Planet Princeton

Open Letters to Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber

Dear President Eisgruber:
I am angry at your quick actions to come to the defense of Ms. Perry before having the full facts before you.
Further, I do not understand why you are involved in her personal issue, as her arrest did not occur on Princeton University property or involve a University vehicle.
I wonder if you would react the same way if it were the arrest if a 20-year veteran of your university’s janitorial, secretarial, or food service department rather than an employee that you described as a “respected scholar and beloved teacher.”

It is offensive to me that the outstanding professional conduct of the Princeton Police Department and its efforts to unite our community have been called into question.

Our Police Department works diligently to create a harmonious melting pot. Ms. Perry’s agenda to create a racial issue and your support of her allegations is outrageous. Our police deserve so much better. Your apology would be the first step in the right direction.

Cynthia Davison Clausen

 

President Eisgruber:

Thank you for responding to my email. However, you have not addressed my request for a formal apology to the chief and men and women of the Princeton Police Department — unless by simply regurgitating the talking points you shared with the Princeton community that appeared in the Daily Princetonian soon after Ms. Perry’s arrest you meant for me to infer that you have no reason to proffer an apology.

The passage of a week’s time and release of the dash cam, the independent review conducted by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s office finding that the arresting officer deserves “commendation” rather than “condemnation,” as well hundreds of online comments all give credence to and support for my request that you issue a public apology to Chief Sutter and the men and women of our police force immediately. Their professionalism and integrity have been falsely called into question by an employee of the University.

Your comment, which you referred to in response to my initial email — “I have a high regard for Chief Sutter and the police force and, in my experience both at the University and as a long-time Princeton resident, I know that the town’s officers conduct themselves professionally and with integrity”– begs the question, why then were you so quick to call for an investigation of the officer’s actions, suggesting that Ms. Perry’s claims that she was ‘mistreated’ had validity? Was it because she is “a respected scholar and beloved teacher” that would somehow insulate her from humiliation and embarrassment? How about the humiliation and embarrassment of the respected police officer who was falsely accused and restricted to desk duty pending the outcome of the Prosecutor’s findings? How about his embarrassment and humiliation of being falsely accused of wrongdoing when in fact he acted courteously and professionally in carrying out his legal responsibility to place Ms. Perry under arrest, place her in handcuffs and transport her to the police station for processing. Don’t you think he should have been afforded the same “compassion” you afforded Ms. Perry? How about his family? His colleagues? The residents of Princeton? It was very difficult to see the news of Ms. Perry’s accusations played out on television, the radio, national and international print media.

Reading that you and Ms. Appelget were quick to call the mayor in response to Ms. Perry’s arrest in an effort to ease Ms. Perry’s discomfort of being arrested is troublesome. It appears that you both believe a member of the faculty deserves preferential treatment. What did you think alerting the mayor would do? Did you expect that Ms. Perry’s connection to the University would somehow make a difference in how her case would be treated? Ms. Perry’s flagrant disrespect of the law does not insulate her from the consequences of ignoring the responsibilities that come along with the privilege of driving a motor vehicle. It is elitist to think otherwise.

Ms. Perry knew exactly what she was doing when she falsely tweeted and /or publicly asserted that “The police treated me inappropriately and disproportionately….what I experienced was far more likely because my skin is a deep brown, my nose if round, and my hair coily…the fact of my blackness is not incidental to this matter.” when in fact none her assertions are supported by the evidence to date. Her tweets and her actions to date clearly support her personal/professional agenda of inciting racial tension where none exists. She even went so far as to call Chief Sutter a liar. Hopefully Ms. Perry will face professional condemnation from her esteemed colleagues ~ especially those within her department who posted an open letter of support immediately upon hearing her false accusations ~ and disciplinary action by the Broad of Trustees. Rightfully her integrity has been tarnished.

My request for a public apology from you is reasonable and would do much for the Princeton community, inside and outside the hallowed halls of ivy. Rather than help our community, Ms. Perry’s statements and false accusations have provided a platform for greater racial disharmony and tension, and have tarnished the good name of our officers in blue. The absence of an apology from you provides more fuel for this ugly fire she has ignited.

Kind Regards,
Kate Warren

Community Contributor

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  • Der Flahute

    A just society exists when even privileged elites respect the law.

  • Der Flahute

    Eisengruber’s thinly veiled contempt for the local peons beyond his ivory tower speaks volumes. Twp council are in PU’s ppocket. Is this anything new?

  • FreshAir

    Understood…which is why I carefully explained the wrong I see in Perry’s actions. She has perhaps come undone… her speeding & blaming behaviors indicate that. We also have very serious “town & gown” issues in Princeton, in part because our government IS the University. Eisgruber’s behavior indicates that. This is an open forum for discussion, so I’m glad you’re participating here. We all learn from each other. Since I’m a stakeholder in the health of my community, I’m hoping for apologies all around & the protection of everyone’s health & dignity in the future. Too much to hope for… I know.

  • SAM60BOS

    Thank you for writing both letters of which I concur.

    The Princeton Police Department did their job. Prof Perry for whatever reason did not realize or remember that she (1) hadn’t paid her parking tickets, (2) was driving with a suspended license, and (3) was pulled over for speedin along Mercer Street.

    Perhaps the experience of being arrested and arraigned was traumatic and stressful, and she needed a means to vent her view. That is fine except the rant went a little bit overboard. Then having the President of Princeton University make a public comment on an issue related to a private incident of a faculty member was perhaps done in haste and without a total understanding of the facts of the incident.

    The Princeton Police Department deserves to be respected for doing their job. Not insulted. Not demeaned. Not inserted into an issue being discussed throughout country that had very little to do what actually took place.

    Having listened last week to Professor Lawrence Summers at UPenn, I was impressed by his perspective on student protests, the Black Lives Matters Movement, and the current situation on university and college campuses. Dr. Summers stated that he felt the need for universities to allow for radical speech, some of which may matter in the future. However, he suggested universities should not want to shut down free speech on campus. In fact, he stated that students should have moment of discomfort during your four years at UPenn – otherwise UPenn is failing as a US university. Authority of ideas rather than the ideas of authority.

  • BGZ123

    I strongly suspect the police agree entirely. But it is NOT their choice! If the court has ordered an arrest, I don’t think we want the police to have veto power! Please keep the blame where it belongs – Obviously, no one should be arrested for a parking ticket!!! I don’t think anyone would disagree with that! – But that is not the point of this entire episode!

  • FreshAir

    Right…she was just cuffed, patted down, placed in a police car, photographed, finger-printed, & “processed” while being detained at the PD, when paying the fines.

  • Roger

    Unfortunately Fresh Air fails to grasp the fact that the professor WAS NOT arrested “for

  • Roger porkut

    Unfortunately

  • BGZ123

    Ron, a very thoughtful and helpful comment. (You might have restrained yourself, however, from “Many of you will also continue to spit into the wind, intentionally ignorant, refusing to understand how a tighter grasp onto centuries of unearned privilege only waters the seeds of racial strife.”) – – – Of course there may be, and probably are, underlying psychological factors at work here. Since we are betting, I bet most who have been critical of Dr. Perry and her supporters are well aware of this and are sympathetic to it. – – – But this is true in any stressful situation, regardless of the individual’s gender and race. It is an important additional point of discussion, but is not directly relevant to the question of the harm that has been done, and that is deserving of apology.

  • BGZ123

    I agree entirely with both letters. Thank you for writing.
    Brian Zack
    Princeton University alumnus
    Former university employee
    Princeton resident

  • Scimommy

    IMHO Prof. Perry’s initial fears were understandable and her tweets were accordingly somewhat hysterical. I don’t think Pres. Eisengruber had much choice but to support her and to call for an inquiry. Now, however, he should release another statement, if not to outright apologize to Princeton Police, then to commend them for their outstanding conduct.

  • lettherebelight

    If we are to become a more just society, when issues of this kind arise, we would do well to try to see it from the other person’s perspective – meaning whoever is different or on the other side from oneself. At the same time, everyone directly involved would do well to review their part in what’s happened and if they have erred, take responsibility for their error(s) which might well include an apology. This can take time. I actually think that Professor Perry and the Princeton Police Department could forge a relationship that might be helpful to both, as well as the Princeton community. I also think that President Eisgruber would be seen as a man of honor, if he were to take responsibility for jumping the gun. If these things were to happen that might signal real progress.

    Lastly, I believe that internalized racism is real and can affect how one perceives and responds to certain stimuli and that it isn’t different from PTSD in abused individuals or veterans of war. This doesn’t excuse any of Professor Perry’s legal transgressions, but it might explain her reactivity.

  • non believer

    Ahhh, the academic elite are agitated. Alarming but not surprising that there was a call to the mayor. The university is the 900 pound gorilla. Perhaps these two poor officers do not know the rules.
    Not that long ago – “A representative of Princeton University’s Department of Public Safety commended Mr. Sutter and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office head of detectives William Straniero looked around the room at the officers in blue and commented, “This says it all.” When Ms. Lempert called for a vote, the “ayes” resounded, and the assembly rose for a standing ovation.”

  • FreshAir

    Excellent…Thanks for sharing these insights. It’s a feeling of complete powerlessness & terror to be stopped & detained by anyone with a gun. Wasn’t always like that with the PD, or is never like that for some, perhaps…but seeing a child shot in a park by an officer is something you don’t forget. It’s really appalling that anyone would be cuffed & detained for unpaid parking tickets. Especially because taxpayers, average citizens pay for the roadways in this country. But, that kind of thing happens here all the time in NJ. I’m surprised there has never been a citizens movement for justice in the use of cuffs, but, then, I think everyone is afraid of the police because they carry guns & deliver heavy fines & penalties. Some of the most warm, gentle, wonderful beings on this planet that I know, have always told me: “just don’t look at them or talk to them” when discussing the police. That is fear. Companies that people don’t owe money too can wreck someone’s credit rating, the police can do that & take away a license.

  • Ron Plummer

    After reading a number of comments in social media, it’s obvious there’s another perspective regarding this event. Though, by the tone of many of the comments I’ve seen in social media, I don’t think many are willing to accept it as even a possibility.

    Dr. Perry appears to be a young woman who most likely has never been arrested or detained by law enforcement before this event and even with her law degree likely may have been totally unaware of standard Princeton Police Department procedures and practices.

    She like a number of folks comments in social media appeared

    (1) appalled that someone would be arrested for speeding and/or parking tickets,

    (2) humiliated and embarrassed by the nakedness of the process and

    (3) traumatized by the centuries long and tortuous history comingled with recent highly publicized events of law enforcement over reach in communities of color in these supposedly one United States of America.

    Add to this those subconscious and often conscious messages and stressors of fear of law enforcement. Messages that are passed down generation to generation. Deep seeded messages that travel in the front seat of the mind of almost every Black person in America. It shouldn’t be too difficult to understand why our daily interactions and transactions are often met with that internal survival mechanism question – Am I being treated this way because of my race?

    Those of you who are part of the cohort of America that for whatever myriad of reasons believe race died with the election of Barack Obama or those of you who just wish and pray race (something your ancestors created centuries ago) would somehow just magically and instantly disappear, will most likely see this supposition as a stretch. Many of you will also continue to spit into the wind, intentionally ignorant, refusing to understand how a tighter grasp onto centuries of unearned privilege only waters the seeds of racial strife.

    Now all of this doesn’t excuse nor imply Dr. Perry should have been treated differently, other than maybe the pat-down. Nor does it imply that she should be held accountable any differently than anyone else. The discussions on social media though, do once again point to one of the many side effects of a centuries old racialized system, though different that is still well and alive right here in America.

    Now I don’t know Dr. Perry and I don’t really know what went through her mind, but I bet I’m not far off.

  • Occupy!

    Why don’t some concerned Princeton residents occupy his office, demanding “justice” for the town? We could chant: “Perry lied, Lempert cried,” or “Pay your taxes, we know what the facts is” or maybe “You got a problem? Move the school to Camden!”

    So sick of these entitled tools acting like they’re doing the town a favor. F#$% that.

  • Eduquest

    “Truth is, the University could care less about the town of Princeton.”

    Thank you so much for stating this; it is a truth I rarely see mentioned when the University shows up to inflict its will on the town. So many in Princeton act like Princeton University is our big cuddly, friendly, benevolent neighbor. It is not. It is a multi-billion dollar bully, throwing its weight around where it sees fit. Its wishes should be given the same scrutiny a request from ETS or Johnson and Johnson would receive if they were this town’s largest landholder.

    Eisgruber’s statement on the PU President’s web page refers to a community–“I have been reminded again and again that fundamentally we are a community.” If you had any doubt, later he refers to the members of this community–“individual members of our community, including faculty, staff, and students.” Make no mistake, PU is only a member of our community when it wants something or sees a PR opportunity. It operates according to its own agenda. Anyone who drives out Alexander Road and takes in the urban splendor of parking lots, multi-deck garages, inaccessible convenience stores, ugly housing complexes (roof shingles as siding–why don’t we see that more often?) and the two gleaming stainless steel smokestacks belching who-knows-what can see how much PU cares about the Princeton community. All that is missing from the view is one of those nuclear reactors.

    The Princeton community may never see the apology our police and our town deserve, but we have not walked away empty handed. It is good to be reminded who our friends and neighbors really are.

  • Blue Lives Matter

    Perry’s ethics are in question here. Her behavior should result in nothing less than being fired from PU. I wouldn’t want her (Teaching African Studies) with the slanted narrow view she has racially displayed. It is exactly what we don’t need – her teaching our youth.

    -Blue Lives Matter

  • Robert Dana

    We’ve taken a step back by reviewing the facts. Professor Perry’s account was incorrect or “imperfect” in your parlance. President Eisgruber’s letter went well beyond mere non judgemental “support”. The police did an exemplary job. The officer demonstrated tremendous patience. Ms. Perry’s claims of police misconduct are without merit.

    So what’s your point? What is there to learn other than to withhold judgement until all the facts are in and to be skeptical of accusations when the accuser has a political axe to grind.

    You suggest both parties are at fault. Only one is.

  • Mj

    Perry is a disgrace and Eisgruber is a coward. They both need to apologize but it is too late now.

  • Willie Sam

    A very perceptive comment. Eisgruber has doubled down and released another statement in support of Perry even though he is surely by now fully aware of many of her distortions and outright lies. Like many college presidents today he has repeatedly and cowardly given in to radical voices on campus who intimidate and threaten to get their way no matter what the merits of their grievance.

  • SFB

    Eh, they aren’t going to apologize. You don’t apologize when you’re expecting to get sued for defamation.

  • Bob Schwartz

    Please don’t overreact to a carefully written letter of support. “Supporting” someone in their situation isn’t agreeing with everything that they said or did. We “support” family, friends and colleagues all the time.

    I think if we take a step back we can learn some positive things from this imperfect episode.

  • Robert

    Mr. Eisgruber has no alternative than to do what he did. Don’t hold your breath for an apology. It isn’t happening.

    To do otherwise would subject him to far, far more criticism from members of his own community. He’d rather take a few hits from the town community – like this nicely worded letter – which pale in comparison to the wrath he would be subjected to from the University.

    Truth is, the University could care less about the town of Princeton. Once a year they have a Communiversity Day where some of the inhabitants can pretend to be hippies again. That’s it.

    Recall how readily Mr. Eisgruber caved to the Black Justice League. He has a huge problem to deal with on the Woodrow Wilson issue.

    All this is of his own making and that of his academic brtheren throughout the country. They’ve allowed a politically correct agenda to rule the campus.

  • Jim Jenson

    She should check her “Endowed Chair” privileges.

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