Letter to Vice President Calhoun

April 26, 2024 2 min read

Below is a copy of the letter our team sent to Vice President Calhoun in response to her statement to the student body yesterday about the encampment protest happening today. This Daily Princetonian Article showcases what is taking place on campus.

 

April 25, 2024
 
Dear Vice President Calhoun:
 
We, the officers of Princetonians for Free Speech (PFS), are writing to you on behalf of PFS in support of your email of April 24, in which you reminded Princeton students of the University's rules regarding free speech and protests on campus. Earlier today President Eisgruber put out a statement consistent with your email, and we support his statement as well.
 
PFS is a Princeton alumni group created to promote free speech and academic freedom at Princeton. We therefore strongly support the rights of members of the Princeton community to express their views, no matter what those views may be, and to do so in a robust manner. While the First Amendment does not directly legally apply to private universities such as Princeton, we believe its principles should be followed by Princeton and that those principles are best applied by the adoption of the Chicago Principles, which Princeton has done.
 
However, both the First Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, and the Chicago Principles include the ability to have appropriate and narrowly drawn time, place, and manner regulation for speech. Princeton's rules, as you point out in your email, include such regulation. 
 
During the recent protests at Columbia, NYU, and other universities, some protestors have argued that their disruptive protests are protected free speech. They are clearly confusing free speech with civil disobedience. The actions of at least some of these protestors violate legitimate university rules designed to protect students against harassment and to enable universities to carry out their educational missions. Here is a link to the excellent article, Protest and Civil Disobedience are Two Different Things by Princeton Professor Keith Whittington, published on April 23 in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
 
Apparently some planning a protest at Princeton are claiming your email is a prior restraint on speech. Under this false reasoning, any rule on free speech would be a prior restraint. We believe it was entirely appropriate for you to advise students of Princeton's existing rules and to state that they will be enforced. 
 
We urge Princeton to enforce its rules as you have laid out in your email. Equivocating on enforcement only leads to greater problems, as the situation at Columbia clearly shows.
 
Sincerely,
Stuart Taylor, Jr. '70, PFS President
Edward Yingling '70, PFS Secretary
Todd Rulon-Miller '73, PFS Treasurer
Leslie Spencer '79, PFS Vice Chair


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