President Eisgruber and the Trustees say they have a duty to preserve the endowment in perpetuity. But there is nothing sacred about endowments — nothing noble in their origins, how they reproduce, or their role in society.
Regardless of whether the particular conclusions he draws are correct or not, or whether his chosen language is hyperbolic, he has made a worthwhile contribution that other members of the University community should engage with rather than condemn.
We, the undersigned students and alumni of the Princeton Department of Classics and the Department of 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 belittling 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.
It is a sad reality that the mission of the Prize has become only more urgent in the 17 years since its founding. While racial animus, ever present in our American experience, has seeped even more into the national discourse, we are nonetheless inspired and rejuvenated in hope by each years’ Prize winners. We are also invigorated by the ongoing opportunities for Princeton alumni to gather together to further explore our own racial identities and to push each other to expand our anti-racist actions.
If Princeton retains its name it will be interesting to see how it justifies William’s legacy and its affiliation with a King who once ruled over England’s colonies, including those in North America, and oversaw the dawn of a period in slave trading in which the trade of African slaves peaked.
As some of the oldest and most well-established organizations on campus, we recognize our and Princeton’s complex history with race and our role in directly recognizing and calling out the injustices that have impacted and continue to impact Black students.