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Special faculty meeting will consider proposal regarding student discipline and free speech

A group of people stand around a grassy courtyard. An old brick building stands in the background.
The "Gaza Solidarity Encampment."
Calvin K. Grover / The Daily Princetonian

Following a petition by six faculty members in late April, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 has called a special meeting of the faculty for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 20.

The proposal — drafted by Molly Greene GS ’93, Ruha Benjamin, Dan-El Padilla Peralta ’06, Lidal Dror, V. Mitch McEwen, and Curtis Deutsch — asks the faculty to consider “the granting of amnesty to students and other university affiliates involved in peaceful free speech and assembly for justice in Palestine,” including the encampment, sit-in, and hunger strike. As of the hunger strike's ninth day, thirteen of the original participants have broken their strike, replaced by seven new strikers.


The meeting agenda will include only one proposal regarding student discipline and free speech.

However, their original proposal included five other proposals and resolutions regarding divestment, a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, evaluating the military scope of the University’s endowment, creating affiliations with Palestinian cultural institutions and a Program in Palestinian Studies, and a resolution calling for a full faculty boycott of all Israeli businesses and institutions.

In his letter, Eisgruber acknowledged that the proposal on student discipline refers to “some matters over which the faculty shares authority with the administration under the University’s bylaws and other rules.”  

“These reasons do not apply to the other proposals,” Eisgruber wrote. “It would be unreasonable to ask the faculty to deliberate on so many highly controversial proposals with so little notice at a single meeting.”

In a statement to The Daily Princetonian, the six faculty members wrote, “President Eisgruber’s cover memo and our memo for the requested special meeting are now public knowledge, since they appear to have been shared with a reporter for the National Review. The procedural steps leading to the President’s calling of a special meeting are as described in the memos; the purpose remains to address the administration’s chilling and intimidatory action against free speech and assembly. The President’s cover memo indicates that our proposed agenda would exceed the typical scope of a university faculty meeting. If he should have a more effective agenda for convening faculty in this historic moment, we look forward to receiving it. We encourage all voting faculty to attend the May 20th special meeting.”

The six faculty members submitted their proposals on May 8. According to Rules and Procedures of the Faculty, special meetings are typically set for Mondays, and important proposals must be submitted no later than the second Wednesday before the special meeting. The next regularly scheduled faculty meeting is on Monday, May 13.


“There are serious questions about whether the other proposals are within the jurisdiction of the faculty under the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty and the bylaws of the University,” Eisgruber wrote. He added that “If any of the other [five] proposals are to be considered, it will be at a meeting in the fall.”

Initially, the faculty members requested a special faculty meeting in late April to “address intimidatory and chilling disciplinary action against student free speech and assembly.”

In response to the initial request, Dean of the Faculty Gene Jarrett ’97 proposed a “more general discussion” after the regularly scheduled faculty meeting on May 13. Greene, one of the six faculty members, read Jarrett’s email reply in a speech at the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on April 27, telling the crowd of protestors, “This is not acceptable.”

In the proposal letter, the six faculty members invoke the section of Rules and Procedures which grants the University President and Faculty authority over matters related to curriculum and academic procedures.  

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“The policy proposals and resolutions are concerned equally with the University’s pedagogically deleterious stance on the unfolding genocide in Gaza, and with administrative efforts to constrain, obstruct, or publicly misrepresent community free speech and assembly in support of Palestine,” they wrote.

Elisabeth Stewart is an assistant News editor for the ‘Prince.’

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