Faculty Committee Resoundingly Upholds Complaint About University’s Attacks on Katz

April 19, 2022 2 min read

According to knowledgeable sources, the Princeton Committee on Conference and Faculty Appeal, comprised of 9 faculty members, issued on Tuesday a strongly worded rebuke to a high-ranking official’s summary rejection of a formal complaint seeking an investigation into attacks on the University’s official website portraying Professor Joshua Katz as a racist.

The committee’s detailed letter was in response to an appeal by Professor Sergiu Klainerman of the official rejection. Professor Klainerman's original complaint, joined by seven other Princeton faculty, was that unnamed officials had violated University regulations in using the website to discredit Professor Katz, by smearing him as a racist for a controversial 2020 article criticizing certain race-related demands by activist faculty members.

The appeals committee’s letter found fault with multiple aspects of Vice-Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Michele Minter’s December 7, 2021 ruling dismissing the October 4, 2021 complaint, the sources said. 

The faculty committee is chaired by Professor Jean Schwarzbauer. Its letter said that all members agreed that the Minter letter dismissing the complaint was contrary to University policies and that the complaint raised a number of issues that should be investigated. 

The committee’s harsh assessment contrasted starkly with the tribute to President Eisgruber’s "outspoken defense of free speech” by the Princeton Board of Trustees the day before, in its announcement that it had extended his tenure for “at least five [more] years.”

The Trustees’ high regard for Eisgruber’s stance on free speech also contrasts starkly with a March 15 letter from PFS urging the Princeton Board of Trustees to commission an investigation into the University’s persecution of Katz. And with the blistering assessment by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) of Princeton’s attacks on Katz’s free speech in a March 9 letter sent to the Princeton Board of Trustees. And with the similar assessment by the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) in a March 29 letter to President Eisgruber. And with a harsh criticism by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) on the same issue.

ACTA, AFA, and FIRE are among the nation’s most respected organizations supporting campus free speech. Yet Eisgruber and the Board of Trustees have ignored the criticisms by ACTA, FIRE, and PFS. Eisgruber rejected the AFA’s criticism in a March 31 letter that implicitly endorsed the same arguments that the 9-member faculty committee has now spurned. Eisgruber’s letter contained numerous misleading statements, which are detailed in a three-part analysis on the PFS website.

The faculty appeals committee has recommended a full investigation. The question is whether the Princeton administration will continue to stonewall.

Open PFS critiques of Eisgruber letter to the Academic Freedom Alliance configuration options

Leave a comment

Also in Princeton Free Speech News & Commentary

Princeton Faculty Find Their Role in Campus Protests

May 16, 2024 1 min read

Julie Bonette
Princeton Alumni Weekly

Excerpt: While Princeton’s pro-Palestinian protests have largely been student-led, some faculty members have played a key part in the movement. From releasing petitions and statements to requesting a special May 20 meeting of the faculty, the role of these professors has grown in recent weeks along with the urgency of the protests.
Read More
Calls for VP Calhoun's resignation mislead on free expression

May 16, 2024 1 min read 1 Comment

Bill Hewitt
Daily Princetonian

Excerpt: The May 3 faculty letter calling for VP Calhoun’s resignation argues that in her April 30 email to Princeton undergraduates about the April 29 takeover of Clio Hall, Vice President Calhoun gave not only an incorrect, mistaken, or misinformed description of the events, but also one that was purposely deceptive. Not satisfied to demand her preemptory firing, the faculty letter concluded with the hyperbolic claim that Calhoun’s leadership is “the real threat to the Princeton University community.”
Read More
Commentary: A Gaza Protester Who’s Willing to Suffer

May 15, 2024 1 min read

Graeme Wood
The Atlantic

Excerpt: The protesters on university campuses have an image problem: They look like they are having way too much fun. In tone, the demonstrations do not match the subject matter, which they allege is genocide, the least fun of all human activities. For 20-year-olds, some activities that would be miserable to a normal person—screaming hysterically, being arrested, living in ragged encampments—are in fact an exhilarating way to spend one’s time, and certainly preferable to studying for exams.

Fun does not discredit a cause, but a protester who enjoys himself has a harder time demonstrating his commitment than one willing to suffer. This weekend I spoke with one of the latter. David Chmielewski, a Princeton English major from Torrington, Connecticut, along with 11 other Princeton community members, spent 10 days on a hunger strike to call for the university to divest from Israel.
Read More