In a letter addressed to the powers-that-be at Princeton University, students and alumni of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs have taken advantage of the current Black Lives Matter craze to issue a set of demands designed to “confront anti-blackness” at the school.
“In this moment, we are seeing both the slow and sudden violence that robs Black people of life,” the letter reads. “This premature death is at the hands of the police, healthcare system, economy, and every system that fails to fight for justice.”
The letter goes on to ask if Princeton really prepares students “to dismantle racist and oppressive systems,” and if it’s truly “inclusive for Black students, faculty, and staff.”
The answer, the signatories say, is a “resounding ‘no.'”
But the remedies, they contend, are right before us: “Black organizers, scholars, and student activists, long before institutions like Princeton were willing to take their ideas seriously,” have laid them out.
In the spirit of their efforts, the signatories demand the following:
1. Pay Reparations. We demand that the University commit 5 percent of its $26 billion endowment to reparations for the descendants of every enslaved person owned by the University’s Presidents and Board of Trustees.
2. Divest from the Prison Industrial Complex. We demand that the University verify its divestment from all private prisons and permanently divest from all levels of the prison industrial complex.
3. Abolish the Police. We demand Princeton University cut ties with the Princeton Police Department, defund Campus Public Safety, and shift funding to mental health, de-escalation, and other campus services that holistically deliver public safety.
4. Implement an Anti-Racist Curriculum. We demand anti-racist frameworks be incorporated as core components to policymaking in our courses. We demand the implementation of the widely-supported DEI core requirement for all MPA students beginning fall 2021. We also demand inclusion of adjunct faculty and lecturers in the Masters Committee curriculum approval process, which is dominated by white men.
5. Increase Black faculty, lecturers, and practitioners. We demand that the School ensure 25 percent or more of its affiliated professors are Black by the end of 2022. The School must expand the number of departments it is affiliated with to include the African American Studies department […] The School must also name an Anti-Racist Policy Fellow each year.
6. Establish a Center for Anti-Racist Policy. We demand the school establish and generously fund a Center for Anti-Racist Policy, invite post-docs and fellows to foster collaboration among anti-racism scholars, and create a pipeline for faculty who specialize in anti-racist policymaking.
7. Increase Black Student Enrollment. Admissions must reimagine its evaluation and selection process by requiring applicants to complete a diversity statement, banning the box in applications, and eliminating the GRE requirement, a racist and sexist assessment that unreliably indicates graduate school success.
The letter concludes by claiming if Princeton “firstly focuses on the needs, aspirations, and identities” of black students, then everyone will benefit.
Ironically, the signatories make no mention of the racism and bigotry of their school’s namesake.
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