Princeton Citizen Scientists rally for teach-in with faculty and students

“To sit idly and allow divisive rhetoric and “alternative facts” become ever more pervasive simply cannot be an option.” – Princeton Citizen Scientists

Today, America is in the midst of deeply troubling political disruption, the consequences of which are frighteningly clearer with each passing day. Regardless of political affiliation, creed, or ethnic background, citizens and non-citizens are living through a time where values of inclusivity and reason-based inquiry are under assault. To sit idly and allow divisive rhetoric and “alternative facts” become ever more pervasive simply cannot be an option.

In academia, there is a heightened responsibility to resist on-going efforts to blur societal lines between contestable and uncontestable facts, which challenges the very foundations of higher education’s quest for knowledge. With this in mind, over 1,000 members of the Princeton University community, including over 100 leading scholars and faculty, have joined a call for a university-wide Day of Action on Monday, March 6.

Organized by the Princeton Citizen Scientists and Princeton Advocates for Justice, student-led coalitions that bring together over 30 student groups, the day is aimed at bringing together people and ideas for concerted discussion, debate, and strategizing. It is intended as an opportunity for all members of the Princeton University community to put aside regular obligations—academic or otherwise—and take part in a communal exercise to address the challenges arising from the current U.S. political landscape. More than 800 students have given their support, acknowledging the precedence they place on translating their desires for a more humane society into effective action.

The day will feature a wide range of political, intellectual, class, religious, and cultural perspectives in a series of teach-ins led by faculty, staff, and students. Over 40 teach-ins have been confirmed so far, with topics related to knowledge and democracy, the U.S. and the world, and human rights and civil rights. (The constantly updated list of teach-ins, as well as contact information to propose teach-ins, can be accessed here.)

In brief, the day’s events will be guided by the following principles:

1. To examine proposed government policies in a critical and enduring fashion, and foster ideas that contribute to solutions to pressing environmental, social, economic, and international security problems.

2. To expressly oppose policies that threaten human well-being, including the threat or use of nuclear weapons, the undoing of climate accords and environmental protections, and the oppression, discrimination, and exclusion of people on the basis of nationality, race, gender, and identities.

3. To channel concern, anger, and excitement into durable political engagement and coordinated efforts to shape policy and affect the policy-making process.

4. To uphold the core values of Princeton University, including openness, academic freedom, diversity, scholarship, equality, and justice when these are under challenge.

A key goal of the day will also be to spur other universities, civil society organizations, and social institutions to hold similar events and talk with each other. Such cooperation can initiate a critical mass of civic reflection and engagement across the country; ensuring a sustainable movement that will fight for sensible, forward-thinking policies.

On March 6th, Princeton scholars, students, teachers, and community members will stand against racism, misogyny, religious bigotry, and anti-science sentiment. Their message will not only be directed at a government which reinforces these beliefs, but also at a society which must assertively act to preserve its cherished freedoms and liberties.

Authors:

Princeton Citizen Scientists is a group of science, engineering and social science Princeton graduate students who has been meeting since the November 2016 US Presidential election. It seeks to better understand the emerging political landscape and what actions the next generation of scientists, scholars, citizens and members of the Princeton community can take to protect the ideals of equality, justice, compassion and fact-based public policies.

Princeton Advocates for Justice is an intersectional student coalition of 26 Princeton University student groups advocating for the protection and advancement of basic human rights.

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