves responded, “I think the committee has the sense that we know [consensus] when we see it.” He referenced the decision to divest from all publicly traded fossil fuel companies and dissociate from 90 companies following a 2021 referendum in which over 80 percent of undergraduate voters voted in favor.

Eisgruber added, “the petition policies of the University presupposes that the deliberations about any divestment action can, and likely will, take a long time and that presumption is related to the question of consensus,” in line with his comments from February’s CPUC meeting.

Professor of History and Director of the Program in Asian American Studies Beth Lew-Williams presented an update from the Committee on Naming, highlighting the evaluation of the John Witherspoon statue and naming the rooms in Prospect House as ongoing projects.  Lew-Williams said they expected announcements on both questions by the end of the academic year, and revealed that the committee had made a “confidential recommendation” to the Board of Trustees on the Witherspoon statue.

To close out the meeting, Attar presented USG’s work over the past year. As Attar closed his speech, seated audience members rose and started reading a statement condemning the University response to the protests.

“Your commitments were a deliberate act to endanger and criminalize students who have done nothing wrong,” read one protester, as Eisgruber introduced the next presenter, GSG’s Amari Tankard.  

The protester called for all charges to be dropped. “There is a sit-in in Clio Hall right now and students peacefully protesting are being threatened and potentially arrested,” the protester continued. Eisgruber issued a warning before a PSAFE administrator approached the protester and threatened arrest if they did not leave the meeting. PSAFE escorted all the protesters out of the room as they chanted “Free Palestine” and as Tankard began her presentation.

When approached after the meeting, Eisgruber declined to comment on the ongoing events in Clio Hall.

Bridget O’Neill is a head News editor for the ‘Prince’ from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Correction: This article has updated to clarify the timing of the University policy change on camping. A previous version of this article misrepresented votes of Weinberg and Romero on Shaw’s motion. the ‘Prince’ regrets this error

Most Popular