Planet Princeton

President shares his perspective on free speech at Princeton University

In his latest column in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, Princeton University President Chris Eisgruber reaffirms the school’s commitment to free speech across the political spectrum.

The faculty at Princeton adopted a statement in 2015 guaranteeing all members of the university community “the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn,” even when the expression of some ideas may be “unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

“Many people worry about the state of campus speech today, and understandably so. Higher education has been embarrassed by appalling incidents such as the one at Middlebury College, where protestors shouted down Charles Murray and some physically assaulted him and his host, Professor Allison Stanger,” writes Eisgruber.

Read his full column on free speech in the Princeton Alumni Weekly here.

For more on free speech, read Nat Hentoff’s book “Free Speech for Me — But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other,” a classic on the subject.

“The First Amendment does not make an exception for the odious,” writes Hentoff. “Once it starts to be applied selectively, no one, ultimately, will have a safe place to speak or associate.”

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.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    Either we like it or not, we will always have the choice to listen to a speech or not. To ban those whose opinions we dislike or with whom we disagree and have opposite views could bite us back as it goes both ways; it is difficult to draw the line. And regarding the infamous Dr Imani Perry, yes, we are all still waiting for PU President who came to her rescue, to issue the apology that the Police Department deserves. Dr Imani did a disservice to her students, she played the racist card, she made up stories and with her words, she showed that she considered herself above the law… driving over the speed limit with a suspended license and unpaid tickets, seriously? A professor of the prestigious PU?

  • Robert Dana

    Not coincidental that this piece should appear in the University’s alumni magazine. Many alum (who annually write huge checks to Old Nassau) are not pleased about the national trend toward the restriction of free speech on campus. Too hold up Rick Santorum as an example of his campus’ civility & tolerance is comical. Rick Santorum? I would hope so.

    But, the jury is still out on President Eisengruber. He hasn’t had a purely speech related incident; but when faced with other controversial matters, he got all wobbly. He still owes an apology to the Princeton Police Department for his rush to judgement on the matter involving his untruthful, scoff law faculty member, Ms. Imani Perry.

    We’ll see.

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