More than 200 Princeton University faculty have signed a letter demanding nearly 50 initiatives to address what the scholars contend is rampant anti-blackness and racism that festers at the Ivy League institution.
“At this moment of massive global uprising in the name of racial justice, we the faculty—Black, Latinx, Asian, and members of all communities of color along with our white colleagues—call upon the University to take immediate concrete and material steps to openly and publicly acknowledge the way that anti-Black racism, and racism of any stripe, continue to thrive on its campus,” stated the demand letter.
The letter is dated July 4 and addressed to President Christopher Eisgruber and various provosts and deans. It joins a similar demand letter recently signed by students and alumni that calls on the school to pay reparations for slavery and abolish the campus police department.
“We call upon the administration to block the mechanisms that have allowed systemic racism to work, visibly and invisibly, in Princeton’s operations,” the faculty letter states.
The letter urges campus leaders to address nearly 50 “demands” broken into five categories: university-level, faculty-level, postdoc-level, graduate-level and undergraduate-level.
It is already getting criticism from some.
“Princeton faculty letter calls for eliminating academic freedom via a committee that would review all publications for racist thought (racist defined by the committee). It was issued on….July 4th,” points out writer Zaid Jilani on Twitter.
A Princeton faculty letter calls for eliminating academic freedom via a committee that would review all publications for racist thought (racist defined by the committee). It was issued on….July 4th. https://t.co/VeU9LICqbR
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) July 6, 2020
Another writer on Twitter, Wesley Yang, notes the demands include “(among many other things remarkable things) an explicit demand for ideological conformity in minority faculty hiring. In other words, no more Glenn Loury, John McWhorter or Adolph Reeds allowed.”
Open letter to Princeton University includes (among many other things remarkable things) an explicit demand for ideological conformity in minority faculty hiring.
— Wesley Yang (@wesyang) July 6, 2020
Among the 16 university-level demands, faculty also want an internal committee of non-white students and faculty created to ensure anti-black efforts are carried out at Princeton. Another demand is that faculty of color are given promotions “to prominent leadership positions.”
What’s more, the letter calls for some faculty of color to receive extra sabbaticals to compensate for the “invisible work” they do, suggesting they are “routinely called upon to exert influence in hiring committees and to stand as emblems and spokespersons of diversity at Princeton.”
Other university-level demands include that Princeton require a new class “focused on the history and legacy of racism in the country and on the campus” and create a campus center dedicated to the study of racism and anti-racism.
The letter also demands the John Witherspoon statue be removed. And it demands semesterly conversations during which top administrators listen to the concerns of non-white students, faculty and staff of color.
Other demands: “Acknowledge on the homepage that the University is sited on indigenous land” and “Remove questions about misdemeanors and felony convictions from admissions applications.”
Next, there’s 11 faculty-level demands.
Among them: a new chaired professorship in Indigenous Studies; required anti-bias training for all faculty participating in faculty searches; and a new faculty committee that investigates allegations of faculty racism.
Several of the five postdoc-level and four graduate-level demands center on salary and support measures.
The 12 undergraduate-level demands include: “Address Princeton’s history with slavery as part of First-Year Orientation”; give academic credit to anti-racist student activism; create and fund a student-led symposium, lecture, or public conversation series on race; get rid of legacy admissions; and establish awards for anti-racist work.
“Please support us in this effort to disrupt the institutional hierarchies perpetuating inequity and harm. Reinvigorate, with us, the service mission of our University as we seek to become—in every way, at every level, and for the first time—an anti-racist University,” the faculty letter states as part of its conclusion.
Signers ask that administrators address their demands by late August.
Read the entire letter here.