The Daily Princetonian: September 2020

Page 1

PRINCETON from afar

LETTER From the Editor

vol. cxliv BOARD OF TRUSTEES president


Thomas E. Weber ’89

Douglas Widmann ’90

vice president


Craig Bloom ’88

second vice president

David Baumgarten ’06


Chanakya A. Sethi ’07

Alexia Quadrani Marcelo Rochabrun ’15 Kavita Saini ’09 Abigail Williams ’14

Francesca Barber Kathleen Crown trustees ex officio Gabriel Debenedetti ’12 Jonathan Ort ’21 Stephen Fuzesi ’00 Louis Aaron ’23 Zachary A. Goldfarb ’05 Michael Grabell ’03 John G. Horan ’74 Rick Klein ’98 James T. MacGregor ’66

144TH MANAGING BOARD editor-in-chief Jonathan Ort ’21

managing editors

What makes college meaningful? Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian


In the absence of peripheral community, how do we make Princeton meaningful? This issue, I hope, both poses that question and provides an answer.

n “ e subtle in-between: a meditation on peripheral community at Princeton,â€? a column you’ll ďŹ nd printed in this issue, Remy Reya ’21 argues that the online semester imperils the “sense of a living communityâ€? we naturally ďŹ nd on campus, where we make acquaintances by chance. “[F]aced with a fully virtual campus experience,â€? Reya writes, “we will likely ďŹ nd ourselves clinging to well-established friendships but failing to connect with the full range of people who make our lives at Princeton meaningful.â€? In the absence of peripheral community, how do we make Princeton meaningful? is issue, I hope, both poses that question and provides an answer. Princeton from afar: that theme runs through the stories featured here. In the pages ahead, you’ll read about the fewer than 300 of our peers who have returned to campus, student arts groups that have canceled auditions and suspended shows, and businesses in Princeton struggling without customers. With so much of our undergraduate experience circumscribed, called o, and curtailed, we’ve been forced to question what college even means. In August, e U Experience, a company founded by Princeton alumni, promised to replicate college by purchasing “bubbleâ€? hotels, where students could “live out the college experience with total peace of mindâ€? in Hawai‘i and Arkansas. As you’ll read here, appalled Hawai‘i residents compelled the company to relocate. You’ll also read about the $80,000 the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) will spend

on virtual Lawnparties, in the hope of making the event “as interactive as possible.â€? USG’s decision, however, drew outrage, as students pointed to the University’s privileges and responsibilities. College continues, strictly speaking, but without the shared experiences, opportunities, and spaces that made it meaningful. Yet, the stories compiled here also recount how our peers have stood by their convictions and helped one another. You’ll learn how student poets see the opportunities and obligations of their craš, ašer a Princeton professor published a poem with oensive and violent language. You’ll hear from the founders of Source of Knowledge, one of New Jersey’s two Black-owned bookstores, and from the students and alumni supporting them. In Opinion, you’ll read how the media must confront racism in the newsroom and empower Black journalists and journalists of color. You’ll hear from eight students who urge Nassau Hall to prohibit the use of racial slurs. And you’ll discover why we can’t forget about our peripheral communities, especially now. ese eorts are anything but solitary. If we are to buoy and sustain the people around us, we have to listen to them and heed what they say. We have to take interest in their lives, their struggles and successes. ough we may be conďŹ ned to our childhood bedrooms, caring about others can still give meaning to college. It always has. Jonathan Ort is Editor-in-Chief of e Daily Princetonian. He can be reached at eic@dailyprincetonian. com and on Twitter at @ort_jon.

Benjamin Ball ’21 Elizabeth Parker ’21 Ivy Truong ’21 Cy Watsky ’21

Sections listed in alphabetical order.

head cartoon editors

head news editor

Sydney Peng ’22 Daniel To ’21

Zachary Shevin ’22

associate cartoon editors

associate news editors Albert Jiang ’21 Naomi Hess ’22 Marissa Michaels’22 Linh Nguyen ’21

Wendy Ho ’21 Adam Wickham ’22

chief copy editors Lydia Choi ’21 Anna McGee ’22

head opinion editors

associate chief copy editors Celia Buchband ’22 Sydney Peng ’22

head design editor Harsimran Makkad ’22

Rachel Kennedy ’21 Madeleine Marr ’21

associate opinion editors Shannon Chaffers ’22 Emma Treadway ’22

head prospect editors Paige Allen ’21 Cammie Lee ’22 Auhjanae McGee ’23

associate design editors Abby Nishiwaki ’23 Anika Maskara ’23

head editor, digital transition

associate prospect editors

Kenny Peng ’22

Jack Allen ‘21 Lillian Chen ‘21 Jose Pablo Fernandez Garcia ‘23

Alex Gjaja ’23 Rachel Sturley ’23

associate sports editors

head features editors head multimedia editor Mark Dodici ’22

head sports editor Alissa Selover ’21

Emily Philippides ’22

associate video editor Mindy Burton ’23

144TH BUSINESS BOARD business manager Louis Aaron ’23

director, digital products chief technology officer Andy He ’23

Anthony Hein ’22

business associates

lead software engineers, system architects

Benjamin Cai ’24 Nelson Rogers ’24 Trisha Boonpongmanee ’24

Areeq Hasan ’24 Darius Jankauskas ’24

This issue was designed by Harsimran Makkad ’22.

Part I




Fewer than 300 undergraduates return to campus for ROTC training, thesis research, secure housing

Students said that they enjoyed the beauty and freedom of a quiet campus

By Anne Wen, Staff Writer | September 3, 2020


ewer than 300 undergraduates have moved into campus dorms, beginning a semester of virtual coursework, dining hall dinners, and occasional walks to Powers Field for COVID-19 testing. While a majority of undergraduates were not permitted to return to campus, the University approved some exceptions. Around 200 students were granted emergency residence due to housing precarity, according to an email sent to all undergraduates on Aug. 21 by Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun. Another 16 are Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) participants. And out of the roughly 60 seniors who were approved for thesis research, 37 have chosen to live on campus. Calhoun’s email explained that all on-campus students were required to complete online training, a COVID-19 risk assessment, and sign a social contract. During their first two weeks on campus, undergraduates living on campus and graduate students working on campus for at least eight hours per week are required to be tested twice a week. The University administered 4,477 tests in its first week of asymptomatic testing, with four University employees and zero students testing positive. Hilcia Acevedo ’23, a student living on campus, explained that the testing process was simple. “As daunting as it felt, the process was doable,” she said. “I show up to the football stadium, stand in line, scan my testing kit, and spit into a tube.” Though the campus feels different due to the COVID-19 pandemic and decreased density, the students who spoke with The Daily Princetonian expressed that they were glad to return. “It was weird and depressing on the first day, realizing everything that it’s not,” said Jacob Rob ’21. “But honestly, I’m happy to be back.” Rob plans to serve active duty in the U.S. army after graduation. He explained that even if an ROTC participant completes a virtual walkthrough, the physical nature and mental stress of in-person ROTC are irreplaceable. “Online, you can’t maximize the ROTC labs,” he said. All ROTC Army students were granted permission to live on campus, while the Air Force and Naval ROTC programs



are being conducted entirely online. Other students wanted to live on campus to focus on research. “I chose not to live in my family’s house because it’s easier to get to the lab and have quiet space to work,” said Peter Colvin ’21, a student in the chemical and biological engineering (CBE) department. For his senior thesis, Colvin plans to genetically engineer yeast, which is not possible at home. Another CBE concentrator, Angela Yang ’21, also returned to the University to work in a laboratory. She works morning shifts, unlike the rest of her peers, who work in the evenings. “Since I’m the only senior in my lab, I don’t have to worry about fighting for space with other seniors,” Yang said. After living in her home state of Ohio, Yang said she felt bored and wanted to live independently. The University’s architecture and quiet environment comfort her. “On campus, I can go on Nassau Street or sit outside — it’s very pretty — so I like the environment better than being at home,” Yang said. Despite the peaceful scenery, some students struggle to find good study areas on campus. “We essentially have no private workspace to be in besides our room,” Acevedo said. Denise Applewhite / Princeton University Office of Communications

Students and employees approved to be on campus undergo required COVID-19 testing.

Before students moved in for the fall semester, the University locked the classrooms in Frist Campus Center, and Wilcox Hall — the only open dining hall — operates under strict hours. Students in quarantine face even fewer options. Their delivered meals might consist of few options, such as a muffin or an apple. “Depending on how hungry they are or how much they’re used to eating, they have more of a struggle than we do,” Colvin said. Students under quarantine are not allowed to leave their rooms except to use the restroom or take a short, 30-minute walk, according to an email sent to on-campus students by Associate Director of Student Housing Angie Rooney. A “fact sheet” from University Health Services lists a number of activities for quarantining students to keep themselves busy — from reading and video chatting to “bodyweight only” exercise. Despite strict quarantine rules and the lack of students on campus, David Liu ’22 said the campus feels like a usual college environment. He sees skateboard enthusiasts and townspeople roaming the campus. “Princeton should be a ghost town or feel like it, but there is a surprising amount of presence,” Liu said.


USG to spend $80K on virtual fall Lawnparties

The headliner will be announced in October By Marissa Michaels, Associate News Editor | September 7, 2020


he University’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG) allocated $80,000 — 42 percent of USG’s fall budget — to the first-ever virtual Lawnparties. The online event, which was originally scheduled for Sept. 7, will be held on Oct. 30 and feature a headliner, student openers, Lawnparties outfit contests, and giveaways. According to USG Social Chair Sophie Torres ’21, the headliner will be announced one to two weeks before Lawnparties. In past semesters, USG has released a list of possible artists and encouraged students to guess the headliner — a practice that may continue this year. In a message to students on Monday, the USG Social Committee wrote that they will be “hosting one of the biggest acts Princeton has had in a long time.” In the hopes of making this virtual Lawnparties sufficiently interactive and engaging, USG has hired a live streaming consultancy and production company, PUSH, which helped produce a number of events for the virtual 2020 Democratic National

The USG spring 2020 budget for Lawnparties was $100,000. During a typical in-person semester, the Lawnparties budget usually includes additional funding from the Alcohol Initiative and fundraising efforts. This year’s USG budget comes from central University funds dedicated to student programming because student fees — which normally fund USG student programming — are not being charged this year. In the spring, USG announced that it had received almost a full refund for the spring Lawnparties expen- Sophie Torres ’21, USG Social Chair ses under the condition that the headliner be retained for fall Lawnparties. However, Torres reported that USG was released from that contract and the fall headliner will not be the same as ... have a ‘show us your Lawnparties outfit contest’ and ... try to the one scheduled in the spring. see if we can get the artists to possibly interact with students.” The $80,000 will go towards the artist, their agent, the proEditor’s Note: This article initially indicated that USG had “promiduction company, and the various giveaways. sed that Lawnparties would be open to the class of 2020 if it was held Torres noted that USG typically spends much more on in person.” USG had previously discussed the idea, but made no such Lawnparties, and that the revised budget excludes past expenpromise. The ‘Prince’ regrets the error. ses such as food and stages. Convention. “We’re going to try to make it as interactive as possible so that it doesn’t feel like you’re just staring at a screen, watching the artist perform,” Torres said. “We’re going to do various giveaways

“We’re going to try to make it as interactive as possible.”

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AI expert Adji Bousso Dieng to become first Black female faculty member at SEAS By Albert Jiang, Associate News Editor | September 10, 2020


ome next September, Adji Bousso Dieng — an expert in artificial intelligence and machine learning — will join the faculty of the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) as a tenure-track assistant professor, becoming the first Black female faculty member in the history of SEAS and the first Black faculty member ever in the Department of Computer Science (COS). Dieng’s historic appointment comes as SEAS prepares to mark its centennial anniversary. Dieng said that since she announced the news on Twitter, a wide range of students and community members have expressed how much her achievements mean to them. “I received many messages from Princeton engineering students telling me how excited they are about my joining the institution. Some are even considering switching to computer science,” she said. “That’s the power of representation.” Zyanne Clay-Hubbard ’21, a senior COS concentrator, characterized Dieng’s appointment as a “huge milestone,” albeit one that is “wildly overdue.” “It’s frustrating to think I might not have the chance to take a course with her before I graduate, but I am extremely excited to think of the impact she might have on Black female undergrads in this department and across SEAS in the future,” Clay-Hubbard wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “Just her presence means the world.” Dieng, who received a Ph.D. in statistics from Columbia University, is a foremost expert in the generative modeling branch of machine learning. The approach allows researchers to create models and simulations from unlabeled pieces of data, with broad applications in marketing, political science, digital humanities, recommendation systems, and public health. “The core idea behind generative modeling is that you can learn everything there is to learn about the data if you learn to simulate data that looks like the data you observe,” she said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian. “So you have to come up with a good story for how the data you observe were to come about. My work is about making the process describing the story for the data both flexible and interpretable.” Born and raised in Kaolack, a region in western Senegal, Dieng won a competition in high school hosted by the Pathfinder Foundation for Education and Development and the Central Bank for West African States. That secured her a €60.000 scholarship to study abroad at Télécom ParisTech in Palaiseau, France. After four years there — which included an opportunity to study at Cornell University — Dieng graduated with a dual degree: a Diplôme d’Ingénieur from Telecom ParisTech and a master’s degree in statistics from Cornell.



From there Dieng joined the World Bank for a year, with the hope she could “positively impact Africa.” She currently works as a researcher at Google, contributing to an undisclosed project in generative modeling. For Dieng, becoming an educator was particularly significant, as her father did not attend school and her mother did not complete high school. Jennifer Rexford ’91, chair of the computer science department, said that she looks forward to welcoming Dieng — a “fantastic scholar and colleague” — to the department. “She is highly collaborative, so I see her as someone poised to have a broad impact around campus and be a role model to others,” Rexford said. “Also, she is a passionate advocate for diversity, including her work with Women in Machine Learning, Black in AI, the Indaba Deep Learning summer school in Africa, and Latinx outreach.” Rexford emphasized that the field of computer science must represent the society it serves. “As computer scientists, we have a responsibility to ensure the technology we design is worthy of the trust society increasingly places in it,” she said, adding, “as educators, we have a responsibility to teach our students how to take on this responsibility in their own work.” Rexford explained that long-standing hiring and recruitment practices have contributed to the historical and contemporary underrepresentation of minorities in computer science, especially in artificial intelligence. Many academic departments — at the University and elsewhere — hire at most one to two new tenure-track faculty members each year. “In some years, a department may need to hire in a particular topic area because of a recent departure or retirement, because of the need to have good ‘coverage’ of the field for both research and teaching,” she said. Candidates who receive an offer, however, may ultimately accept a position at another school. Those who do accept an offer may wait before starting their position at the University. It is for this reason, Rexford said, that faculty demographics change slowly. “A big part of the challenge is how much great talent we lose across all stages of the “pipeline” from K-12 through graduate school, due to the inequality and systemic racism in our society,” she added. “That said, the scale and scope of the challenge cannot make us complacent.” In a May interview with the ‘Prince,’ SEAS Dean Andrea Goldsmith, who entered the role earlier this month, said that diversifying the field requires “recognizing that implicit bias plays a big role in

“[What] needs to be done is to rethink and redesign our institutions in such a way that people from all walks of life can flourish and achieve their fullest potential.”

- Adji Bousso Dieng

Courtesy of Adji Bousso Dieng

Adji Bousso Dieng, the University’s first Black female faculty member at SEAS.

Science, the department retains 58 faculty members, including discouraging underrepresented groups from pursuing the pro45 tenure-track faculty and 13 lecturers. Of those, 13 are women fession in the first place, and then from staying in it long-term.” — nine tenure-track faculty and four lecturers — none of whom According to Dieng, the negative feedback loop that results are URM professors. from underrepresentation presents as pressing a challenge as do Effective fall 2021, 14 women and two URM faculty members low retention rates. (Dieng and Andrés Monroy-Hernández, both assistant profes“It’s sad that people associate diversity with lowering stansors) will hold positions in the department. Monroy-Hernández dards when it’s the opposite,” she said. “There are a lot of talented is currently a principal researcher at Snap Inc. and an affiliate fapeople from underrepresented groups out there who are only culty at the University of Washington. waiting to be given a chance.” Benjamin Ball / The As campus activists have demanded a more diverse faculty, “Oftentimes people from these groups don’t even apply to Princetonian the UniversityDaily recently outlined a list of “initial priorities” to comthings because they don’t see people that look like them in these Chris racism Eisgruber ’83, including an institution-wide bat systemic on campus, elite places and they will think it’s because they don’t have the exMaria De La Cruz goal to “increase by 50Perales percent the number of tenured or tenurepertise to be hired,” she added. -track faculty members underrepresented groups over the Though her experience in the COS department has been “geSanchez ’18, andfrom Brad next’81 fivespeak years.” to reporters nerally positive,” Clay-Hubbard said that the underrepresenta- Smith In an email sent out to the computer science community tion of women — particularly Black women — has always been outside of the U.S. Supreme last week, Rexford reaffirmed the department’s commitment to strikingly apparent. on Nov. 12, 2019. playing a “stronger role in That combating racism.” Often the only Black woman in a departmental course, Clay- Court day,Rexford the Court considered outlined a number of initiatives the department -Hubbard said she feels disconnected from her concentration. to undertake, including “I love computer science, I enjoy the work I do for class, and aplans number of DACA cases,creating independent work seminarsincluding in supportthe of diversity, developing a Broadening ParticipaI’m excited for the career that I’m starting,” she said. “But when I U.’s 2017 tion in Computingcomplaint. (BPC) plan, supporting student-led projects, think of the ways I might identify myself as a Princeton student, establishing a Visiting Scholars Program, incorporating inclusion my department is always last on the list.” and diversity materials to departmental-level orientation sesAs of this fall, 40 percent of COS majors at the University sions, and hosting periodic town halls — as well as maintaining are women, making computer science the second most popular existing diversity initiatives. major for women on campus, according to data provided to the According to a 2019 report released by the American Socie‘Prince’ by the Department of Computer Science. ty of Engineering Education, in SEAS as a whole, 36 percent of Underrepresented minority (URM) students — including engineering bachelor’s degrees and 43.5 percent of engineering Black, Hispanic, and Native American students — comprise bemaster’s degrees were awarded to women, ranking the Univertween 12 and 14 percent of undergraduate COS majors, in comsity 15th and 16th in the nation, respectively. Furthermore, 17.4 parison to around 21 percent of the undergraduate population as percent of master’s degrees were awarded to underrepresented a whole. minorities. Per the statistics provided by the Department of Computer

“But I do think it’s important to note that one professor certainly isn’t enough. I hope Princeton knows that, and that this is just the beginning of a long, multi-faceted process to make SEAS and all STEM departments more diverse and inclusive,” Clay-Hubbard noted. Dieng — who revealed that she has never been taught by a Black lecturer since leaving Senegal — said that sometimes she forgets she is the “only one of [her] kind in the classroom.” “But sometimes it just hits you that you are the only Black person in the room, and that’s when things become challenging emotionally,” she said. The challenges she’s overcome have not been lost on engineering students at the University. “I hope that Dr. Dieng knows just how much she’s appreciated,” Clay-Hubbard said. “Being the ‘first Black woman’ to do anything is a huge accomplishment, but it can also be a burdensome responsibility, and I hope she knows that I, for one, am highly grateful for her choice to take the leap in spite of that.” In the wake of a national reckoning with systemic racism, Dieng said she remains optimistic about what the future holds. “Within the academic community, I have seen people waking up to racism, asking for book recommendations, forming study groups around race and racism,” she said. “Academic institutions have implemented some changes.” Even so, Dieng maintained that those changes — such as the University removing the name of Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879, from the School of Public and International Affairs and the American Statistical Association renaming one of its most prestigious awards and lectureships — are “tiny steps.” “[What] needs to be done is to rethink and redesign our institutions in such a way that people from all walks of life can flourish and achieve their fullest potential,” she said. “That’s the hard work.” THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN


Courtesy of Felicity Audet

Naacho members performing last spring. The group will not be holding auditions this semester.


Most dance and a cappella groups won’t hold fall auditions By Evelyn Doskoch, Assistant News Editor | September 17, 2020


his fall, many of Princeton’s a cappella, dance, and other campus performing arts groups will not have auditions or accept new members. While September is typically a peak recruitment window for these groups, featuring performances, open houses, auditions, and callbacks, the virtual 2020–21 academic year made this typical process impossible. All 15 dance groups under the Performing Arts Council (PAC), as well as the eight a cappella groups of “acaprez,” have decided to cancel fall auditions. A few ensembles will continue to take new members, including the religious a cappella groups Koleinu and Kindred Spirit (KS), the non-audition group Acapellago, slam poetry groups Ellipses and Songline Slam, and theater organizations like the Princeton University Players, Princeton Triangle Club, and Theater Intime. Still, groups of all genres agree that rehearsal, performance, and community-building will look fundamentally different until they can meet in-person again.

Performing Arts Council and dance groups PAC president Sophie Blue ’21 told The Daily Princetonian that representatives from each group had genre-specific meetings in late July. “We decided as a PAC board that, given how much uncer8


tainty there is right now, and all the moving parts, it was best for each genre to come together as a group and have a conversation, and decide what they wanted to do as a collective unit,” she said. A majority of the dance groups voted to not hold auditions due to the inequities that online auditions would create: disparities in home environments, video quality, and so on. “It just reveals a lot about their lives in a way that an audition isn’t necessarily supposed to,” Blue said. “It’s supposed to be an equalizer: everyone comes to the same space, learns the same combo. But there’s a lot more factors when we’re in this virtual world.” Dance groups in PAC include Black Arts Company (BAC), Ballet Folklorico, BodyHype Dance Company, diSiac Dance Company, Dorobucci, eXpressions Dance Company, Highsteppers, Más Flow, Naacho, Princeton Bhangra, Princeton TapCats, Princeton University Ballet, Raqs Belly Dance Company, Sympoh, and Triple 8. Pooja Parmar ’22, Naacho’s Artistic Director, also cited equality as a major concern. “We wanted everyone to have an equal chance to audition,” she said. “But dance groups can still hold workshops, open houses, and similar events like that in order to provide students, and especially freshmen, with a dance community.” BodyHype Dance Company president Molly Gibbons ’22

told the ‘Prince’ that her company will be partnering on a workshop series with Culture Shock LA, “a professional hip hop company that focuses on the history of hip hop as a black cultural art form.” “That kind of project felt particularly relevant given the political moment we are in,“ Gibbons said.

Acaprez Similarly, most of the University’s a cappella groups have chosen to put auditions on hold. The eight members of “acaprez” — the Footnotes, Katzenjammers, Nassoons, Tigerlilies, Tigertones, Tigressions, Wildcats, and Roaring 20 — decided as a whole not to bring on new members until the spring semester. Non-acaprez groups Shere Khan and Old NasSoul are doing the same. Nassoons president Sean Crites ’22 told the ‘Prince’ that everyone had similar concerns about equity in a virtual auditions process. “The audition process is very talent-based, so it can already be seen as elitist and exclusive,” he said. “The last we want is to perpetuate that elitism through technological disparity.” He also pointed out that the rules and traditions around acaprez underscore the importance of a uniform decision. Upon joining one group in acaprez, you can’t switch to another — so if each ensemble adopted a different strategy, auditionees would go into the process with a limited selection and might not find the right group for them. “We wanted to make sure that people have the best experience they possibly can,” Crites said. “We didn’t want to turn them away from a cappella in general by having a bad one.” Still, without auditions, he acknowledged, a cappella groups will dip in membership: “Every group is afraid of dying out.” Right now, the Nassoons have 11 members, with two on gap years, and according to Crites, other groups have even lower numbers. “We will need to take more people [in future semesters],” he said. “That’s not to necessarily say that the bar or the caliber that we’re expecting changes, but it just means that we all really really want people to audition whenever it’s possible again.”

Groups that will audition

A cappella groups Koleinu and Kindred Spirit, on the other hand, are still holding auditions. Kindred Spirit music director Charlotte Tausche ’21 wrote to the ‘Prince’ that the group opted to hold auditions with the hope of creating a space for students to feel connected to campus and meet other students, even in a virtual environment. “Of course the experience of being in rehearsal or performing live was going to be missing,” Tausche wrote, “but we’re a worship group in addition to a singing group, and faith follows you wherever you go.” ODUS Arts Program Coordinator Jessica Bailey told the ‘Prince’ that the religious affiliations of both groups “definitely played a part” in their de-

cision to take new members. Still, other concerns were involved in the decision. Koleinu, a Jewish-affiliated group, lost almost half its members when the Class of 2020 graduated. “It was important to me to have people join the group, know what our culture is, know our repertoire, so that when the time comes we have people who are very well versed in the group to carry on that legacy,” President Jamie Rosen ’22 said. According to Rosen, first-round auditions took place asynchronously, with auditionees submitting videos to be evaluated by the group. Callbacks, she explained, will be live over Zoom, where the group will do its best to evaluate singers virtually. For Kindred Spirit, once the group is finalized, members will meet at least twice as week. Tausche wrote that the ensemble will hold one “sectional rehearsal” on Zoom each week to practice individual voice parts, and “one social meeting with devotionals and games.” She also noted that audition turnout was lower than usual this year, so Kindred Spirit will be “heavily recruiting” in the next two semesters.

“Developing stronger personal connections one-on-one … might let the freshmen make a more holistic decision in their process of joining a group.”

- Sophie Blue ’21, PAC president

Other forms of engagement

For groups that cannot accept new members or perform, efforts are underway to plan alternative forms of engagement with the University community. Wildcats president Claudia Humphrey ’22 wrote to the ‘Prince’ that without the ability to perform and rehearse in person, the Wildcats have “adapted to a majority social group with movie nights and social hours and such.” “We plan to extend invitations to the community because we also do not take lightly our role as fosterers of Princeton community,” she added. “I think one thing that is consistent across the groups is that folks are using this moment as an opportunity to engage with the Class of 2024 in a way that is much more open and available for everyone to have a chance to participate, as opposed to more members-only, exclusive events,” Arts Program Coordinator Jessica Bailey wrote. PAC is planning to support its groups and promote community engagement through a variety of virtual workshops and social events. According to Bailey and Blue, PAC will release a “collective calendar” that will provide offerings to the entire campus community, as well as a listserv for first-years interested in PAC groups. Ensembles will hold a monthly workshop series and are hoping to do inter-group collaborative projects as well as support a “performance opportunity” for the Class of 2024. “One of the good things that could come out of this time is giving freshmen the opportunity to digest and more personally get to know people in each company,” Blue said. “Developing stronger personal connections one-on-one … might let the freshmen make a more holistic decision in their process of joining a group.” THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN



Department of Education to investigate U. following Eisgruber’s letter on racism

By Bharvi Chavre, Staff Writer | September 17, 2020


n an open letter outlining the University’s efforts to combat racism early this month, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 wrote, “Racism and the damage it does to people of color nevertheless persist at Princeton” and racist assumptions “remain embedded in structures of the University itself.” The U.S. Department of Education (DOE), which considers those statements to have “admitted racism,” has launched an investigation into whether the University has discriminated on the basis of race since Eisgruber took office in 2013. In a message to Eisgruber on Wednesday, Assistant Secretary in the Office of Postsecondary Education Robert King wrote that the University president “admitted Princeton’s educational program is and for decades has been racist” in his early-September message — prompting concerns that the University has been violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act for decades. The University has received over $75 million in federal funds since 2013. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos may take “action to recover funds” or “consider measures against Princeton,” but will bear in mind the challenges of COVID-19. In a statement to The Daily Princetonian, University Spokesperson Ben Chang wrote that the University “stands by its representations to the Department and the public that it complies with all laws and regulations governing equal opportunity, non-discrimination and harassment.” The University also stands by its previous 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,” Chang wrote. “The University disagrees and looks forward to furthering our educational mission by explaining why our statements and actions are consistent not only with the law, but also with the highest ideals and aspirations of

The Department will also interview Eisgruber and a “designated corporate representative” under oath, in addition to requesting he respond to several written questions. Specifically, Eisgruber has been asked to provide statistics on how many individuals were subject to discrimination since 2015 and whether this number is “evidence of systemic or embedded racism.” The University has also been instructed to provide the number of “public nondiscrimination and equal opportunity representations” they have made since 2015, “measured by website page visits.” The DOE has given the University until Oct. 7 to produce written responses and records and until Oct. 14 to make Eisgruber and another representative available for an under-oath interview. In his Sept. 2 letter, Eisgruber announced new goals to diversify University faculty, hoping to “increase by 50 percent the number of tenured or tenure-track faculty members from underrepresented groups over the five years” and “un- Ben Chang, University Spokesperson next dertake enhanced efforts to expand diversity of the faculty pipeline.” According to data from 2019, too intimidated to talk about systemic racism 8 percent of tenure and tenure-track faculty and the Trump administration can keep pretenmembers are Black or Hispanic compared to ding that racism doesn’t exist.” 18 percent of undergraduates and 32 percent A number of prominent conservative pundiof the U.S. population. His letter also mentiots have tweeted in support of the investigation. ned exploring a new credit or degree-granting Talk show host Ben Shapiro deemed the DOE’s program to extend Princeton’s teaching to stuactions “absolutely spectacular,” Fox News host dents disproportionately affected by systematic Laura Ingraham described the investigation as racism. a “brilliant idea,” and National Review Editor Several students told the ‘Prince’ that they Rich Lowry remarked, “Perhaps the best thing felt the letter lacked specifics and hoped more that the Department of Education has ever concrete action would follow. Other community done.” members, including Professor of MathematiThe Department has requested all records, cs Sergiu Klainerman, criticized Eisgruber for from word document drafts to social media using the word “racist” in describing Princeton. posts, used for Eisgruber’s letter, which led to Administrators are set to discuss the Univerthe DOE’s determination that the University is sity’s efforts on Monday during a Council of the racist, as well as a “spreadsheet identifying each Princeton University Community (CPUC) Meeperson who has, on the ground of race, color, ting. or national origin” been discriminated against. this country.” According to Chang, the University plans to respond to the letter in due course. Several community members have denounced the DOE’s actions. Chair of the African American Studies Department Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. GS ’97 referred to the investigation as “Ridiculous.” In a tweet this afternoon, Assistant Professor of African American Studies Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor wrote, “It’s amazing how the federal government is just a tool of the Trump thugs to harass and intimidate.” Ceon Sun ’23 similarly told the ‘Prince,’ “It just sounds like a thinly veiled attempt to make an example of Princeton so other colleges are

“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.”



Jones ’93, Feliciano ’94 make U. history with $20M donation

The record-setting gift will pay for two new dormitories By Marie-Rose Sheinerman, News Editor Emeritus | September 21, 2020


n Thursday, Sept. 17, the University made public what The Daily Princetonian reported in June: With a $20 million donation, Kwanza Jones ’93 and José E. Feliciano ’94, a married couple, have given the largest gift by Black and Latino alumni in the University’s 274-year history. According to the University’s announcement, Jones and Feliciano made the gift to support Nassau Hall’s long-term goal of expanding the undergraduate student body. The gift will fund, in part, the construction of two adjoining dormitories in one of the two new residential colleges being built on campus. The dormitories will bear the names of their donors — one named for Jones and the other for Feliciano. The two new residential colleges — to be located south of Poe Field and east of Elm Drive — are slated to open in time for the 2022–23 academic year and will allow the undergraduate student body to expand by 10 percent. One of the colleges will be named Perelman College, in recognition of the Perelman Family Foundation’s lead gift, while the other remains unnamed. Jones and Feliciano are the co-founders of the Kwanza Jones and José E. Feliciano SUPERCHARGED Initiative (KJSI), which describes itself as an impact focused investing and philanthropic organization with four core pillars — education, empowerment, equity, and entrepreneurship. Their guiding directive reads, “For every investment in a for-profit venture, we make a contribution to a non-profit organization.” For Jones, their gift is about making clear to students and alumni that “Princeton is a place for all of us.” The gift was sparked by progress they saw in the University’s culture of inclusivity, Feliciano said. “We have been giving to the University pretty consistently, but things started to crystallize and accelerate when we started seeing the University become more inclusive, more embracing of its entire student body, and the

broader alumni network as well,” he told the ‘Prince,’ citing the University’s organizing of alumni affinity group gatherings in the past few years as a pivotal moment. “As we saw the University make an effort to embrace all of its alumni, we felt more enthused and excited about reciprocating and contributing in a meaningful way to future generations.” When deciding which initiative to donate to within the University, Feliciano said the couple was guided by “where we felt we could make the most immediate but also lasting impact.”

“President Eisgruber has been vocal and very forward thinking about expanding access to Princeton to a larger and more diverse group of deserving students,” he added, stressing the various aspects of diversity, including Eisgruber’s focus on socioeconomic d i ve r s i t y and in- José E. Feliciano ’94 c r e a s i n g the proportion of Pell Grant recipients among students. “Expanding access to education is very consistent with KJSI’s mission and core pillars.”

“[T]hings started to crystalize and accelerate when we started seeing the University become more inclusive.”

Courtesy of Kwanza Jones ’93 and José Feliciano ’94

Kwanza Jones ’93 and José E. Feliciano ’94, donors of the largest gift by Black and Latino alumni in the University’s 274year history.



Siebel Scholars Class of 2021

The Siebel Scholars program was founded in 2000 to recognize the most talented graduate students in business, computer science, bioengineering, and energy science. Each year, over 90 outstanding graduate students are selected as Siebel Scholars based on academic excellence and leadership and join an active, lifelong community among an ever-growing group of leaders. We are pleased to recognize this year’s Siebel Scholars.




Ishwar Kohale Noor Momin Molly Parsons Caroline Werlang Ian Andrews

Prashanth Srinivasan Shreya Deshmukh Hannah Kempton Margarita Khariton Namrata Anand




Benjamin Dalusma George Eliades Philip Onotu Olga Timirgalieva Liza Xu

Dylan Sun

Brian Aoyama Mariana Martins Bianca Pinasco Austin Ward Joshua Yang

Ines Godet Bria Macklin Yuan Rui Alexandra Sneider Sarah Marie Somers


Nicolas F. Altemose Alison N. Su Marc Adrian Lim Anjali Gopal Zoë R. Steier


Haleh Alimohamadi Gabrielle M. Colvert Dhruva S. Katrekar Gregory D. Poore Juliane R. Sempionatto Moreto


David Hoogmoed Erik Leiden Dennis Shea Aashna Singh Houren Zhu


Lijun Yu Megan Hofmann Fish Tung Rogerio Bonatti Brandon Bohrer HARVARD JOHN A. PAULSON SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING & APPLIED SCIENCES

Julia Ebert Anitha Gollamudi Sophie Hilgard Fritz Lekschas Bryan Wilder



Camilo L. Fosco Aspen Kennedy Hopkins Ticha Melody Sethapakdi Lisa Yang Brice Huang

Jabari Hastings Yutong He Ariel Leong Vincent Nicandro Matthew Radzihovsky



Sotiris Apostolakis Kyle Genova Wei Hu Divyarthi Mohan John Li

Yukuo Cen Haoxi Zhong Jiacheng Wu Zu-Ming Jiang Ziran Li



Jason Zhou Tiffany Chien

Suneer Angra Beleicia Benita Bullock Bhavana Mahendra Jain Haoyang Wen Andrew Bumsok Yoo


Steven Anthony Buschbach Yongshan Ding Huiying Li Amanda Kristin Whaley Junwen Yang



Mingyi Wang



Manxi Wu

Pier Giuseppe Anselma

Joseph Clay Hamill Jr.




Aisulu Aitbekova

José Daniel Lara

Phuc Thanh Huynh



Kalimuthu Selvam

Yingzhe Cui

Part II




Amid outrage from Hawaiʻi residents, plans for college ‘bubble’ popped

By Katie Tam and Albert Jiang, Staff Writer and Associate News Editor | August 16, 2020 Editor’s Note: On August 17, one day after this story was published, The U Experience announced it would host its program at the Waterstone Resort & Marina in Boca Raton, FL.


ast week, two Princeton alumni garnered national attention for plans to create two ‘bubble’ campuses in Hawaiʻi and Arkansas, just as the University announced that all fall instruction would be remote. After widespread backlash from local Hawaiʻi residents, the alumni’s business idea, titled ‘The U Experience,’ will no longer come to fruition at either property. Lane Russell ’18 and Adam Bragg ’16 started The U Experience in response to many colleges’ decisions to conduct fully virtual fall semesters. They planned to house about 150 college students, who would take classes online in a ‘bubble’ hotel, where they could “come to live out the college experience with total peace of mind,” according to the company’s website. On a page that has since been removed, Russell and Bragg touted two hotel “campuses” at Hawaiʻi’s Park Shore Waikīkī and Arkansas’ Graduate Fayetteville. Their project was featured in Business Insider on Aug. 7, and Russell appeared on CNN the next day. “Our value being here is giving the students an opportunity to work with other students and to live out that traditional college experience,“ Russell told CNN’s Michael Smerconish. Their self-professed goal was to “unbundle” the current system, separating education from experience. “Think Harvard education meets University of Hawaii campus,’” their website reads. The Waikīkī location was advertised as “everything that a mainland college could never offer,” a “luxurious island resort experience” available at the cost of $15,000 for three months, from Sept. 1 to Nov. 26. While students took online classes through their colleges, The U Experience touted events such as day trips to private islands, beachfront sports, DJ’d pool parties, and hiking excursions to Diamond Head. The website did not mention that some of those experiences would not be possible under current state guidelines, given the state-wide closure of parks and beaches amid rising COVID-19 case counts. The Arkansas location — situated in the “tallest building in Fayetteville” — promised the “best of nature and culture” in the American South, with a price


tag of $12,000. The U Experience described “breathtaking views off into the nearby Ozarks” and opportunities to visit Crystal Bridge and “make art in the incredibly instagrammable campus interior.” As the program turned heads, vocal opposition arose from Hawaiʻi residents, many of whom raised concerns about the health and safety of the communities hosting the resort campuses. These concerns would mount over the next several days, pushing the co-founders to put a pause on their plans.

Outrage and opposition On the same day Russell appeared on CNN, a seven-member team of Hawaiʻi residents published a petition titled “Stop Bringing Nonresident Students to Hawaiʻi During a Pandemic,” which garnered over 11,000 signatures in just three days. The petition came in the midst of triple-digit increases in case counts in the state and rapidly filling intensive care units at Oʻahu hospitals. That week, Hawaiʻi reported — and continues to report — the highest Effective Reproduction Number (Rt), a measure of the number of people that can be infected by a single individual, in the nation. On Aug. 13, Hawaiʻi reported a record-breaking number of new cases amid reports of four of Oʻahu’s major intensive care units nearing capacity. Russell and Bragg saw The U Experience as an “alternative to tourism that emphasizes safety while still bringing much needed resources to the local economy.” Despite the organization’s promises to locally source needs, hire from the community, and partner with local professionals and artists, the petition’s signatories voiced concerns over the harm the project could cause to Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. “In the event that the students who arrive to enter these programs test positive for COVID-19, the already overcrowded medical facilities and the frontline workers on Oʻahu and Maui will be put at an even greater risk,” the petition read. The petition cited an offering similar to The U Experience, titled “A Semester At the Sea,” which would host students at the Kāʻanapali Ocean Inn on the island of Maui. “We were concerned given that the community didn’t have any opportunity to give input for these two projects,” the authors of the petition wrote in a state-

ment to The Daily Princetonian. “After creating the petition, we received a wave of support. This reflects the great concern of local residents regarding the health risks these projects pose.” According to Lexi Figueroa, who helped write the petition, the authors also received an outpouring of support from non-residents, including University alumni, who expressed opposition to The U Experience, citing the “selfish, irresponsible, and disrespectful nature of this project.” “We only have 340 ICU beds to service the entire population of Oʻahu,” the team behind the petition wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “A single outbreak in a The U Experience ‘bubble’ would deplete nearly half of our health resources.” In total, Oʻahu has a population of nearly one million.

Albert Jiang / The Daily Princetonian

An aerial view of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, including the Waikīkī skyline.

According to Jonah Hyman ’20, a resident of Fayetteville, Ark. — The U Experience’s second planned location — the college town, which is busy focusing on plans to reopen the University of Arkansas, hasn’t seen an organized response. But Hyman still expressed doubts about the program. “The COVID-19 case rate here isn’t trending down, and testing isn’t yet available for people who don’t have symptoms,” he wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “This would probably make it harder for The U Experience to operate safely, even if its students were diligent about social distancing and mask wearing.” A handbook initially posted to The U Experience website, since taken down for revision, listed measures that would be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Students would be expected to submit results of a nega-

tive COVID-19 test prior to the start of the program and self-quarantine in their hotel rooms for 14 days upon arrival, in accordance with state mandates. Throughout the semester, students would be prohibited from leaving campus, even to “purchase goods, essential or non-essential.” Any participant who exited the ‘bubble’ for an unapproved activity would be removed from the program, according to the document. Although Bragg and Russell did not specify exactly how they would enforce such rules, they said they did not plan on forcing students to remain in the ‘bubble’ if they chose to leave. “The idea that we’re proposing with this is something that we as a society have accepted and embraced,” Russell said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ The co-founders pointed to the success of the National

Basketball Association’s (NBA) ‘bubble’ as a model for their efforts. “What we are doing is leaning on the structure that has already been in place and implemented and developed by a company like the NBA that has the resources and abilities to apply them,” Bragg added. Many, however, expressed concerns that The U Experience ‘bubble’ could not be executed properly. Russell and Bragg themselves admitted that they have no experience in hospitality, education, or travel. According to The U Experience’s website, Russell and Bragg majored in Economics and History, respectively, at the University. Although The U Experience listed hospitality and healthcare partnerships with Hotel Connections and THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN


Happi House Collective, the company did not provide details on local groups they would partner with to ensure students’ safety. “It was clear that the co-founders were ill-prepared to enact their program safely and respectfully in the timeline stated,” Kimberly Peterson ’19, a Hawaiʻi resident, wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ Erica Ito, a rising senior at the University of Michigan and Hawaiʻi resident, described her first reaction to news of the business venture as anger. “I read all the articles, I’ve read a bunch of people’s posts about it,” she said. “And then I made this graphic really quickly.” Her Instagram post — which reads, “Hawaiʻi is not your beach house ... and it’s definitely not your coronavacation destination” — has since amassed over 11,000 likes. Peterson also posted on social media soon after hearing about the program. “Hawaiʻi is not your vacation. It is a real community that is struggling to manage this pandemic, just like the rest of the U.S.,” she wrote in an email. Many began voicing their concerns on the company’s Instagram and Twitter pages, as well as on Bragg and Russell’s personal accounts. Several users alleged that Russell and Bragg were intentionally censoring dissent on The U Experience’s social media pages. Peterson claimed that comments were deleted and profiles were blocked on Bragg, Russell, and The U Experience’s Instagram accounts. By the time of publication, Russell and Bragg had not responded to repeated requests for comment regarding these claims. The petition also states that bringing The U Experience to Waikīkī would perpetuate a history of colonial violence and displacement of Native Hawaiians from ancestral homelands. “Colonization and gentrification have priced Native Hawaiians and locals out of Hawaiʻi and these proposed programs exacerbate the issue,” it read. “Native Hawaiians have already experienced a cultural genocide and had their population decimated by introduced disease, and these plans disregard that history and current vulnerability of Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders due to COVID-19.” Jordan Nishina, a rising senior at Northwestern University and a Hawaiʻi resident, described Russell and Bragg’s business venture as “callous” and a “contemporary manifestation of colonialism.” “The U Experience is a blatant disregard of moral principles as it capitalizes on and exploits the financial vulnerabilities of Hawaiʻi brought about by the pandemic and will likely result in the detriment of the community’s health,” he wrote to the ‘Prince.’ The U Experience website, however, insists the hotels would help locals. “In bringing together 150 intelligent, hard-working, driven students, we are creating the opportunity for our student collective to positively impact the larger surrounding community,” the “For Communities” page notes. “We recognize that we all benefit from a thriving local economy.”


‘Economic influx to a local economy’

For some critics, The U Experience sheds light on the island state’s over-dependence on tourism, “a direct result of the exoticization of Hawaiʻi” and “an immediate threat to the health of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and other Hawaiʻi residents,” according to the petition. These financial vulnerabilities have been significant. In a state where tourism comprises more than 20 percent of the economy, a stark drop in the number of visitors has precipitated steep economic losses. In June, the state experienced a 98.2 percent drop in visitors, according to data released by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. A report compiled by Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis indicated that hotel revenue plummeted by $1 billion, or 50 percent, in the second quarter of 2020, as compared to the same period last year. Hawaiʻi’s hotel industry also saw revenue per available room decline 94.5, 91.1, and 89.3 percent in April, May, and June, respectively — considerably worse than the national average. For Ingrid Lin, associate professor at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s School of Travel Industry Mana-

“If you promote it as [an exotic, luxury destination], just like the Princeton students are doing, that [can] upset the locals.”

-Ingrid Lin, Associate Professor

gement (TIM), the fact that tourism represents the single largest contributor to Hawaiʻi’s economy creates an even greater impetus to develop new solutions. “I believe this is a wake-up call for the hospitality and tourism industry,” she explained to the ‘Prince.’ “We have to find creative, innovative ways to do business. It’s no longer just real estate and expecting people to come in and fill a room.” The TIM department chair emphasized the need for collaboration between the hospitality, education, and healthcare industries. As an example, she pointed to designated quarantine hotels and the resort-like “postpartum centers” popular in many Asian countries. The U Experience’s co-founders see their company as this sort of project. “The same way that tourism provides some kind of economic influx to a local economy, our students are doing basically the same thing but in a much safer and more controlled environment,” Russell said. Lin praised Russell and Bragg’s innovative spirit, describing their concept as a “very creative idea,” which had the potential to boost the struggling hotel industry. However, she criticized their timing and execution.

In the midst of a global health crisis, Lin said, it is dangerous to take such risks. “To me, people’s health and wellbeing come first,” she said. “You have to come up with a win-win situation. It’s not all about your business. It’s about the wellbeing of the local people as well.” Beyond potential health risks, Lin, who researches marketing and consumer experience, pointed toward The U Experience’s advertising as where they might have gone wrong. She believes that the way companies advertise Hawaiʻi often “overuses” and exoticizes Native Hawaiian culture. “If you promote it as [an exotic, luxury destination], just like the Princeton students are doing, that [can] upset the locals,” she explained. She pointed to the Aulani Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina as an example of tourism in the state that does not suffer those pitfalls. During development, Walt Disney Imagineering collaborated with cultural experts and Native Hawaiian elders — or kūpuna — to ensure that the space was authentic and sensitive to Hawaiian customs and traditions. However they proceed, Lin emphasized the importance of “very open communication” with the Native Hawaiian community — a dialogue many say has been absent. The petition authors told the ‘Prince’ they felt the program’s rushed timeline left “no time for community input.” “During a pandemic, any tourism programs must prioritize safety and consider their impact on local communities,” they wrote in a statement. “The U Experience has failed to take these critical factors into account, and therefore is not welcome.”

Plans put on hold

On Aug. 11, the U Experience announced that it had suspended plans with Park Shore Waikīkī and Graduate Fayetteville — just four days after the Business Insider feature. “We would like to inform all who have been following this story that we will no longer be moving forward with either of these properties,” the announcement reads. “While we were very excited to work with these incredible hotels, we will be postponing the start date of our program until we are confident that our mission has been communicated transparently to all relevant stakeholders.” Jim Toomey, director of the front office at the 221room Park Shore Waikīkī, wrote in an email to the ‘Prince’ that he and his colleagues “currently have no contract with [The U Experience].” David Rochefort, President of Graduate Hotels, confirmed that the hotel was “in early discussions with the U Experience team regarding Graduate Fayetteville being a potential location for this new offering,” but that the plans are now on hold. “Graduate Fayetteville will not be part of U Experience this fall, nor will any other hotels in the Graduate Hotels portfolio,” Rochefort wrote. Bragg and Russell declined to comment on the number of applications they have received, but indicated “a lot of interest” from students at Ivy League

institutions, predominantly hailing from “large coastal cities.” The team is still accepting and reviewing applications. In addition, the company is revising its handbook for participants, “making sure that everything we’re doing is crystal, crystal clear.” Bragg and Russell told the ‘Prince’ that while much of the public feedback comprised “concerns about the community,” they also received, in “private messages and emails, a ton of support from local community members, restaurants, and local businesses.” Although they have halted initial plans, Bragg and Russell said they still hope to hold The U Experience this semester

“We want to have the most diverse campus possible and hear voices from all backgrounds.”

- Lane Russell ’18

at alternative hotels. “Most of the criticism wasn’t about the idea at all, it was about the location,” Bragg said, adding that, “one of the great things about The U Experience is that we are not location-specific.” “We have the ability to source from hundreds of hotels in all 50 states to really pinpoint the community we can help the most, and where we will be accepted and embraced,” Bragg continued. The impetus behind the idea, Russell and Bragg said, was two-fold. The first was preventing what they see as an impending mental health crisis. “We think we are coming up on one of the biggest mental health crises in history,” Russell told the ‘Prince.’ “We think that it’s not going to be shown now, but when you have 10 million kids or more being sent home, pulled from their social networks, and their social support groups, and placed into isolation, that puts them at risk of having to go through months of increased amount of social pressures.” The second was addressing the nationwide rise in student debt. In recent years, continuous increases in college tuition have made higher education “inaccessible and unsustainable in its current form.” The U Experience co-founders aim to disrupt higher education by “unbundling” the components of education, experience, and credentials. Once such decoupling occurs, they reason, “education can drop back down in price.” “Our dream is to make a college education accessible to everyone, regardless of income,” The U Experience website reads. “When the price of an education is bid up by those who are willing to pay anything for the credentials and experience, this is impossible.” When asked to defend the cost of their program in light of their desire to make college education more accessible, Russell likened the venture to electric carmaker Tesla. The company’s first model, the 2008 Tesla Roadster, was something “almost nobody could afford

… except for a very privileged few.” “But that ultimately led to the Model 3 and the proliferation of electric vehicles across other brands, because they’ve proven it was possible to do so,” he said. “We’re trying to make the idea of an unbundled college experience attractive and interesting to people.” While the co-founders acknowledged that The U Experience might not be available to many students immediately, they encouraged others to build upon their model in the future. “What The U Experience really represents is something in the long run,” Russell said. “It is not just a playground for wealthy people. It is something that is meant to prove that this can exist so that everyone has access to it.” The donation page on the website, he added, was set up in order to fund opportunities for students who would not otherwise be able to afford them. While not currently accepting donations, the page lays out a plan for a need-based scholarship fund and attempts to “get a sense of how much interest” exists for such a program. “We want to have the most diverse campus possible and hear voices from all backgrounds,” Russell continued. “It’s not going to be possible if we’re only accepting students who can afford the price tag.” The co-founders also pointed out that a price tag of $12,000 or $15,000 per term is “similar” to the cost of room and board at a typical college. For the 2019-2020 academic year, room and board fees at the University were approximately $17,000. In recent years, free online learning platforms such as Coursera, OpenCourseWare, and EdX, as well as free online classes offered by MIT, have grown in popularity. The co-founders hope The U Experience will allow students to “take on those much cheaper alternative educational options, without having to compromise on having a community of friends and a network of people in your field of study.” “Ideally, in the very near future, students will have alternative options for education that are just as feasible and reputable as things like the current university system,” Russell said, explaining that he hopes students will begin accepting credentialed online learning programs as a feasible replacement in lieu of a “costly four-year university.” The U Experience’s cohort size of 150 is inspired by Dunbar’s number, which places a cognitive limit on the number of people with which any one person can sustain stable social relationships. This size, Russell said, would allow students to hold each other accountable for their actions. “What we’re counting on here is that a sense of actual genuine community is the thing that enforces keeping our students safe,” he stressed, “and that they feel a social desire and social pressure to do good and to be a healthy part of their community.” Final protocols on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the hotel and how to handle potential cases are forthcoming, the co-founders said, and they are open to updates as more information becomes available. As of publication, The U Experience’s homepage still

featured photos of poolside revelers, pictured in tropical settings.

‘Everybody can learn’ Ito, the University of Michigan senior, explained that while growing up in Hawaiʻi, she learned about the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom, including the contemporary repercussions of its overthrow. Outsiders such as Russell and Bragg, she said, must do the same, recognizing the implications of their actions before pursuing ventures like The U Experience. “It’s past time for people to do their part and educate themselves on the history they were not given by the education system,” Ito said. In their Aug. 11 update, The U Experience team maintained, “our goal is to disrupt education, not local communities.” “[We’re] trying to lead to the good kind of disruption that is helpful to students and is helpful to societies,” Russell said. He added that they are committed to interacting with community members, and following up on messages they have received. “We have gotten a ton of offers from people to communicate,” he said. “We are following up on all those things.” As long as these messages are “thoughtful and respectful and productive,” Russell believes they will present “a really valuable opportunity to work with the residents of Hawaiʻi to find something that’s agreeable to every party involved.” Figueroa, however, told the ‘Prince’ that as of Friday, Aug. 14, neither she nor any member of the team had received a response from Russell and Bragg. “We don’t plan to be, you know, stomping into any local communities before we have a full understanding of whether or not the local residents want us there, and in what ways we can make sure that we’re demonstrating an understanding of that local culture and making sure that everyone involved is happy about it,” Russell said. The authors of the Hawaiʻi petition remained skeptical. “Their claims to ‘disrupt education, not local communities’ is countered by the opposition of over 12,000 community members who have signed our petition,” they wrote in an email, adding that The U Experience’s proclamation that they are “not going anywhere” feels “threatening and reflects an inability to consider our concerns before making decisions.” Lin, the associate professor, agreed with these sentiments. Still, she said she feels that higher education in the U.S. is overdue for change. “I do give them a lot of support in terms of their innovative idea,” she said of The U Experience co-founders. She maintained a hopeful tone about what the team could accomplish, if they struck the right approach. “Everybody can learn something new everyday.” “I think the pandemic is giving us all a lesson that we need to be more open-minded and flexible,” she said. And “at the same time, a little cautious.” THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN



As humanities flounder, the HUM sequence faces a reckoning By Rachel Sturley and Annabelle Duval, Head Features Editor and Assistant Features Editor | August 16, 2020


he number of American students earning humanities degrees has declined for eight consecutive years. That shift has particularly affected low-income students, more wary of living off a philosophy major’s salary than their more privileged counterparts. And in a moment of national reckoning, traditional curriculums centered around white, cisgender, and male perspectives are coming under fire for their exclusionary nature. None of this bodes well for HUM 216–219: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture, Princeton’s long-revered Humanities Sequence. Fondly known as “HUM,” the yearlong, double-credit behemoth of a course spans 18 centuries and includes 60-odd texts from Herodotus to Sophocles to Machiavelli to Marx. Eleven professors drawn from disciplines across the humanities and social sciences team-teach the sequence each year. Yelena Baraz, Kennedy Foundation Professor of Latin Language and Literature, Professor of Classics, and Berhman Professor in Humanistic Studies, has led the sequence since fall 2019. She cited listening to her colleagues’ lectures as one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job. “I really love being a student,” she said with a laugh. The feeling is mutual. Most students who complete the sequence are so passionate about their experiences that they return as HUM Mentors, a program that pairs alumni of the course with current students for advice and guidance. Despite its rave reviews, HUM does not evade criticism. The Daily Princetonian spoke to two former students and two former heads of the sequence. All are reconsidering which students feel welcomed in the sequence, how professors can approach ancient material while considering modern perspectives, and how a traditionally restrictive area of study can become more diverse at every level.


Not the tradition, a tradition: Inclusion in an exclusive canon “I want to underscore that the humanities sequence is not all the humanities. It’s not everything,” said Efythmia Rentzou, Behrman Professor in the Humanities and Associate Professor in the departments of French and Italian. Rentzou directed the sequence during the 2018–19 academic year. “It’s specifically the Western tradition. It’s a tradition among many,” Rentzou continued. “And ‘attempt’ I think is a very good word choice. Even this one tradition is not definitive; it’s something that changes very much according to … our cultural preferences and our values, and even, in a more mundane sense, according to who teaches it.” The first semester begins with Homeric epics and continues through the Middle Ages. There is limited flexibility to represent diverse voices in the syllabus; white men simply wrote the bulk of the work that prevails from the ancient, Western world. Still, the leadership of the sequence in recent years has pushed for more discussions of gender and inclusion of female voices in the class. “Last year, I saw how important it was for the students to have discussions of gender, because of the #MeToo movement. Within one year, the whole conversation has changed completely,” Rentzou said. There might exist limitations to an entirely gender-balanced curriculum, but Baraz underscored that texts written by women are not imperative to discussions about them. “The texts are not there for us — I can’t go back in time and write more texts by ancient Greek women — but there are other ways of really engaging with the importance of gender for these texts and for these societies,” Baraz said. When female authors are not available, the class can study texts centering female characters and amplify the voices

that do exist. Even so, Julien Alam ’23 found it difficult to reckon with the overwhelming presence of the male perspective in what they read. Alam, a prospective English major from Boston, completed the sequence this past May. “The professors throughout were very honest about how HUM is by no means a feminist course, and I struggled a lot with that at first,” he said. For him, this difficulty was ameliorated in part by professor engagement with diverse readings and voices. In particular, Natalie Prizel, lecturer in English and one of the six HUM professors in spring 2020, introduced him to queer readings of many texts. “In the way that she presented feminist and queer studies,” he said, “it wasn’t revolutionary — it was just a part of the text.” Alam’s experience with HUM this past year re-

“The whole point of the class is to show you how things connect and how something that was written a long time ago influences the literature now.”

- Natalia Arbelaez Solano ’22

flects what he saw as positive changes in the course’s approach — the types of changes that Natalia Arbelaez Solano ’22 found necessary when she took HUM the year before. Solano, a comparative literature concentrator from Pittsburgh, Pa., was drawn to the HUM sequence for its distinct structure and intensity, as well as the prestige of the subject material. The descriptions of HUM as “life-changing,” as a course that will transform the way one sees the world, convinced Solano that the class was worth the workload. Solano recognized the limitations of a Westernfocused curriculum coming in: She didn’t assume that there would be many voices of color available to include, particularly in the first semester. What she didn’t expect was the absence of conversations about race as they entered the modern era in the spring. “The whole point of the class is to show you how things connect and how something that was written a long time ago influences the literature now. And not just the literature, but the thought processes,” Solano continued. “It’s super important to think about how Western thought influences the good and the bad.” Alam praised the presence of classroom conversations about race in his year. “In the spring [the professors] made a very conscious push to make it as inclusive as possible racially,” Alam said. “In the fall, it’s more complicated — race is never the centerpiece of any of the texts we read, because the concept simply didn’t exist back then. We would apply it, but it wasn’t inherent to what we read.” In the last week of class, which covers the most modern texts of the course, professors have pushed to end with critiques of the tradition. Baraz called it “a site of experimentation” — a time to explore different and diverse ways to end the sequence. “[Students are] often disillusioned, because what they see is all the problems with the tradition in the process of it. And I think it’s important to end in a way that honors the critique and the complexity, ” Baraz said. “This last week has really ended up being about the collapse of Western tradition in the 20th century, and the ways in which the tradition failed itself and its promises in the most horrific ways,” she continued. “It doesn’t necessarily undermine everything else we’ve read and what we’ve done, but it leaves the students with some really hard questions about the tradition that they’ve been de-

voting themselves to.” But to Solano, this ending felt like an “afterthought.” “It was just all of these thinkers, people of color, scholars from different time periods, different countries, different situations, and I felt like grouping them all together was just kind of a disservice to each and every one of them,” Solano explained.

‘Very intimidating, no matter who you are’: HUM and accessibility The way the class discusses race and gender, if done carelessly, is one of the many factors that can exacerbate another important issue: whether students from a wide range of backgrounds choose to go into the humanities and feel welcome doing so. Alam recalled that there were no professors of color for either semester of the course this year. “That really affects what kind of students want to take the course,” he added. Up until 2015, the sequence’s enrollment was by application only. When it became first-come-first serve, open enrollment that year, Baraz recalled an uptick in the popularity of the sequence, especially with students from more varied personal and educational backgrounds. With the elimination of the application came the idea that one did not need specific qualifications — a private school education and previous knowledge of classics, for example — in order to access the course. Now, HUM has no problem attracting students to the sequence, but it struggles with retention. Each year, a number of students decide to drop after the first semester’s conclusion. This trend can be attributed to a number of reasons: scheduling conflicts, advisors suggesting that students complete major prerequisites, and even just fatigue. “Students feel pressure in their schedules — they’re often advised that they shouldn’t be devoting so much time to the humanities if they’re not going to be majors, and I think it’s a real loss,” Baraz said. “I really appreciate the value of the whole year.” So did Solano. After deciding to continue into the second semester, however, she noticed an apparent drop in the number of students of color in the sequence. “It definitely had more diversity in the first semester than in the second. For example, when I walked into precept,” she said, “it really struck me that I was in such a white space.” Solano described a moment in the last precept of the semester while discussing Aimée Césaire’s

“Notebook of a Return to the Native Land,” which in its English translation includes the n-word. “In this excerpt that the professor chose, the n-word was in it probably 11 or 10 times … and this is an all-white precept. Somebody raised their hand and they read it and they read the n-word over and over again,” she said. “This is a class that focuses on the power of language,” she said. “And on our last day, after a whole year of close-reading and looking at how a comma affects this or that, we’re just freely saying the n-word without discussing what that means.” Though there is no longer a literal barrier of entry with an application, there may still be a mental one for many students. Alam called HUM “very intimidating, no matter who you are.” With its reputation of extreme difficulty and rigidly classical curriculum, both Solano and Alam noted the conception of HUM students as largely white graduates of elite private schools.

“This is a class that focuses on the power of language.”

- Solano ’22

“I am brown and bi and I felt very included, but I also went to a prep school where I had the opportunity to take Latin, so that wasn’t a barrier of entry for me,” Alam said. “The texts we read have a really elitist history. They represent such painful areas of exclusion for so many people, that I understand how it’s not super welcoming.” Solano expressed a similar opinion on the sequence. “There are so many perks to being in HUM and it should be something that people feel like they can do, that it’s not just for private school students, it’s not just for white people,” she said. Still, both students ultimately found themselves loving the course; both are now HUM Mentors, and prefaced their criticisms with a recognition of the sequence’s importance in their academic paths. Further, Alam views the HUM texts not only as a chance to learn more about the history and thought processes of the Western world, but also as an opportunity to change and reform it. “In order to dismantle systems of oppression you really have to understand them in the most minute detail,” Alam said.




Princeton businesses received over $200M in PPP loans. Some are still struggling. By Albert Jiang and Edward Tian, Associate News Editor and Staff Writer | August 6, 2020


or Princeton Record Exchange owner Jon Lambert, March 21 is a date he’ll always remember. That’s when Gov. Phil Murphy signed New Jersey’s stay-at-home-order, mandating the closure of all non-essential businesses. The executive order came just a day after the record store’s 40th anniversary. “We opened up a bottle of champagne,” he recalled. But the very next day, Lambert shuttered his business and laid off his entire staff, including 16 full-time employees and two part-time employees. For Lambert, his staff “really is a family.” Eight members have been there for over 20 years, he explained. Overnight, sales plummeted to levels he had never seen before — in Lambert’s case, to a mere half of one percent of what the store was doing prior to the shutdown. Like hundreds of businesses in the Princeton area, Lambert turned to the government for help. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a $35 billion support package for small businesses, and was signed into law on March 27 as part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest stimulus bill in American history. On July 6, the U.S. Small Business Administration, alongside the U.S. Department of the Treasury, disclosed the names of small businesses that received loans of more than $150,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program — including 353 businesses in Princeton. The businesses included the Princeton University Store, Tower Club, McCarter Theatre, Princeton Theological Seminary, Small World Coffee, Labyrinth Books, Jammin’ Crepes, and the Princeton Record Exchange. Tower, an independent not-for-profit, received a PPP loan somewhere between $150,000 and $300,000 — the only eating club to receive a loan of over $150,000. All 11 of the eating clubs will be closed for the fall semester, for the first time since 1918, in light of the ongoing pandemic. Club Manager Jim Forkel declined to comment for this article. In total, businesses in Princeton received between $208.7 million and $440.25 million from 1,027 loans collectively based on the categories provided by the Department of Treasury. According to this data, 48,959 jobs were retained from the combined 1,027 loans to companies based in Princeton. Pioneer Consulting Services; Above and Beyond, an orga-


nization that provides business tools and services for entrepreneurs; and the accounting and advisory firm WithumSmith+Brown PC received the largest loans, between $5 million and $10 million, resulting in a collective 1,399 retained jobs, according to government records. Princeton Theological Seminary and the Hun School of Princeton, a private boarding school, both received over $2 million and retained 407 and 219 jobs, respectively. Princeton Pi & Hoagie and the shoe store Ricchard’s, two longtime Nassau Street stores that have closed for good since the start of the pandemic, were not on the accessible list of companies receiving PPP loans.

The loans were essential but still far from enough. Lambert said that reaching his retail milestone of 40 years was “almost unheard of,” especially for a record store in this day and age. Even before the store’s employees had “everything completely ripped out from under [them],” the emergence of streaming services and online vendors had forced the record store to adapt. The main reason for his business’ recent success — and what made the shutdown all the more devastating — was a pivot from being a “commodity-driven store” to an “event-driven store.” “Yes, you can browse online. Yes, you can stream,” he told The Daily Princetonian in a phone interview. “But it’s rather sterile and cold, compared to that really interesting and fun experience in the treasure house and being in the stacks, talking to people with like interests, and hearing music you haven’t heard before. That whole mystique of being in a store, physically touching things, that’s the primary reason we’re still around.” “And of course, that’s exactly what was ripped away.” Even as he scrambled to list some of his high-priced items on Discogs — the largest aggregator of private sellers of music and a sort of “Wikipedia for musical pieces” — Lambert never saw sales beyond seven or eight percent of his usual. He said that the limited income he was able to generate allowed his store to “limp along a little bit,” but went straight to his employees’ health insurance. “We didn’t want to cut out health insurance in a pandemic,” he explained.

As a result, Lambert applied for a PPP loan, but was rejected in the first round. In his second attempt, he was approved for $151,500 — with strings attached. “They were essentially saying, ‘yeah, hire your people back for eight weeks, even though you’re not open.’ And now you’re out of money,” Lambert said. “So I had this hunk of money but I didn’t have anything to do with it.” The Princeton University Store — a not-for-profit cooperative society run by a board of students, faculty, administrators, and alumni — saw similarly devastating drops in sales. “This is the greatest financial challenge the U-Store has faced in its 115 years of operation,” Jim Sykes, president of the University Store (U-Store), told the ‘Prince.’ The U-Store saw total sales plummet by 80 percent for the months of April, May, and June, with losses of up to 50 percent estimated for the upcoming year. Sykes said that the U-Store’s PPP loan of approximately $330,000 has been applied to all designated options including payroll costs, rent, and utilities, but he does not anticipate the amount will cover the operating loss for last year and the expected loss for this year.

“Our biggest challenge... is to manage the extraordinary amount of change that is happening.”

- Mike Rosenberg, Managing Director of McCarter

The U-Store furloughed temporary employees hired for the school year in late March, as the University sent students home for the semester. Management wage increases were cut across the board, with compensation reduced for senior staff by 10 to 20 percent, in addition to eliminating all 401(k) contributions beginning this month. Though the 36 University Place store has remained in

continuous operation, the location at 114–116 Nassau Street was closed from late March until late June. Next door, at Labyrinth Books, the majority of the store’s $236,000 loan has gone to paying employees, according to owner Dorothea von Moltke. In March, the entire staff of Labyrinth was put on temporary furlough, which legally allowed them to remain employees and to continue receiving healthcare benefits. “We initially had a minimal crew of part-time employees who continued to work with us as we figured out how to increase website sales, handle phone orders for delivery and then curbside pickup, and take our events programming online,” explained von Moltke. In anticipation of the “drastically changed coursebook rush” in the fall, she said Labyrinth has been working closely with the University since April. Students studying remotely will receive their books in the mail, with the University covering up to two free shipments per student. For those returning to campus, coursebooks will be ordered exclusively online, with pickups scheduled by appointment only. “Because the logistics of this hybrid semester are far more complex than anything we have done before and to ensure that students studying remotely get their books in a timely fashion, we will be asking all students to order their books in time-windows designated by academic year,” von Moltke added. Amin Rizk, one of the co-owners of Jammin’ Crepes, laid off 45 of his employees, but was eventually able to rehire 10 to keep up with existing operations. Despite the fact that they are currently only generating half of last year’s sales, Rizk referred to PPP as a “life-saver” and a key element of their ability to stay afloat. The largest loan of any organization located within Princeton’s campus went to McCarter Theater, totaling $1.2 million. Still, the theater experienced mass layoffs. The independent non-profit organization leases its space

from the University and shares its facilities with the Lewis Center for the Arts, the Triangle Club, and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS), in addition to other campus groups. “Our biggest challenge at the moment is to manage the extraordinary amount of change that is happening,” said Mike Rosenberg, McCarter’s managing director. “Addressing the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism are top priorities.” Prior to the pandemic, the theatre maintained a staff of 74 full-time employees. McCarter maintained employee salaries for the first nine weeks of the shutdown. But in the wake of economic difficulties and the government-mandated closure, it eventually made the decision to lay off 57 members — over three quarters — of its staff. While its doors remain closed during the ongoing global health crisis, McCarter has pivoted to a “virtual stage,” called “McCarter@HOME,” a digital platform. Each week, the theatre emails over 80,000 patrons a menu of curated interviews, behind-the-scenes videos, and creative content. “McCarter@HOME has allowed us to transition our education programs online where we offer a variety of weekly classes for children and adults,” Rosenberg said. “These classes have proved to be extremely popular, and we will be extending them into the fall and perhaps beyond.” Though state guidelines prohibit McCarter from resuming public performances at this juncture, Rosenberg said he looks forward to the day when the theatre can welcome people back. “For now, we will keep engaging with audiences, artists, and students online.”

In June, some businesses were allowed to resume operation.

For the record store, reopening meant changes, and lots of them. It meant implementing a maximum store capacity, creating plexiglass shields around the cashier counter, and formulating cleaning schedules. It also meant uncomfortable interactions, most surrounding mask etiquette. “I’m running two ugly encounters, maybe six mildly uncomfortable encounters a week. Not terrible, but it’s not fun,” Lambert remarked, adding that some patrons refusing to wear masks would then give the store one-star reviews online. “So I went to my lawyers … and now I have my script prepared,” he said. “But it’s all very alien, you know?” For Jammin’ Crepes, the ban on eating indoors still means a limited amount of outdoor seating, available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Rizk says that they are also looking to use their food truck for “reasonably sized, COVID-safe private events” and hope to be able to bring it on campus in the fall, as they have in the past. Even as Labyrinth brings in additional staff to process orders, von Moltke is committed to managing capacity within her store and to ensure social distancing throughout the process. “We will ... have several days when the store is closed to the public and open only to students,” she said, adding that there will be many more days with “minimal hours” during which the store will be open to the public. Despite the inevitable impact on non-coursebook revenue, von Moltke said that this decision was made with students’ well-being in mind. “The priority in this period simply has to be to make sure students get their books when they need them and in a safe way,” she said. As many businesses attempt to adapt and revolutionize their presence online, Labyrinth is no exception. A new online subscription service allows customers to sign up for new arrival alerts tailored to their fields of interest, and von Moltke

Harsimran Makkad / The Daily Princetonian

Benjamin Ball / The Daily Princetonian

Chris Eisgruber ’83, Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez ’18, and Brad Smith ’81 speak to reporters outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 12, 2019. That day, the Court considered a number of DACA cases, including the U.’s 2017 complaint.



said she is trying to make it as easy as possible for customers to “stay connected with the store” and shop without going in. In their physical location, the store has gone through a complete redesign, from a reintegration of the downstairs area, to the removal of several display tables and all chairs. A greeter in the store will ensure that all customers are wearing a mask and sanitizing their hands on their way in, while ensuring that the store capacity remains “quite a bit below the current legal limit.”

Businesses in the area are bracing for a fall like no other. The sudden departure of most students in March, as well as a sharp decline in tourists coming to Princeton, have already led to some drastic changes in how the U-Store operates, according to Sykes. Preparing for a fall semester with few tourists, no sporting events, and only around half of the student body on campus means it will need to adapt further. The University Place location is currently undergoing a renovation, with a self-checkout option available starting this fall. In addition to free shopping on the online store with enhanced chat and communication options, Sykes promised “expanded food and convenience assortments” by late August. In anticipation of the “drastic curtailing of the University’s operations,” record store owner Lambert said he remains “cautiously optimistic.” “We’re gonna have to wait and see,” he said. “After six weeks of being open … it’s not enough data to plan for the future.” For Rizk, the co-owner of Jammin’ Crepes, the return of half the student body is not ideal, but certainly “better than none at all.” “We are optimistic that Princeton University’s limited reopening plans will have a positive impact on our business,” he told the ‘Prince.’ “We have worked hard over the years to develop strong ties to the student and staff populations at Princeton University.” Even so, Lambert said he has been overwhelmed by and is immensely appreciative of the local community’s support — especially the hundreds of individuals who purchased gift cards to his record store during the shutdown, “not knowing if we were going to open again.” Rizk felt similarly, saying that his restaurant would not have been able to survive the effects of this pandemic without the support of the local and University community. Through gift-card purchases, payments for Zoom cooking classes, and donations to a Go22 THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN

FundMe campaign for Jammin’ Crepes employees — which raised $7,221 — community members buoyed the restaurant. Similarly, Sykes said that he is “grateful and proud” to see the outpouring of support from the hundreds of members who have “contributed to help the U-Store survive during this pandemic.” But despite all the aid, from federal legislation and local community members, the businesses still face uncharted waters. In the words of Labyrinth’s owner, “The challenges we have faced in the past, such as the onset initially of chain bookstores and then of, pale by comparison with the challenge posed by the pandemic.” Amid a “shocking absence of a national strategy to contain the virus,” von Moltke said she is extremely worried about what the coming months will bring as the PPP money runs dry and unemployment benefits diminish. Lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement on what the next stimulus package might look like. Rizk advocated for a third round of PPP loans for small businesses, especially as they go into a season when “outdoor seating may not be an option.” “This is going to be critical for survival of small, local businesses like ours,” he remarked. “I know it’s being discussed in Washington,” he said, “[but] we … need it to happen.” Von Moltke expressed similar uncertainty about the strict reopening parameters — and the cold weather’s impact on them. “But we are fortunate in lots of respects,” she continued. “To have an amazing staff, to have the support of the University, and to be in Princeton, where the municipal government and the local merchants as well as cultural institutions have been working closely from the beginning and throughout to collaborate and create the safest and most sustainable path forward.” As a member of Princeton Mutual Aid — a network fundraising to meet individual residents’ needs during the pandemic — von Moltke placed an emphasis on housing and food insecurity in Princeton. “I’m convinced that it won’t mean much if isolated businesses and institutions manage to survive the pandemic but the overall social and economic fabric frays,” she said. “It has never been more obvious that a community only is as strong as its weakest link,” she added. “There are many who are working to find solutions, but I don’t think we have begun to take the full measure of the level of need among our neighbors, and we all have to commit to continue to come together for the common good.”










10/7 10/22 10/29








Adam Wickham ’22


Sydney Peng ’22





Who tells your story Journalists must confront Julia Chaffers Columnist

August 16, 2020


erhaps the most insidious and least understood form of segregation is that of the word. And by this I mean the word in all its complex formulations, ... the word with all its subtle power to suggest and foreshadow overt action while magically disguising the moral consequences of that action and providing it with symbolic and psychological justification. For if the word has the potency to revive and make us free, it has also the power to blind, imprison and destroy.” Ralph Ellison wrote these words in 1953, as he reflected on how portrayals of Black people in fiction warped the way white Americans perceived them. The language that people in power use to describe marginalized peoples — what they choose to highlight and to ignore — shapes how society views them. When used conscientiously, words have the power to “free.” But, crucially, when wielded disingenuously or maliciously, they compound injustice and “destroy.” That is why language is so powerful. That is why what we say matters. The same idea applies to journalism. This summer, The Daily Princetonian’s Opinion section has explored the impact of racist language. Columnists have discussed the bounds of reasonable debate in the wake of Professor Joshua Katz’s Quillette column and statements by the Princeton Open Campus Coalition. Professors and students have argued about the limits of acceptable academic inquiry. The reason I joined the ‘Prince’ as a columnist was to point out when institutions fail to confront racism. Many of my columns have taken on this topic in sports, politics, higher education, the Princeton community, and the media. So as this summer’s protests grew, I paid special attention to how the journalism industry confronted its role in this moment of reckoning over institutional racism, particularly in media portrayals of the protests that have erupted in response to police murders of Black people, most recently seen with Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. In the weeks and months since, millions of people have gathered in big cities and small towns across America — and around the world — to declare that Black lives matter and demand justice. We are seeing protests on a historic scale, but we are also seeing a media landscape ill-equipped to accurately portray this movement to the public. Inevitably, these mass protests have commanded wall-towall coverage. But a long-standing lack of diversity in news-


rooms, combined with a misguided fixation on the unattainable ideal of “objectivity,” has prevented many media outlets from effectively capturing this moment. All protest movements are complex and nuanced. People fill the streets for different reasons, carry different attitudes towards events, and hold different motives. The job of the press is to sort through these complexities and present a story to the public about what is happening. But all too often, biases within the media have warped coverage of these protests. In order to accurately explain what is happening, one must understand the context from which this moment arose. In this instance and many others, the media has failed to do so. Among many examples from this summer, two clear instances, one at a local paper, the other at a national one, exemplify this issue.

“[T]hose in power are not equipped to cover this transformational moment and... those who would report thoughtfully are not empowered to do so.” The first demonstrates the focus on the spectacle — police cars on fire, windows smashed, looting — at the expense of the broader, more accurate, picture. On June 2, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a story with the headline “Buildings Matter, Too.” The headline represented a common theme in media coverage, especially in the early days of unrest. Such a statement co-opts the rallying cry of the movement, Black Lives Matter, to undermine it. It draws an offensive false equivalency between the lives taken by racist violence and the property damage during the response to that violence. To write and approve such a headline reveals a distance from the stakes of the issues that have driven people to the streets. The internal newsroom reaction reflects that. The following day, more than forty staffers of color at the Inquirer called in “sick and tired” and signed onto an open letter demanding change in the newsroom. By the end of that week, the top editor of the paper had resigned. The staff ’s letter shows that they were responding not only to this specific headline, but to what it represents: the

weight of “shouldering the burden of dragging this 200-yearold institution kicking and screaming into a more equitable age” and being told to “show both sides of issues there are no two sides of.” As those staffers explain, running a story like that dismisses the very real injustices that sparked the protests. By trying to satisfy an ill-defined idea of objectivity by presenting “both sides” of the protests, the paper in fact did choose a side. And in doing so, it not only offended its staff, but it also alienated the community it is responsible for covering. The staffers highlighted the importance of building trust with their communities, a difficult task that is “eroded in an instant by careless, unempathetic decisions.” Those two words, “careless” and “unempathetic,” tell the whole story. The people who wrote and approved that headline clearly did not consider the effect such language has. But it is incumbent upon journalists to understand the impact of their words — that’s the whole game. If a paper does not value its community, it cannot provide truthful coverage; it can only do harm. A better use of time and resources would be to investigate why the property damage occurred — why was frustration so high? Both James Baldwin and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of the context that gives rise to riots and looting. King called riots “the language of the unheard.” It is a journalist’s job to translate that language to the broader public. Baldwin told Esquire in 1968: “The mass media — television and all the major news agencies — endlessly use that word ‘looter.’ On television you always see black hands reaching in, you know. And so the American public concludes that these savages are trying to steal everything from us, and no one has seriously tried to get where the trouble is. After all, you’re accusing a captive population who has been robbed of everything of looting. I think it’s obscene.” A journalist decrying looting without calling attention to the conditions that precipitated it and the perspectives of the people participating in it has failed their responsibility to tell the truth to the public. This is how the media misunderstands objectivity. In an op-ed in The New York Times, journalist Wesley Lowery suggests that the media adopt a “fairness-and-truth focus,” rather than a fixation on “neutral ‘objective journalism.’” Lowery explains that in trying to appear objective — when in fact no person actually is — journalists end up perpetuating a “public thoughtlessness.” This captures the issue with the Inquirer headline: No one in the process of writing and approving it thought about its impact. And that is a problem both because those in power are not equipped to cover this transformational moment and because those who would report thoughtfully are not em-

racism in the media industry powered to do so. The same issues of journalistic responsibility came to light with an editorial decision by The New York Times. On June 3, the Times published a column by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) entitled “Send in the Troops,” which called for “an overwhelming show of force” to “restore order” to the nation’s cities. The many misleading elements of Cotton’s essay, which the Times later acknowledged, demonstrate why the paper should not have published it on a technical level. But, like the Inquirer, the decision to do so also reflects a concerning philosophy about the role of journalism that reaches beyond this specific newsroom. It is this concern that caused many Black staffers, as well as non-Black allies, to publicly show their disagreement with their paper’s decision. They tweeted a screenshot of the headline with a variation of the statement “Publishing this puts Black NYT staff in danger.” More than 800 staffers signed a letter expressing their disagreement. After initially defending the column, editorial page editor James Bennet and A.G. Sulzberger, the paper’s editor, apologized, acknowledging that it should not have been published. Four days after the column ran, Bennet resigned. The crux of the argument from the column’s defenders, Bennet and Sulzberger included, was that the opinions page should be open to opposing viewpoints. But a fixation on a

Square Massacre. Of course, like the Philadelphia Inquirer, the editors of Cotton’s op-ed appear not to have considered these implications — this is precisely the problem. For some, the argument about whether or not to send the military into protests is an intellectual hypothetical; for people of color, it is life and death. The fear of state violence is not some trivial or abstract thing — that’s the whole point of these protests, and the police response to them has only underscored that point. To play with that fundamental existential fear is despicable; to be unaware of it is the height of privilege. To neglect to communicate that reality to your readers is journalistic malpractice. When the op-ed was published, the nation had already witnessed the consequences of Cotton’s mindset. It was that same attitude that motivated the Trump administration to unleash tear gas, pepper balls, and police in riot gear upon a crowd of thousands to clear the way for the president to stage a photo op in front of a church. At the time, the concern was merely imagining that mindset applied on a national scale; in the months since, it has become a reality. Deployed to Portland, Ore., federal officers escalated tensions, rounding up protesters into vans without explanation and using force indiscriminately against crowds. Protesters were forced to protect themselves with helmets, masks, and shields. The very danger that readers warned the Times about in the moment has, unsurprisingly, materialized. It is that very real threat that the Times elevated by publishing Cotton’s column. In its apology, the paper explained that a rushed editorial process led to the essay being regrettably published. This admission reveals a deeper problem with the media. The fact that this column didn’t raise alarm, that no one in the position to stop the piece spoke up, demonstrates the consequences of an industry that refuses to integrate Black voices into positions of power and influence. This is the cost of failing to diversify. Journalists cannot do their job — to inform the public — if they do not understand the impact of their role. Journalism is often described as the first draft of history. At best, journalism informs and transforms people’s understanding of the world around them. But the events of this summer have shone a light on the many ways that journalism falls short, and it all comes back to a central question: Who is telling the story, and what do they care about? This concern has brought the fight for equity playing out on the streets into newsrooms themselves, as Black journalists pressure their publications to hire, retain, and elevate a diverse staff. Soledad O’Brien called this a “MeToo moment for journalists of color.” This moment draws on a long history. In 1968, the Kerner Commission (otherwise known as the National Advisory

“[Newsrooms] need to create environments where journalists of color feel heard and included, not dismissed and overlooked.”

both-sides narrative without actually considering the context of the issue, and the consequences of a given argument, betrays the problem. Newspapers don’t just publish every argument they come across — they select which ideas to elevate and lend legitimacy to. This means that by inviting Cotton to write this article (the Times approached him, not the other way around), the Times chose to give greater voice to an idea that directly threatened protesters who already faced arbitrary violence from police in the form of tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons. Cotton proposed using the U.S. military in an “overwhelming show of force” to suppress dissent. That is what the Times legitimized. It should also be noted that they published such an essay on the eve of the anniversary of the Tiananmen

Commission on Civil Disorders) concluded, “the press has too long basked in a white world looking out of it, if at all, with white men’s eyes and white perspective. That is no longer good enough.” Fifty-two years later, the press is still not doing enough. The first concern is that newsrooms must reflect the communities they cover more accurately. For example, while Washington, D.C., is approximately 45 percent Black, only 19 percent of all the employees at the Washington Post are Black, and only 9 percent of news and editorial employees are Black. Only last month did the Post name its first Black woman, Krissah Thompson, to the position of managing editor. In New York City, where 24 percent of residents are Black, only 9 percent of The New York Times staff were Black in 2019, the same percentage as in 2015. But simply increasing the number of Black journalists and journalists of color will not solve the problem. As Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor at the Washington Post, tweeted recently, “Diversity is a means, not an end. If your plans for a better work environment end at ‘diversity,’ it’s not enough. Diversity — without empowerment of Black people and other people of color — is tokenization. And tokenization reinforces white supremacy.” Newsrooms need decision-makers who understand the gravity of this moment and the importance of accurate reporting. They need to create environments where journalists of color feel heard and included, not dismissed and overlooked. White reporters and those not on the “race beat” must understand that race and racism affect every corner of American life. The events of this summer — the pandemic, the police brutality, the incoming election — prove this fact. Media coverage of issues from climate change to the economy and everything in between must take race into account. It should not fall to Black journalists to shoulder the labor of bringing their newsrooms to these standards, nor to deal with the fallout when these institutions fail to live up to their purpose. As student journalists we must critique the media and strive to do better ourselves. As young readers, we must be critical consumers and demand better from the media. Now is the time when we must be clear-eyed and intentional about our language. As O’Brien has noted, decades of failing to call racism racism has created a society where people must see murder on camera to raise their voices against century-old systems of oppression. If we want people to understand the depth and persistence of oppressive structures, we have to report their causes and effects, not just their manifestations in the moment. We must empower journalists of color to tell their stories and implore white journalists to reckon with race and bias in their coverage. The time is now for a new era of journalism. Julia Chaffers is a junior from Wellesley, Mass. She can be reached at




The subtle in-between

A meditation on peripheral community at Princeton Remy Reya

Contributing Columnist August 16, 2020


n private memory, this place [Princeton] is its halls, its library, its chapel worn to satin by the encounters and collaborations among and between strangers from other neighborhoods and strangers from other lands. In private memory, it is friendships secured and endangered on greens and in classrooms, offices, eating clubs, residences. In private memory, it’s stimulating rivalries negotiated in laboratories, in lecture halls, and on and within sports arenas. Every doorway, every tree and turn is haunted by laughter, by murmurs of loyalty and love, tears of pleasure and sorrow and triumph. – Toni Morrison, “The Place of the Idea; The Idea of the Place” — presented at Princeton’s 250th Anniversary Convocation What makes the place? High school seniors have, for years, been faced with the same messages from universities all across the country. When asked about the best part of their schools, college students rise up in unison: It’s the people. The networks. The community. This answer begins to feel cliché after enough campus tours and information sessions. But when we eventually come to occupy those spaces as our own, it almost always rings true — every great place is made great because of the people. At Princeton, that fact is embodied in the late-night Firestone study sessions, the later-night Murray Dodge cookie runs, and the impromptu sing-alongs in the Coffee Club. The moments of triumph after a successful midterm exam and the moments of sadness after a final grade release. The nights out and nights in, the ping-pong matches and speaker series, the fundraiser events and volunteer outings. All mediated by the granite and marble foundations of the University and made meaningful by the people around us; all integral to life on Princeton’s campus. Now, as we approach Princeton’s first-ever fully-online semester, those elements of community seem irreparably distant. When we reflect on this loss, we tend to focus on the close friends — the people we roomed with, studied with, and partied with; the people we stayed in touch with during breaks from school (when those were only temporary). Naturally, it’s their company that we will mourn as we attend class from our bedrooms. There is another loss, however, that earns less attention — though it will surely go on to define our semesters, and perhaps our Princeton experiences as a whole. That’s the loss of peripheral community.

Our commutes across campus are often bookended by engagements with members of our inner circles. But any walk from place to place is also peppered with subtler, more measured interactions with the people in our social “grey area” — too close not to acknowledge but too distant to greet with more than a few pleasantries and a smile (or perhaps a “let’s get a meal some time!”). These sorts of interactions, simple as they are, constitute a fundamental element of community that we often take for granted. And now, faced with a fully virtual campus experience, we will likely find ourselves clinging to well-established friendships but failing to connect with the full range of people who make our lives at Princeton meaningful. Part of the problem is the overwhelming intentio-

medium hampers these connections. Sure, we can start separate chats with individual Zoom attendees; and, of course, we can reach out to people after group meetings to touch on shared interests. But the activation energy for this type of outreach is decidedly higher than it might be on a normal day on our campus. The two-dimensionality of it all denies us the beautiful residue of social interaction that we experience in a truly shared space. In person, our tolerance for silence is greater, and no encounter starts and ends as abruptly as a Zoom call does. We accept fluctuating conversational dynamics and take care to gradually phase out of interactions — and even when they end, we can always run after people to wallow in the togetherness a little longer. In the absence of three-dimensional closeness, then, we will have to work even harder this semester to embrace peripheral community. Instead of restricting our online interaction to pre-scheduled conversations that we deem “important,” we will have to create space and acceptance for the digitization of connections that might fall through the cracks of our long-term memories. This may be as simple as logging on before the start of virtual class meetings to leave time for small talk with other students. It may mean inviting more acquaintances to Zoom calls with friends or setting up “speed-friending” events mediated through FaceTime. It might manifest in a million different ways, all unconventional and experimental and hopelessly romantic. Fostering this culture will rely on a collective recognition that we are all facing the same barriers to connection, that there will be bumps and awkward pauses along the way, and that making the effort is still worth it. It will be worth it. It will be necessary. And, inevitably, it won’t be enough. But hopefully living in this strange new world will instill in us a more lasting appreciation for the people in our peripheral community. Then, once things return to “normal” — when we are finally afforded the freedom to wander and cross paths once again — we can relish those small, beautiful moments as they unfold and sit with them a little bit longer when they’re over. They are a fundamental part of community, and they are worth protecting.

“Part of the problem is the overwhelming intentionality necessitated by online communication.”


nality necessitated by online communication. Wandering through campus, we can rekindle dormant relationships simply by happenstance: running into an old friend in front of Woolworth, catching a former lab partner on their way out of Dillon Gym, or boarding the Dinky with a first-year orientation leader we haven’t spoken to in a while. Even just the sight of familiar faces — love interests, ex-partners, strangers you happen to see everywhere — evokes some sense of a living community that requires little of us in order to go on existing. But the virtual world demands premeditation of almost every interaction, often denying access to those brief but essential moments of connection: the short side-conversations as everyone in our Zee group starts yelling over each other about which Harry Potter movie was best, the whispered commentary on something a professor said just moments before, the glances and snickers after a plate is dropped in the dining hall. These instances are valuable in their potential as foundations for more significant relationships, of course, but also in Remy Reya is a senior in the Princeton School of Public themselves. and International Affairs. He can be reached at jreya@prinThe grand and intimidating wall that is the online


Princeton, it’s 2020: stop protecting racial slurs Imani Mulrain, Brittani Telfair, Kathy Palomino, Jordan Stallworth, Mayowa Oke, Kalyn Nix, Grace Simmons, and Josiah Gouker Summer Columnist, Contributing Columnist, and Guest Contributors August 6, 2020


n July 20, a white Princeton student invoked the n-word in a public Facebook comment attempting to bait a dissenting Black commenter. News of this incident spread quickly among Princeton students, some of whom drafted a petition calling for a discrimination hearing. As of Aug. 4, 2020, over 1,500 individuals have signed this petition. In response, Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun emailed all undergraduate students, announcing that while harmful, this use of a racial slur did not violate our University’s Freedom of Expression policy. In response to students who emailed them about this event, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion replied with a link to Counseling and Psychological Services, which is both understaffed and under-resourced. In doing so, the University acknowledges that the use of racial and ethnic slurs by students and faculty will cause enough harm to Black and Brown students to warrant counseling. But rather than stand up for or protect marginalized students in any meaningful way on this issue, the University would rather allow students of color to be further harmed and then send them to CPS to deal with their completely avoidable trauma.

Such a decision — condoning a student actively baiting members of the Black community on social media with the intent of framing subsequent responses as overly-emotional, irrational, and undemocratic — is “incompatible with the functioning of the University.” This is because such behavior undermines “the civility and sense of community on which the well-being” of Princeton’s campus depends. It would be easy to look at the University’s response and reflexively minimize it as an isolated incident. While their response was directed at the transgressions of one individual, its implications are far-reaching. Princeton’s decision to not pursue disciplinary action has set a dangerous precedent whereby any non-Black student can employ racist rhetoric and not face sanctions. For Black students who are constantly forced to witness the use of such language, whether it be sung at eating club parties, graffitied in residence halls, or publicized in social media posts, this is absolutely unacceptable. This response will invariably embolden individuals to use racial slurs. It is clear from past actions of both students and professors alike, that there is a segment of Princeton’s population which seeks to use racial epithets in spite of protest from the Black community. Princeton’s decision to sit idly by in the face of such injustice has sent a clear message to these racist individuals: say, type, sing, and shout racial slurs all you want — the University won’t lay a finger on you. The University’s defense of its decision rests on its interpretation of freedom of speech. The University is wrong, however, in its implication that this freedom of speech is guaranteed equally, or that it prohibits accountability for the harm inflicted. Princeton and the United States share a pattern of punishing marginalized people fighting for change while protecting racist speakers. As a private institution, the University is fully within its rights to sanction individuals who don’t align with its views and vision, but the administration chooses not to do so. How can the University “emphasize that racism, prejudice, and bigotry have no place at Princeton,” when its policies continually protect such practices? The University’s response falsely asserts the compatibility of unfettered free speech and anti-racism. The reality is that if an institution is anti-racist, it cannot allow and protect racism. Derogatory, offensive, racist speech must be subject to reprimand and punishment. This is not to say that all controversial speech needs to be banned: respectful dissent opens the door for dialogue and deeper understanding. However, hate speech in the form of racial epithets and attacks does not contribute to meaningful discussion. By targeting race, said remarks automatically undermine the position of students of color and discourage them from responding at all. These attacks are designed to harm, to belittle, and to silence. Hateful speech creates an undeniably toxic environment and has no place in an institution that is truly committed to anti-racism. Therefore, free speech and anti-racism must be balanced. It is important that discussion can take place, but students of color should not be denied a learning environment comparable to that of their white peers. They should not have to endure University-sanctioned dehumanization simply because some individuals are too closed-minded to engage in conversations about race and instead fall back on hate speech to “prove” their point. Black Princeton students are acutely aware that the University has baggage — a history of investing in racist corporations, institutions, and individuals dating back to its role in slavery — but we did not enroll nor did the University accept our applications to uphold these traditions. Any university, including Princeton, is most successful when leadership measures their success by each continuous effort to listen and then actively show up for students, especially those students who-

“How can marginalized students feel empowered and respected when their own University protects racial, ethnic, gender, and other offensive slurs?” As might be expected from a University that creates task forces and committees in the place of meaningful change, Calhoun’s statement ended with an invitation to participate in a series of facilitated dialogues on “these essential topics.” But if our reports of discrimination and emailed concerns are consistently ignored — our shared testimonies on social media that tag the official Princeton account are banned from appearing in Princeton’s tagged posts in a blatant display of censorship and hypocrisy — how will these conversations be any different? What kind of message does it send to current and prospective students if our concerns of racism and intolerance are met with invitations to “facilitate dialogue” and mental health resources? We have thus far been unequivocal in calling attention to the injustices we face. We do not need dialogue; we need action. For Black students, who make up less than seven percent of the University population, to repeatedly hear the n-word used by peers and faculty is dehumanizing. The word reflects America’s 400+ year history of the oppression and disenfranchisement of Black people and still carries significant weight today in 2020. The n-word has no place in the mouths of any racial or ethnic group besides the Black community. How can marginalized students feel empowered and respected when their own University protects racial, ethnic, gender, and other offensive slurs? How can an institution possibly position these students for success when its own administration acknowledges that school policies contradict and permit instances of offensive language that “do not match the values of [the] community”? Given President Christopher Eisgruber’s own words on the necessity of confronting racism and the abundance of solidarity statements, Princeton’s decision to protect racist rhetoric is deeply hypocritical.

se common goal is to create a fairer and more just university. With a $26.1B endowment and multi-year reign as the nation’s #1 university, the University starts its pursuit of an anti-racist campus with an incredible amount of power compared to the average ally. And yet, all the money and influence in the world will matter little until the University first chooses to do what any ethical institution must do: listen and use their power to do right by those they seek to support. A policy that balances free speech with protecting students of color from undue pain is not unprecedented: Harvard University’s harassment policy does this, placing “using racial epithets, making racially derogatory remarks, and using racial stereotypes” under the category of racial harassment, something Princeton’s policies have yet to do. Ultimately, it is absurd to maintain that it is necessary to protect hate speech to promote an environment where all feel equally valued and comfortable speaking. We call on Princeton University: step up and use your power to protect your Black students. We ask that the University follow in the footsteps of its peer institutions and explicitly ban the use of racial epithets on campus as codified in Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities. We ask this not with the aim of limiting free speech but to allow Black lives at Princeton to flourish in knowing that the University cares about our voices. Furthermore, we ask the University to update its policy to be consistent with its desire to create an environment where students show “respect for each other, especially for fellow students who are personally affected by claims about topics such as gay marriage, immigration, racial equality, or religious freedom.” In changing its policy, the University will come closer to a vision of a successful anti-racist institution where the freedom to express opinions persists, and where there is support for, to quote Eisgruber, “people from all sectors of society genuinely feeling empowered to come to the table and feeling that their voices are respected.” Imani Mulrain is a rising sophomore from Boston, Mass., concentrating in molecular biology. She can be reached at Mulrain serves as a summer columnist at The Daily Princetonian. Jordan Stallworth is a rising senior from Lawrenceville, Ga., concentrating in the School of International and Public Affairs. She can be reached at Mayowa Oke is a rising junior from Calgary, Canada, concentrating in neuroscience. She can be reached at Kalyn Nix is a rising senior from Wilmington, Del., concentrating in molecular biology. She can be reached at Grace Simmons is a rising junior from South Jersey, concentrating in neuroscience. She can be reached at Brittani Telfair is a rising junior from Richmond, Va., concentrating in the School of Public and International Affairs. She can be reached at btelfair@ Kathy Palomino is a rising junior from Nashville, Tenn., concentrating in sociology. She can be reached at Josiah Gouker is a rising junior from Yucca Valley, Calif., concentrating in African American Studies. He can be reached at THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN



Why mutual respect makes free speech better Christopher L. Eisgruber Guest Contributor July 20, 2020


hen historians look back on 2020, they will undoubtedly see it as a year of great strife and important change. America’s national reckoning with racism, carried out amidst a deadly and still unfolding pandemic, has uncovered long simmering tensions and persistent injustices throughout the country. Princeton has distinctive responsibilities as it contends with its own history, and seeks to improve itself, in this pivotal moment. As I argued in a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School last autumn, we are in an era when many people mistakenly treat free speech and inclusivity as competing values. Universities must nevertheless remain steadfastly devoted to both free speech and inclusivity. We need the benefit of multiple voices and perspectives, and we need real engagement among them. Our ability to uphold these two ideals depends upon the University’s policies but rests ultimately upon shared commitment from faculty, staff, and students. Policies alone cannot produce the generative exchanges and real learning that are crucial to Princeton’s mission. For example, Princeton has a strong policy protecting free speech. It applies very broadly, encompassing academic inquiry, peaceful protest, ordinary conversation, and online discussion. The University permits speech that is unpopular, provocative, controversial, wrong, or even deeply offensive. Princeton’s freedom of expression policy, which the faculty adopted at its April 2015 meeting, rests upon the idea that the pursuit of understanding, discovery, and truth benefits from the open and vigorous contestation of ideas. To paraphrase U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, the remedy for bad speech is more speech, not censorship. This policy includes very limited exceptions. It provides, for example, that the University may regulate various categories of speech, including speech “that falsely defames a specific individual, that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment, [or] that unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests.” Not coincidentally, these three categories all pertain to speech that is directed at, or is about, specific individuals. The University’s mission depends on our ability to vigorously debate ideas. It does not, however, depend on our ability to defame, harass, or violate the privacy of our interlocutors. These exceptions, however, are narrowly drawn so that they do not inhibit open discussion. As a result, we are in many circumstances free to call one another “racists” 28 THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN

or “terrorists” or “Nazis” or other names. The freedom of speech allows not only for genteel conversation but also for harsh language, impassioned argument, and provocative rhetoric. Of course, it also permits all of us to criticize statements that we find offensive or irresponsible, even if that speech is fully protected from punishment or discipline. The ongoing controversy about classics professor Joshua Katz and the Black Justice League illustrates the point. The Black Justice League was a group of non-violent student activists who protested about Woodrow Wilson’s racism and other issues. Their arguments and rhetoric, even if others found them provocative or offensive, were protected by Princeton’s commitment to the freedom of speech. When Katz disparaged the group last week as a “terrorist organization,” I was among those who found his statement irresponsible and offensive. Our policies, however, protect Katz’s freedom to say what he did, just as they protected the Black Justice League’s. He can be answered but not censored or sanctioned. As one head of a residential college put it in a recent letter to students, most public spaces at Princeton, whether physical or virtual, are more like a town square than a family living room. We may hope for polite civility, but we cannot require it nor should we always expect it. But the fact that we have the right to insult one another does not mean that insulting people is the right thing to do. On the contrary, Princeton’s free speech principles also affirm that “all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect.” And that brings me back to where I began, with the delicate and essential combination of principles that are crucial to this University’s flourishing. The University and I personally will do what we can to enforce, uphold, and promote those principles. But their force and vitality ultimately depend on the shared, widespread (though not necessarily universal) engagement of students, faculty, and staff. That is true of our commitments to free speech and mutual respect, and it is also true of our commitments to promote inclusivity and oppose racism. I have been heartened by the efforts of faculty, students, staff, and alumni who are in this moment expressing a desire and taking action to continue Princeton’s progress toward racial diversity, equity, and justice. We are going to need your ideas, your energy, and your durable involvement if we want to continue to change this University for the better. We are also going to need this community to embrace and practice the art of respectful disagreement. We undoubtedly have many hard conversations ahead of us, on issues both sensitive and urgent. We need to be able to ad-

vocate for ideas and critique those with whom we disagree while avoiding personal attacks or gratuitous disparagement. In the days since I objected to Katz’s comments about the Black Justice League, several people have written to me to say that other portions of his essay contain important arguments worth considering. I agree. They have also expressed hope that we can have a constructive campus dialogue about those ideas and the ones in the faculty petition to which he responded. Again, I agree. Constructive exchange, however, depends upon mutual respect: people who want a respectful response from others are generally well advised to start by showing respect for others. We need to build a public space where disagreement does not automatically paint someone as an enemy. That type of space, so crucial to learning and research, is harder to maintain today than it has ever been. Modern communication tools make it all too easy to attack when we should be engaging and to shout when we should be listening. Rigorous, respectful debate is not a barrier to change — it will make our ideas stronger and their impact more lasting. These are, as I have said before, challenging times. They call upon all of us to make special efforts to cultivate and preserve the mutual respect and constructive engagement that make this University such a special place. I am confident that Princetonians will rise to this occasion, and in doing so provide needed leadership on issues and in dialogues that matter critically to our nation and the world. Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 serves as Princeton University’s 20th president.

Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian



Magazine editor resigns over Dickman’s controversial poem, as U. community weighs in By Paige Allen, Associate Prospect Editor | August 17, 2020


acklash over creative writing lecturer Michael Dickman’s use of offensive and violent language in a recently published poem led Don Share, the editor of Poetry magazine, to resign last month — one of several recent controversies surrounding free speech and accountability that have embroiled the University. The 30-page free verse poem by Dickman was criticized for containing an offensive term used to refer to Black women and imagery, which then-editor Share called “insidious” and “particularly oppressive to Black, Pacific Islander, and Asian people.” On July 26, the editors of Poetry issued an apology for publishing the poem in their July/August publication. The same day, Share stepped down from his position, soon releasing a statement taking “sole responsibility for publishing the poem.” The apology came shortly after Dickman himself joined over 2,000 poets, educators, and readers in signing a letter that called for the Poetry Foundation to reallocate funds toward social justice and for the Foundation’s President and Chair of the Board to resign. Both men, one of whom once served as Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, stepped down in mid-June. Dickman has not made a public statement regarding “Scholls Ferry Rd.” or the magazine’s response. He deferred comment for this piece to Lewis Center for the Arts (LCA) Chair Tracy K. Smith, who wrote that the LCA’s “number one goal is to support and strengthen the entire Lewis Center community.” “And so it is important to us now to seek out dialogue with concerned students,” Smith added in an email. “Their input will guide us in developing a formalized process for addressing accountability and making reparations in situations of this kind moving forward.” The poem’s publication came weeks before Smith joined over 350 University faculty members in signing an open letter that urged University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 and other high-ranking administrators to take anti-racist action. Dickman is not listed as a signatory. Among 48 proposals, the signatories demanded the Univer-

sity convene a committee to “oversee the investigation and discipline of racist behaviors, incidents, research, and publication on the part of faculty.” Several faculty members have since condemned both the letter and that particular proposal. Most controversially, classics professor Joshua Katz referred to Black student activists as terrorists in an early July response. Katz’s language, a white student’s use of the n-word on Facebook, and lack of repercussions in both instances have also led some to criticize the University’s policies on offensive language and free speech. As the national reckoning with racial injustice has reached Princeton, Dickman’s poem — and Share’s resignation — have reignited conversations about racism, free expression, and accountability.

‘Scholls Ferry Rd.’

Dickman’s poem focuses on the speaker’s grandmother, whose mental dexterity, over the course of 30 pages, declines with age. Explicit references to race do not appear until the poem’s 14th page, which begins with an offensive racial term for a Black woman. The speaker’s grandmother defends her use of the term by saying, “they are always changing what they want to be called.” The grandmother then remarks, “[w]hat a nice Hawaiian” and, on the next page, tells her daughter Wendy to “[s]tep on it” when she sees what the speaker calls a “river of Japanese businessmen” in front of the car. “The language used is pretty jarring,” said Brittani Telfair ’22, the treasurer of Songline Slam Poetry. “It was just kind of bizarre.” Share wrote in his editor’s note that he originally read “Scholls Ferry Rd.” as a “condemnation” of racism within a white family. Soon after, he came to consider that view “wishful thinking,” believing that the poem “egregiously voices offensive language that is neither specifically identified nor explicitly condemned as racist.”

Several students who spoke to The Daily Princetonian, however, defended the poem’s publication. Destiny Salter ’20, who graduated with a B.A. in African American studies and a certificate in creative writing, read the poem with knowledge of the criticism it had received online. She felt the work had been “completely misinterpreted,” and its language “taken out of context.” “I doubt the majority of the Twitter mob that is up in arms about this poem read it in its entirety,” Salter wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ For her senior thesis, which Dickman advised, Salter wrote a poetry collection that “dealt extensively with racism, white supremacy, and racial violence.” Her thesis received the 2020 Toni Morrison prize for “enlarg[ing] the scope of our understanding of issues of race.” Maintaining that the use of “a slur or an offensive word in literature does not make the author racist,” Salter stressed reading lines in context. She felt the poem could be read as a “subtle critique” of racism, the grandmother’s language revealing a character who lives in a romanticized past and resists change. Priyanka Aiyer ’23, who publishes poetry under the name Topaz Winters, disagreed. She felt the poem displaced responsibility from the author, critiquing “the general institution of racism without critiquing the author’s role in that.” “It presents racism as something that kind of happens outside of the author and happens to the author and around the author rather than something that the author actually perpetuates,” Aiyer explained. Co-president of Ellipses Slam Poetry Christina Im ’22 agreed with this sentiment, telling the ‘Prince’ that “because we get this seemingly uncritical reenactment of these scenes of racism, what ends up happening is there is a reenactment of the violence that is done through that language.” Beyond the level of language, Im was shocked that the poem was “taking up so much space in the magazine,” which is known as “one of the most well-paying magazines in poetry.” THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN


Because of the magazine’s practice of paying by the page, Im felt the poem obstructed “potentially multiple paychecks” that could have gone to poets of color or Black poets. “Even if the poem in terms of craft were a meaningful critique of whiteness — which I don’t think it is, but even if it were — the fact that it takes up so much space and it plays on the structural advantages that the poet has kind of negates whatever meaningful work that it could have done,” Im added. Share echoed this sentiment in his apology, writing that the poem “centers completely on white voices, leaving room for no other presences.” Telfair was most troubled by the brevity of those presences, how the figures of color in the poem did not in her view have “the space or the chance to say anything or be engaged with in a meaningful way and have a voice of their own.” In Telfair’s view, by confining BIPOC presences to two pages in the middle of a poem that otherwise offers extreme detail and nuance on the grandmother and uses “dehumanizing language,” “Scholls Ferry Rd.” failed to “clearly establish the humanity of the people of color it describes” and contributed to “a larger pattern in the Western literary canon of using people of color as props that white characters can define themselves against.” Scooter Liapin ’20, whose poetry thesis was advised by Dickman, believes any attempt at nuance in the poem reflects only “white guilt” and “morphs into a context-less parroting of what [the speaker’s] racist family members said.” “That’s no critique; that’s regurgitating past instances of violence for an audience without taking accountability for oneself or holding one’s family accountable,” they wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ For D.M. Spratley ’07, a poet and an anti-racist educator and strategist, poets must be accountable to readers of color. She believes “Scholls Ferry Rd.” inaccurately assumes a white readership and fails to consider what “actively causes harm” to Black, Pacific Islander, or Native Hawaiian readers. A study from 2006 and a more recent study in 2017 both found that Black Americans and other communities of color propor-

According to Share’s statement, Dickman requested his poem “be withdrawn from further circulation,” and the entry for “Scholls Ferry Rd.” currently states the poem “will not be published online or added to the archive.” While some view the removal of Dickman’s poem as an example of “cancel culture” — the practice of shaming an individual, often by removing them from power or discourse, for a perceived wrongdoing — Liapin disagrees. “I personally regard the idea that established writers are under attack for getting their racist pieces rescinded as ludicrous,” they wrote. “What about the many poems from contemporary Black poets and other poets of color that could’ve taken the 30page space that ‘Scholls Ferry Rd.’ took up? Will free speech advocates rally just as hard for them not getting their voices heard, or was it actually never really about free speech?” To Hannah Wang ’21, a member of Songline Slam Poetry and senior writer for the ‘Prince,’ the term “cancel culture” is precariously fluid — seeming “to morph in definition depending on who’s using it, what they’re trying to say about a specific discourse.” Wang defines cancel culture as “a phenomenon of mob mentality and being unforgiving of people’s mistakes.” She does not think the response to “Scholls Ferry Rd.” falls into that category. “When content like that receives calls for accountability, both Poetry magazine and Michael Dickman are under an obligation to respond very seriously to what people are saying about it,” Wang said. “If it did not occur to them that people would respond in this way or feel this way about reading it, then they have to pay attention and listen and take action to make reparations for the harm that was caused.” “That is not cancel culture to me, and that is not an infringement upon free speech to me either,” she added. Social media, especially Twitter, often serves as a battleground where calls for accountability compete with charges of cancel culture, as readers all over the world rapidly consume content and share their opinions. One early post criticizing “Scholls Ferry Rd.” received nearly 2,000 likes and retweets. Jo, however, questioned the validity and efficacy of calls for accountability on social media. In this case, she believes many critiques of the poem’s language have been made in “bad faith,” without full context. She finds social media can lead to “personal attacks and vendettas and into outrage culture.” To her, this outrage can be unwarranted, short-lived, or divorced from meaningful action. Salter ’20 She was particularly suspicious of a series of tweets in response to “Scholls Ferry Rd.,” in which users stated they were unsubscribing from Poetry magazine. “Unsubscribing is a valid way for you as an individual to stop engaging with what you consider racist texts or a racist magazine, but does it really change anything if you unsubscribe?” Jo said. “Rather than subscribing, shouldn’t you contact them? Shouldn’t you campaign to make Poetry magazine less white or to change it instead of just canceling your subscription?” When it comes to cancel culture, Spratley finds discussions of the practice end up “inadvertently centering whiteness.” She thinks conversations about racism must consider “not just the voices we have been hearing for decades that are being challenged but also the voices that we have never had a chance to hear” by focusing on access for BIPOC and “the transformation of our concept of power to center community power rather than individual power.” “I think often about folks who have talent, who have something to say, and who don’t have that same type of access or support. Really, it’s that the institutions are not built for them, and there was never any intention that they would have access or support,” Spratley said.

“[T]he editors and boards of poetry journals need to dedicate themselves to amplifying voices of BIPOC.” - Destiny

tionally read more poetry than white Americans. Gawon Jo ’23, on the other hand, doesn’t think poets should “be beholden to the idea that they need to consider all of the sensibilities of the reader when they’re writing something.” “It’s a post-production thing where you should attach warnings or a clarification in case people take offense to it, but when you’re writing it, you shouldn’t have to censor yourself in that way, especially if it is personal experience,” Jo said. Spratley finds that asking, “Should this be permitted?” unproductively frames the conversation around free speech, causing writers to push back “because they’re asking what they can say and what they can’t say.” “Really, they can say and write whatever they want,” Spratley said. “A point that many, many folks have made: free speech isn’t freedom from consequence.” Opinions differ, however, on what exactly those consequences should be.

Accountability or ‘cancellation’ 30 THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN

Salter agreed, calling for journals “to publish more people of color, and intentionally diversify their staff and their boards” in order to rectify an environment that “tends to be an elitist and very white space.” “Though I do not agree with the criticism of Dickman’s poem, I do agree that the editors and boards of poetry journals need to dedicate themselves to amplifying voices of BIPOC, not just now, not just in this climate, but period,” she wrote.

Calls for action from the LCA The conversation around “Scholls Ferry Rd.” contributes to a national discussion about making reparations for histories of racialized violence, particularly in institutions such as the Poetry Foundation — and the University. While Im wonders if the changes being made at the Poetry Foundation will improve matters, she compares the organization’s public response and concrete changes to the University’s lack thereof. “The public silence of Princeton and the Lewis Center on this issue has been really painful for a lot of people, myself included,” Im said. She asked the LCA to publicly articulate reparative and preventive measures and “put a little on the line by making a public acknowledgement and showing students especially that the Lewis Center cares and is listening and is working to improve.” When it comes to internal improvements, Im wants “a process of accountability that actually ensures that Professor Dickman knows the harm that he’s done with his language and commits in some meaningful structural way to redressing that harm.” She is wary, however, of the LCA relying too heavily on marginalized students to do that reparative work. When the LCA suggested a “listening and learning session” with Dickman and other creative writing professors, Im worried that the proposal placed undue pressure on marginalized students by asking them “to directly confront someone who is in power who has harmed them.” “These students have already been harmed and asking them to explain why feels unproductive to me,” she said. The LCA recently hired students from across its programs to “collaboratively develop and present a teach-in on issues of intersectional identity for LCA faculty and staff,” as described in the job posting. According to an email sent by Silma Berrada ’22 to creative writing students, Berrada, Glenna Jane Galarion ’21, Jasmine Rivers ’23, Miles Wilson ’22, and Jacy Duan ’21 will create a presentation that aims to “share the students’ perspectives on issues of interpersonal and institutional discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, ability, and socioeconomic background as well as propose ways to make the LCA a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive space.” The students are currently collecting personal experiences with any degree of confidentiality from certificate students in all arts programs. They will incorporate submissions into the LCA-wide teach-in. At the University level, there have been a number recent calls for anti-racist change — between the open letter from faculty, activism from policy students, and the Black Leadership Coalition’s development of student task forces to create proposals and communicate with administrators. There has also been pushback, from Katz’s letter and mathematics professor Sergui Klainerman’s assertion that “Princeton University is One of the Least Racist Institutions in the World” to the reformation of a small but vocal student group opposing anti-racist trainings and teaching. In late June, Eisgruber also instructed senior academic and administrative leaders to “identify specific action that can be

taken in their areas of responsibility to confront racism.” These scholars and administrators are expected to submit reports to Eisgruber that “specify a set of actions that could be taken within your areas of study to identify, understand, and combat systemic racism within and beyond the University.” When asked what changes she would like to see at the University level, Spratley drew on her experience helping nonprofit organizations build anti-racist strategies and practices and recommended “starting to build formalized codified systems of accountability [and] of powersharing, building anti-racist policy, and codifying anti-racist practices.” While organizations often first turn to placing people of color in positions of power — a move Spratley thinks is certainly important — she also emphasized that building systems that aren’t reliant on certain individuals ensures the longevity of anti-racist changes and can prevent situations from happening in the first place. Salter combined personnel and structural changes in her suggestions for long-term solutions. She asked for more diversity in the creative writing faculty, which featured only two women and only two professors of color teaching poetry during Salter’s time at the University. She also believes every creative writing class should “challenge hegemonic ideas and problematic paradigms,” begin with discussions of cultural differences and sensitivity, and allow authors — who are sometimes required to stay silent during workshops — to speak up in the face of insensitive or offensive comments.

“I have had experiences where I was the only black person in class, and had to deal with my white peers not understanding certain cultural references, or tell me that they don’t believe the racist experiences I wrote about were true,” Salter wrote. Beyond the creative writing program, Salter believes the University “needs to actually listen to and respect its students’ opinions, especially the ones protesting for social justice.” “Princeton is always the last to change, and always clinging stubbornly to harmful and nonsensical policies in the name of tradition,” she wrote. “Take slaveowners names off of buildings (especially off of the AAS building), stop sabotaging and short-changing cultural affinity groups on campus, create consequences for professors who say or do racially offensive things in class and in interactions with students. The list goes on and on. They have a lot of work to do.” For Im, such anti-racist work is part of the work of art itself. She believes in the power of art to activate a “liberatory imagination,” allowing us to envision what the world could be and thinks artists must engage in active advocacy beyond artistic practice. “If the art that is being made isn’t being accompanied with advocacy for actual structural change, then I just wonder what is the purpose of that work,” she said. “If the people who are making it are not also questing to change the structures that make it hard for certain people to make art in the first place, and for certain people to live the lives that they want to live.”

‘Decolonizing your bookshelf’

Students, alumni, and local businesses turn to books — and buying practices — to combat racism By Hannah Smalley, Staff Writer | August 10, 2020


verybody was at home sitting down for months … Then what happened? The George Floyd murder happened,” said Michael Dexter George, a Tobagonian-American bookstore owner in Newark. “We were all at home. White America saw something that Black people have been going through for years.” As the coronavirus pandemic keeps many from attending in-person protests against anti-Black racism, other forms of allyship have taken on new importance. Though just one part of anti-racist activism, reading Black authors and supporting Black-owned bookstores have allowed people across the nation to engage more deeply with the movement. From student organizers and alumni activists to nearby bookstores, many in the University community are incorporating reading into their activism.

Mobilization in the Bubble The Undergraduate Student Government’s (USG) Anti-Racism Book Initiative provided over 1,000 free ebooks to students in June and organized a forthcoming book talk with the authors, Chair of the Department of African American Studies (AAS) Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. GS ’97 and AAS professor Imani Perry. This initiative is just one of many student efforts underway to elevate anti-racist literature in the Princeton area. In early June, Lauren Johnson ’21 and Ashley Hodges ’21 put together an Anti-Racist Reading List and shared it with friends on their Instagram stories. The publicly accessible spreadsheet includes over 70 nonfiction and fiction texts on topics such as critical race studies, prison/police abolition, Black feminist theory, and revolutionary thought. Throughout June, the list was widely shared across the 32 THE DAILY PRINCETONIAN

University community, including in emails from administrators and numerous student groups. Johnson and Hodges, along with fellow AAS concentrators Erica Dugué ’21 and Masha Miura ’21, also worked with USG to advise the Anti-Racism Book Initiative. Though both Johnson and Hodges were happy to see their work spark discussions across the University community, they originally conceived the list as a starting point for people without access to Princeton’s resources. “When I thought about it in the beginning, a bigger goal for me was taking the knowledge I’ve taken from [the Department of African American Studies] and sharing it outside the Princeton community,” Johnson said. “Because we do have the privilege of being university students, I wanted to make sure that that privilege wasn’t being siloed,” Hodges added. With this mission in mind, Johnson and Hodges included links to PDFs of many items on the list, improving accessibility for those who otherwise could not afford or access these books. At the same time, they urged those with the means to do so to purchase the titles on the list, ideally from Black-owned bookstores. “Purchasing books is particularly important to affluent readers because black writers seriously should not be educating these privileged individuals for free,” Johnson wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’

Source(s) of Knowledge

There are just two Black-owned bookstores in New Jersey: Source of Knowledge, in Newark, and La Unique, in Camden. Though both have been community hubs for years — Source of Knowledge was founded in 1998 and La Unique in 1992 — such stores are disappearing nationwide. According to the African American Literature Book Club, there

were just 54 independent, Black-owned bookstores in the US as of 2014, down by about 50 percent since 2012. Though the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy calculated that the overall number of Black-owned businesses grew 34 percent nationwide between 2007 and 2012, Black business owners continue to face systemic barriers to long-term success. An economy that forces small businesses into competition with powerful corporations has only exacerbated decades of discriminatory lending practices, political repression of Black bookstores, gentrification, and low generational wealth in minority communities. Michael Dexter George, who founded Source of Knowledge with business partners Masani Barnwell and Patrice McKinney, said the store has been able to survive in part because they own their own building. Even so, the team has suffered many of the same setbacks other Black business owners face. “They put me through the hoops,” George said, recalling the day a bank rejected his loan application for the store. “And when I walked out there, my heart was so dropped with the system. It was so hurtful. Up to today, I could never forget. I’m afraid to go to a bank — all they would tell us is no.” Black business owners often encounter racist banking practices known as redlining, in which lenders deny services such as loans to communities of color. Not only are Black and Latino borrowers denied loans at higher rates, but also they are asked for more detailed financial documentation than white borrowers. A 2016 study at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research found that just 1 percent of Black business owners obtain a bank loan within a year of opening. The number for white owners is 7 percent. These disparities have even more dire consequences during the pandemic, as most approved lenders in the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) favor their

existing customers, compounding the challenges for Black business owners. An estimated 41 percent of Black-owned businesses have permanently closed due to the pandemic, compared to 17 percent of white-owned businesses. When Source of Knowledge was forced to close for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the bookshop’s team started a GoFundMe to pay the bills after they were unable to obtain a PPP loan. As of writing, they have raised over $65,000 from 1,200 different donors. While these funds have helped Source of Knowledge weather the pandemic so far, the owners emphasized that the American economy must undergo structural change to help Black-owned businesses succeed in the long term. “If we don’t begin to speak about concrete solutions, then we will be right back like it was before, and that’s what I’m afraid of,” George said. “We have to talk about the economic disparity that goes on in the Black community. We would go and spend billions of dollars with white America, but they do not reciprocate — they don’t come and buy from us.” Though many white people have become more aware of and vocal about these economic disparities since anti-racist protests captured national attention this summer, Black-owned businesses such as Source of Knowledge have

history, ranging from the incomplete to the flat out wrong. Lessons about Black leaders and creators are often limited to Black History Month, relegating their stories to the margin in ways that tacitly reinforce narratives of white supremacy. Even before children start school, they absorb anti-Black messages through stories as seemingly benign as “The Ugly Duckling.” “The duck was ugly because he was the only black duck amongst the little yellow ducks. So they chased him away. He came back the most beautiful white swan loved by all,” McKinney pointed out. “So that tells that child, when he was black he was ugly; when he turned white, he turned beautiful.” Errors and absences in education are compounded by well-documented anti-Black bias in the publishing industry. A recent survey of the industry found that just 5 percent of workers in the publishing industry are Black; the number is just 1 percent for editorial staff, who play a crucial role in deciding which books get published. Even well-established, award-winning Black novelists are often paid advances far smaller than those unknown white authors receive for their debut books. “For all of us in the book industry and in many other sectors, this ought to be a moment of humility and self-critique,” wrote Dorothea von Moltke, owner of Labyrinth Books, in an email to The Daily Princetonian. Labyrinth is an independent bookstore in Princeton and supplies - Masani Barnwell, Source of textbooks for most of the University’s classes. Knowledge business partner The motto of Labyrinth Books is “read… think… act,” and the store’s team has long worked to center the been working for years to provide resources for underserved work of Black authors in the books the shop carries, on social members of the Newark community. media, and in online events. Most recently, Labyrinth collaEven when finances are tight, the owners regularly set borated with Haymarket Books to host conversations with aside boxes of books to give away in the local community. Ibram X. Kendi, Glaude, and Professor Emeritus Cornel West Once or twice a year, for example, the staff organizes an GS ’80. event called Read and Feed, in which they invite children The store has seen a surge in interest in anti-racist works into the store for in-person readings from authors, free food and books by Black authors more generally, even briefly from local restaurants, and free books. selling out of some popular titles at the beginning of June. “My goal is to make sure every child in the city of Newark “There has never been another poliand New Jersey has a book in their hand that’s like them, that tical moment that I know of when such talks about our history — their history — and that helps ima wide range of people decided not just prove their self-esteem, so they feel proud, and know they to ‘show up’ but also to ‘read up’ on all ascome from a people that have accomplished many things,” pects of structural racism,” von Moltke Barnwell said. wrote. “The same books that sold out at “Not only African people need to know about African Labyrinth sold out everywhere, and all culture, Europeans also need to learn about other cultures,” have had to go into new printings.” George added. “If our history was in the school curriculum, Even so, the convenience and brandthen the world would have been a better place today.” -recognition of massive online retailers such as Amazon have funneled a significant portion of such profits away from Reconsidering how we educate Black-owned businesses and into the poThis commitment to education resonates within the Unickets of white-owned corporations. versity community, including with Johnson. “The coolest and most important part [of the response to Turning the page on the Anti-Racist Reading List] was that students were asking buying habits if they could share it with their high schools, which felt really integral to me, since there are really serious curriculum In June, Edwin Rosales ’17 founded changes that need to happen at the K-12 level,” Johnson said. Turn The Page, a collective that supports Unlike with math and reading, states are not required to Black-owned bookstores to ensure they meet any minimum standards for teaching social studies or benefit from renewed national interest in history, which often results in curricula that minimize Black the anti-racist literature they have been

“My goal is to make sure every child in the city of Newark and New Jersey has a book in their hand that’s like them.”

promoting for decades. Co-led by Rosales, Tyler Cruz, Maal Imani West, and Abigail Jean-Baptiste ’18, Turn The Page works with Source of Knowledge to curate bi-monthly Black Liberation Literature Collections, which readers can order from a new online storefront. “In their beginning steps towards allyship, many Americans turned to white authors and capitalist institutions to inform them about the racial injustice Black people face in America. These actions, however, were contradictory to their intention,” notes the Turn The Page website. “You cannot be in true pursuit of Black liberation if you’re choosing to give your money to white capitalist institutions over small Black owned businesses.” McKinney emphasized this point in a Zoom discussion between leaders of Turn The Page and Source of Knowledge hosted by the Lewis Center for the Arts on Aug. 7. “It’s so convenient when you go in Barnes and Noble or Amazon. The first thing you see is ‘Black Lives Matter,’” McKinney said. “No, it’s the dollars that matter.” So far, in their work to change these buying habits, Turn The Page has connected with 5,000 readers in 34 states, bringing in over $25,000 in revenue for Source of Knowledge. “White America is buying from us now — buying a lot from us. Every day they call us, and we don’t want it to stop,” George said. “This is something new to us.” To build lasting change, though, those interviewed stressed that non-Black Americans must continue to support Black-owned businesses and educate themselves long after the current protests fade from the news. “Decolonizing your bookshelf isn’t just about having a bunch of Black authors on that shelf,” Jean-Baptiste said. “How are you having conversations with your friends and your family about what you’re learning in this work? How is it going beyond your isolated reading experience? And how is that being integrated into your mind and into your daily practice?” “This fight is going to be years long,” Hodges said. “So I wouldn’t advise anyone to just read the whole list [of anti-racist literature] over the summer and then have that be it, but just to really think about ways to have this be a moment that has longevity.”


Sacramento Kings name Monte McNair ’06 as General Manager By Alissa Selover, Head Sports Editor | September 17, 2020


onte McNair ’06 has been hired as the Sacramento Kings’ new general manager, the team announced in a press release on its website on Thursday. McNair had been the Houston Rockets’ assistant general manager since 2018 and will be replacing Vlade Divac, who stepped down as the Kings’ general manager last month. “Monte is one of the NBA’s top basketball minds who has played an instrumental role in building several winning teams in Houston,” Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé said in the press release. “I am excited to bring his extensive experience and vision onboard to lead our basketball operations department, and it is my pleasure to welcome Monte and his family to Sacramento.” According to the press release, McNair will be res-

ponsible for all decisions made in the Kings’ operations department and will serve as the team’s top basketball executive. “I am thrilled to join the Kings organization and honored to shape the franchise’s bright future for the team’s loyal fans,” McNair said in the press release. “I would like to thank Vivek for this opportunity and look forward to becoming a part of the Sacramento community.” McNair played football during his time at the University and graduated with a degree in computer scienAce. He began his career as a developer and programmer with the Houston Rockets in 2007 before being promoted to Director of Basketball Operations in 2013, Vice President of Basketball Operations in 2016, and being subsequently promoted to Assistant General Manager in 2018.

“I am... honored to shape the franchise’s bright future for the team’s loyal fans.”

- Monte McNair ’06

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SPORTS Jack Graham / The Daily Princetonian

In a 2019 game against Iowa, Bella Alarie ’20 led the Tigers with 26 points in 44 minutes.

Bella Alarie ’20 signs with Under Armour By Alissa Selover and Tom Salotti, Head Sports Editor and Sports Editor Emeritus | July 28, 2020


ella Alarie ’20 has signed with Under Armour, the company announced, and is one of “three rookie basketball stars” to join its lineup. Alarie was drafted fifth overall in the 2020 WNBA draft by the Dallas Wings. “They are the latest class of young athletes to join Team UA, and part of the brand’s ongoing commitment to empower the next generation of female athletes and equip them with the latest product innovations,” Pilar Terry, executive director at MC Brand Communications, wrote in a press release. “As part of the multi-year deals, Bella, [Kaila Charles], and [Tyasha Harris] will step onto the hardwood this season in the upcoming UA HOVR Breakthru, Under Armour’s first basketball performance footwear designed for female athletes and featuring a women’s last.”

Alarie explained to Under Armour that, growing up playing basketball in Bethesda, she felt especially connected to the brand, whose headquarters are in Baltimore, Md. “I’ve watched the brand up its game over time, just like I’ve been working on mine,” Alarie told the Under Armour Newsroom. “Knowing that we’ve matured together, I’m especially proud to be joining the Under Armour Family and help grow the game for women all over the world.” Alarie finished out her final season for Princeton women’s basketball this spring as the sport’s unanimous Ivy League Player of the Year — her third time earning this distinction — closing out her four-year collegiate career that smashed records. She is the only Princeton athlete to be named First-Team All Ivy four times and first Ivy League athlete na-

med to the Associated Press’s All-American roster twice. She finished this last season with the program’s all-time points (1,703), double-doubles (40), and blocks (249) records. “We could not be more excited for Bella, Kaila and Ty to join us at Under Armour,” Brianna Colón, Under Armour Basketball Global Marketing Lead, told the Under Armour Newsroom. “These women embody our Under Armour values and they deserve our unwavering support. Fans should expect to see these fierce competitors make immediate impacts with their new squads on-court. After all, they have a track record of making history and we can’t wait to see what they do next.” Alarie made her WNBA debut on July 26 against the Atlanta Dream, facing former Princeton women’s basketball star Blake Dietrick ’15 in the 105–95 loss.

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