PRINCETON in the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crosshairs
LETTER From the Editor
vol. cxliv BOARD OF TRUSTEES president
Thomas E. Weber â&#x20AC;&#x2122;89
Douglas Widmann â&#x20AC;&#x2122;90
Craig Bloom â&#x20AC;&#x2122;88
second vice president
David Baumgarten â&#x20AC;&#x2122;06
Chanakya A. Sethi â&#x20AC;&#x2122;07
Alexia Quadrani Marcelo Rochabrun â&#x20AC;&#x2122;15 Kavita Saini â&#x20AC;&#x2122;09 Abigail Williams â&#x20AC;&#x2122;14
Francesca Barber Kathleen Crown trustees ex officio Gabriel Debenedetti â&#x20AC;&#x2122;12 Jonathan Ort â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Stephen Fuzesi â&#x20AC;&#x2122;00 Louis Aaron â&#x20AC;&#x2122;23 Zachary A. Goldfarb â&#x20AC;&#x2122;05 Michael Grabell â&#x20AC;&#x2122;03 John G. Horan â&#x20AC;&#x2122;74 Rick Klein â&#x20AC;&#x2122;98 James T. MacGregor â&#x20AC;&#x2122;66
144TH MANAGING BOARD editor-in-chief Jonathan Ort â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21
Navigating the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crosshairs
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian
As students who attend an institution trapped in the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crosshairs, how are we to respond?
n recent weeks, Princeton has commanded national attention, both to its proďŹ t and detriment. In the same month that Mellody Hobson â&#x20AC;&#x2122;91 gave the funds to create a new residential college, the ďŹ rst to bear a Black womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s name, high-proďŹ le clashes with the federal government have embroiled Nassau Hall. In September, the Department of Education (DOE) announced it was investigating whether Princeton had discriminated on the basis of race, after President Christopher Eisgruber â&#x20AC;&#x2122;83 acknowledged that racist assumptions â&#x20AC;&#x153;remain embedded in structures of the University itself.â&#x20AC;? Less than two weeks later, the Department of Homeland Security proposed setting ďŹ xed term limits on student visas â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a restriction that would compel many international students to leave the United States after four years. The average Princeton Ph.D requires nearly six. This month, Nassau Hall reached a $1.175 million settlement with the Department of Labor, which found that between 2012 and 2014, the University paid 106 female full professors â&#x20AC;&#x153;statistically signiďŹ cantâ&#x20AC;? lower salaries than their male counterparts. The investigation began under the Obama administration. Campus may be deserted, but it looms large in political debates and cultural ďŹ&#x201A;ashpoints. As students who attend an institution trapped in the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crosshairs, how are we to respond? Just as last monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s issue explored how to make Princeton meaningful from afar, I hope this monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s edition will oďŹ&#x20AC;er a few answers. First, we must treat one another with empathy and understanding, instead of the cynical self-interest that deďŹ nes our political moment. In a column printed here, Brittani Telfair argues that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed American political culture to be bankrupt. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In the United States,â&#x20AC;? she writes, â&#x20AC;&#x153;empathy has become a partisan value, when in fact it should be a human one.â&#x20AC;? Rather than â&#x20AC;&#x153;memorialize, celebrate, and respectâ&#x20AC;? those who have perished, we forget the virusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s victims for political gain. Telfair oďŹ&#x20AC;ers a new way forward. â&#x20AC;&#x153;ProďŹ t and convenien-
ce,â&#x20AC;? she writes, â&#x20AC;&#x153;should never take precedence over people, and people should never be so broadly accepted as mass-produced and disposable.â&#x20AC;? At one of the most worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most powerful universities, Telfairâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lesson is vital to remember. Second, we must turn to our own community with a caring and critical perspective. In investigating the University, the DOE has done little to disguise its political motivations. But that fact doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exempt the Orange Bubble from scrutiny, as we seek to make our community more equitable and just. Elsewhere in this issue, Collin Riggins writes that anti-racism requires â&#x20AC;&#x153;hearing BIPOC voices speak their truth,â&#x20AC;? rather than repeating the platitudes of white liberalism. Hannah Reynolds calls attention to the Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s failure to confront anti-Native racism, while Julia ChaďŹ&#x20AC;ers argues that many colleges have exploited athletes in their rush to resume football. In Features, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll learn that 2020 is not the ďŹ rst time student and nationwide anti-racist activism has yielded an institutional response. In 2015, protests by the Black Justice League precipitated over three years of committees, recommendations, and reports. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll hear from students and administrators who sat on two such groups. Last spring, Hobson told the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Princeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; that she and John Rogers â&#x20AC;&#x2122;80, who serve as co-CEOs of Ariel Investments, the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ďŹ rst asset management ďŹ rm owned by people of color, have pushed the University to foster and sustain diversity, because they hope to serve their alma mater. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our perspective on this grows out of a love of Princeton,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;John and I are indebted to our university. We have been, you know, Princeton fanatics for our whole lives. We only wanted to continue to see it thrive in every way for generations to come.â&#x20AC;? As we anticipate a campus that includes Hobson College, those are words to guide us. Jonathan Ort is editor-in-chief of e Daily Princetonian. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at @ort_jon.
Benjamin Ball â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Elizabeth Parker â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Ivy Truong â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Cy Watsky â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21
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head cartoon editors
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Sydney Peng â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22 Daniel To â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21
Mindy Burton â&#x20AC;&#x2122;23
associate cartoon editors Wendy Ho â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Adam Wickham â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22
head news editor Zachary Shevin â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22
associate news editors Albert Jiang â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Naomi Hess â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22 Marissa Michaelsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;22 Linh Nguyen â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21
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associate editors, digital transition Khadijah Anwar â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22 Richard Ma â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22
head features editors Alex Gjaja â&#x20AC;&#x2122;23 Rachel Sturley â&#x20AC;&#x2122;23
head opinion editors Rachel Kennedy â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Madeleine Marr â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21
associate opinion editors Shannon Chaffers â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22 Emma Treadway â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22
head prospect editors Paige Allen â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21 Cammie Lee â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22 Auhjanae McGee â&#x20AC;&#x2122;23
associate prospect editors Jack Allen â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;21 Lillian Chen â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;21 Jose Pablo Fernandez Garcia â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;23 Sreesha Ghosh â&#x20AC;&#x2122;23
head sports editor Alissa Selover â&#x20AC;&#x2122;21
associate sports editors
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Mark Dodici â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22
144TH BUSINESS BOARD business manager Louis Aaron â&#x20AC;&#x2122;23
director, digital products chief technology officer Andy He â&#x20AC;&#x2122;23
Anthony Hein â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22
lead software engineers, system architects
Benjamin Cai â&#x20AC;&#x2122;24 Nelson Rogers â&#x20AC;&#x2122;24 Trisha Boonpongmanee â&#x20AC;&#x2122;24
Areeq Hasan â&#x20AC;&#x2122;24 Darius Jankauskas â&#x20AC;&#x2122;24
The covers of this issue were designed by Harsimran Makkad â&#x20AC;&#x2122;22.
Anika Maskara / The Daily Princetonian
U. to announce spring plan in first week of December, hopes to welcome ‘significantly more’ undergraduates to campus By Edward Tian, Staff Writer | October 19, 2020
n light of what we have learned from our experience and data from other colleges and universities, we are preparing for the possibility that we will be able to welcome back significantly more undergraduate students in the spring,” University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 wrote in a mid-semester update to the campus community today. He added that the University anticipates releasing a decision concerning spring plans during the first week of December and will soon be surveying a sample of undergraduates to assess how to best accommodate students on campus.
tive since the start of the semester. “These results are consistent with reports from many other American campuses with extensive asymptomatic testing protocols,” Eisgruber wrote. “On campuses that have instituted and followed responsible public health guidance accompanied by extensive testing, there is as yet no evidence that the virus is spreading in instructional settings or in dormitory housing.” “Infection rates for undergraduates at most of these institutions have been remarkably low, with the vast majority of cases that arise being traceable to off-campus social events,” he added. However, Eisgruber added that if the University is able to invite back students, residential life would still “be far more constrained than what existed before the pandemic began” and the University will be exploring ways to accommodate students safely. “Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun and Dean of the College Jill Dolan will soon be distributing a survey to a representative sample of undergraduates to help us assess how we can best accommodate an on-campus undergraduate population in the spring if indeed we can invite more undergraduates back,” he wrote. Eisgruber added that he wishes he could make an earlier announcement concerning spring plans than the first week of December, but the University must contend “with factors beyond our control, including changing infection rates and their impact on the regulatory environment.” The University originally announced a plan in early July to welcome back around half of undergraduate students in the spring, prior to a complete reversal in August. “Though the early fall has gone well on this campus and for many of our peers, the next six weeks will provide additional, and crucial, information,” he wrote.
“Among over 30,000 tests administered on campus through the University’s mandatory asymptomatic testing program, only 23 have returned positive results — a positivity rate of under 0.1 percent.” Eisgruber also announced the creation of an on-campus testing laboratory expected to open next month, “which will facilitate our COVID testing process and provide results within twenty-four hours.” The message comes around halfway through a mostly-virtual semester, with fewer than 300 undergraduates living on campus, taking online courses, and some on-campus graduate instruction. Among over 30,000 tests administered on campus through the University’s mandatory asymptomatic testing program, only 23 have returned positive results — a positivity rate of under 0.1 percent. Eisgruber noted that “on-campus spread has thus far been non-existent,” with only one on-campus undergraduate testing positive. Eight graduate students have also tested posi-
“Though the early fall has gone well on this campus and for many of our peers, the next six weeks will provide additional, and crucial, information.”
- Christopher Eisgruber ’83, University President
THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
Unclear whether U. complied with DOE deadlines, as growing chorus calls for investigation’s end By Hannah Wang, Senior Writer | October 16, 2020
pon announcing its civil rights investigation into the University last month, the Department of Education (DOE) gave Nassau Hall 21 days to produce relevant documents and 28 days to make President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 available for an under-oath interview. A day after the second deadline, it remains unclear whether the University has complied. When asked yesterday whether the University met the DOE’s deadlines, University Spokesperson Ben Chang wrote that “as we said before, the University will respond to the Department of Education’s letter in due course,” adding that the institution “disagrees with the premise of the Department’s argument.” Asked the same question, a DOE spokesperson told the ‘Prince’ they “do not comment on open investigations.” The DOE’s investigation centers around an early-September letter that Eisgruber wrote to the University community, in which he detailed his administration’s efforts to combat systemic
racism. Eisgruber wrote that “[r]acist assumptions … remain embedded in the structures of the University itself ” and that racism “persists at Princeton.” Considering these statements an admission that “Princeton’s educational program is and for decades has been racist,” the Department is investigating whether the University has discriminated on the basis of race during Eisgruber’s tenure. According to a letter from Assistant Secretary of Postsecondary Education Robert King, the Department may take “action to recover” the over $75 million in federal funds the University has received since 2013, when Eisgruber became president. The University has denied any wrongdoing, standing by “its representations to the Department and the public that it complies with all laws and regulations governing equal opportunity, non-discrimination and harassment,” as well as Eisgruber’s statements about the prevalence of systemic racism.
“It is unfortunate that the Department appears to believe that grappling honestly with the nation’s history and the current effects of systemic racism runs afoul of existing law,” the University noted in its Sept. 17 statement. According to that statement, “the University will respond to the Department of Education’s letter in due course.” In his letter, King requested the University respond to a set of written questions and produce a wide range of records by Oct. 7 — including all records relating to Eisgruber’s letter, ongoing anti-racist action, and systemic racism, as well as a “spreadsheet identifying each person” who was subjected to discrimination “as a result of the Princeton racism or ‘damage’ referenced in the President’s letter.” It also instructed the University to make Eisgruber available for an under-oath interview by Oct. 14. In recent weeks, calls for the investigation to be dropped have mounted, especially after 90 college and university presidents denounced the DOE’s actions as “outrageous.” Late last month, DOE press secretary Angela
TIMELINE OF EVENTS September 17
The University stands by its previous statements about the prevalence of systemic racism.
Over 90 college and university presidents release an open letter calling for the investigation’s end.
DOE informs President Eisgruber that the University is being investigated via email. 4
THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
September 22 Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman condemns the investigation.
Harsimran Makkad / The Daily Princetonian
Morabito told The Daily Princetonian the letter concerned her, writing, “the allegations of current systemic racism at Princeton are deeply concerning. It’s doubly concerning that so many institution presidents would implore the Department not to investigate these serious accusations.” Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.-12) condemned the investigation as “dumbfounding” and “mind boggling.” More recently, Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) urged Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to reconsider the DOE’s investigation. In their letter, Booker and Menendez wrote that the University’s efforts to examine and rectify social disparities that result from systemic racism “should be lauded, not punished.” “We should be actively encouraging and supporting colleges and universities to examine the institutional and broader barriers that disproportionately impact underrepresented groups in this country, especially in the midst of a global pandemic,” they wrote. Booker and Menendez also expressed concern about the “chilling effect” the investigation could spark for other institutions seeking to confront how they perpetuate and contribute to sys-
ricans.” Many consider the order — among the administration’s other statements — to deny the existence of systemic racism. Last week, the University of Iowa suspended diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and canceled training on race and sex stereotyping over fear of losing federal research grants. John A. Logan College in Illinois canceled a talk in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month for similar reasons. The University, however, appears undeterred. In early August, when asked about anti-racist training for students, faculty, and staff, Eisgruber said the University is “always looking for ways to improwhat we’re doing arou- Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) ve nd training” and would be “reviewing a variety of recommendations and suggestions that have come bias training at any institution that contracts in with regard to what the University can do to with the federal government. The order claims stand against racism.” to combat “the pernicious and false belief that Asked if the University has changed its posiAmerica is an irredeemably racist and sexist tion in light of the order or the DOE’s investigacountry; that some people, simply on account of tion, Chang wrote, “The University continues to their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial review ideas and receive input from the campus and sexual identities are more important than community. That process is ongoing.” our common status as human beings and Ametemic racism. The Trump administration’s education policies and rhetoric around race have already reverberated at universities across the country. Days after the DOE announced its investigation, President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting certain types of workplace
“We should be actively encouraging and supporting colleges and universities to examine the institutional and broader barriers that disproportionately impact underrepresented groups in this country.”
Spokesperson says University will respond to the initial letter “in due course.”
DOE-requested deadline for producing a wide range of records passes.
October 2 Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez urge Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to reconsider.
October 14 DOE-requested deadline for making President Eisgruber available for an under-oath interview passes. THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
U. reaches $1.175 M settlement over pay disparities involving female professors By Albert Jiang, Associate News Editor | October 14, 2020
n Oct. 5, the U.S. Department of Labor tlement, “along with other recent OFCCP set- alleged that the University paid “statistically (DOL) announced that it had settled tlements with universities, illustrates the im- significant” lower salaries to 106 female full with the University for nearly $1.2 portance of universities conducting annual professors than to “similarly-situated male million over “allegations of compen- reviews of their employment practices and Full Professors.” The OFCCP relied on a comsation discrimination” involving over one hun- ensuring that professors and other employees pensation model that grouped and assessed dred female professors. are hired, advanced, and compensated con- all full professors across the University, conIn the early resolution conciliation agree- sistently with equal employment opportunity trolling for six factors, including years in curment (ERCA) dated Sept. 30, the DOL Office of principles.” rent job, other years at the University, departFederal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCSuch ERCAs are common in order to avoid ment, full-time status, highest degree earned, CP) alleged that the University underpaid 106 lengthy and costly litigation, even if the in- and prior experience. female full professors compared to their male stitution under investigation is “confident of However, the University contended that counterparts from 2012 to 2014. The OFCCP winning the lawsuit,” explained Henry Farber, full professors across the institution are not found that the Uniall “similarly-situated.” In versity violated Exthe ERCA, the University ecutive Order 11246, claimed that the OFCCP’s which prohibits compensation model was federal contractors not department-based and from discriminatdid not take into account ing in employment “market forces or perforbased on race, color, mance” or how “various religion, sex, sexual factors influencing salary” orientation, gender interact with one another. identity, or national In the agreement, the Uniorigin. versity maintained that its As part of the own models “did not show settlement, the any statistically significant University agreed pay disparities.” to pay $925,000 “Like in any industry, in back pay to the generally the highest sal- Joanna Hawkins, DOL Deputy Regional Director aries go where the highest female professors affected, as well as demand is,” Chang wrote in at least $50,000 in future salary adjustments Professor of Economics at the University. an email to the ‘Prince.’ “Many factors go into each year for five years, for a minimum of “In these court cases, it ultimately comes how individual departments determine salary, $250,000. The University, however, has denied down to a battle of the experts who have scien- including market demand based on external any wrongdoing. tifically based views on what went on,” he said. forces.” The announcement comes three days afHe declined to comment on specifics. According to University Spokesperson Ben ter Yale agreed to pay $87,500 over similar Chang, the case stemmed from an “ordinary Farber said that, as part of an institution’s pay discrimination allegations involving four compliance review” as part of “periodic re- goal to have first-class faculty in every departfemale cardiologists at Yale’s School of Med- views of federal contractors” by the OFCCP. ment, “you can’t underpay the faculty in cericine’s Cardiovascular Medicine Section in In a statement to The Daily Princetonian, tain departments.” 2016. Like Princeton, Yale did not admit to any Hawkins confirmed that the review was initi“Now imagine you said, ‘Okay, fine. Let’s of OFCCP’s allegations. ated on Jan. 31, 2014 and remained open until just pay everyone the same and peg it at the Recently, the Labor Department also Sept. 30, 2020, when the ERCA was signed. top-paying department,’” he continued. “That reached discrimination settlements with the The compliance evaluation examined compen- could be too expensive even for Princeton.” University of Delaware and Nova Southeast- sation practices involving all University em“So the university — in my own view — ern University in Davie, Fla. ployees from 2012 to 2014, including “all aca- correctly benchmarks the paid departments to DOL Deputy Regional Director Joanna demic and non-academic staff.” what the competition is paying,” Farber said. Hawkins explained that the University’s setA 2019 survey conducted by the American As a result of the investigation, the OFCCP
“[The University’s settlement] illustrates the importance of universities conducting annual reviews of their employment practices and ensuring that professors and other employees are hired, advanced, and compensated consistently with equal employment opportunity principles.”
THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
Abby Nishiwaki / The Daily Princetonian
Association of University Professors (AAUP) showed that full professors at the University earned an average of $248,000 — the second highest among U.S. institutions, with male and female full professors earning $252,400 and $234,600, respectively. Data from the U.S. Department of Education, compiled by The Chroni-
The OFCCP also found two technical violations, both of which the University denied in their entirety. The first involved an alleged failure to “collect and maintain personnel and employment records” and a failure to “conduct adverse impact analyses.” The second violation involved an alleged failure to conduct “in-depth analyses of the total employment process, including compensation systems to identify the existence of gender-based pay disparities.” The OFCCP also contended that the University failed to develop or execute “appropriate action-orientated programs designed to correct any promotion or pay disparities - Ben Chang, University by gender.” As part of the agreement, the UniversiSpokesperson ty will be required to take steps to ensure its compensation practices meet legal requirements and conduct statistical analcle of Higher Education showed male and female yses to determine if any significant disparities full professors were compensated an average of exist against female full professors. $183,870 and $165,060 in 2012, respectively. The University has also agreed to conduct pay Women comprised 32 percent of the Uni- equity training for all staff involved in compenversity’s 814 tenured and tenure-track faculty sation decisions for full professors. in the 2019-20 academic year, according to the “During the ERCA monitoring period, PrincOffice of Institutional Research, marking a five eton will evaluate its compensation practices percent increase from 2014. and periodically report to OFCCP on its analysis
“Princeton’s commitment to equity and equal opportunity is ongoing.”
using a negotiated model, which OFCCP found acceptable,“ Hawkins wrote to the ‘Prince.’ The agreement revealed that the University had invested $628,000 in September 2015 to develop a new employee applicant tracking system to “collect, track, and maintain all records” by race, ethnicity, and gender for all applicants and hires in its selection process. “Princeton’s commitment to equity and equal opportunity for all is ongoing,” Chang wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “Current University initiatives — in place before the agreement reached with the OFCCP — include conducting a review of faculty salaries at the time of hire and in the annual merit increase process to ensure equity; engaging in hiring initiatives in fields with low representation of women; and encouraging women to serve in leadership positions, including as department chairs and school deans,” he added. Editor’s Note: As of Wednesday, Oct. 14, this piece was updated to reflect statements from the Department of Labor.
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Graduate students, U. react to proposed DHS rule limiting student visas By Ashley Fan and Hadley Kim, Contributors | October 14, 2020
n Sept. 25, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a rule, which, if enacted, would set two- or four-year fixed term limits on international student visas and increase government supervision of applications for visa extensions. The announcement has drawn strong criticism from the University’s graduate student community. International students on F or J visas are admitted into the United States for “duration of status” (D/S) — a flexible period that allows students to stay in the United States as long as they are “pursuing a full course of study at an educational institution approved by DHS, or engaging in authorized practical training.” If the proposed rule were to enter into effect, a graduate student’s D/S would expire within 60 days of their graduate program’s end date, not to exceed four years after the rule’s enactment. International students admitted thereafter would receive visas with fixed time limits. Neither DHS nor United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) responded to requests for comment. Graduate Student Government Treasurer Guanhua He, a fourth year GS from China completing a fiveyear program in Molecular Biology, called the limits “absolutely unreasonable. Basically not acceptable.” While most student visas would default to the four year limit, the proposed rule specifies that students who are citizens of countries on the Department of State’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list or those that have a “student and exchange visitor total overstay rate of greater than 10 percent” would receive two year visas. The shorter timeframe would apply to 65 countries, primarily in the Middle East and Africa. While most undergraduate students at the University graduate in four years and would not be affected by the proposed rule, the two and four year limits are less than the median 5.7 years it takes to graduate from Princeton with a Ph.D. Under D/S, students’ visa sponsor may extend their stay without filing a request with the government. The DHS’s proposition allows students to apply for an extension if they have “compelling medical or academic reasons,” among other extenuating circum-
THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
stances. USCIS or Customs and Border Patrol would assess whether extension requests meet the stated criteria. A Canadian graduate student who spoke anonymously with The Daily Princetonian expressed concern that the proposed rule’s subjective nature could exacerbate inequality with regards to who obtains extensions. “If you come from a place that’s been targeted by [the Trump administration] as an effort to control immigration, it’s going to be incredibly, incredibly difficult for you to access a lot of these extensions that are supposed to be on paper available for those who demonstrate need,” they said. “While I am concerned for myself and my abilities to get an extension if this passes, I am aware of the incredible unevenness [of the proposed policy] and of how this affects people across the world,” they continued. The administration’s rule comes after a July Immigration and Customs Enforcement decision, which prevented international students with fully online course loads from taking their classes in the United States. In May, President Donald Trump signed a presidential proclamation that regulates the entry of Chinese graduate students into the United States, an extension of a 2018 policy limiting visas for Chinese graduate students in sensitive research fields to a year. “It was already exhausting a couple of months ago when the ICE thing happened,” said a graduate student from India who was granted anonymity. “I think my sense is that most people are just exhausted and want to sort of keep their head down somehow [and get] together the energy to finish their dissertations.” In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the DHS explained that the increasing D/S admittance of international students “poses a challenge to the Department’s ability to monitor and oversee” nonimmigrants, which “created incentives for fraud and abuse.” The DHS added that these visa abuses place “research universities and the nation at risk for economic, academic, or military espionage by foreign students,” citing three examples of Chinese nonimmigrants charged with violations of intellectual prop-
“It was already exhausting a couple of months ago when the ICE thing happened... I think my sense is that most people are just exhausted and want to sort of keep their head down somehow [and get] together the energy to finish their dissertations.”
- Anonymous Graduate
Student from India
Anika Maskara / The Daily Princetonian
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian
The Louis A. Simpson Building, which houses the Davis International Center.
erty and/or visa fraud. Upon reading the DHS’s justification, He, the graduate student from China, said, “There are way more examples of [Chinese students] contributing than taking away. You cannot say a few bad examples and then say that it is a general case. That’s simply not true.” In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Eleanor Gordon-Smith, a fourth year Australian Ph.D. philosophy student, expressed similar sentiments. “By taking their talent, labour and research agendas to US universities, international students contribute to the research output of the US and to its global reputation for educational excellence,” she wrote. “As a class of persons, international students’ most nefarious aspiration is to be able to learn in this country and possibly, maybe, find a job. It’s not clear to me why highly specialized people who want to learn and work are only partly welcome in the US.” When evaluating possible long-term implications of the DHS’s rule, Gordon Smith’s concerns are shared by Federico Marcon, Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of East Asian Studies. As a former international student who came to the United States in 2001 to pursue a Ph.D., Marcon believes these potential restrictions are “motivated by nothing other than nativist ideology” and “will
deeply affect US higher education and society in general.” In an email, Marcon wrote that the rule would “disconnect the US from the rest of the world, signaling the beginning of the end of the global relevance and importance of US academia. If restrictions will continue to intensify, I can easily see an inverse diaspora developing in the next few years, a brain-drain away from US institutions and, as a result, their slow decay into insignificance.” Since the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Davis International Center has sent two emails and hosted two information sessions clarifying the rule’s impacts. Director of the Davis International Center Albert Rivera stated in the Oct. 12 session that the center was “working with other campus partners” and “several professional and education associations” to comment on the rule. The proposed rule is open for public comment until Oct. 26. DHS is required to respond to each comment. “Many aspects of the proposed rule are very concerning and we appreciate your patience as we continue our review and analysis to assess and address potential impact,” Rivera added. In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss confirmed, “Princeton is working with the higher educational community to bring these concerns to the attention
of the federal government, and we will also be submitting comments of our own directly through the rulemaking process.” “We’re very concerned about this proposed rule, which could have a significant impact on the international students and scholars who are so important to the University,” Hotchkiss added. “We stand in solidarity with Princeton’s international community during these uncertain times and continue to offer support directly to our international students and scholars through the Davis International Center.” But some students have called on Nassau Hall to do more. A Princeton Graduate Students United (PGSU) organizer called on the University to give international students access to immigration lawyers. PGSU describes itself as “a group of graduate students committed to winning the right and the opportunity to have a say in the terms and conditions of our employment.” On account of their international status, the ‘Prince’ granted the organizer anonymity. “Problems like anti-immigration policies are not going to go away overnight,” they said. “I don’t know if there is any other one thing [other than providing access to lawyers] that the University can do which will be as effective in making us feel secure,” they said. THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
Abby Nishiwaki / The Daily Princetonian
Major gift from Mellody Hobson ’91 will establish new residential college on the site of First College
Hobson College will be the first residential college named for a Black woman
By Evelyn Doskoch, Assistant News Editor | October 8, 2020
gift from Mellody Hobson ’91 will establish a new residential college — the first at the University to be named for a Black woman. The University did not disclose the amount of Hobson’s gift. Hobson College, scheduled to be completed by 2026 and to open for the Class of 2030, will be built on the site of First College, formerly known as Wilson College. “I’m most excited about the fact that we — meaning Black and brown communities — will have representation on campus in a meaningful way,” Hobson said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian. “I want to rewrite the narrative.” Hobson is the president and Co-CEO of Ariel Investments, the country’s first minority-owned asset management firm, and the former chairwoman of DreamWorks Animation. In 2017, she became the first Black woman to lead The Economic Club of Chicago. “No one from my family had graduated from college when I arrived at Princeton from Chicago,” Hobson said in the announcement of the new residential college. “My hope is that my name will remind future generations of students — especially those who are Black and brown and the ‘firsts’ in their families — that they too belong. Renaming Wilson College is my very personal way of letting them know that our past does not have to be our future.” Hobson’s gift follows the historic $20 million donation that Kwanza Jones ’93 and Jose E. Feliciano ’94 recently gave to the University — until then, the largest gift by Black and Latino alumni in the University’s 274-year history. Their donation will sponsor the building of two new dormitories in either Perelman College or a yet-unnamed residential college. “This extraordinary gift will be transformative for Princeton,” President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 said in the announcement. “It will enable us to improve the student experience at Princeton and to reimagine a central part of our campus, while also recognizing a remarkable woman who is a positive, powerful force for change in the world.” Hobson, a member of the Class of 1991, concentrated in the Princeton School of Public & International Affairs — then known as the Woodrow Wilson School. The school, named for Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, was renamed in June, after the University’s Trustees “concluded that Woodrow Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students, and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms.” Hobson also received the Woodrow Wilson Award in 2019, an honor “conferred annually upon an alumnus or alumna of the undergraduate college whose achievements exemplify Woodrow Wilson’s memorable phrase ‘Princeton in the nation’s service,’” according to the Alumni Association’s website. She is the Wilson Award’s second African American recipient.
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“When I gave my speech [for] the Woodrow Wilson Award, I actually made reference that I was struggling with the idea that I was receiving this Princeton honor named for someone who wouldn’t have wanted me to be at the University,” Hobson told the ‘Prince.’ “I made a joke about it; I said that President Wilson didn’t believe that orange belonged with black. But it really did start the conversation for me.” Hobson is nationally recognized for her work at Ariel, particularly alongside founder John Rogers ’80 — the first African American alum to receive the Wilson Award. In interviews with The Daily Princetonian last spring, both Hobson and Rogers urged the
Princeton University Investment Company, which oversees the University’s $26.1 billion endowment, to adopt more transparency in reporting the diversity of its asset managers. The opening of Hobson College will follow the opening of Perelman College and a yet-unnamed residential college, both currently under construction. Head of First College AnneMarie Luijendijk wrote to the First College community on Thursday morn- Mellody Hobson ’91 ing, saying that the college will “move permanently” to the site of the two new Poe Field colleges upon their completion. This change will affect students beginning with the Class of 2023, who will be seniors in the fall of 2022. “We look forward to sharing with you more details about the move as they become available,” Luijendijk wrote.
“I’m most excited about the fact that we — meaning Black and brown communities — will have representation on this campus in a meaningful way.”
Courtesy of Sameer A. Khan / Fotobuddy Mellody Hobson ‘91.
Anika Maskara / The Daily Princetonian
Part II U. suspends study abroad for spring 2021 NEWS
The suspension applies to all non-University programs expected to be held in person, as well as those that have already moved to full or partially online instruction. By Zachary Shevin, Head News Editor | October 1, 2020
he Office of International Programs (OIP) has “made the difficult decision to suspend undergraduate participation in semester study abroad programs for spring 2021,” according to an email from Study Abroad Program Director Gisella Gisolo to program applicants on Thursday. The suspension applies to all non-University programs expected to be held in person, as well as those that have already moved to full or partially online instruction. According to the message, OIP made the decision in collaboration with the University’s Global Safety and Security Unit based on “health and safety concerns” and “highly variable logistical and security matters,” among other consider-
any changes from this review are announced, “the current guidelines remain in force.” Julia Chaffers ’22, an opinion columnist for the ‘Prince’ who planned to study at the University of Oxford this spring, said she was disappointed but not surprised. “I was holding out hope over the summer that things would get better, but it became more and more clear that cancellation was inevitable,” Chaffers said. “Still, I’m disappointed that I’ll be missing out on an opportunity to learn from a new perspective.” Allie Mangel ’22, a ‘Prince’ copy editor who also planned to study at Oxford, expressed a similar sentiment. “I kind of knew it was going to happen,” she said, referencing an early-September email from Gisolo instructing students to have a backup plan for the spring. “I still wanted to be optimistic about it, so I’m still a little bit disappointed.” Mangel also said she had been in contact with her program’s director at Oxford’s Worcester College, who told her that the college was al- Julia Chaffers ’22 ready partially reopened in the fall and was prepared to host the program in the ations. spring. University Spokesperson Ben Chang told The “That can be frustrating, too, because the reDaily Princetonian that these logistical and secuceiving end is all prepped and ready to go, and rity factors — which are “evolving almost daily” it’s the Princeton side of things where it gets shut — include but are not limited to the pandemic’s down,” Mangel said. “I think people have had simunpredictability abroad, the success of localized ilar experiences where the country they were gopublic policy efforts globally, national travel reging to go to was safer than the United States and ulations, travel advisories, and “the many unalready had plans in place to tackle coronavirus knowns regarding in-person academic instrucconcerns.” tion at institutions abroad.” Juan José López Haddad ’22, another opinion OIP also cited the University’s current policy columnist for the ‘Prince,’ criticized the Universion undergraduate travel, which grants minimal ty’s one-size-fits-all approach when the decision exceptions for University-sponsored internationwas made to cancel abroad trips scheduled for this al travel for undergraduates. This policy will be resemester — including his anticipated semester at viewed “prior to the beginning of each academic Cambridge University. He said he still thinks deciterm throughout the pandemic period” according sions should have been made on a “more case-byto the OIP website, but Chang clarified that until case basis.”
“I was holding out hope over the summer that things would get better, but it became more and more clear that cancellation was inevitable.”
Haddad added that he understood the logistical benefits of an all-encompassing approach for both students and the University, but still felt there should be room for reevaluation. “Oxford I understand. It’s in the United Kingdom. It’s going through a spike,” Haddad added. “But there are countries that are very safe right now — South Korea for example — and they also offer study abroad opportunities.” Given the uncertainty surrounding travel and the pandemic, however, Chang noted, “the team in OIP wanted to be sure that every student had had enough notice of the cancellation to make informed decisions about the spring without waiting for a last minute decision by the University.” He added that the decision to cancel all programs also considered potential financial losses for students, “such as required deposits for housing and tuition, flight booking, visa expenses, and so on,” in addition to “the lengthy approval process for a semester study abroad application.” “We understand the widespread disappointment of students who were hoping to participate in study abroad programs, and also hope everyone understands this difficult decision was made with the fundamental goal of protecting the health and safety of students and minimizing as much as possible disruptions that could result from the still very uncertain international travel environment given the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic,” Chang said. OIP hopes some programs will return next fall.
“OIP hopes some programs will return next fall.” “Our office will continue to closely monitor the international landscape and hope conditions will be such that some of our semester study abroad programs may resume in the 2021–22 academic year,” Gisolo wrote to students. THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
Tiger Tots: Marshall Barnes By Jacqueline Lydon, Staff Writer | October 19, 2020
r. Stacey Sinclair is Head of Mathey College, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, and an associated faculty member in the Department of African American Studies. Her research focuses on interpersonal transmission of prejudices and stereotypes. In a normal semester, you can find her in her most popular class, SPI 345: Prejudice — Its Causes, Consequences, and Cures, or eating meals in the Mathey dining hall with her family and the students they now “miss very much.”
In the third installment of Tiger Tots, The Daily Princetonian met with Marshall Barnes, Dr. Sinclair’s nine-but-almost-10-year-old son. Marshall came to the Zoom call smiling and professional-looking, ready to discuss his taekwondo prowess, his mom’s mind-reading abilities, and what he misses most about being on campus.
The Daily Princetonian: How old are you? Marshall: Nine, and I’m going to be 10 in one month.
DP: What about a favorite TV show? Marshall: Well, “Teen Titans” used to be my favorite TV show.
DP: What grade are you in? Marshall: I’m in fourth grade.
DP: What about a favorite animal? Marshall: My favorite animal is a wolf. I don’t know why, I just think they’re very cool.
DP: Do you like fourth grade? Marshall: Yes! DP: What’s your favorite part about it? Marshall: Probably math because I really like solving problems. DP: What’s your least favorite part? Marshall: Probably social studies. DP: What do you like to do outside of school? Marshall: I like to do taekwondo. DP: How long have you been doing that? Marshall: Four years, I think. DP: What do you like about it? Marshall: Well, I like breaking boards and going to tournaments. Dr. Sinclair: He has his black belt and is currently working on his second-degree belt. He is also taking saxophone and Chinese lessons. We are proud of him every day. DP: What’s your favorite movie? Marshall: My favorite movie is “Black Panther.” DP: Do you have a favorite book? Marshall: My favorite book is “The Mysterious Benedict Society” because I love how they solve problems, and I like the predicaments they’re in! Always keeps you guessing. 12 THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
DP: Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Marshall: Not yet. I used to want to be a sports player — I kind of still do — but if that doesn’t work out I want a second job. My parents are always telling me that. Courtesy of Dr. Stacey Sinclair
DP: Do you have any siblings? Marshall: Yes, I have two siblings. One’s in North Carolina and the other is in Colorado and they’re both in college. DP: What are they like? Marshall: They’re really nice, loving, and protective. DP: What do you think about your mom’s job? Marshall: I like it. I like being close to everything in Princeton and I also like hanging out with the students.
Harsimran Makkad / The Daily Princetonian
DP: Do you want to be like her when you grow up, or do you want to do something different? Marshall: Kind of, but I don’t want to be a teacher. DP: Since she knows a lot about psychology, do you ever feel like she knows what you’re thinking or she can read your mind? Marshall: Hmm … well, I feel like my dad does that all the time, and I used to think my mom did that all the time, too.
Marshall: A lot of the time they’d talk about my taekwondo ‘cause I got my black belt last May, so that got talked about a lot for, like, the two months after it. DP: What else? Marshall: We’d just chat, ask how their day is, if they’re doing well and stuff like that. I miss eating in the dining hall with all the students, ‘cause the food is good there, and you also have good desserts.
DP: But not anymore? Marshall: Well, not as much at least.
DP: Did you ever have funny interactions with students? Marshall: Yeah, sometimes.
DP: You mentioned that you like being on campus and being with the students. What was your favorite part about that? Marshall: Well, I really liked eating dinner in the dining hall and getting to talk to them.
DP: Like what? Marshall: I think one of the students once while we were eating, right in the middle [of the dining hall], he tripped and fell. I almost slipped once too.
DP: What would you talk to them about?
DP: Are there any specific students that you remember or that you miss? Marshall: I miss the cooking club. They used to come to our house and cook food. Those are probably the students I miss the most. DP: Is there anything you’d want to say to students? Marshall: That I miss them.
WA LT E R E . E D G E L E C T U R E
Samantha Power Professor of Practice, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School
IN CONVERSATION WITH DEBORAH AMOS Ferris Professor of Journalism in Residence, Princeton University
November 19, 2020 5 to 6 p.m., Zoom Webinar For information on how to register for this virtual event, visit our website at lectures.princeton.edu Free and open to the Public Samantha Power photo: Martin Schoeller
How the eating clubs went virtual By Ben Angarone, Staff Writer | October 8, 2020
ccording to Gus Binnie ’21, president of Tower Club, one of the University’s eleven eating clubs, “there was no instruction manual left for dealing with a pandemic.” It may be the year’s most resounding excuse. With members strewn across the globe, eating club officers have been on their own, as they’ve faced the daunting challenge of creating community in quarantine. In normal times, eating clubs represent a distinctive, if divisive, hallmark of campus social life. Beyond the “eating” that the clubs provide, members’ benefits include a mansion’s worth of study and hangout spaces, glitzy and raucous social events, and over one hundred new friends with whom to enjoy it all. According to the two-thirds of upperclass-students who belong to a club, these benefits are worth annual price tags of some $10,000. Costs will be different this year. As COVID-19 continues to upend campus life, Princeton is all but deserted, meaning the eating clubs will remain closed at least through the fall semester. Of the five clubs represented in this piece — Tower, Charter, Cap and Gown, Terrace, and Quadrangle — none will charge fall dues. What’s at stake isn’t members’ money: it’s their time. Clubs are vying for their members’ attention during a global catastrophe, while also making the most of members’ time before they graduate. “Membership in your eating club lasts for life,” the Interclub Council (ICC) declares on its website. But it’s no secret that once a student walks through FitzRandolph Gate, their undergraduate days lie firmly in the past. Eating club officers are striving to prove to current and future members that their institutions still hold value, even in an indefinitely quarantined world. Without the capacity to host in-person events — or to serve food — every club has gone virtual, left to rely on creativity and stable internet connections to maintain a semblance of community.
Learning from the spring After Nassau Hall ordered the student body to evacuate campus in March, the ICC and its graduate counterpart shuttered the Prospect Avenue mansions. For the rest of the term, there would be no more open bars, no more dance floors, no more dining rooms — only Zoom. According to Charter President Jaren McKinnie ’21, adapting to the demands of the virtual realm was “as hard as you would think.” “Especially with everyone being in different time zones, on different schedules, making sure they’re doing their classwork, not in the same environment — it’s a lot harder to try 14 THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
and drum up a lot of interest in events,” he said. Charter’s turnout for virtual events was a rollercoaster, according to McKinnie. While virtual event attendance peaked at over sixty members, some events drew fewer than ten. Numbers at Cap were similarly unpredictable, according to Social Chair Gabby Chapman ’21, especially as the virtual spring dragged on. “Zoom fatigue is something I’m sure we’ve all felt, but we did our best to at least provide events for people who wanted or needed them,” she said in a text to the ‘Prince.’ Cap tried to adapt its typical social programming to a virtual format where possible, holding a virtual “paint ’n sip” night, as well as continuing its Thursday “club night” dinners, even as attendance dwindled. “The turnout was not gonna be the same because some people really do value being in person more than online, and to them, it’s not worth it to do it online,” Chapman said. “But even if five people show up, it’s still worth it for those five people.” Since the spring, it has become apparent that social connections, like the kind that eating clubs strive to foster, may hold immense importance in our present moment. A recent study, in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined the pandemic’s collateral health effects, found an increase in “reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” with “social connectedness” promoted as one remedy. In the wake of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, eating clubs have also faced the need for spaces where students can discuss systemic racism and social injustice. Charter launched a biweekly “racial workshop initiative,” McKinnie said, and, “they’ve been really good as far as getting people engaged in this discussion.” Quadrangle started its own antiracism initiative, which consists of a movie night and book club, focusing on Black art and Black experiences. And Terrace — which, unlike other clubs, did not hold weekly events during the spring — held a town hall for its members and alumni on Black Lives Matter and issues of race more generally. When asked about what other kinds of events he prepared
for the virtual spring semester, Terrace Social Chair Enzo Dominguez ’21 responded candidly: “Nothing really, man.” Despite the lack of consistent weekly events, “nothing” isn’t quite accurate — Terrace facilitated online “thesis fairies,” a common activity in which sophomores and juniors send snacks and other goodies to thesis-writing seniors; in addition, the club held its own virtual reunions to make up for the University’s in-person cancellation. “We have a Discord and some other virtual chat things where everyone talks to each other, but we didn’t really do many events,” said Dominguez. Discrete virtual events, as it turns out, aren’t the only venues for member engagement: several other clubs also found success last semester by staying in touch informally. Club members embraced unofficial socialization, sometimes congregating on the group video chatting app Houseparty or even creating chats for different purposes on the group messaging app GroupMe. “We have a specific animals-only group chat,” said Quad President Krystal Delnoce ’22. “That one, everyone loves.”
Fall social plans While virtual learning came as a surprise last spring, the clubs had both more time and more experience to plan events for the fall. According to club officers, however, there was no interclub brainstorming when it came to virtual social programming. “Each club kind of has its own identity and its own trad i t i o n s,” Chapman said. “Some things work better for some people … I don’t know how well interclub social planning would go.” This approach was evident in the sometimes conflicting lessons that officers gleaned from their spring experiences. For example, Dominguez, the Terrace officer, learned that a laissez-faire approach was generally all the club needed. “We’re just kind of waiting until we can open up again,” he said. But things will be more planned than they were in the spring — based on the results of a recent member survey,
“Eating club officers are striving to prove to current and future members that their institutions still hold value, even in an indefinitely quarantined world.”
Harsimran Makkad / The Daily Princetonian
Dominguez wrote in a text, the club intends to hold “loosely planned social hangouts (possibly movie nights, etc.) later this semester.” Quad learned the opposite: “Regularly scheduled events would be really important so people can plan and have some reasonable expectations,” Delnoce said. Although she initially thought that a virtual semester would be expense-free, Delnoce has since reconsidered. Quad’s officers are brainstorming how to promote civic engagement — for example, by creating a raffle for members who submit photos with their “I voted” stickers. “[We’re organizing activities] like that to encourage being connected to your community but also being connected to Quad,” Delnoce said. With regards to enticing members with giveaways and prizes, she said, “You should have a social budget.” In a way, she said, the virtual semester has proven a blessing — in a normal, in-person semester, many ideas get “pushed aside for the daily grind.” Without having to plan parties every week, club officers can put more effort into overdue initiatives, such as planning small house renovations and improving safety procedures for nights out. Additionally, Delnoce considers the virtual semester a good time to breathe life into Quad’s “dead” alumni community. She referenced Cap, which, according to her, “has focused a lot on alumni connections and will continue to.” In addition to fostering alumni connections, Cap will be refitting its normal fall schedule for a virtual context, according to Chapman.
“I looked at the typical events that we do in the fall and tried to figure out which of those we could try to simulate, or which parts of it,” she said. She gave an example: the club typically holds an annual “Cap Prom,” a members-only, ’80s-themed event, where seniors undertake elaborate “prom-posals” for their assigned junior dates and attendees vote on crowned superlatives. Members consider Cap Prom one of the club’s flagship events, and it’s still on the agenda for October — virtually. “We’d still like to keep up our tradition of naming prom king and prom queen, and send out little fake sashes to whoever wins the nomination,” Chapman said. “It’s not going to be the same big event that it was, but it’s still something to mark that this event is still a part of our tradition, and we’re gonna try to replicate what we can.” She hopes that a hybrid model of weekly events combined with bigger monthly events “won’t be overkill,” but “will give people something to look forward to, which is more important now than ever, in my opinion.” Cap’s September social calendar included weekly events that spanned from speed friending and a trivia night to a mixology night and virtual escape room. Chapman didn’t assume it would be easy, or that the experience would be the same as it used to be. But, she said, “If [members’] experience was anything like mine, they found a home somewhere in their clubs. And, so I think, because of that, the clubs are doing everything they can — even if it’s in a virtual capacity — to keep that going.” In light of the virtual semester, over seven hundred stu-
dents elected to take a leave of absence this year. Because eating clubs are separate legal entities from the University, the usual rule that students must be enrolled to participate in campus activities does not apply to the same extent. Delnoce, Quad’s president, is taking a gap year — and it’s presented no logistical issues for her responsibilities. While a gap year would normally mean being away from an eating club’s physical events, quarantine is different. All members shoulder the same disadvantage of being apart, meaning that a member who’s taking a gap year can just as easily continue participating in virtual events as anyone else. Practically, the only difference is that people on gap years may have an extra year of membership. “Currently, our idea is if you want to be involved with Charter activities … we want you to still be welcome to our events,” McKinnie said. “We will still keep those [activities] open to people taking gap years.” His attitude reflects a dynamic common among the clubs. Officers are embracing whatever they can to provide the best possible experience for their members. Clubs are soldiering on, attempting to provide friends and community to hundreds of members. On the second day of classes, Cap officers emailed members a five-minute video clip, in which each of the club’s seven officers took a turn addressing their geographically-scattered members. “Just think,” said Gear Chair Alyssa Nguyen ’21, “you are the first class to have to do a full semester like this — you’re gonna kill it!”
Sydney Peng / The Daily Princetonian
THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
‘Committee, committee, committee’ After ﬁve years, U.’s approach to institutional reform hasn’t changed
By Ellen Li and Alex Gjaja, Assistant and Head Features Editors | September 24, 2020
n Sept. 2, 2020, amid a national reckoning with racism, University President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 announced that his administration would “combat systemic racism at Princeton and beyond.” Factoring heavily into his plans were several committees, charged with priorities that ranged from inclusive hiring practices to campus iconography. Eisgruber commended this administrative approach, writing, “Much of this work is unglamorous, focused not on flashy symbols but on the nuts and bolts of University management. That is essential: to care about eradicating systemic racism, one has to care about systems.” But 2020 is not the first time the University has turned to “systems” in the wake of student and nationwide anti-racist activism. In 2015, protests by the Black Justice League (BJL) precipitated over three years of committees, recommendations, and reports — seemingly the “unglamorous nuts and bolts of University management” that Eisgruber described. According to Deputy University Spokesperson Mike Hotchkiss, “These committees included faculty, graduate students, undergraduates and staff, each of whom brought to the work their own expertise, experiences and opinions.” He added, “In this inclusive process, these committees represented a University made up of many constituencies holding a wide range of views.” Former BJL members would later characterize the University’s response as “many fruitless conversations and hollow gestures that have not meaningfully addressed the lived experience of Black people on Princeton’s campus.” “Charge a committee, convene a task force, draft solutions, adopt very little, rinse and repeat,” they wrote in June, after the University renamed the Woodrow Wilson School, now the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. The activists argued that the administration “unilaterally” removed Wilson’s name, pointing to Nassau Hall’s apparent haste as evidence of the “hollowness of such committees.” To find out why the committee process that Eisgruber praised last month has left so many dissatisfied, The Daily Princetonian sat down with members of the now-disbanded Woodrow Wilson Legacy Review Committee and the Campus Iconography Committee, a product of the Review Committee’s recommendations. What started with simple questions and personal reflections became a convoluted
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story of college governance, of layers upon layers of committees, and of the difficulties that impede institutional change.
Step One: The Woodrow Wilson Legacy Review Committee
After sitting in Eisgruber’s office for 33 hours, student protesters led by the BJL exited Nassau Hall on the night of Nov. 23, 2015. They did so with a revised list of demands that Eisgruber had signed, documenting his promise to address the BJL’s demands for affinity housing, cultural competency training, a course requirement, and the removal of Woodrow Wilson’s name from the residential college and policy school. In the weeks that followed, Eisgruber met with a small group of leadership from the Board of Trustees, including then Vice-Chair of the Board Brent Henry ’69. They decided, Henry said, that “since some of the demands were in the purview of the Board” — rather than the administration — it was “appropriate” to form a Board Committee. Once Henry agreed to chair the new Woodrow Wilson Legacy Review Committee, the focus turned to selecting the other members. The committee would ultimately furnish Eisgruber with a list of recommendations relating to inclusivity on campus. Chief among them would be answers to the tandem questions of how to remember Woodrow Wilson and what to do with the numerous buildings and programs that bore his name. With respect to selecting other committee members, Henry said, “The good news is that we had people on the Board at the time who had some experience, both on the subject matter of Woodrow Wilson but also in running universities.” Among those experts was Ruth Simmons, a University Trustee and former President of Brown University, who had also served as Associate Dean of Faculty and Vice Provost at the University. Simmons currently serves as the President of Prairie View A&M, a historically Black university. During her tenure at Brown, Simmons launched a two-year investigation into the Brown family’s historical connections with the transatlantic slave trade. The project yielded the Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice.
Both Henry and Simmons attest that this prior work made her an ideal candidate for the new committee. “I think that’s probably why I was asked to serve on the Committee actually,” Simmons said. Henry’s background also commended him to the position. As a student at the University, he had participated in the occupation of New South, led by the Association of Black Collegians (ABC) in 1969. He and the rest of ABC did so in protest of the University’s investments in apartheid South Africa. Once all selections for the Committee were made, the next step was soliciting feedback — a lot of it, according to Simmons and Henry. “There was a good deal of data gathering and outreach to constituents at the outset, which took a fair amount of time,” Simmons said. “There was pretty wide solicitation of opinion from stakeholders, and a fair degree of interest in it, so people did write in comments, and so forth.” After months of gathering opinions from students, alumni, community members, and historians, the Committee began meeting regularly to discuss the comments and shape their recommendations to the University. “Any committee of that kind necessarily has members with very strong and hopefully informed views,” Simmons said. “No one is shy about representing their opinion about it. And so naturally, the discussions were quite robust.” The Committee’s final report, released in April 2016, reflected these “robust discussions,” acknowledging a lack of unanimity as to whether Woodrow Wilson’s name should remain. As the report states, however, “in the end our collective judgement was that the names should not be changed.” While the report included a number of proposals, the Committee’s recommendation to keep Woodrow Wilson’s name would become both its best-known and most controversial. Both former trustees dispute the importance retroactively placed on removing the name itself. “The Wilson decision was really in my view, frankly, not one of the most important recommendations of the report,” Henry said. “In my view, the most important recommendations were the formation of the Diversity Committee [named in the report as the Special Commi-
Harsimran Makkad / The Daily Princetonian
ttee on Diversity and Inclusion] and the creation of what is now known as the Presidential Scholars Program.” According to Henry, the Princeton Presidential Scholars Program — a University commitment to expanding graduate school opportunities for students of color — will allow the University to start diversifying its faculty by working to “prime the pump with candidates coming out of Ph.D. programs.” Additionally, Henry believed that the creation of a Trustee Committee focused on diversity would allow the University to live by the old adage: “What gets measured gets done.”
“If you have a Trustee committee that is focused on diversity, then clearly the administration will be more diligent in what it has to report to the board,” he said. Simmons agreed with Henry that while the Legacy Review Committee was initially tasked with examining Woodrow Wilson’s legacy on campus, “other things arose in that discussion.” “It was very clear from the outset that what gave rise to that subject was a concern among some that the University was insufficiently inclusive, and that there were certain impediments to that inclusivity. One being iconic images
or iconic histories, images, narratives, and so forth that did not work well with a vision of
inclusivity.” And, while there was a lack of unanimity around preserving Woodrow Wilson’s name on University buildings and academic programs, there was agreement about approving the final Committee report. “When we had to make a decision about approving the report, the report as a whole is what got approved. We didn’t necessarily go recommendation by recommendation and say, you know, a plus or minus on the name, plus or minus on this recommendation or that recommendation,” Henry said. THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
Simmons similarly spoke of the remaining disagreements, but also of the important “points of agreement” that the report included. “And absolutely a point of agreement with the committee was, you have to tell the truth about Wilson’s legacy,” Simmons said. Simmons had been thinking a lot about “truth” and “transparency” outside of her work on the committee. She recalled being asked to speak with BJL members during their occupation of Eisgruber’s office. There, she told them that they had “a central tenet that was unimpeachable.” “And that was that the University should tell the truth,” she said. “If you don’t tell the truth about your own history,” Simmons added, “why should anybody think you’re telling the truth about anything else?” To her, the committee’s recommendations concerning Woodrow Wilson — which fell short of removing his name — were still significant in many ways. Because of them, Eisgruber “came out afterwards powerfully and said, ‘Woodrow Wilson was a racist.’” “That had never been voiced by the University before,” she said. In seeking to “tell the truth” about Wilson, the University unveiled “Double Sights,” a towering campus installation that acknowledges Wilson’s “complicated legacy,” in Oct. 2019. The ceremony occurred a little over two years after the Legacy Review Committee released its final report.
“I think part of what makes the committee so insidious... [is] that every single person on the committee feels disempowered to make change.”
- Chase Hommeyer ’19
Despite the trustees’ conviction in adding context to Wilson’s name, the ceremony did not proceed smoothly. During a Q&A period, alumni and students criticized the University for not going further, while student protestors gathered outside. After several pointed exchanges, Henry rose to defend the Committee’s ultimate decision to keep Woodrow Wilson’s name on the School of Public and International Affairs and eponymous residential college. “There’s a whole couple generations of us students who survived on this campus with the Wilson name,” he said. “And we think, based on looking at this group today, the students here may feel some pain, but they’re doing a whole hell of a lot better than we did.” While “Double Sights” most directly addressed the Committee’s recommendation that Wilson’s legacy on campus be contextualized, it also responded to the conclusion that Nassau Hall should rethink campus iconography more broadly. 18 THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
Simmons remembered discussing with other committee members that “the University upheld individuals like Wilson, but found no room for pointing to the extraordinary commitment of others in the history of the University, such as Blacks and women.” The Legacy Review Committee recommended a “concerted effort” on the University’s part to diversify campus art and iconography. “When you walk into the faculty room at Nassau Hall, all you see is portraits of white men and one white woman,” Henry said. “And while that may not change for a while, because they are Princeton presidential portraits, we thought it was important for there to be a more active portraiture project, and a more active project of dedicating spaces to recognize that people of color had a more specific hand in shaping the University.” And so the Legacy Review Committee recommended the University charter another committee, this time focused on campus iconography and public spaces.
Beyond Woodrow Wilson: The Campus Iconography Committee Soon after the Wilson Legacy Review Committee published its final report in April 2016, the University assembled a Campus Iconography Committee (CIC), chaired by Executive Vice President Treby Williams ’84, in pursuit of the Trustees’ recommendation to “diversify campus art and iconography.” The CIC’s website, which was recently removed, stated, “the Committee seeks to identify, facilitate, and support opportunities to provide visual cues on campus that represent altered and nuanced interpretations of Princeton’s history.” While some students applied to sit on the committee, Chase Hommeyer ’19 was directly invited to join in spring 2016. She believed she was chosen due to her prior relationship with administrators, a rapport she had built by proposing that Frist Campus Center feature a digital wall display of Princeton’s history. Describing herself as “deferential” and “palatable to the administration” as a “young, friendly-looking white girl,” she said, “there was no transparency as to how [she] was picked.” “I wish I had declined,” she said. “I was not the right person to be making decisions about how to support students of color at the school.” While a key aspect of the committee was its inclusion of faculty, students, alumni, and administrators, for Hommeyer, long-standing power dynamics were not so easily overcome. As a sophomore, Hommeyer found the meetings “very intimidating,” and would feel uncomfortable speaking up, fearing that she might disrespect faculty committee members with whom she disagreed. “I think part of what makes the committee so insidious,” she said, “is not that there’s any one person who’s evil and advocating against the demands of the students, openly. It’s that every single person on the committee feels disempowered to make change.” She described the meetings as “country club” affairs held at Prospect House, where members sat at tables decorated with “white tablecloths and fancy food on fancy plates.” As
the waiting staff served food, committee members were “rolling the dice like gods and deciding the fate of people [they] were completely disconnected from.” Shortly after it convened in fall 2016, the Committee split into three working groups: Portraiture, History, and Public Spaces. While the other working groups made policy recommendations, the Portraiture subcommittee was tasked with researching the University’s portraiture collection, including what standards were historically in place to govern portrait commissions, and how those standards could be altered to include subjects who were not white men. To that end, the University appointed history professor Martha Sandweiss to lead the Portraiture group. Sandweiss had helped disclose the University’s complicity in American slavery through the Princeton and Slavery Project, which she founded in the spring of 2013. Sandweiss discovered that the portrait collection had always grown haphazardly, without standards. “Things just came as gifts, people donated things,” she said. “The only portraits that were commissioned, at least in recent years, were of the president, I believe, and the dean of the graduate school and the dean of the engineering school.” Sandweiss’s subcommittee issued its report, detailing the history of Princeton’s portraiture, as well as challenges the University might face as it sought to diversify its collection. In order to further pursue the ideas raised by the subcommittee, the Administration commissioned the Portraiture Nominations Committee (PNC) in the fall of 2017. Amina Simon ’18, who sat on both the Portraiture working group and the PNC that followed, told the ‘Prince’ that the PNC’s mission was to recommend 10 portrait subjects, whose presence would diversify the collection. The committee sought recommendations for portrait subjects online, and then researched and voted on submissions. The committee ultimately created a list of subjects, including Nobel Laureate and University Professor Emerita Toni Morrison, Judge Denny Chin ’75, and former dean Carl A. Fields, the first Black administrator in the Ivy League. Despite public participation and extensive committee deliberations, Simon perceived the process to be undemocratic. “Eisgruber was still the end of the line situation,” Simon said. She alleged that he had “added a white guy to [the committee’s list], who was a straight athlete, and I think already has a statue of himself on campus.” This was William Bradley ’65, former NBA basketball player and N.J. State Senator, whose bronze statue has stood before Jadwin Gymnasium since 2014. “And I just remember it being ridiculous,” Simon said. “I and a few other committee members took turns saying, ‘that’s ridiculous,’ in different words.” Bradley made it onto the final list of subjects. Referring to “two other additions” to the list, Williams wrote in an email to the committee, “Chris [Eisgruber] agreed to use Presidential funds to create 8 to 10 portraits at this time. He has decided to support the upper bound ... and finalize the cohort to include the two additional subjects we discussed last week.”
Harsimran Makkad / The Daily Princetonian
The ‘Prince’ did not confirm whether Eisgruber personally assured Bradley’s inclusion. Bradley and cell biologist Dr. Elaine Fuchs, however, were the only subjects to make the final list that did not appear on the committee’s initial list of candidates to research or receive mention in other internal communications between members. “I am comfortable that each individual in the cohort meets all of the criteria, including diversity broadly defined,” Williams continued, “and appreciate that no group was excluded from consideration for this very special honor (which reinforces the high honor of being a member of this cohort).” While the efforts to diversify portraiture on campus progressed, a separate branch of the CIC, the History subcommittee, developed “innovative and nuanced ways to narrate, demonstrate and reflect the complexities of Princeton’s history, including through temporary and permanent exhibits.” Briana Payton ’17, a former BJL member, remembered the History subcommittee fondly, citing the enthusiasm of professor Wallace Best, who chaired the subcommittee, as well as the team’s diversity. “We were diverse racially, we were diverse in our class years, we were diverse in the disciplines that we came from,” she said. “And so, I think that different interests and different kinds of creative ideas emerged out of the diverse group that came together.” When Hommeyer joined the History subcommittee, however, she found the methods in place less deliberate than she had expected. “[W]e randomly threw out ideas for five minutes and voted on them,” she commented on the June 2020 statement by the Black Justice League. “The ‘Official Committee Recommendations’ that Princeton touts as gold standard were simply ‘off the cuff ’ ideas from administrators and random uninformed students like me.” The winning ideas were to make walking tours, to install historical markers about “firsts” at the University, and to make a historical booklet for first-year orientation. “Do I think that it produced as many outcomes as we wanted? No, absolutely not,” Payton said. “There were things that we would have suggested things that we wanted, that didn’t happen. It also caused things to happen that I believe matter.” While both Hommeyer and Payton expressed appreciation for those projects, especially the walking tour dedicated to African American history, the committee’s lack of public feedback bothered Hommeyer. “People often emphasize how important it is to start with the audience,” she said. “Start with the people who are affected, and ask them about their needs and create ideas based on those needs. And we did not discuss the students’ needs one bit.” Monique Claiborne ’17, who sat on the Public Spaces working group, shared mixed feelings about her experience on the committee. She valued the creation of a small space where students, faculty, alumni, and administrators could collaborate. “Everybody was figuring it out together,” she said. Claiborne was enthusiastic about the committee’s mission, especially as a former Orange Key tour guide. Used to watching awestruck tourists wander among Princeton’s famous Gothic spires, she wanted to help create a more in-
clusive atmosphere. Yet, Claiborne did feel, like Hommeyer, that committee deliberations were “separated from student activism,” and not entirely transparent. The subcommittee’s mission was “very specific,” with a predetermined focus on Frist Campus Center, a hub of student activity, and the Trustee Reading Room, whose walls were once lined with “portraits of dead white men.” “I don’t know who came up with that; that was just given to us,” Claiborne said. “So, I don’t think that necessarily was in response to the activism on campus at that time.” After a year of sporadic meetings, the working group came up with two primary recommendations: the construction of a digital wall in Frist Campus Center that could show a more representative narrative of Princeton’s history and a redesign of the Trustee Reading Room. According to Claiborne, the portraits in the Trustee Reading Room were “dispersed throughout Firestone,” but she was unsure of what other actions arose from the working group’s recommendations. Noting that the working group never solicited public feedback, Claiborne said, “it wasn’t rooted in any kind of evidence, really, qualitative or quantitative.” Although she believed that committee members embarked on the project with enthusiasm, progress became slower and slower over time. The year’s end approached. The working group drafted a report of recommendations, which Claiborne characterized as “very abstract” and as “a framework for how the University would think about diversifying iconography moving forwards.” “I remembered feeling that ‘this report kind of sucks,’” Claiborne said. “Did we really do something that’s gonna launch Princeton into this new way of thinking about visual cues of campus? I didn’t really feel like that was true.” “Moving forward, I’d love to see these committees be supplements to and not replacements of more disruptive activism,” she continued. “I think that’s where proper institutional change comes from, which we did not do.”
‘When you get to the table’
“Over the past decade, the University has made significant strides toward becoming more inclusive and honest about its history,” Hotchkiss, the University spokesperson, wrote. “This work has been advanced by a number of committees, and Princeton is a better place today because of their work.” Computer science department chair Jennifer Rexford ’91, who sat on the Portraiture Nominations Committee, expressed a similar sentiment. She argued that the University’s committee process did not amount to “intentionally stonewalling” and remained optimistic that the University’s governance structure effected meaningful change. “Princeton is a place that can be viewed as conservative or reticent, but I think the right way to think of it is deliberative,” she said. “It’s a way to make decisions in a principled way that can always be understood and explained.” Simmons, too, gave a positive final assessment: “While it looks like it’s very obfuscating, very difficult, very negative, it isn’t at all.” “Of course, I’m saying that as a university president,” she continued, “because I have been at this a long time, and I’ve
seen the kind of progress that can be made in the universities that cannot be made outside of universities, precisely because universities are careful. They’re very deliberate. They take their time. And they can do incredibly bold things.” “Such work is not easy and the outcomes rarely match any individual member’s preferences,” Hotchkiss wrote. “But through careful thought and open dialogue, [a number of committees] brought forward valuable ideas and recommendations. Along with the leadership of the Board of Trustees and President Eisgruber, these committees have helped move the University forward.” After sitting on several University committees, however, Simon maintained her concerns about the pace of change, lack of transparency, and power structure that underlay the process. She argued that as recommending bodies without the power to make decisions, the committees inherently faced constraints. “Everyone’s boss needs to consult their boss, needs to consult their boss, needs to consult a committee of their bosses,” Simon said. “So, it makes it seem that the only way to create change is if the president wants to, or committee, committee, committee.”
“Such work is not easy and the outcomes rarely match any individual member’s preferences.”
- Mike Hotchkiss, Deputy University Spokesperson
Today, the University has promised to diversify its faculty and graduate students, to evaluate campus iconography, and to pursue a number of other anti-racist initiatives, including examining its benefits policy and expanding “educational opportunities.” To do so, Nassau Hall plans to “reconceive” the Faculty Advisory Committee on Diversity and to “initiate” a committee “to recommend principles to govern changes in naming and other campus iconography” — a mandate that resembles what the Campus Iconography Committee was tasked with four years ago. “As the University continues its work to combat systemic racism,” Hotchkiss wrote, “Princetonians from across the University will again be called to contribute because, as President Eisgruber has said, ‘success will require sustained effort and continued commitment from the entire University community.’” When asked if she had any advice for current students facing another cycle of administrative change, Payton laughed, and gave a simple answer: “Join the committees.” “When you get to the table,” she said, “assess where the power is and hold that power accountable.” Hommeyer, however, added a few words of caution. “Do not bargain with systems of people who are unwilling to change,” she said. “It’s a trap. Write your demands, be done with it, then build something with people who actually believe in your freedom.” THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
Abby Nishiwaki / The Daily Princetonian
No, liberalism and anti-racism are not the same Collin Riggins
October 15, 2020
rowing up in Kansas City, I have had my fair share of encounters with white liberalism. Whether it’s “… but I voted for Obama!” after a questionable remark, or that black box on Instagram that has become symbolic of allyship with Black folk, this superficial opposition to racism manifests itself in many different ways. Regardless of the particular manifestation, such actions make clear that for many liberals, there remains a chasm between proclaiming Black life matters and taking measures that genuinely reflect this statement. As a member of the Class of 2024, I was beyond ready to get on campus and experience change. I was excited by the prospect of forming relationships with fellow Black students and becoming invigorated by a community invested in progressivism. However, with the University’s (understandable) decision to shift to virtual learning, those plans were naturally placed on hold. Instead, I have found myself relying on orientation events to foster such community building. Given the way in which Princeton’s residential college system is set up, the primary means for doing so has been through my zee group — and, more specifically, the First Year Residential Experience. As a part of this program, first-year students engage in discussions around identity, financial literacy, mental health, and more. While some of these discussions have proven to be very fruitful, others have left much to be desired. One such discussion was on diversity and inclusion. After watching “Our Stories, Our Truth,” a video highlighting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) experiences on campus, all I felt in the following
discussion were displays of white liberalism. I was taken aback that some of the biggest takeaways were “Where is the voice of the straight white male?” and “I support BLM and everything … but it would’ve been less overwhelming to hear a white perspective.” Sitting in front of my computer, I was dumbfounded. I waited for a punchline. Anything to signify that we weren’t really gathered around discussing whether a video documenting underrepresented voices was, indeed, exclusionary. Nonetheless, as conversation progressed, I quickly understood that there would be no such saving grace. Conversations like these remind me just how pressing it is for liberals to reconsider their relationship to white supremacy, for white supremacy is not simply the sort of behavior we associate with white hoods and confederate flags. It can be more nuanced. It is given life by our schools through the content we are taught — or, that is to say, not taught. It is empowered when we employ the politics of respectability to gaslight our most vulnerable. It shines through when confronting race becomes synonymous to “overwhelming.” These behaviors, whether conscious or not, work in tandem to advance the lie that whiteness is somehow most valued. If you are anti-racist, there should be nothing uncomfortable about hearing BIPOC voices speak their truth. The fight for racial justice necessitates the shedding of white fragility and the wholehearted embrace of perspectives that are often suppressed. Furthermore, if someone feels excluded because they could not see an accurate reflection of themselves displayed on a screen, I can only say: welcome. That is the lived experience for
“If you are anti-racist, there should be nothing uncomfortable about hearing BIPOC voices speak their truth.”
20 THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
countless people of color in the United States. That feeling is precisely why we have to promote the idea of inclusion to begin with. It is, without a doubt, easier to navigate through life shielded by the ways in which we are privileged. I am admittedly guilty of this myself. I am a product of the middle class. I am able-bodied. Given that I am biracial, I do not face the same plight that my darker-skinned brothers and sisters do every day. We must grapple with these realities to truly reimagine what an equitable future can look like. This will take not only recognizing our privilege but also becoming comfortable in supporting systematic change that may force us to give it up. No, “Our Voices, Our Truth” did not incorporate the stories of a straight, white male. If that evoked feelings of discomfort, don’t let that be reflective of some problem with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion who so beautifully crafted the video. Instead, I urge you to probe inward and genuinely ask why. For we will not be able to ever reconcile race in America if we cannot first reconcile with ourselves. Collin Riggins is a first-year student from Kansas City, Mo. He can be reached at riggins@princeton. edu.
Another semester in Remy Reya
Contributing Columnist October 13, 2020
he official Princeton transcript is not a pretty document, but it gets the job done. There, in 8.5 x 11 inches, I can visualize the entire last three years of my academic life, arrayed in neat lines of 12-point Courier font framed by a loud orange border that belies the intimacy of the words it circumscribes. Below the summary of the last semester, there’s a disclaimer: “The COVID-19 pandemic required all classes to transition to remote instruction for the second half of the spring 2020 semester. Grading patterns reflect this disruption, as some instructors moved to a pass/D/fail-only basis for assessment, and students were permitted to elect the pass/D/fail option in all other undergraduate courses.” Few could forget the epic debate that ensued on Princeton’s campus about the right way to deal with grades during the shift to remote learning. Even as I “studied abroad” from my home, I looked on in awe as the University moved from a department-by-department policy to a universal optional PDF for courses, prompted by outcry from the community. At the time, it was obvious that “business as usual” in the classroom simply wasn’t possible — or just. Now, months later, we fi nd ourselves surrounded by many of the same circumstances. On top of the “normal” stressors of pandemic life, we’ve experienced a summer of intense reckonings with racial injustice and a politically tumultuous build-up to the November election. But our collective attitude toward these conditions has changed. Academic departments have adopted a patchwork of grading policies, some reverting to pre-pandemic standards.
In classes and meetings, facilitators worry about talking about the pandemic “too much” — we feel a need to let it seep into the background because it’s “just the way life is now.” When we do make space to acknowledge the state of the world, our words don’t always prompt self-compassionate action. We keep chugging along. We fear the cost of dwelling on what’s going on around us and within us — because we have papers to write, because we have emails to draft , because we have things to do. Now that everyone’s back in business, we can’t afford to let ourselves fall behind. With time, it’s become easy to let these feelings build up inside. But just last weekend, in a Zoom book club meeting with a former professor and a classmate, I couldn’t keep up the dam — the words spilled out, a mixture of disappointment and uncertainty about the state of the world and our tiny pocket of it. Eventually, I had to mute myself, turn off my camera, and let go. I broke down because of what a friend had helped me understand weeks earlier. I had spent all my time thinking, “Th ings aren’t great right now, but so many people have it worse, so I shouldn’t feel bad,” but deep down, I was feeling, “Th ings aren’t great right now, and so many people have it worse.” I realized that it doesn’t matter how long I ruminate on the major life events missed, the companies shut down, or the lives transformed by or lost to the virus. The knowledge of perpetual external suffering isn’t comforting; it’s compounding. It’s heavy. In their book Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, professors Eldar Shafi r and Sendhil Mullainathan introduce the “bandwidth tax” — a term meant to capture the effects of scarcity on cognitive capacity. They argue that facing a lack
“I couldn’t keep up the dam — the words spilled out, a mixture of disappointment and uncertainty about the state of the world and our tiny pocket of it. Eventually, I had to mute myself, turn off my camera, and let go.”
THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
Ashley Chung / The Daily Princetonian
of money — or time, or material resources — can impact our executive functioning, our memory, and our impulse control by continually drawing our attention toward the source of concern regardless of the task at hand. To demonstrate their hypothesis, Shafir and Mullainathan detail the results of a study that measured academic performance for sixth graders in classrooms on two sides of a school, one of which faced a noisy set of railroad tracks. Students on the noisy side ended up a full year behind their peers in school; the city’s installation of noise pads eliminated the discrepancy. The research demonstrated the detrimental impacts of noise on concentration and performance. But the authors take it a step further: “Now, picture yourself working in a pleasant, quiet office: no distractions, no trains. Instead, you are struggling with your mortgage and the fact that freelance work is hard to come by […] You sit down to focus on your work. Soon your mind is wandering. ‘Should we sell the second car?’ ‘Should we take another loan?’ […] These noisy trains of thought are every bit as hard to ignore. They arrive at even greater regularity and are every bit as uninvited. But these trains pull you on board. ‘Should we sell the second car?’ leads to ‘That would raise some money, but it would make the logistics so much harder, just when I need to be working as hard as I can. We don’t want to risk the one steady job we do have’ […] Though this room seems quiet, it is full of disruptions — disruptions that come from within.” In a normal semester, it is fair to expect that students will be dealing with similar “trains” of various sorts at any given time, from extracurricular engagements to family emergencies. Many professors account for that reality by granting flexibility on assignments and examinations on a caseby-case basis. But the personal and social upheavals that all of us have experienced this year — and those we continue to experience, since the world around us has hardly stabilized — transcend individual accommodations. Many students are now a little over six months into living in their childhood homes as adults or just over a month into living independently with friends for the first time in their lives; hundreds of oth-
ers are occupying a campus transformed by social distancing regulations. The public health crisis continues to creep into our lives, as COVID-19 outbreaks and scares arise unpredictably around us and our loved ones. And much of our time is spent wringing our hands about a political scene that is disheartening at best and disempowering at worst. All of these factors, sometimes acutely disruptive and sometimes insidious, make it incredibly difficult to operate at our normal standards. This has to do, in large part, with the bandwidth tax. Some of us are facing a scarcity of money or material resources amid the widespread economic impact of the pandemic; all of us are facing a scarcity of certainty as the benchmarks of our pre-pandemic lives continue to elude us, half a year later. Professors and students alike feel the
grown accustomed to the weekly juggling act of undergraduate life: balancing test preparation and problem sets, filling out applications for summer internships and postgraduate opportunities that may someday become lines on our resumes, tabling in Frist Campus Center for our extracurricular engagements, and attempting to achieve acceptable levels of social engagement. But adapting to this reality will require us to perform a different sort of labor: reframing our self-perception. This is a time for us to recognize just how hard all of us are working to stay afloat, and to reward that hard work with positive reinforcement and compassion. It would do us well to accept “the state of the world” as a valid reason for lethargy and shorthand for the multifaceted but difficult-to-explain circumstances that make it challenging for us to be our best selves right now — emotionally, socially, and academically. And, in acknowledging the difficulty of co-creating the virtual classroom after so many years of in-person teaching and learning, students and professors should offer each other the benefit of the doubt. We have all been thrown into this educational model without an obvious timeline or a triedand-true instruction manual; the least we can do for one another is offer a hefty dose of forgiveness in our judgements and give explicit permission to be less-than-perfect at this. A quote from physician Gabor Maté is a helpful guide: “Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.” This year, we should all make a practice of being empathetic witnesses to each other’s challenges and breakthroughs, big and small. And some day in the near future, perhaps our Princeton transcripts can include a different sort of message below our grades for this school year — one that remembers the resilience, resolve, and compassion that can’t be fully captured in those loud orange borders, but which will always mark the character of this generation of students.
“This year, we should all make a practice of being empathetic witnesses to each other’s challenges and breakthroughs, big and small.”
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need to shake off the weight of the world, log onto Zoom, and press on. But we are all surrounded by trains moving a hundred miles an hour, and most of the time, we can’t tune them out. So what are we supposed to do? Writer and professor Arthur C. Brooks notes that we often think about pandemic constraints in self-destructive ways: “[In] the case of the coronavirus lockdowns, the complaint about work I most often hear is that with the inability to work in a normal way, productivity is ruined,” he writes. “We can’t perform up to our own standards — whether because of competing child care demands, being isolated from coworkers, or just Zoom fatigue — and it is maddening. Many people feel like they are stuck in a cycle of frustrating mediocrity.” But he proposes a solution: “to change the definition of productivity.” It’s a radical proposal for a place like Princeton, where the pursuit of productivity permeates the fabric of our identities as scholars and aspiring leaders. We have
Remy Reya is a senior in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helen So / The Daily Princetonian
What COVID-19 has shown us about our political culture Brittani Telfair
Contributing Columnist October 8, 2020
here are numbers too big for people to comprehend: at some point, the human brain simply shrugs and says, “It’s a lot.” That’s why we have TikToks translating the net worth of billionaires into grains of rice, data visualization software, graphs and graphics and charts, all neatly packaged to try to clarify exactly how much “a lot” is. I thought about this while eating a Dove chocolate and idly wondering how many are produced per year.When I read the little message printed on the inside — “Everyone has a happy ending. If you’re not happy, it’s not the end” — my mind turned to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has denied over 200,000 Americans happy endings. In the United States, empathy has become a partisan value, when in fact it should be a human one. This is a national emergency, a national time of grief, and a national time of mobilization in and outside of government regardless of political leanings. Rent freezes, eviction bans, universal healthcare, regular stimulus checks, and more serious lockdown measures should be no-brainers because these are the policies that would help the people who are most at risk. Unfortunately, we have seen shaky measures at best because the question has become not, “What can the government do?” but rather, “Should the government do anything at all?” On a personal level, I have seen the effects empathy can have on my well-being as a student. One of my professors has taken care to emphasize that students’ wellbeing comes before any assignment. This made me feel supported. Another professor, however, suggested that students spend all the additional time gained from not having on-campus “distractions” to work on research projects. The latter neglected to take into effect the fatigue online learning causes and the dark reality of life off-screen — the massive, incomprehensible amount of death we have experienced. Many of those who passed away were alone in hospital beds, at home, or in the streets. Beloved partners, children, siblings, friends. People who took precautions
and people who did not. Disproportionately members of Black and Latinx communities. No visual can encompass the weight of their lives or the memories and the broken families they have left behind. Despite this incomprehensible death toll, the Trump administration has failed to show the slightest bit of remorse, or even acknowledge the deadly threat the pandemic poses. This indicates that the malaise within our political system goes far deeper than incompetence, far deeper than partisanship — it is founded upon a shocking lack of empathy, which should not be considered a “partisan trait,” but rather universally fundamental. It didn’t have to be this way. The United States leads the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths: other countries show us that the effects of the pandemic could have been mitigated. Instead of action, the federal government subjects us to more lies and leaves state governments to scramble (or to ignore the crisis as well). There have been lies to incite racist violence against Asian Americans, lies
200,000 200,000 200,000 200,000 200,000 ture two large football stadiums that seat 100,000 people each. I try to imagine my hometown, Richmond, Va., if 88 percent of the population was gone. The number is still going up daily. Now, President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and others in Trump’s circle have tested positive for COVID-19 following a nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett; this superspreader event has since been labeled the Rose Garden Massacre. Most attendees neither wore masks nor practiced social distancing. On Twitter, Trump’s supporters comment to wish him a speedy recovery. This highlights the decidedly partisan character of empathy, as neither the President nor his supporters took COVID-19 seriously before it could no longer be deemed a hoax or someone else’s problem. We cannot let the people lost to COVID-19 be forgotten nor pretend that this was inevitable. We have to memorialize, celebrate, and respect them by never letting a public health crisis of this magnitude occur again. And a crucial part of that is making empathy a basic value of our political culture. Profit and convenience should never take precedent over people, and people should never be so broadly accepted as mass-produced and disposable.
“When I read the little message printed on the inside — ‘Everyone has a happy ending. If you’re not happy, it’s not the end’ — my mind turned to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has denied over 200,000 Americans happy endings.” that a quick vaccine is a certitude, lies that the pandemic isn’t a serious problem, lies to cover up previous lies. Some suspect that this messaging is tailored to help President Trump’s chances at reelection in November, but the reality is that a president who has empathy would do nothing of the sort. Two hundred thousand: read this number once, and then read it again. Try to imagine it. Perhaps in groups of 100 people seated in an auditorium. You would have to imagine 2,000 auditoriums. Alternatively, you can pic-
Brittani Telfair is a junior from Richmond, Va., majoring in the School of Public and International Affairs. She can be reached at email@example.com. THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
Indigenous scholarship and representation in an institution ‘not designed’ for Native students Hannah Reynolds
Contributing Columnist October 4, 2020
ver the past few months, the University’s long history of systemic racism has become increasingly more visible. Between the changing of the name of the Woodrow Wilson School and Wilson residential college and the Department of Education investigation on racism, the University’s history of racism has made a lot of national headlines. Yet, for all of the University’s (lackluster) efforts to acknowledge its history of anti-Black racism over the past few months, there has been no discourse about the impacts of racism towards American Indian and Indigenous peoples, both on our campus and off. The lack of discourse around anti-Native racism at the University is paralleled by minimal representation and resources for people of Indigenous heritage. Princeton has the fewest resources for Indigenous students of any Ivy League institution, with fewer than 0.2 percent of students identifying as American Indian or Alaska Native, no affinity spaces, and very few Indigenous faculty and staff. Despite the University’s failure to provide resources for Indigenous students, an effort called Nuclear Princeton has created an academic space for Native students to not only form community, but to bring to light the ways in which the University’s nuclear research has harmed Indigenous communities. This project is just the start of a necessary effort to acknowledge the often overlooked racism implicit in academia. Overseen by anthropology professor Ryo Morimoto, Nuclear Princeton is a student-driven project seeking to acknowledge how the University’s research in nuclear science, engineering, and technology has affected Indigenous communities. Nuclear Princeton is supported by the Council on Science and Technology, Princ-
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Preliminary findings based on research conducted by Jessica Lambert ’22 (Choctaw Nation) and Keely Toledo ’22 (Navajo Nation) under the guidance of Professor Tiffany Cain. This was funded by a RISE (Recognizing Inequities and Standing for Equality) Summer Grant that was administered by the PACE Center for Civic Engagement.
eton Science and Global Security, and the Addressing Racism Fund from the Office of the Dean of the Faculty. I spoke with three of
my peers who identify as Native about their experiences with working on the Nuclear Princeton project: Jessica Lambert ’22 of the
Ashley Chung / The Daily Princetonian
Choctaw Nation, Keely Toledo ’22 of the Navajo Nation, and Brooke Kennedy ’23 of the Walpole Island First Nation. The three Anthropology concentrators are also involved with Natives at Princeton and the University’s Indigenous Advocacy Coalition. Through Nuclear Princeton, student researchers, including Toledo, Lambert, and Kennedy are reckoning with the history of
happening in your own community.” The fact that Nuclear Princeton’s work is so novel reinforces how elite institutions like the University often seek to distance themselves from the harm associated with their scientific research. By empowering Indigenous students to bring the University’s legacy of environmental racism to light, Nuclear Princeton has given students a space to negotiate their identities as both members of Native communities and the University community. It should not be novel to reflect on the University’s flawed past. By acknowledging the harms that have been done, University researchers can become more conscious of how research still can have adverse effects for marginalized groups today. “We are able to bring more awareness to Indigenous culture and lack thereof on Princeton’s campus,” Kennedy weighed in. “There have been issues with mining for uranium, which affects Indigenous communities, but no one ever hears about it… We are still underrepresented on campus. This is a great way to start introducing more Native cultural norms to Princeton’s campus while also working on scientific research.” When I asked these student researchers about the value of Nuclear Princeton for Indigenous representation and visibility on campus, they told me it was so much more than just a research project. There are very few Native students at the University, and collaborating on this project helped foster community among those involved. Though the University lacks official affinity spaces for Native students on campus, Nuclear Princeton can help to bring awareness of Indigenous cultures to campus. Too often, the important work of Indigenous students, as well as the harmful history of settler colonialism on Indigenous communities, go overlooked. Nuclear Princeton changes the narrative to include more Native voices in the University’s past and present. “So often, Princeton doesn’t have any support system for Native students. It’s easy to get lost,” Lambert added. “Ryo is super supportive and so nice. It really makes a difference to know that you have a professor cheering you on and wanting you to succeed.” The mentorship and guidance offered by
“The lack of discourse around anti-Native racism at the University is paralleled by minimal representation and resources for people of Indigenous heritage.”
settler colonialism and environmental racism propagated by research on projects such as the Manhattan Project. The students have been engaging in archival and oral history research with University researchers and Indigenous community members to create this project. Morimoto, a leader of the effort, explained that the students are also “working to expand the university curriculum by designing a course that explores the connection between Princeton, Native [peoples], and the environment through nuclear science, technology, and engineering.” “This is a very specific topic, how Princeton has engaged in nuclear research and how it has affected Indigenous communities. It’s weird that no one has really brought these together, to situate research in broader contexts” Lambert explained. “[We shouldn’t] isolate the effects of uranium mining and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; they’re explicitly interconnected… Indigenous voices are so erased, which is something we’re seeing.” “With Nuclear Princeton, Indigenous students are encouraged to reflect on this background and history,” Toledo added. “Princeton usually pushes us to go off and contribute elsewhere, outside our home communities. There are not many opportunities that are funded to go explore issues
Morimoto is a highlight for the student researchers at Nuclear Princeton. Even if the supportive infrastructure for Indigenous community within the University is lacking, programs like Nuclear Princeton allow voices that have been historically silenced in scholarship to be taken as legitimate and valuable. “Institutions were never designed for Native students. They were never meant to include us. Small programs like this are important. Ryo is aware of our trauma and is understanding,” Toledo explained. “I think it’s possible to have multiple projects like this one, for other minority groups… There’s a framing of Native students taken as legitimate scholars. Support us the best as you can as an institution of scholarship, support us as scholars and as people.” Nuclear Princeton’s work to empower young Indigenous scholars is a crucial step toward environmental justice. This form of reckoning with the University’s racist past is an essential step toward racial justice for Indigenous students at the University, who are too often overlooked. Instead of hiding behind a mask of denial, Nuclear Princeton acknowledges this past and gives voice to the people whose lives were impacted by the pur-
“Too often, the important work of Indigenous students, as well as the harmful history of settler colonialism on Indigenous communities, go overlooked.”
suit of scientific knowledge at the University. The University should not only be concerned with rigorous academia and scientific pursuits, but also with being a place of learning, inclusion, and being in the service of (all of) humanity — it’s in our motto after all. Hannah Reynolds is a junior in the Anthropology Department. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ OPINION $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ The mixed-up priorities $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ of college athletics $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Julia Chaﬀers Columnist
September 20, 2020
n and off the field, college athletes, especially Black players who make up the majority of athletes in the revenue-generating football and basketball programs, have long been exploited for profit. As their coaches and schools make millions, athletes are forbidden from profiting off their skill and marketability. This was the status quo before the pandemic. Since colleges put a pause on athletics in the spring, the coronavirus has ravaged the nation. Over 200,000 Americans have died, and the federal government has done basically nothing to slow the spread. Though the virus disproportionately infects and kills Black people, colleges are still resuming football. This fall, colleges are forcing athletes to take on an even bigger risk than usual: putting their health — their lives really — on the line so that sports can continue. It’s one thing to ask a professional athlete to opt into a bubble, where their health risk is smaller and they can make money to support themselves and their families. It’s unconscionable to ask the same of a college athlete, especially without providing adequate health protections or compensation. The health and wellbeing of students should be the number one priority of colleges and universities. But the actions of many schools this year have demonstrated that money is number one, and students’ health may as well not even be on the list. Take the University of Georgia. The state has lost over 6,000 people to the coronavirus. Nevertheless, the university is not only having football, but is allowing over 20,000 fans — 25 percent of the stadium’s capacity — to congregate and watch in person. They deemed the stadium safe for football players and spectators, but tried to argue earlier this week that there was no suitable facility for in-person voting on campus. After enormous pressure, the school quickly reversed its decision regarding in-person voting, saying it would open its basketball stadium as a polling
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location. This again revealed the inverted priorities of the school. There, football — and thereby money — comes first. Not health, and certainly not democracy. Those in favor of resuming sports argue that the coronavirus is less severe for young, healthy people. But they ignore the fact that death isn’t the only potential outcome of COVID-19. Already there have been instances of athletes experiencing heart complications from the disease. Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, for example, missed this season due to myocarditis, or heart inflammation, as a result of the coronavirus. Now the team is concerned about his ability to return next year, as Rodriguez hasn’t been able to work out consistently since he contracted the virus. So
“There, football — and thereby money — comes first. Not health, and certainly not democracy.” much remains unknown about the disease that no one can claim to definitively know its long-term effects. The Big Ten admitted as much when it reversed its earlier decision, and committed to resuming college football this fall. The conference announced that “the 14 Big Ten institutions will establish a cardiac registry in an effort to examine the effects on COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The registry and associated data will attempt to answer many of the unknowns regarding the cardiac manifestations in COVID-19 positive elite athletes.” In that statement, administrators admit that they don’t know how the virus will affect athletes. However, rather than taking that uncertainty as a sign to pause sports, they chose to make athletes the guinea pigs in this experiment. When LSU football coach Ed Orgeron says that “most” of the team has already contracted the
virus, we have to understand that not as a relief because those players are now eligible for games, as Orgeron seemed to imply, but as evidence that the season should not go on as normal. COVID-19 is not a minor hurdle to get over so you can play football; it is an unpredictable, potentially devastating virus that affects everyone differently. Though many teams are not consistently reporting case numbers, it is only logical to assume that LSU is not unique. Resuming sports amidst pandemic doesn’t just hurt the athletes. The harder schools work to make athletics viable, the more resources are taken away from other students. While athletes in the Big Ten will get daily antigen tests, non-athlete students at those same schools will not, even as many schools are already dealing with outbreaks of the virus. Moreover, many schools reopened for in-person teaching in order to play sports this fall, putting the entire campus community at risk. The actions of these schools mirror the misguided priorities of the country. Rather than focusing on reducing transmission and providing students, faculty, and staff with the resources they need to stay home, schools are attempting to return to normal, no matter the reality of the pandemic. Back in July, as Major League Baseball was approaching its return, Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle told reporters, “We haven’t done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back. Sports are like the reward of a functioning society. And we’re trying to just bring it back, even though we’ve taken none of the steps to flatten the curve.” Three months and tens of thousands of deaths later, as a country we still have not done the mitigation Doolittle referred to. We still don’t deserve a reward. The return of college football is not a positive sign of a country overcoming the pandemic; it is yet another example of a society unwilling to face the reality of the pandemic. And once again, young people and people of color will pay the price while the powerful profit. Julia Chaffers is a junior from Wellesley, Mass. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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CAPTION CONTEST WINNING CAPTION “Don’t worry kids, it’s not like it can feel anything.” Submitted by Taylor Branch
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ARTS & CULTURE
Reﬂections on Baldwin and Jamaica: ‘for sinners shall be bound in hell a thousand years’ By Kristal Grant, Contributing Columnist | October 13, 2020 Editor’s Note: This piece includes language and imagery that some readers may find distressing.
t took a long time for me to disengage myself from this excitement, and on the blindest, most visceral level, I never really have, and never will.” This statement, which James Baldwin makes in The Fire Next Time, orients the reader to his everlasting connection to religion, despite the fact that he had left his Pentecostal church 20 years prior to writing it. Though he skips past this point, offering no more thoughts beyond it, I have to admit that I share a similar sentiment. If anyone asks, I tell them how undecided I am, even if I am taking two heavily religious classes within the African American Studies department. Growing up in Jamaica, I was convinced I wanted to be a surgeon. Following Jamaica’s rejection, New York was kind enough to nurture me for the past two years. Since then, I’ve been in the pursuit of something that allows me to define for myself what I value, to decide on what grounds Kristal is to be able to contribute anything worthwhile to this absolute sh*t show of a world. Acknowledging how much I genuinely enjoyed my religion-based classes was one of the scariest facts I had to face at Princeton. Despite being raised as Catholic, I currently identify as an atheist. Admittedly, this is primarily because I never want to be stuck in the agonizing pain of an existential crisis, wondering how “pure” I am, given that my identity as a lesbian is both something I cannot and don’t want to control. Hence, it’s easier not to believe. And yet, even as we’re critiquing Christianity’s obsession with establishing itself as the gatekeeper of identity within my seminar, AAS 358: Sexuality and Religion in America, the readings always find a way to draw me back to Jamaica. In the same way the idea that “sinners shall be bound in
hell a thousand years” confronts Baldwin at the Nation of Islam with Elijah Muhammad, and Sethe is constantly drawn back to the plantation in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Jamaica always seems to call me home — despite the fact that I haven’t actually been home since I had to flee two years ago. I have since been existing within a general state of “self-imposed exile,“ as poet Staceyann Chin puts it. Despite the fact that Jamaica has never been willing to make way for my queerness in light of its Christian theology, despite the fact that Jamaica stood as witness while my mother threatened to kill me and brought me to conversion therapy to rid me of my queerness — it still calls to me. Jamaica has been the home of my mother, my mother’s mother, and my paternal grandmother. All of them have unknowingly suffered the consequences of a white patriarchy, and Jamaica stood there as witness. Jamaica is the home of the oldest school in the Anglo-Caribbean world, which, after discovering my queerness, established a new rule to ensure I could never return. And for these many reasons, I cannot reconcile Jamaica as being my home. At least not right now. All of this was in the name of the Lord, for “sinners shall be bound in hell a thousand years.” And you see, my reluctance over entertaining any possible interest in religion isn’t due to the fact that it triggers me, because it doesn’t. Rather, as Baldwin so eloquently put it, it’s as a result of me considering, “What will happen to all this beauty?” As I’ve reflected on the innocence of so many queer persons, such as Sarah Hegazi, who fled to Canada from Egypt’s brutality, only to take her own life some years later, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever be able to move past this. I wonder who I would have been if I never had to see my own mother hold a knife to me, if I never had to endure my father’s narcis-
sism and self-inflicted feelings of inferiority. Christianity has ruled the entirety of my life. Even as I enter Princeton as a first-year, hoping to make it mine, separate from anyone else’s ideas about who I should be, it’s difficult not to recognize how present my “past” Catholic identity is. Similar to Baldwin, I simply cannot escape the church. When I talked to a mentor of mine recently, I finally admitted to another person that there was a chance I would end up majoring in religion. I told him about how confusing it was to be so intrigued by a system that has done nothing but condemn me for 16 years. He tends to be very perceptive and rational, especially when I don’t think I need him to be. The difference, he says, is that this time around, I get to decide where I stand with it. I get to critique it and figure out how the hell it even came to have such an impactful hold on my life in the first place, in a way that upsets the previous power balance that has always existed between us.
“Since then, I’ve been in the pursuit of something that allows me to define for myself what I value.” Maybe I’ll take that advice, or maybe I’ll end up pursuing a different field — I have a couple of semesters to decide. I’ll end with one of my favorite lines from The Fire Next Time: “If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.” THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
How Disney’s ‘Mulan’ (2020) fell short of both Western and Eastern audiences’ expectations By Rachel Hsu, Staff Writer | October 20, 2020
isney’s live-action remakes have always been contentious. On one hand, the fans want the remake to stay true to the original and recapture the magic and nostalgia. On the other hand, because recapturing that magic and nostalgia is almost impossible, the audience expects new elements to be introduced, either to the characters or to the plot, in order to justify the remake’s existence. The ultimate goal of these remakes is to breathe new life into the story, but for the 2020 remake of “Mulan,” Disney took expectations one step further by promising a more culturally authentic and realistic version of Mulan’s story. The new film still follows Mulan as she takes her father’s place in the Chinese army, posing as a man, but the threat China faces is now the Rourans, led by Bori Khan and aided by an alienated witch possessing dark magic, rather than the 1998 movie’s use of the Huns. The biggest, immediately observable changes were the removal of all the musical numbers, the elimination of the character Mushu, and the splitting of Mulan’s love interest, Li Shang, into two different characters. All three decisions led to a massive outcry from fans. The writers and director argued that these choices were conducive to making a grittier historical drama and would fit the new tone better, but the heart of the problem has nothing to do with the overall tone. What the songs and characters of Mushu and Li Shang mainly added were
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character development and interactions, meaning and impact within the narrative by setting the mood of certain scenes, and comic relief that gave the movie room to breathe. Without these elements, there is an emotional void that the remake just doesn’t try to fill. One of the most iconic scenes from the original comes right after the matchmaker has proclaimed that Mulan has brought dishonor on her family, when Mulan sings “Reflection.” Through the song, the audience understands her internal conflict, which drives her character for the rest of the movie. In the live-action version, however, this scene is cut out completely, directly skipping to her father receiving the call to war. The audience doesn’t really see or feel Mulan’s internal conflict at all throughout the movie except for a couple of references to her inability to embody the “truth” of who she is. The original scene holds a lot of emotional weight for the character and has an impact on the film that the remake doesn’t even try to make up for. Similarly, there’s a scene in the original where Mulan and the other soldiers are singing “A Girl Worth Fighting For,” a lighthearted and funny song that fits their jaunty mood, as they are fresh from training and are still filled with excitement and hope, until they stumble upon a village that has been completely destroyed by the enemy. This jarring juxtaposition shifts the tone not only in the scene itself, but for the rest of the movie, as
the soldiers and the audience realize the true horrors of war. However, in the live-action remake, there is no song, so there is no juxtaposition, and the film doesn’t do anything to compensate for that. While this scene is a powerful moment and a turning point in the animated version, the scene feels much less impactful for the film and the audience in the live-action version. By getting rid of these moments of comic relief from the original, the character development suffers. In general, the remake’s characters are terribly unconvincing. The villains aren’t compelling since they’re barely given any lines of exposition — their backstories and individual motives are weak and underdeveloped, which doesn’t make for a rich and complicated story arc. Although Ling, Yao, and Chien-Po are still in the movie, they feel shoehorned in. Their characterizations and personalities are never explored, and they only appear in a few scenes to begin with, so there’s no sense of a real bond between these characters, and the audience isn’t invested in them. In a later scene, after getting kicked out of the army, Mulan goes to warn her battalion about Bori Khan’s movements, and her “friends” are the first to stick up for her and proclaim their trust in her. However, this scene feels empty — without the development of friendship between them through earlier, more playful moments, it is unconvincing that these soldiers
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A reimagining of the poster for the 2020 remake of “Mulan,” in which the reﬂection on Mulan’s sword is of a white woman instead of her soldier form.
“[B]y having an allwhite team behind the camera, the movie dug its own grave.”
would believe in her. It almost feels like these characters were included just to appease those who still wanted some kind of romantic interest for Mulan. All of these elements that were cut out were supposedly cut in order to preserve the authenticity of the story and culture through a more serious film, but by having an all-white team behind the camera, the movie dug its own grave. Despite promising to be more culturally authentic, Disney hired a white director, a white costume designer, four white screenwriters, a white composer, a white cinematographer, a white film editor, and a white casting director. Even the 1998 movie version had one female Asian writer. Instead of hiring Asians who actually grew up in Chinese culture, Disney had the writers and designers do research in an attempt to soak up the culture, which led to a Chinese story with many Western elements and a lot of misused Chinese concepts. In the 1998 film, Mulan finds clever ways to overcome the limits of her strength in order to become a great warrior. Her character in the live-action movie has been completely altered so that she is naturally gifted — the movie implies that because she was born with such strong chi, she basically has supernatural abilities. From a Chinese cultural perspective, there are several problems with this. Chi is life force or energy flow, and although there is the Taoist belief that you can gain supernatural abilities by using chi, this is achieved by cultivating one’s
chi; these abilities are not something you are naturally gifted with. The only way to cultivate your chi is through hard work, which is an essential aspect of Chinese culture — you can only attain success through hard work. Even though she does go through training, the movie still shows that Mulan is born special with particularly strong chi, which she makes great efforts to hide for the first half of the movie. As soon as she stops repressing her chi, she suddenly turns into a badass who can defy the laws of physics. It feels like the writers kept throwing around the word “chi” just to make the story seem more steeped in Chinese culture, but if anything, the original version of the story where she has to work hard to build up her skills is more in line with Chinese beliefs. The phoenix in the remake is the emissary of the Hua family’s ancestors and is supposed to replace the character of Mushu as a more culturally authentic figure. However, the way that the phoenix is used symbolically in the story is entirely Western. Near the beginning, her father talks about phoenixes rising from the ashes, and this is paid off at the end of the movie when Mulan emerges in the final confrontation to defeat Bori Khan, and the phoenix flies behind her in such a way that she appears to be the phoenix rising. This is fantastic imagery, but there is one huge problem — the concept of a phoenix being reborn from flames is purely from Western legends and has nothing to do with phoenixes in Chinese legends. It seems that
the writers included the phoenix with the Western concept of in mind, without regard for what the phoenix actually represents in Chinese culture. The phoenix itself feels shoehorned in, as it does basically nothing throughout the movie. In a way, it serves as a deus ex machina, because it always appears when Mulan needs to be pointed in the right direction, but that’s also all it does — lead her in the correct geographical direction. There are some metaphorical implications to that, but it doesn’t serve the plot in any other manner or develop Mulan’s character, either. The live-action remake of Mulan tries to incorporate many new elements with good intentions, but ultimately, the movie is poorly executed. It doesn’t work as a film that elicits nostalgia, it doesn’t work as a historical drama that explores Chinese culture, and it doesn’t even work well as a stand-alone film, separate from the original. The remake is disappointing in almost every way, somehow achieving less than the animated movie does despite its 20 extra minutes of runtime. With its mixed reviews and underwhelming reception in mainland China, this hopefully signals to Disney and other production companies that representation is just as important behind the scenes as it is on screen. You can still stream “Mulan” (2020) now by paying the steep price of $29.99 on Disney+. THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN
Harsimran Makkad / The Daily Princetonian
USG Movie Review:
BLACKKKLANSMAN (2018) By Tiana Ruden, Senior Writer | October 8, 2020
hen Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” debuted at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, it received a six-minute standing ovation; some critics called it Lee’s best film in years. Throughout his career as a director, Lee has used cinema as a medium to explore themes such as race relations and the African American experience. “BlacKkKlansman” updates these themes for modern mainstream audiences, representing a natural progression from his previous works. Thanks to Lee’s masterful directing, a bold screenplay, and an all-star cast, the film combines absurdity, dark humor, and horror into a nuanced commentary on social issues still relevant today. Set in the 1970s, “BlacKkKlansman” follows the narrative of Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington) — the first Black police officer in the all-white Colorado Springs Police Department — as he leads an undercover mission to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). A seemingly ridiculous premise? Absolutely. And yet the film is based on a true story: a memoir written by the real-life Stallworth himself. The film’s plot is set in motion when Stallworth responds to a newspaper advertisement for a local chapter of the KKK, posing as a zealous white supremacist over the telephone. After multiple phone calls with the chapter president, Walter Breachway (played by Ryan Eggold), he starts to gain Breachway’s trust. However, an obvious problem emerges after Stallworth is invited to attend in-person Klan meetings. As a result, Stallworth teams up with fellow officer Philip “Flip” Zimmerman (played by Adam Driver), dubbing the duo the “Stallworth Brothers.” Zimmerman pretends to be Stallworth at Klan gatherings, allowing the real Stallworth to continue fooling the Klan over the phone. While Zimmerman monitors suspicious Klan activities, Stallworth infiltrates their upper ranks by building a relationship with the Klan’s national director, David Duke (played by Topher Grace), otherwise known as the “Grand Wizard.” Duke spews extremist and openly racist rhetoric, constantly blessing “a White America,” advocating for “America first,” and praising “The Birth of a Nation,” the 1915 film that glorified the KKK and sympathized with the Southern Confederacy’s Lost Cause movement. As Stallworth and Zimmerman continue to gather classified information on the KKK, they become caught in an elaborate game of cat and mouse with the Klan. Stallworth’s comedic and ironic phone calls with Duke are starkly contrasted with the tense Klan meetings that Zimmerman attends while in disguise. These tonal shifts might seem jarring if executed by a less experienced team behind the camera; but here, they enhance the story by carefully reminding the audience of the suspense and fear shared by minority groups oppressed by a segregated society. A review of “BlacKkKlansman” would be incomplete without commending some of its stellar performances, namely by Washington and Driver. Washington, the son of cinematic titan Denzel Washington (who starred in Lee’s 1992 film, “Malcolm X”), gives a stunning breakout performance. Washington brings a new energy to the screen and oozes charisma, nailing the comedic and emotional beats. The film also gives Driver the opportunity to show his range as an actor. Driver seamlessly transitions from playing a well-meaning police officer to a raging white nationalist with unnerving realism. Together, Washington and Driver portray two unlikely characters with surprising similarities. Zimmerman, a Jewish man who has “passed” as a white Anglo-Saxon for the majority of his life, is forced to reevaluate his cultural identity after witnessing the KKK’s racist and
anti-Semitic dialogue first-hand. Likewise, Stallworth faces internal conflict related to his racial identity as a Black American. Sparked by his meeting with Patrice Dumas (played by Laura Harrier), a dedicated Black student activist, Stallworth is torn between his place within the Black community and his duty as a police officer who wants to create change within a segregated system. In a rather nuanced manner, the film leaves these questions open-ended, trusting the audience to draw conclusions for themselves. Today, viewers of “BlacKkKlansman” are able to watch the movie with the gift of hindsight. Nevertheless, the political atmosphere and
man” is very much a contemporary piece of cinema that shines a light on the racial issues that have divided American society for decades and continue to this day. The film’s conclusion juxtaposes menacing imagery of the KKK burning crosses in the 1970s with footage from the violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville from 2017, leaving the viewer with a heavy and haunting message. The segregation of the ’70s is not so far away as some would like to think. Ron Stallworth and David Duke are only 67 and 70 years old, respectively. In fact, Duke supports President Trump, who recently failed to condemn white supremacy on national television. The parallels between then and now speak for themselves. “BlacKkKlansman” is a powerful wake-up call that reveals a side of American history too often sanitized by textbooks and the media alike. This is a movie meant to be seen, with its lessons meant to be heard. As one of the most relevant films in recent years, “BlacKkKlansman” challenges its viewers to reconcile the complex legacy of our nation and confront fundamental truths about ourselves.
“‘BlacKkKlansman’ challenges its viewers to reconcile the complex legacy of our nation and confront fundamental truths about ourselves.”
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racial themes portrayed in the film feel eerily relevant in 2020, a year marked by the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and demands for police reform following the horrific murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and countless other Black Americans at the hands of corrupt police officers. One scene from the movie in particular feels straight out of a 2020 news headline. While driving home from a peaceful rally, Dumas and three other Black student protestors are wrongfully targeted and violently mistreated by white police officers. Thankfully, the students return safely with little harm. Tragically, many Black Americans who come into contact with police officers are not as fortunate as Dumas and her companions. Though classified as a historical comedy-drama, “BlacKkKlansWendy Ho / The Daily Princetonian
The USG Movies program, sponsored by Undergraduate Student Government, typically brings films to the Princeton Garden Theatre for free student viewing. The program has adapted to the virtual semester by unlocking a new movie and discussion topic each Thursday via a Canvas site and by hosting a discussion of the week’s movie each Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. All films can be streamed for free by University students.
Helen So / The Daily Princetonian
Chinatown Diptych: The Origins of a
By Jeﬀrey Liao, Guest Contributor | October 8, 2020
n New York’s Chinatown, where the fish outnumber people, I am a foreigner among my own blood. A thousand glassy eyes stare at me, white and hungry. Hunchbacked men gut the silver-scaled spread of hollowed-out salmon, hands calloused like the topography of the Himalayas, knuckles scabbed like borders wrenched apart. No one stops. No one notices. My mom and I walk to the hazy pulse of the city, swaying with this chorus of bodies. Th is is the portrait of my Saturday afternoons: wandering through crowded market stalls overflowing with Peking duck and roasted squid, the scent of soup dumplings permeating the air. I watch as my mom bargains with a toothless vendor for chicken feet, as Mandarin syllables clash like a discordant symphony, a music I no longer know how to sing. Growing up, writing was my haven. My friends teased me for carrying a marble notebook wherever I went, pages brimming with mediocre poems my 12-year-old mind thought Shakespearean. Words, I discovered, have the power to forge rivers, oceans, mountains. They immortalize the rise and fall of civilizations, etch our names Helen So / The Daily Princetonian
in rock and dust. Yet when I told my mom about my dreams of becoming a writer, she sighed. No Asian writers in America. You’re wrong, I insisted. I’m going to make it right here. Thus, Chinatown — packed with bodies existing in the negative space of America’s racial binary, slack-jawed native tongues reminding me of my otherness — became a space of resentment. I didn’t understand my mom’s attachment to these cluttered, charcoal streets, or why she referred to Chinatown as home. My parents’ English is jagged and messy. Their
te America to achieve my dream of becoming a writer — the inspiration I sought was right here. There is art in the way we speak, in the stories we share, in the legacies we carry. Our voices are beautiful ghosts, finding visibility in each other. Gradually, Chinatown transformed from the subject of my discomfort to the subject of my poetry. In conversations with Chinatown residents, conducting interviews and writing essays on the Asian diaspora, and reciting my poems at open mics, I am reclaiming my roots. I am weaving the lost strands of my heritage into something greater, creating a mosaic of our own history with
“There is art in the way we speak, in the stories we share, in the legacies we carry. Our voices are beautiful ghosts, finding visibility in each other.” tongues, knit with the acrid tang of ginseng and tsingtao, never knew how to cleanse themselves of their homeland. At the grocery store, when middle-aged white women snickered at my mom’s accent, she stopped speaking at all, knowing she could not mispronounce silence. Yet in the bustling streets of Chinatown, my mom is anything but silent. Among the aisles of lychees and mooncakes, steaming baozhi and burning tea leaves, my mom speaks the language of resilience, fluent in its cadences. In the seafood aisle, men with hardened hands fi llet the sleek bodies of dying fish, and in their almond-eyed stares I now find an unspoken understanding. All around me, people are discovering semblances of themselves. As I saw the way my mom’s eyes lit up when conversing in her native tongue, or the way our bodies blended seamlessly into the endless sea of people with monolids and yellow skin, I realized the plight of viewing my culture as an obstacle. I didn’t need to venture into whi-
this tapestry of stories. Now, as a first-year at Princeton, I will carry their words with me as I build a new chapter. While weekends with my mom in Chinatown will soon feel like a distant dream, a memory clean and gentle as wind, I will continue putting pen to paper, to forge my own legacy from the place that has raised me. I write for the war veteran who carries his own marble notebook, learning English at 67 to communicate with his granddaughter. I write for the transgender woman grappling with the intersection of her Asian and queer identities. I write for the children racing one another barefoot over dusty roads, the rhythm of their feet against earth its own soaring melody. How the city trembles in the wake of its young! The age of silence is over. We have sparked an anthem with our voices. All around me, the confluence of English and Mandarin translates to Young one, we built this dream for you — now carry it forward. Headline Graphic: Harsimran Makkad / The Daily Princetonian THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN 33
Madison Mellinger / The Daily Princetonian
Going home to ‘Trump’s America’ By Madison Mellinger, Guest Contributor | September 17, 2020
mericans call them hillbillies, rednecks, and white trash. I call them neighbors, friends, and family.” — J.D. Vance, “Hillbilly Elegy” I remember reading this line of Vance’s memoir for my history class this past spring and instantly feeling understood. Growing up about 20 minutes from the midway point of the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania, I can relate to Vance’s rich description of Appalachian culture and the struggles that plague the Rust Belt. As our class read this work, my professor emphasized that memoirs have limitations and are meant to show one person’s historical experience rather than stand for an entire culture or movement, but I was honestly too excited about my scrap of Appalachian representation at Princeton to notice the harmful stereotypes that Vance’s narrative embedded in my perception of my own hometown. We are not all products of homes broken by drug abuse as Vance is. We are not all children of Reagan-loving parents and grandparents as Vance is. We are not all white conservatives as Vance is. These people do exist, but they do not represent the whole of Appalachia. This summer I was fortunate to be supported by the John C. Bogle ’51 Fellowship in Civic Service to return home and assist Dr. Erika Kitzmiller with her research project, “Youth Inequality, Mobility, and Opportunity in Red and Blue America.” I took this valuable experience as an opportunity to explore the dissonance I felt while reading Vance’s memoir and reflect on my own experience growing up in Appalachia. When virtually conducting and coding (highlighting and commenting on a transcript) interviews with youth in the area, I reconnected with my core beliefs about my hometown. While I encountered narratives of white poverty that resembled that which was represented in “Hillbilly Elegy,” I listened to and learned from conversations with Black and immigrant youth as well. It seems so obvious to say Chambersburg and Appalachia in general are diverse given my own lived experiences, but after reading only elitist liberal views of the areas in both na-
tional media and at my university for the past year, I had nearly subscribed to a false narrative about my own hometown: one that promotes an idea that everyone is white and Republican. I was inspired by this revelation of sorts and motivated by the anger I felt regarding national issues and subsequent movements such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the amplification of Black Lives Matter, and the long journey to the 2020 presidential election. I decided to take action. In addition to conducting interviews, coding transcripts, and reading secondary source material for Dr. Kitzmiller, I was determined to visually explore and document my community so that others could see what I saw. With my newly purchased DSLR camera and as much information about beginner’s photography as I could find on the internet, I began photographing the area.
“Yellow Phase,” but the day before the event, Governor Wolf did just that. Unwilling to cancel their event despite their original demands being met, the group changed their mission to pressure Wolf to move the county further along in the reopening process into the “Green Phase.” Given my moral objection to such pressured reopening, I, along with many others in the community, feared the consequences of this event. I questioned how I could fulfill my role as someone who wanted to document Chambersburg at such a crucial time, but did not want to cause harm to the community. When I arrived at the event, I noticed its participants did not share my moral understanding of the situation and I felt uncomfortable entering a space full of almost solely unmasked white men. Equipped with my mask and maintaining well over six feet of social distance, I snapped one photo of the protest from the other side of the town square and left soon after. In the following week, I attempted to document an entirely different view of Chambersburg during the pandemic. During the original shutdown, local businesses in the community had collectively decided to decorate their windows with paper hearts to promote unity and hope in the unprecedented time. With my new camera finally up and running, I snapped photos of each of
“I had nearly subscribed to a false narrative about my own hometown: one that promotes an idea that everyone is white and Republican.”
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As fate would have it, my new camera arrived the morning of the first event I was planning to shoot. However, I was unable to retrieve it from the local post office in time to use it that day. Despite all of my preparation, I embarked on my photography journey using the same iPhone camera I have had access to for years. Still, I approached the task with a new motive and fresh eyes. The “Go Green” protest, as it was called by the local politicians who organized it, aimed to pressure Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to allow Franklin County to move into the “Green Phase” of reopening after the initial COVID-19 shutdown. The event was promoted through local Facebook networks as well as News Talk 103.7 FM, a Chambersburg/Hagerstown radio station with a strong conservative bias. Protestors originally planned to pressure Wolf to move Franklin County to the
Harsimran Makkad / The Daily Princetonian
the storefronts as I walked down Main Street. It was shocking to think that just a few days earlier other Chambersburgians stood in the exact same location and promoted such a polar opposite sentiment, and it was disappointing to know that narrative was the one amplified about my community. Two weeks after the “Go Green” event, I encountered another opportunity to document protests in the community. After the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, a small group of Chambersburg community members took to the town square in protest. I again questioned how I could both maintain my personal morals regarding community health and document such a pivotal pursuit of justice in my community. I felt more comfortable photographing this protest from the inside because its participants wore masks and maintained social distance, but I debated the most ethical way to document the event. I began by taking photos of only the signs people carried, cropping out any identifying features of participants. The sign-based campaign spoke volumes, as viewers were immediately forced to confront messages like “Latinos for Black Lives Matter” and “Silence Supports Violence.” In the context of a rural, presumed white and Republican community, these messages are radical, though, as history shows, not unprecedented. Multiple small Black Lives Matter demonstrations throughout the end of May culminated in a large Juneteenth Love Demonstration in mid-June, in which groups like Racial Reconciliation, Franklin County; Community Uniting!; Concerned Citizens of Franklin County; and the Franklin County Coalition for Progress played organizing roles. I attended this event as a volunteer, participant, and photographer. I again focused my photography on the signs people held, the chalk messages they wrote on the sidewalks, large group photos, and, with permission, portraits of various speakers and organizers. I continued to question my position as a photographer, asking who I should center, how I could protect the identities of protestors, and how I could best amplify the message presented. To my surprise and appreciation, The New York Times also documented the event, shedding national light on the importance of such movements in rural America and expressing some of the same sentiments about diversity and representation that I had been wrestling with all summer. I was ecstatic to see a national publication amplify my multiracial community in its pursuit of justice rather than misrepresent it as entirely
Madison Mellinger / The Daily Princetonian
conservative, as had happened countless times before. These conflicting protests and movements are just a small snippet of my summer in Appalachia. I also went on to capture photos of trailer parks, subsidized houses, and a country club community all within the borders of the same public school district. I documented a small town diner serving country fried steak just minutes away from Mexican corner stores and a Middle Eastern restaurant. I photographed our beautiful Appalachian Mountains, orchards, and farmlands as well as suburban-style shopping complexes that have recently sprouted up near Interstate 81. Throughout the entirety of this project I have only become more deeply rooted in the belief that Chambersburg, and Appalachia more broadly, cannot be defined by one person, culture, or opinion. Though national media and liberal elites typically only cover the “Go Green” side of civic engagement in my community,
and ignorantly and carelessly label my home as “Trumpland,” that simply does not give credit to the plethora of other narratives that exist here.
“I have only become more deeply rooted in the belief that... [Appalachia] cannot be defined by one person, culture, or opinion.”
By working alongside social justice activists and academics alike in Chambersburg this summer, I have begun to shed the blinders “Hillbilly Elegy” had implored me to wear when viewing my community. Vance’s narrative is one of many in Appalachia, but it has come to symbolize our entire culture in national conversations. Appalachia is a complex place, especially when it comes to the upcoming election. However, more Madison Mellinger / The Daily Princetonian representative and diverse conversations about Appalachia deBlack Lives Matter serve our national attention not just because they are politically important, but because they are valuable, rich, and worthy protests. of amplification. In future conversations about who I am and where I am from, I will emphasize that Appalachia is not a place that the rest of the United States can blame as a way to air their grievances with modern conservative politics. Rather, our grassroots activists have mobilized the area to become a true battleground of change in our country. We deserve resources and attention in our crucial fight for justice. Over the next three years at the University, I plan to raise awareness around what I have learned this summer in both my independent work and everyday conversations around campus. I also plan to amplify the voices of my peers who feel their story has no place in an elite space, and I encourage the University to work harder to include more narratives in conversations about Appalachia, the South, and rural America more broadly. Finally, I am open and excited to collaborate with others in the Princeton community on future efforts to promote a more diverse rural narrative at the University. THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN