Sunday, November 22, 2015

Princeton Faculty Letter in Support of Student Protests

November 20, 2015

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.

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
Margot Canaday, History
Bruno Carvalho, Spanish and Portuguese
Miguel Centeno, Sociology
Garnet Chan, Chemistry
Zahid Chaudhary, English
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
Margaret Frye, Sociology
Paul Frymer, Politics
Robert George, Politics
Simon Gikandi, English
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
Erin Huang, East Asian Studies
Alison Isenberg, History
Desmond Jagmohan, Politics
Amaney Jamal, Politics
Justin Jungé, Psychology
Matthew Karp, History
Beatrice Kitzinger, Art and Archaeology
Emmanuel Kreike, History
Regina Kunzel, History & Gender and Sexuality Studies
Hendrik Lorenz, Philosophy
Nell Painter, History & African American Studies
Betsy Levy Paluck, Psychology & Woodrow Wilson School
Gyan Prakash, History
Rachel Price, Spanish and Portuguese
Bridget Purcell, Anthropology
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
Anastasia Mann, American Studies
Meredith Martin, English
Alecia McGregor, Woodrow Wilson School
Germán Labrador Méndez, Spanish and Portuguese
Angel Loureiro, Spanish and Portuguese
Jarvis McInnis, African American Studies
Pedro Meira Monteiro, Spanish and Portuguese
David Minto, History
Kathleen Nolan, Program in Teacher Preparation
Carolyn Rouse, Anthropology
Rory Truex, Politics & Woodrow Wilson School
Deborah Vischak, Art & Archaeology
Judith Weisenfeld, Religion
Keith Wailoo, History & Woodrow Wilson School
Max Weiss, History & Near Eastern Studies
Tamsen Wolff, English