Princeton Students Urge School Officials to Resist the ‘Siege Against Academic Freedom’

Princeton University
Patrick Nouhailler/Flickr

A student organization called the Princeton Open Campus Coalition is urging university officials this week to push back against the demands of woke students and faculty. The university recently caved to demands to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from the university’s school of public policy. According to the students, the “siege against academic freedom” is “fundamentally about ideology and power.”

In a statement published to Facebook on Monday, the Princeton Open Campus Coalition highlighted their concern for the direction of the university after a campaign by social justice activists successfully led to a major change.

Breitbart News reported on Saturday that Princeton had announced that they would remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from the school of public policy over Wilson’s stance on segregation. The decision came in response to a campaign by activist students that was ignited by the Black Lives Matter Movement.

In the statement, the Princeton Open Campus Coalition urged university officials to push back against the demands of the leftist activists.

On June 22, 2020, some students of the School of Public and International Affairs (“School’) submitted a list of demands to the University administration, seeking the enactment of certain “anti-racist” policies Among their demand, is the institution of required courses in line with their professed beliefs on “race, capitalism, and colonialism.” They further demand that the University, acting trough the School, hire more Black faculty, require “anti-racist training once per semester for all faculty, staff, preceptors, and administrator,” purge the University of any reference to Woodrow Wilson, and divest from what they refer to as the “prison-industrial complex.” While we express no collective opinion some demands like divestment. the vast majority of claims and demands made by these students amounts to a concerted siege of free thought at Princeton, which they seek to effect by hijacking the University bureaucracy to create a monopoly for their beliefs on deeply controversial and contentious issues.

The group argued that it is inappropriate for Princeton officials to blindly accept claims that it is bigoted to oppose the demands of leftist student activists. In doing so, the group argues, Princeton will have effectively policed speech and made it impossible to voice dissenting views.

To brand one side of these important debates as  “racist,” “offensive,” or “harmful” and seek the “training” of those who hold alternative or “unacceptable” views is to rig the game well before it has begun and weaponize the administrative apparatus of the University against those who would doubt, question, or challenge the reigning orthodoxy of the day and age. This would strike a fatal blow to the very heart of higher education, the first principle of which is that there ought to be no safe space or shelter at a university In which any member of the community is ‘safe’ from having his or her most cherished values challenged?’ The increasingly popular trend of erasing opposing viewpoints and policing the acceptable range of thought and speech may not be corrected soon, but we firmly believe that it is the duty of institutions like Princeton, and universities more generally, to strongly resist the forces of enforced orthodoxy and unequivocally protect the freedom of thought and speech.

The Princeton students point out: “The siege against academic freedom is never at its core about race. It is, as it always has been and shall ever be, fundamentally about ideology and power.” The group claims to include members with diverse political viewpoints, brought together by the “belief that fearless and unrestrained civil discourse is critical to a proper understanding of these complex issues.”
On Monday, Breitbart News reported that Michelle Obama was celebrating Princeton’s decision to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from their school of public policy. Obama, a graduate of Princeton University, said that the university must keep working to make the university more “inclusive” for students.

“Heartened to see my alma mater make this change, and even prouder of the students who’ve been advocating for this kind of change on campus for years. Let’s keep finding ways to be more inclusive to all students—at Princeton and at every school across the country,” Obama wrote in a tweet.

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for more updates on this story.

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