The Atlantic

The Princeton Faculty’s Anti-Free-Speech Demands

Some of the signers of a controversial open letter don’t stand behind its most alarming demand.
Source: Laura Moss / The New ​York Times / Redux

Princeton University is consumed from top to bottom with what seems to be the question of the moment: How should it reorder itself to fight racism?

The school’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, ordered 23 of the institution’s most senior academic and administrative leaders to focus on how to marshal Princeton’s teaching, research, operations, and partnerships in service of “eliminating racism” on and off campus. By August 21, they are to report on what specifically can be done “to identify, understand, and combat” it. The university is also giving $1,500 grants to students who want to fight racism, and has made available new funding for faculty to run scholarly projects or expand course offerings related to racism.

These efforts, though, don’t come close to satisfying the calls for change coming from within the Princeton community. Groups of students have variously described the composition of Princeton’s faculty and its “institutional culture” as “pillars of its oppressive past,” declared that their education failed to prepare them to vanquish racism, and urged a “comprehensive transformation” of curriculum, programming, and faculty.

[Conor Friedersdorf: Why I cover campus controversies]

More notable, roughly 350 faculty members and staff , published on July 4, that set forth nearly 50 demands. These were premised on the claims that anti-Black racism plays a powerful role at Princeton, that it has “a visible bearing” on Princeton’s makeup and hiring practices, and that “indifference to the effects of racism on this campus has allowed legitimate demands for

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