September 2023 Newsletter

September 29, 2023 5 min read

September 2023 Newsletter

September 29, 2023

To Princetonians for Free Speech subscribers, members and friends,

Welcome to our PFS Monthly Newsletter! Here you will find our most important features and updates, articles you don’t want to miss, and more.  Please let us know what you think HERE.

A Special Feature

FIRE’s 2024 Rankings

FIRE’s 2024 College Free Speech Rankings were recently announced, and received much media attention. The survey interviewed over 55,000 students from a larger-than-ever pool of 254 US colleges and universities. Princeton ranked a dismal 187, showing no clear improvement from last year’s ranking.  See the full 2024 rankings HERE.  And details of the Princeton survey including student comments HERE.

Some Princeton highlights: 

  • 70% of students say shouting down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus is at least rarely acceptable.
  • 45% of students say they have self-censored on campus at least once or twice a month.
  • 63% of students say they are worried about damaging their reputation because someone misunderstands something they have said or done.

Upcoming Event

Mitch Daniels ’71 is speaking on October 24 at 5pm – 6:30pm, in the Senate Chamber of Whig Hall. Former Governor of Indiana and former President of Purdue University, Daniels will speak on the role that tomorrow's leaders, including Princeton students, might play in resetting the stage for national success. The event is sponsored by Princeton’s Whig-Clio with financial support from Princetonians for Free Speech. A video will be posted to YouTube not long after the event. 

Recent Event

“I believe that the great research universities are the finest ornaments of Western civilization. …Their magnificent legacy can, however, be squandered in a generation, destroyed from within, not by outside forces.”

That was the most trenchant passage of a powerful September 13 speech by eminent Washington Post syndicated columnist George F. Will *68 to nearly 200 people in the Friend Center. His title was “Consciousness as the Political Project: A 21st Century Echo of the 19th Century.” PFS and the James Madison Program Initiative on Free Thought and Inquiry hosted the event.

Watch the full event including an introduction by Princeton Professor Allen Guelzo HERE

What you Need to Know

PFS Letter to Princeton Trustees

We have launched a major PFS initiative to make Princeton a leader in the promotion of free speech and academic freedom. See our September 18 letter to Princeton’s Board of Trustees HERE.  We value your thoughts. Please let us know what you think HERE.

The National Movement

Anonymous Bias Reporting Software

PFS is collaborating with the Alumni Free Speech Alliance (AFSA), and with American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) to alert college students throughout the country to the potential dangers to free speech and due process of theAnonymous Bias Reporting Software (ABRS) in use by administrations of most colleges today, including Princeton.

On August 28, ACTA emailed over 100 college newspapers with information on this topic, including instructions for students to request copies of their own files per their rights under Federal law (FERPA). PFS will be working in coordination with student groups and others throughout the 2023-2024 academic year to raise awareness of how these massive record-keeping systems operate, how they can chill protected speech and thereby infringe on students’ rights, and how students can obtain their files and help to end the use of ABRS.

Have a look at Princeton senior Matthew Wilson’s alarming report on the problem: Princeton’s Bias Reporting System is Stifling Campus, that appeared in National Review earlier this year.

If any of you are students who wish to request to see your files, or if you are interested in volunteering to join PFS in our efforts to research how Princeton’s ABRS works or to share information you may have, or if you are alumni or friends with information about this major emerging story, you can contact us HERE.

Articles of Interest

Supreme Court is Asked to Rule on Campus Speech Codes at Virginia Tech

by Dan McLaughlin, National Review, September 25, 2023

Excerpt: One case ...[that] could intrigue the justices, is Speech First, Inc. v. Sands (No. 23-156), which challenges campus speech codes. The case comes from a divided panel decision of the Fourth Circuit, which rejected challenges to two Virginia Tech campus speech policies.

The Limits of Academic Freedom 

by James Huffman, Academic Questions, Summer 2023

Excerpt: "The principle of academic freedom has long stood as the guarantor of the free and open inquiry requisite to the academic pursuit of truth and is widely understood to allow for no exceptions. But adherence to the principle does not preclude all limits on faculty conduct. Academic freedom does not require colleges and universities to tolerate bad teaching or incompetence. Nor should it protect professorial conduct that undermines open inquiry and pursuit of truth."  

D.E.I. Statements Stir Debate on College Campuses 

by Michael Powell, The New York Times, September 8, 2023

Excerpts: “Candidates who did not ‘look outstanding’ on diversity, the vice provost at U.C. Davis instructed search committees, could not advance, no matter the quality of their academic research. Credentials and experience would be examined in a later round. …

“At Berkeley, a faculty committee rejected 75 percent of applicants in life sciences and environmental sciences and management purely on diversity statements, according to a new academic paper by Steven Brint, a professor of public policy at U.C. Riverside, and Komi Frey, a researcher for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, which has opposed diversity statements. …

“If you write: ‘I believe that everyone should be treated equally,’ you will be branded as a right winger, Vinod Aggarwal, a political science professor at the university, said in an interview. ‘This is compelled speech, plain and simple.’”

I Left Out the Full Truth to get Published in Nature, by Patrick T Brown, The Free Press, September 5 2023

“To put it bluntly, climate science has become less about understanding the complexities of the world and more about serving as a kind of Cassandra, urgently warning the public about the dangers of climate change. However understandable this instinct may be, it distorts a great deal of climate science research, misinforms the public, and most importantly, makes practical solutions more difficult to achieve.”

Student Writing

Princeton sophomore Ethan Hicks, a PFS Writing Fellow, jumped out of the gate this month with two important articles: George Will on How a “Magnificent Legacy can be Squandered”  and Princeton Welcomes Class of 2027 with Free Speech Events  

Quote of the Month

Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.
Benjamin Franklin
Founding Father


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 of course, we welcome your comments and suggestions HERE.

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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.

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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.  

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