Princeton’s progressive student groups denounce white supremacy, University’s ‘complicity’

‘Join us in the fight against oppression’

Seventeen politically progressive Princeton University student groups released a joint statement Monday denouncing white supremacist groups and calling on the University to recognize its “complicity” on a number of issues, including Woodrow Wilson’s legacy and private prisons.

“Nazism, white supremacy, anti-semitism, and all forms of racism are repugnant and dehumanizing,” the statement said. “We urge all those who read this statement to join us in the fight against oppression of all forms, at Princeton University and beyond.”

The statement listed a number of “Examples of Princeton University’s complicity.” Although it was unclear exactly what Princeton was complicit in, the phrase seemed to refer to the actions of white supremacist groups.

Yousef Elzalabany, who was identified as one of the two principal authors of the statement, declined to comment, and did not respond to a request to clarify exactly what the University was complicit in. Annabelle Tseng, the other principal author, did not respond to requests for comment.

Leaders of three organizations that signed the statement also declined to comment, deferring to Elzalabany and Tseng.

The statement created a false equivalence between the actions of violent white supremacists and University policies, College Republicans President John Zarrilli wrote in an email.

“The conflation of Charlottesville, white supremacists, and campus politics is perhaps effective, but grossly misleading, whether intended or not,” Zarrilli wrote.

The “Examples of Princeton University’s complicity” included the decision not to change the name of the Woodrow Wilson School and Wilson college; the refusal to divest from private prisons; and the “failure” to designate Princeton a sanctuary campus.

Other issues mentioned were the lack of gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus; the “continued harassment” of low-income LGBT students of color on campus; the “failure to provide adequate food options for low-income students”; and the absence of affinity living spaces based on race or ethnicity.

The University declined to change the name of the Wilson School and Wilson College in April 2016 after a special committee of the board of trustees released a report on the subject. The University has since placed temporary exhibits in both the Wilson School and Wilson College examining Wilson’s racism.

University President Christopher Eisgruber announced in March that Princeton does not hold investments in any of the 11 private prison companies named in a pro-divestment petition, according to reporting from the Tab Princeton and the University Press Club.

Princeton will not declare itself a sanctuary campus, Eisgruber said last November, but will continue to support undocumented students as much as it legally can, the Princeton Packet reported. “Colleges and universities have no authority to exempt any part of their campuses from the nation’s immigration laws,” Eisgruber wrote in an email to undergraduates last November.

The LGBT Center’s website says that Princeton needs to do more to accommodate transgender students. The University is in the process of converting all single-stall bathrooms to gender-neutral signage. University policy is that people may use any bathroom that is consistent with their gender identity.

University financial aid does not cover the entire cost of joining an eating club, although it does cover the cost of the unlimited meal plan, according to a document from the University titled “Financial Aid Information for Eating Club Members.”

Many people and groups, including the Daily Princetonian’s Editorial Board, have called on the University to make it easier for independent students to buy groceries and cook meals.

The University announced in November 2015, during the Black Justice League sit-in, that it would work with the BJL on “the formation of Affinity Housing for those interested in black culture.” It was unknown at press time where those discussions stand.

The statement was signed by the Alliance of Jewish Progressives, the Black Student Union, the College Democrats, Muslim Advocates for Social Justice and Individual Dignity, J Street U Princeton, Princeton Advocates for Justice, the Princeton DREAM Team, the Princeton Hidden Minority Council, Princeton Latinos Y Amigos, Princeton Students for Gender Equality, Princeton Students for Reproductive Justice, the Princeton University Latinx Perspectives Organization, Progressive Christians at Princeton, Students for Prison Education and Reform, the Princeton Progressives, Woke Wednesdays and the Young Democratic Socialists of Princeton.

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