Princeton Faculty Letter in Support of Student Protests

Dear President Eisgruber, Dean Dolan, Senior Administrators, and Members of the Board of Trustees:

As Princeton faculty, we write in support of our students who have occupied the President’s office and those supporting them across campus. These are difficult times. And there is a palpable sense that, even as we struggle together to make Princeton a better institution, students of color, particularly black students, all too often find themselves on the margins of this University.  They do not feel a sense of possession of “Old Nassau.” So, they are voicing their frustration and have presented demands to the leadership of our community.

They have done so with passion and intelligence and we support them. We urge you and the broader Princeton community to take this opportunity to reflect seriously on their demands.  Imagine how difficult it must be, for some, to have to live and learn in a place that celebrates people who believed passionately in white supremacy; to experience daily a sense of alienation and have no place to which to retreat and find comfort. Imagine the exhausting task of having to constantly educate your fellow classmates about the particulars of your experience and the complex histories that shape them. And, finally, imagine being told, in effect, “be quiet” and endure. Such experiences suggest that Princeton is not truly their University–that they are just passing through.

Our students are no longer quiet. They have forced all of us to confront the urgency of the moment. Princeton’s deliberate pace at reform often presupposes the sacrifice of those who must endure until we actually change. It’s a costly wager. These students refuse to wait. They have forced the conversation and now we must act. We stand with them as they struggle with the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson and its impact on this campus. We stand with them as they work to make Princeton a more inclusive community. And we stand with them as they seek an education that is consonant with the vast diversity of our nation and this world.

As faculty, we recall the long history on this campus of previous student actions, administrative responses, faculty votes, and the vast array of University task forces and committees charged with addressing elements of the core problems that remain before us today. This history and the reality of our current moment suggests to us the need for a different, bolder, more comprehensive kind of action on the part of University leaders. In addition, we call for a meeting of the faculty dedicated to the issue of faculty diversity. Like our students, we note with dismay the alarming paucity of faculty of color in our senior ranks. In order to create the kind of just, inclusive, and welcoming University community students are insisting upon, we desperately need a faculty that more closely reflects not only the demographic profile of the nation but of the undergraduate student body itself.

Substantive change isn’t always neat and civil. Democratic debate is often messy and full of passion. But it requires that we hear each other, that we respect the right of others to protest. Threats of disciplinary action send a terrible signal to our students about your commitment to them and to making Princeton a better place.

We believe we have an opportunity to model something for the nation as we stand with our students. We urge you to seize this opportunity. We urge you to see and hear them.  As they chanted:

We here
We been here
We ain’t leaving.

Signed,

Department of African American Studies Core Faculty:

Anna Arabindan Kesson, African American Studies & Art and Archaeology

Wendy Laura Belcher, African American Studies & Comparative Literature

Ruha Benjamin, African American Studies

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., African American Studies & Religion

Joshua Guild, African American Studies & History

Tera Hunter, African American Studies & History

Naomi Murakawa, African American Studies

Kinohi Nishikawa, African American Studies & English

Chika O. Okeke-Agulu, African American Studies & Art and Archaeology

Imani Perry, African American Studies

Stacey Sinclair, African American Studies & Psychology

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, African American Studies


Princeton University Faculty, Fellows and Lecturers:

Ben Baer, Comparative Literature

Joao Biehl, Anthropology

Elie Bou-Zeid, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Margot Canaday, History

Nathan Carter, Visual Arts Program

Bruno Carvalho, Spanish and Portuguese

Miguel Centeno, Sociology

Garnet Chan, Chemistry

Zahid Chaudhary, English

Anne Cheng, English & American Studies

Katie Chenoweth, French and Italian

Sarah Chihaya, English

Steven Chung, East Asian Studies

Andrew Cole, English

Alin Coman, Psychology & Woodrow Wilson School

Jessica Delgado, Religion

Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones, Spanish and Portuguese

Susan Draper, Comparative Literature

Lauren Emberson, Psychology

Karen Emmerich, Comparative Literature

Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, Sociology

Hal Foster, Art & Archaeology

Martha Friedman, Visual Arts Program

Su Friedrich, Visual Arts Program

Margaret Frye, Sociology

Paul Frymer, Politics

Elizabeth Gavis, Molecular Biology

Simon Gikandi, English

Zemer Gitai, Molecular Biology

William Gleason, English

Tao Leigh Goffe, African American Studies

Javier Guerrero, Spanish and Portuguese

Tod Hamilton, Sociology

Elizabeth Harman, Philosophy & Center for Human Values

Brian Eugenio Herrera, Program in Theater & Lewis Center for the Arts

Daniel Heyman, Visual Arts Program

Erin Huang, East Asian Studies

Fred Hughson, Molecular Biology

Alison Isenberg, History

Desmond Jagmohan, Politics

Amaney Jamal, Politics

Justin Jungé, Psychology

Deborah Kaple, Sociology

Matthew Karp, History

Beatrice Kitzinger, Art and Archaeology

Joshua Kotin, English

Emmanuel Kreike, History

Regina Kunzel, History & Gender and Sexuality Studies

Deana Lawson, Visual Arts Program

Hendrik Lorenz, Philosophy

Angel Loureiro, Spanish and Portuguese

Nell Painter, History & African American Studies

Betsy Levy Paluck, Psychology & Woodrow Wilson School

Gyan Prakash, History

Rachel Price, Spanish and Portuguese

Bridget Purcell, Anthropology

David Reinfurt, Visual Arts Program

Maria Paula Saffon Sanin, Politics

Joe Scanlan, Visual Arts Program

Eldar Shafir, Psychology & Woodrow Wilson School

Irene Small, Art & Archaeology

LaFleur Stephens, Politics

Dara Strolovitch, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Diana Tamar, Psychology

Marta Tienda, Sociology & Woodrow Wilson School

Noriko Manabe, Music

Anastasia Mann, American Studies

Meredith Martin, English

Alecia McGregor, Woodrow Wilson School

Germán Labrador Méndez, Spanish and Portuguese

Jarvis McInnis, African American Studies

Pedro Meira Monteiro, Spanish and Portuguese

Zia Mian, Woodrow Wilson School Program on Science and Global Security

Erika Milam, History

David Minto, History

Alberto Bruzos Moro, Spanish & Portuguese

Coleen Murphy, Molecular Biology & LSI

Kathleen Nolan, Program in Teacher Preparation

Gabriela Nouzeilles, Spanish & Portuguese

Mark Rose, Molecular Biology

Carolyn Rouse, Anthropology

R. N. Sandberg, English & Program in Theater, Lewis Center for the Arts

Keith Sanborn, Visual Arts Program

Susan Stewart, English & Society of Fellows

Rory Truex, Politics & Woodrow Wilson School

Bharat Venkat, Global Health

Deborah Vischak, Art & Archaeology

Judith Weisenfeld, Religion

Keith Wailoo, History & Woodrow Wilson School

Max Weiss, History & Near Eastern Studies

Susan Wheeler, Creative Writing

Jeff Whetsone, Visual Arts Program

Ilana Witten, Psychology & Neuroscience

Stacy Wolf, Program in Theater, Lewis Center for the Arts

Tamsen Wolff, English

Virginia Zakian, Molecular Biology


 

Other Princeton faculty in support of this letter, please complete this form to add your name to the list.

 

See a roundup of faculty commentary on the Black Justice League student demonstrations.