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Almost 300 Faculty Members at Princeton University Sign Statement Opposing Racism and Discrimination

 

Many Princeton University faculty members, including former school president Shirley Tilghman, ethicist Peter Singer,  and chapel dean Alison Boden, have signed a statement in support of diversity and against racism and discrimination.

As of 4 p.m. on Thursday, 297 faculty members across the campus from many academic departments had signed the joint statement supporting diversity.

“Amid reports of hate crimes on campuses and schools, we, the undersigned Princeton University faculty, firmly emphasize our belief that all members of our community deserve to be treated with empathy and respect,” reads the statement. “We come together on this issue not as Democrats or as Republicans, but as concerned members of our community.”

The faculty members said they fully support Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber’s recent message emphasizing Princeton University’s “steadfast commitment to embrace people of all ethnicities, religions, nationalities, genders, and identities, and our equally fundamental commitment to foster the free and vigorous exchange of ideas.”

“We pledge to be outspoken in the defense of these values,” reads the faculty statement.

Hundreds of hates crimes have been reported across the nation since the presidential election last week, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Harassment most commonly occurred in K-12 schools and on university campuses. Many, though not all incidents, involved direct references to the Trump campaign, according to the group. Churches have also been targeted.

The University of Michigan issued a campus safety alert Sunday after a Muslim student told police a white male demanded she remove her hijab or he would set her on fire with a lighter.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered state police to open an investigation into reports that a swastika and “Trump” were spray painted on the walls of a dorm at SUNY Geneseo.

Last Friday, black first-year students at the University of Pennsylvania received racist and violent messages on their cell phones via the app GroupMe. The messages were from someone using the handle “Daddy Trump” and the group name was N-Lynching. Officials tracked the messages to a University of Oklahoma student.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • What does any of that have to do with the Princeton faculty signing a petition?

  • Fezziwig

    Hmmm…better brush up on your Supreme Court decisions. Not sure you’d want them determining these things if you actually knew and understood the rulings. In point of fact, the court has repeatedly upheld the First Amendment, even in cases of blatantly offensive hate speech and intimidating actions such as cross burnings. See Brandenburg v. Ohio, R.A.V. v. City of Saint Paul and Snyder v. Phelps for starters.

    And, for the record, I’m certainly not arguing that it’s “ok” (whatever that means) to intimidate people with swastikas, disturbing imagery, slurs, etc. I wouldn’t do it myself, and I disagree vehemently with those who do. I’m simply saying it’s 100% legal, constitutionally protected speech, and should remain so. Bottom line, I suppose is yes, it’s absolutely “ok” in a legal sense, as wrong or repugnant (or “not ok” ) as one might deem it in a moral sense.

    I guess I’m confused by what, in your mind, a refusal to “tolerate” something looks like beyond signing a purely symbolic petition or “standing with” (again, a squishy, undefined, and ultimately meaningless term) those who do. To me avowing a refusal to tolerate something, assuming it’s not more than hot air, necessarily implies taking some kind of concrete action against it-retaliation, enforcement, punishment etc. If something is legal, society, by definition, tolerates it.

  • PrincetonResident

    I’ll defer to SCOTUS, which has upheld that some types of hateful speech is not protected.

    If you want to argue that it’s ok to intimidate people with swastikas or lynching imagery, or use ethnic slurs, that’s your prerogative. I stand with the Princeton faculty that this speech is offensive and not part of an inclusive community.

  • PrincetonResident

    As far as I can tell, no one ever suggested that those who didn’t sign aren’t racists. You seem to have made this up so that you could denounce the nonexistent people who made this suggestion.

    I don’t think the course on mathematical logic has creating fake controversies on its syllabus.

  • Robert Dana

    Yes. I have no idea why those who didn’t sign the petition, didn’t sign it. And neither do you.

    There are plenty of reasons why one wouldn’t sign. To say that all the non-signers are racists is offensive.

    If you don’t understand why this is so, you may want to consider a course in mathematical logic. There’s a good one on Coursera taught by a fellow from Stanford.

  • Fezziwig

    And who exactly gets to determine what constitutes an intolerable “verbal slur” or “attack?” Who defines these terms and how? Or is it, in fact, entirely subjective? If someone “feels” attacked or harassed, in their unilateral judgement, is that perforce an intolerable attack? This is the problem and a large part of why many folks feel the first amendment is, in fact, gravely threatened. In this age of microagressions and safe spaces, it’s simply not reasonable to allow the purported, self-appointed “victims” of such things to act as discretionary arbiters of what speech will or will not be “tolerated” (the hubris!) from others.

    As for defacement of property, well, that’s called vandalism and is already provided for in the law.

  • Joe

    So you are totally oblivious to what’s been going on for the past year plus. Trump launches his campaign with insulting racist comments. You are ignoring the 5 years that Trump insisted that Obama was not a citizen, that whole stupid birther nonsense. Let’s just ignore Steve Bannon or Jeff Sessions. Trump acted like he had never heard of the KKK or David Duke. No wonder we have this horrible demagogue as president with so many willfully clueless people.

  • PrincetonResident

    So you’re saying that those who didn’t sign aren’t racists? Glad to hear you clarify that point since no one suggested otherwise.

    The rest of your message says the words in the statement are so broadly defined that they have no meaning. The meaning is clear. Harassment of individuals with verbal slurs and attacks, and defacement of property to intimidate will not be tolerated. This should be something that everyone agrees upon. The need for the statement is borne out by the negative reaction to it here.

  • PrincetonResident

    Defacement of property with swastikas is a crime.

    You’re in a pretty sad place if you think the behavior encouraged by the President elect is preferable to a fictional fear of first amendment violations.

  • Robert Dana

    If your comment is directed at me, Mx. Princeton Resident, I’m being ironic.

  • Robert Dana

    Last time I checked “words” do not constitute crimes. I’m no fan of the President elect but if the election had gone the other way, we would have had to worry about a full blown assault on the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

  • Cara Marcano

    Thank you. Empty gesture. Great use of their salaries, health insurance and time. signing a petition that says they are all perfect.

  • Cara Marcano

    Right? If you are so sure you are on the right side of history why you have to issue a PR statement or publicly sign something saying so? To make yourself feel good and to make someone else feel bad. Completely agree. If you are so perfect and in you and in front of you there is nothing you could do better, how do you innovate? how do you do the right thing and improve? …

  • Blake Cash

    Absolutely. Doing one does not accomplish the others. Pretending it does merely moves you further out of touch, as this petition does.

  • PrincetonResident

    One can work to identify the bully, escort the victim, and attend class. They aren’t exclusive. Can’t we support all three actions?

  • PrincetonResident

    Categorizing an entire group of people as racist based upon what you think is a big part of the problem. We should all be more moderate and tolerant with our language.

  • PrincetonResident

    With the many hate crimes since the election, perhaps now is a time to reconsider your position and to take a public stance against racism and discrimination. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

  • Blake Cash

    In current times it is a billboard with flashing lights reading “Out of Touch.”

    I am reminded of an incident at Baylor University, where a young woman was pushed off the sidewalk with a racial epithet. Three hundred students escorted her to class the next day. No one attempted to identify the bully, they all felt better creating a 300 to 1 force should he be on the path the next day. He was not, bullies are opportunists, taking advantage of perceived weakness. Paranoia is a weakness. Somehow three hundred students missing class is not seen as a weakness.

  • Blake Cash

    As a child, I picked up the epithet “Commie,” from the television show All in the Family. It did not take me long to look up the meaning and stop using it. In retrospect, I forgive my ten year old self for the foolishness, and am somewhat proud for learning the lesson of understanding the meaning of words before using them.

    Lately, in particular the last week, I have come across many adults who never learned the lesson.

  • Cooper11

    Peter Singer? Good thing infants weren’t on that list or he wouldn’t have signed!

  • Robert Dana

    Apparently. And they are racist. Today one is branded as such for what one says AND what one doesn’t say. We renounce others for not renouncing what we demand be renounced. The only consolation is that words like these are so broadly defined that they have no meaning.

  • Peter S.

    This happens when you live in a bubble and selectively picking news targeting only certain individuals and purposely avoiding news which do not fit in ‘the agenda’.

  • Robert Dana

    I have been against racism and discrimination all my life. I have never felt the need to sign a petition or to memorialize my position in such manner. It sounds like these people are either trying to convince themselves of something or have a need to feel superior to everyone else.

    It seems that the Left is much more interested in words than actual deeds. Sometimes that has dire consequences as when the President and Mr. Kerry drew a red line in Syria giving thousands of good people in that country hope. They acted on those words; but no action was forthcoming. Thousands suffered and a whole continent was put in turmoil.

    Just an observation.

  • Why is this a big deal? Shouldn’t we just expect and assume that ALL faculty at Princeton are opposed to racism and discrimination?

  • Carlos Brody

    In ordinary times, this would indeed seem like an empty gesture. In current times, it felt important to reaffirm these values.

  • Carlos Brody

    Here’s a link to the statement and the list of signatures: https://goo.gl/DRRjwl

  • Blake Cash

    Did anyone refuse to sign? This just sounds like an empty “feel good” gesture.

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