26 November 2015

Princeton Students Fighting Against "Political Correctness"

Princeton University
Diana Furchtgott-Roth of New York Post's Marketwatch had a very interesting article last 24 November 2015 about a large number of students at Princeton University in New Jersey who are fighting back against the "absurd political correctness."

In response to a sit-in of the university president’s office by 200 members of the Black Justice League, more than 1,300 members of the university community signed a petition to ensure that Princeton "maintains its commitment to free speech and open dialogue and condemns political correctness to the extent that it infringes upon those fundamental academic values."

As signatures on the petition climbed, students formed the Princeton Open Campus Coalition. They wrote to Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber and asked to meet with him to discuss preserving the freedom of speech and civil debate that are the hallmarks of a classical education. Evan Draim, a Princeton senior and one of the group’s founders, told me in an email: "We hope that our peers at other colleges gain inspiration from what we are doing at Princeton."

The Black Justice League’s demands include a dorm for those who want to celebrate black affinity; mandatory diversity training; and a requirement that students take a course on so-called marginalized peoples. They also want the renaming of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the removal of a mural of President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson, who graduated from Princeton in 1879 and who served as the university’s president from 1902 until 1910, formally segregated the federal workforce.

Campus protests are the latest in many students' efforts to be protected from situations that they find difficult. Some students are concerned about eliminating "micro-aggressions" — speech that might, intentionally or not, be offensive. They are asking for "trigger warnings" so they can avoid material that might upset them. All of that results in limiting speech because, if something is potentially offensive, then, according to the new campus fads, it should not be said. And practically everything is potentially offensive to someone.

The fear of limiting speech is what led to the Princeton petition countering the Black Justice League’s demands. The petition’s signatories are concerned that eliminating any mention of Wilson constitutes “historical revisionism”; that mandating what courses students have to take would allow the BJL undue power over the curriculum; and that having black-affinity housing would result in de facto campus segregation.

They suggest that a "diversity requirement" should permit students to study any minority culture, not just a marginalized one, and that students should also have to take a course in Western civilization.