Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber today called on school leaders to develop recommendations for improving the school’s policies and practices regarding diversity, inclusion and equity. He also wants the school to host events in the upcoming months that foster public dialogue about racial equality and diversity.
“Recent events provide yet another painful reminder that, despite America’s foundational commitment to human equality and unalienable rights, racial injustice has stained our republic from the moment of its inception,” Eisgruber said during a meeting of the Council of the Princeton University Community.
“The tragic deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, have again exposed the distressing gap that separates our aspirations from our achievements,” Eisgruber said. “Our Constitution’s promise of equal protection of the laws remains unfulfilled, and the American people’s dream of justice remains unrealized. Protests across the country and on our own campus testify eloquently to the anguish caused by the unfairness that persists within American society.”
Eisgruber said as a university committed to the nation’s service and the service of all nations, Princeton has a responsibility to bring its scholarship and teaching to bear on these urgent problems.
“We encourage our students and faculty to contribute to the national dialogue on these issues, and to help identify ways in which our republic can more fully live up to the principles on which it was founded. We must also push ourselves to uphold more faithfully on our own campus the ideals that define our academic community,” he said. “The Council of the Princeton University Community was created more than four decades ago, during the turmoil of the Vietnam War, with occasions of this kind very much in mind. The Council serves as `a permanent conference of the representatives of all major groups of the University’ where `they could each raise problems that concern them and … be exposed to each other’s views’.”
Eisgruber charged the Executive Committee of the Council to develop the recommendations for improving the school’s policies and practices. He also asked the Executive Committee to propose events in the upcoming months to enhance public dialogue about racial equality, diversity “and other topics critical to the future of our University and our country.”
He said he will ask the Executive Committee to consider during the upcoming week whether and how it wishes to augment its membership to enhance its capacity to deal with these issues, and how to ensure that its processes will be appropriately transparent and consultative.
Eisgruber then accepted questions from students.
Last week more than 500 Princeton University students and staff took part in a rally to protest the New York grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer for the death of Eric Garner.
Princeton Theological Seminary President Craig Barnes voiced support on Friday for students who planned a protest against racial discrimination and police brutality. More than 350 students, faculty, staff and community members participated in the protest this afternoon.
“The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere have brought great pain, sorrow, and frustration to our community, and many of our students are seeking a constructive way to make their voices heard,” Barnes said. “I want to show my solidarity with them as they advocate for the changes in our society that are necessary to prevent these tragedies on our streets.”