January 2024 Newsletter

January 29, 2024 5 min read

January 2024 Newsletter

January 29, 2024

To Princetonians for Free Speech Subscribers, members and friends,

First, an exciting announcement: PFS has just launched an Inner Circle program.  For just a minimum annual donation of $100 you can join our PFS Inner Circle and will receive access  to insider-only virtual and in-person events including virtual cocktail hours with our founders, current students and special guests, invitation-only reunion receptions, and honorary insider gifts, with a bonus gift for subscribers over $500.  Please fill out the form at the link below to join!

As a reminder, we are looking for feedback from our subscribers in our PFS Subscriber Survey. We care what you think!

A Special Feature

On January 25th this strongly-worded letter was sent to President Christopher Eisgruber from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and the Anti-Defamation League “to express our collective concern about Princeton University’s improper use of no-contact orders to censor students.”  Excerpts appear below and you can read the full letter in the link.

“While no-contact protocols are important tools to keep students safe from properly defined discriminatory harassment, and threatening, intimidating, or assaultive conduct, Princeton appears to be granting these orders for any student who requests one, so long as minimal procedural prerequisites are satisfied. These orders are being issued by administrators with disciplinary authority, under threat of punishment, without a modicum of due process, and most unconscionably—where the student-speaker is not even alleged to have violated any university policy. This practice is deeply chilling, in blatant violation of Princeton’s laudable free expression policies, and must end immediately. Perhaps more dismaying that the abuse of Princeton’s no-contact and no-communication order, is that your administration has known for over a year that these rights incursions are occurring, yet has failed to act.”

“Princeton’s commitments to free speech are admirable—but only to the extent to which they are followed. As written, they properly align with First Amendment jurisprudence and prevailing conceptions of free speech and free press principles. Any reasonable student or student journalist reading these policies would be confident they have the right to engage in difficult discussions without worrying they will be slapped with a no-contact order, under threat of discipline. Student journalists are also promised their right to engage in dogged newsgathering, including contacting student leaders in the ordinary course of their reporting. But Princeton has betrayed its promises by allowing students to censor their peers on the basis of subjective offense. These outcomes cannot be squared with the university’s mission or purported commitments.”

What Can be Done?

The growing recognition that America’s universities have lost their way has inspired a number of course-correction ideas. Here are some of the best approaches to help restore public trust in higher education.

Princeton Principles for a Campus Culture of Free Inquiry 

“The following principles 1) articulate the core mission of the university in relation to its special status as an educational institution dedicated to free inquiry; 2) provide standards that cultivate free and vigorous inquiry in scholarship, teaching, and campus activities beyond the classroom; and 3) offer broad guidelines for the revitalization of the university’s core mission.”

A 5-point plan to save Harvard from itself By Steve Pinker

“For universities to have a leg to stand on when they try to stand on principle, they must embark on a long-term plan to undo the damage they have inflicted on themselves.”

A Vision for a New Future of the  University of Pennsylvania written by Penn faculty and signed by over 2000 faculty, students, alumni and parents of alums. 

“To recommit to [Ben] Franklin’s vision, Penn’s sole aim going forward will be to foster excellence in research and education. This aim is in the best long-term interest of all members of society. Penn’s strong focus on academic excellence, curiosity, and innovation has historically attracted scholars and students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Today, as Penn’s competitors struggle to define their mission and lose their focus on this manner of excellence, Penn has a unique opportunity to emerge as a globally leading academic institution in an ever more competitive international landscape. In this document, we present a summary of a vision for Penn based on a set of common principles that will help it achieve this ambitious goal and stand the test of a turbulent time.

DEI is Worth Saving From its Excesses

By Harvard economist Roland Fryer, Wall Street Journal January 22, 2024

“Some of what happens under the DEI banner is truly objectionable, even illegal—hiring, promotion and admissions standards under which race trumps qualifications, training sessions that create a hostile environment for whites. But as companies, universities and other organizations weed out these practices, they should be careful that the parts of DEI that the majority of us agree on don’t become collateral damage. DEI as talent optimization is good for disadvantaged groups, good for organizations that embrace it, and good for America.”

Articles of Interest

College Is All About Curiosity. And That Requires Free Speech  True learning can only happen on campuses where academic freedom is paramount – within and outside the classroom.

By Stephen L. Carter, New York Times, January 24, 2024

Yes, The Last 10 Years Really Have Been Worse for Free Speech

By Greg Lukianoff, The Eternally Radical Idea, Substack, January 24, 2024

Third-Rate Governance for First Rate Universities

By John O. McGuinness, Law and Liberty, January 25, 2024

Lessons to Learn from University Presidents

By James L Huffman, DC Journal, January 17, 2024

For Country and for Yale  A new reform movement among the professoriate aims to prioritize the pursuit of knowledge.

By James Freeman, Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2024

Universities Are Not on the Level  Academics should think more about what their industry has done to lose the trust of Americans

By Josh Barro, Very Serious on Substack, January 6, 2024

Quote of the Month

Roland Fryer, professor of economics at Harvard University 

and a founder of Equal Opportunity Ventures

“I received a minority scholarship to attend graduate school; I assume I was a DEI admit. My math GRE scores were in the 95th percentile, while my study partners’ scores hovered around the 99th. But what I endured to achieve those scores—a father in prison and a mother I had yet to meet—were important context. … I worry that the desire to take down DEI in its entirety will make successes like mine harder, even impossible, to realize. What gives me hope is that there are important parts of DEI almost anyone can believe in. Optimizing talent and giving all the opportunity to reach their full potential are at the core of what it means to be American.” 

Roland Fryer, Wall Street Journal January 22, 2024

Support PFS

Thank you for your interest in our new newsletter and our website.  Please forward our newsletter and/or a link to our website to others who might be interested, or suggest that others subscribe directly HERE.

And please spread the word in your class notes! We want more Princetonians to know about PFS. Just email pawnotes@princeton.edu to submit your note.

Of course, we welcome your comments and suggestions HERE.

For more national and campus news concerning free speech, academic freedom and related topics, please visit our website HERE and be sure to follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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To Princetonians for Free Speech Subscribers, members and friends,

A major PFS event will occur at Reunions 2024:  “You Can’t Teach That! The Battle over University Classrooms.” On Saturday, May 25, at 10 am, Princeton’s leading First Amendment scholar Keith E. Whittington, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, will appear in conversation with Jonathan Rauch, prize-winning author and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. See the description and details for this event in the Special Feature below. We hope to see you there!

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March 2024 Newsletter
March 2024 Newsletter

March 28, 2024 5 min read

To Princetonians for Free Speech Subscribers, members and friends,

This month PFS spotlights an exciting event on campus. On April 22, a new film, The Coddling of the American Mind, based on the best-selling book of the same name by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, is showing on campus as part of a college campus national tour. See below for details.

We are eager to hear what you think of this newsletter and our other communications, so if you have a minute please fill out our subscriber survey if you have not yet done so.  

And consider joining our Inner Circle for insider-only events with students, guest speakers, and our founders.

Read More
February 2024 Newsletter
February 2024 Newsletter

February 29, 2024 5 min read

To Princetonians for Free Speech Subscribers, members and friends,

This month PFS turns a spotlight on the faculty movement at America’s private elite universities, and we urge President Eisgruber to endorse and lead this growing movement. 

We are eager to hear what you think of this newsletter and our other communications so if you have a minute please fill out our subscriber survey if you have not yet done so.  

And consider joining our Inner Circle for insider-only events with students, guest speakers, and our founders.

Read More