Princeton’s troubles, an alumnus’ perspective

A distinguished alumnus of Princeton comments on the University’s long descent into leftism and its disturbing practice of pandering to infantile race-mongers:

The recent events at Princeton University are the culmination of the leftist takeover of Princeton that began in the late 1960s with the rise of people like William Bowen (Provost 1967 to 1972, President 1972 to 1988), Shirley Tilghman (long-time professor, President 2001 to 2013), and many others of the leftist faculty-industrial complex. Princeton is really no different than other universities in this regard.

Over the years, beginning as early as the 1960s and 1970s, Princeton loaded up its faculty with liberals, socialists, Marxists, and other fellow travellers, and more recently, with people like Paul Krugman, Peter Singer, Cornel West, and Sean Wilentz. The collective groupthink was evident in 2012, when the student newspaper determined that “99 percent of donors from Princeton [gave] to Obama” during that year’s presidential campaign. It did not seem to occur to anyone at the university that there was anything wrong with such an imbalance.

The university routinely honors alumni who are liberal public officials and figures, like former Senator Paul Sarbanes, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. At the same time, Princeton typically ignores conservative public officials (e.g., Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito).

The alumni generally fall into a few different camps: (1) liberals who approve of everything the administration does; (2) moderate and conservative alumni who keep their mouth shut about the university’s tendencies, donate a lot of money, and hope that their silence, donations, and support will enable their children to gain admission; (3) indifferent alumni who are more focused on earning a living and putting their Princeton experiences out of their mind; and (4) conservative alumni who fire off occasional letters of protest and otherwise generally view the school as a name that looks good on their resume despite its far left administration and faculty.

At the same time, alumni are keenly aware that Princeton’s admissions office has increased “diversity” at the expense of “non-diverse” candidates. Princeton now identifies 55% of its students as minority and foreign or “international” students. Princeton also established the Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, the Institutional Equity and Diversity at Princeton program, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Center, a Women’s Center, a “Queering the Color Line Series,” and several other diversity-related initiatives, faculty, and programs.

The latest episode in President Christopher Eisgruber’s Nassau Hall office illustrates the prevailing sentiment among certain segments of the school. This is especially true of the comment by one student, captured on videotape, that Woodrow Wilson “is a murderer. We owe him nothing. This university owes us everything. I walk around this campus understanding that this was built on the backs of my people and I owe none of you guys anything. We owe white people nothing. If not for the evilness and of white hatred in this country…we would not have to be fighting for our rights.”

That Mr. Eisgruber would tolerate the invasion of his office by students and then negotiate an agreement with the invaders says a lot about his leadership.

Mr. Eisgruber’s agreement to study Woodrow Wilson raises another question: why limit any examination to Woodrow Wilson? Princeton’s alumni include slaveholders like James Madison and many others whose views are out-of-step with contemporary norms and whose names appear on university buildings and elsewhere throughout the university. The answer to the question appears to be that the protesters demanded the annihilation of Mr. Wilson’s memory and Mr. Eisgruber signed an agreement with them to buy time, defuse the situation, and “study” the issue.

That he and the university would consider race-based “affinity housing” is particularly troubling. Perhaps he plans to delay until the protesters leave for the summer or graduate. At bottom, though, Mr. Eisgruber’s decision to negotiate and reach an agreement about studying Woodrow Wilson’s legacy, affinity housing, “cultural competency training, “amnesty” for those who spent the night in Mr. Eisgruber’s office, and other diversity-related demands sets a disturbing precedent.

Fortunately, some students and alumni object to the university’s actions. Whether these objections will matter remains to be seen.

NOTE: This post has been modified slightly since I originally posted it.