Princeton president ‘State of the University Letter' claims critics use anti-Semitism concerns ‘as a stalking horse for other agendas’

Princeton’s president has criticized certain attacks on universities as 'nakedly partisan jeremiads.'

He defended Princeton’s commitment to DEI, saying ‘our commitment to inclusivity is essential to that [scholarly] excellence.’

Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said certain critics of America’s universities use “public outrage about antisemitism” as an excuse to justify “other agendas.”

On Jan. 18, Eisgruber published his annual “State of the University Letter” that addresses “the state of the University, its progress toward strategic goals, and major issues relevant to our mission and higher education more broadly.”

[RELATED: Cornell instructor cancels class in recognition of the ‘Global Strike for Palestine’]

Though acknowledging that “Antisemitism is an ugly and vicious form of hatred that has produced horrific suffering and injustice throughout history” that is “always unacceptable,” Eisgruber claimed that “Some people . . . have seized upon public outrage about antisemitism as a stalking horse for other agendas, including, most notably, attacks upon the efforts that we and others make to ensure that colleges and universities are places where students, faculty, researchers, and staff from all backgrounds can thrive.”

“Some of these arguments are nakedly partisan jeremiads, but others come from centrist voices. A prominent example of the latter variety is a widely viewed six-minute video opinion piece by the respected CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria alleging that ‘American universities have been neglecting a core focus on excellence in order to pursue a variety of agendas—many of them clustered around diversity and inclusion,’” he continued.

Eisgruber then criticized Zakaria’s stance, saying that “[t]hese attacks are wrong. America’s leading universities are more dedicated to scholarly excellence today than at any previous point in their history, and our commitment to inclusivity is essential to that excellence.”

He added that it is “wrong” to “insist that there is a choice to be made between resolutely seeking excellence and aggressively promoting inclusivity.”

Eisgruber also hit back against Zakaria’s claim that universities have not been performing well in defending Jewish students against anti-Semitism on campus, alleging that “Princeton and other universities do support the wellbeing of Jewish students in many ways, including through workshops on Jewish identity and antisemitism and through dynamic and attractive versions of what might—for those who like the terminology more than I do—be called ‘safe spaces.’”

On Jan. 29, Campus Reform reported on a Princeton student journalist who was bullied by a pro-Palestinian student while covering a protest. The student journalist was then penalized by Princeton, a decision that was condemned by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression and the Anti-Defamation League.

[RELATED: Cornell’s first application post affirmative action still asks identity-based question]

Eisgruber also sent a letter on Dec. 13 suggesting that MIT President Sally Kornbluth and since-resigned Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania presidents Claudine Gay and Liz Magill were not met with “civility and respect” during last December’s congressional hearing “in which all three refused to state that ‘calling for the genocide of Jews’ is unequivocally unacceptable on their campuses,” reported Campus Reform.

Campus Reform has reached out to Princeton for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

Follow Daniel Idfresne on X and Instagram.