Princeton student newspaper urges university to fight ‘racist speech’

The editorial board of the Daily Princetonian — Princeton University’s student newspaper — encouraged the university to invoke the school’s harassment policy against “racist speech.”

They called the university’s prior affirmations of the right to free expression as “hardline.”

The Daily Princetonian — Princeton University’s student newspaper — published an editorial encouraging the university to “act against racist speech.”

According to the editorial board staff, Princeton’s administration “continues to shroud racist speech under the banner of free expression,” which shows that the university “ignores the harassment that Black students face.”

“For too long, white people, and particularly white men, in this country and on this campus, have held the power to decide what constitutes acceptable speech and action reads the piece. “They have consistently deemed racist, and particularly anti-Black, fictions acceptable.”

The authors encouraged the university to consider examples of “racist speech” as “harassment,” as defined by university disciplinary policy. In more serious instances of harassment, university guidelines recognize that “separation from the university is a possible outcome” for students.

Staff members who are charged with “inappropriate behavior not rising to the level of a violation” may have to undergo “discipline, ongoing monitoring, coaching, or other appropriate action.” Furthermore, faculty members are not able to appeal such a finding. More serious violations could result in a faculty member’s termination.

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The Daily Princetonian recommends “anti-racist training for those who transgress the harassment policy,” with a curriculum “tailored to the transgression.”

The editorial is highly critical of past affirmations of Princeton community members’ ability to freely express themselves: “the University must stop invoking free speech to mischaracterize a conversation that should only take place in the context of harassment.”

In July, Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber wrote an op-ed explaining Princeton’s role in protecting freedom of speech.

“We need to build a public space where disagreement does not automatically paint someone as an enemy,” explained Eisgruber. “Rigorous, respectful debate is not a barrier to change — it will make our ideas stronger and their impact more lasting.”

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The Daily Princetonian team characterized the university’s free speech protections as “hardline.”

Campus Reform reached out to The Daily Princetonian to understand how its editorial team would define the term “racist speech.” This article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft