Planet Princeton

Letters: Princeton 2015 Top 10 Reviews – Seriously?

Dear Editor:

On cue,  local papers each printed their so-called “Year in Review” featuring headlines like “Princeton 2015: A Year of Progress and Protest.”  As usual, most media catalogued their “Top 10″ featuring news of  important events or milestones of 2015. Readers might ask why dealing with the “tour bus “ problem  is even considered, let alone recognized as a significant accomplishment. In sharp contrast, is the failure to cite major issues like Princeton being heralded  by local politicians and the media nationwide as a  “sanctuary city”,  affording a safe haven for illegal immigrants and a refuge from ICE federal enforcement activities. Apparently there was a conscious political, liberal media choice to avoid a controversial issue and the primacy of our nation’s “the Rule of Law “ to bend the knee to political correctness.

Such major omissions were obvious and unfortunate, but a more egregious failure was a mischaracterization of major events. For example, media featured often and correctly student protests on Princeton Campus by the Black Justice League, who forcibly occupied Nassau Hall and the Presidents office. They presented with full-throated threat and intimidation a list of demands, which were promptly responded to by the University and the media in a manner some would describe as “PC Gone Wild.”  Surprisingly and clearly unanticipated by the Princeton hierarchy,  a counter student protest advocating a return to  “academic freedom and open dialogue “ was largely ignored, evidently by liberal fiat, as being without merit and not worthy of any immediate response. President Eisgruber, in his keynote speech on Martin Luther King Jr  Day, issued an urgent call to arms in the “struggle for equality” and lauded students for being rightly outraged and of inspiring idealism in their activism. Not a single word about students, professors, or even alumni with different views of issues at hand. What about the idealism and activism of students concerned with the diminishment of equally important and fundamental rights on campus?

It is greatly troubling that a prestigious university and its president would not even acknowledge the existence of legitimate concerns of numbers of students and professors for the infectious loss of academic freedom and suppression of o dialogue on university campuses. It reminds one of the treatment of the military on campus in the 60s, and anyone who supported the Vietnam War politically or otherwise. During this period of serious and divisive turmoil ,  I never thought campus student protests, even with support of faculty and university leadership, were directly impacting adversely  academic freedom and open dialogue in fundamental ways. I do now! And I am ashamed as an alumni to be associated with Princeton’s festering abandonment of a centuries old traditions of academia.

John Clearwater

Mr. Clearwater is a Princeton resident. He earned his master’s degree from Princeton University in 1966.

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4 comments

  • I have to admire your commitment to student activism and exposing your daughter to an educational moment re protests seeking redress of grievances. Wonder if you talked about reasonable limits on means and methods. Did you or your daughter seek out even one of the students engaged in the counter protest, read their letter or visit their website explaining their concerns re loss of academic freedom and open dialogue. Not to mention these students concerns re unlawful conduct of protesters and demands accompanied by threats…..

  • Try ” abandoning academic freedom and open dialogue on campus now which I didn’t see during the 60’s in my course work and the new. Woodrow Wilson school

  • Not sure if you ever went to talk to any of these Princeton students, Mr. Clearwater, during the time you say they “forcibly occupied” Nassau Hall. I did. I brought along my daughter so we could talk with these young people and find out for ourselves what their experiences had been that led them to pitch tents in the freezing rain and sit on floors for hours on end. It was enlightening and important. You speak about your upset at a “mischaracterization of major events” but you’re perpetuating one yourself. These students had a sit-in, not a forcible occupation like we’re witnessing in Oregon.

  • I am not sure which “centuries old traditions” you are ashamed of Princeton abandoning. From every recent indication, and by your own recollections of the 60s, it would appear tradition of “protest first, think after graduation” is going strong.

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