Open Letter to President Shirley Tilghman, Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter, and the Princeton Community

Princeton, Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

Dear President S.M. Tilghman:

As a prestigious institution of higher education, Princeton University has a rich tradition of debate open to the exchange of ideas from all tendencies. Speakers invited to this University receive great attention and legitimacy.

Given this hard-won reputation, we would like to express our concern regarding a trend in the University’s latest high-profile events—namely, the preference for inviting speakers with messages consistently representative of federal administrations. The list of prominent speakers whom the University and/or the Woodrow Wilson School have brought to campus in recent years includes General Anthony Zinni in April of 2005; Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff on Saturday, October 1st; General Colin Powell, who played a crucial role in advocating the occupation of Iraq; and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who was invited on Friday, September 30th, to offer the keynote address in the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Woodrow Wilson School. General Powell was invited to Princeton University on February of 2004 and was given the Crystal Tiger Award, at a time in which the Bush administration was being forced to yield to the demand for an independent investigation related to flawed intelligence reports on Iraq's so-called weapons of mass destruction. The question of who composed the selection committee that granted the Crystal Tiger Award remains unclear. Nevertheless, the award was presented to Powell on behalf of the University and the entire undergraduate student body. Regarding Rice’s selection as the keynote speaker, Woodrow Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter declared:

“I cannot imagine a better person to launch our 75th anniversary celebrations…. For 75 years the Woodrow Wilson School has been preparing Princeton students dedicated to serving the nation and the world through careers in public and international affairs. Secretary Rice's career exemplifies those values….”

Rice spoke unambiguously in favour of the Iraq War, defending the Bush administration’s goal of “transforming” the Middle East. She also characterized Saddam Hussein’s regime as one where opponents were tortured, at a time in which U.S. military courts are trying American soldiers for perpetrating similar procedures against Iraqi prisoners. With the country and the Princeton community divided over the Iraq War and the Bush Administration’s other policies and practices, we cannot accept that a high profile University Administrator, acting in an official capacity, would state that Rice’s career “exemplifies” our university’s values, especially given the contents of Rice’s speech. This calls into question the University’s motives for inviting Rice, and suggests institutional endorsement of a position that is elsewhere being questioned for its disregard of international codes of conduct, treaties, and laws. Culturally and politically insensitive, this action raises many questions.

Alternative views are consistently absent from the University’s guest lists. There is a conspicuous absence of voices external to institutions–voices that can offer glimpses of the everyday significance of policy. Discussion of the more uncomfortable aspects of National Security policies, such as the current “legal” situation of prisoners held in Guantánamo, or certain unchallenged consequences of the Patriot Act is also constantly lacking.

We invite the Princeton community to discuss the university’s institutional commitments at length, ideally in a public forum.

Sincerely,

-- Edgardo Dieleke, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Aleksandar Donev, Graduate Student of Applied and Computational Mathematics

-- Tim Hambourger, Class of 2007

-- Sara A. Holloway, Class of 2006

-- Danilo Mandic, Class of 2007

-- Fernando Montero, Class of 2006

-- José Ignacio Padilla, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Dominique Van de Sompel, Class of 2006

-- Dylon Robbins, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Pablo Ruiz, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Andrea Valenzuela, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Stephanie Wavle, Spec Coll Asst III, Library

With the support of,

-- Veronica R. Alfano, Graduate Student of English

-- Agis Athanassoulis, Graduate Student of Applied and Computational Mathematics

-- David Beckman, Graduate Student of English

-- Roger Bellin, Graduate Student of English

-- Syon Bhanot, Class of 2006

-- Bhargav Bhatt, Graduate Student of Mathematics

-- Betsy Biggs, Graduate Student in Music

-- Julien Bismuth, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Jonathan Boschetto, Graduate Student in Music

-- Adam Brenner, Class of 2006

-- William Bulman, Graduate Student of History

-- Stephen Bush, Graduate Student of Religion

-- Eduardo Cadava, Professor of Comparative Literature

-- Maureen Chun, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Beatriz Colomina, Professor of Architecture

-- Esther da Costa Meyer, Professor of Art and Archaeology

-- Lawrence Danson, Professor of English

-- Mekhala Devi Natavar, Professor of Anthropology/PIIRS

-- Arcadio Díaz Quiñones, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Nathan Edgerton, Class of 2007

-- Caryl Emerson, Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature

-- Louis Epstein, Class of 2005

-- Mark Epstein, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Damián Fernández, Graduate Student of History

-- Ana Figueroa, Lecturer of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Paul Firbas, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Jonathan Foltz, Graduate Student of English

-- Erin E. Forbes, Graduate Student of English

-- Hal Foster, Professor of Art and Archaeology

-- Malcolm P. Friddell, Class of 2006

-- Julia G. Friedlander, Class of 2006

-- Rebeca Fromm-Ayoroa, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Rachel Galvin, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Javier García-Liendo, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Sheldon Garon, Professor of History and East Asian Studies

-- Josh Greene Research Fellow of the Center for the Study of

-- Brain, Mind and Behavior

-- Molly Greene, Professor of History

-- Judd Greenstein, Graduate Student in Music

-- John F. Haldon, Professor of History and Hellenic Studies

-- Thomas Hare, Professor of Comparative Literature

-- Alexander A. Heckscher, Class of 2006

-- Wayne Heisler Jr. Ph.D. in Music, 2005

-- Philip Holmes, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

-- Ingrid Horrocks, Graduate Student of English

-- Adrian Howe, Class of 2006

-- Kenneth Jamison, Graduate Student of Sociology

-- Peter Johnson, Professor of History (Retired)

-- Walter Johnston, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Andrea Sun-Mee Jones, Graduate Student of Religion

-- Anther Kiley, Class of 2006

-- Evan Kindley, Graduate Student of English

-- Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, Graduate Student of Politics

-- Hart C. Ku, Class of 2006

-- Hassanaly Ladha, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Carla Laroche, Class of 2006

-- Philipp Lehman, Class of 2006

-- Bright Limm, Class of 2006

-- Ethan Lindsay, Graduate Student of Religion

-- Timon Lorenzo, Class of 2006

-- Lia A. Lynch, Graduate Student of English

-- Larry Lyons, Graduate Student of English

-- Caroline McCarthy, Class of 2006

-- Levi McLaughlin, Graduate Student of Religion

-- Pedro Meira Monteiro, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese

-- María Dolores Melendreras Reguero, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Juan Melli, Graduate Student in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

-- Maria Michalogiorgaki, Graduate Student of Mathematics

-- Luis Moreno, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Daniel Moss, Graduate Student of English

-- Somangshu Mukherji, Graduate Student in Music

-- Marry Noble, Graduate Student of English

-- Katharine D O’Sullivan, Class of 2006

-- Valeria Palanza, Graduate Student of Politics

-- Cecilia Palmeiro, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Juliet Palmer Ph.D. in Music, 1999

-- Ricardo Piglia, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Gyan Prakash, Professor of History

-- Rebecca Rainof, Graduate Student of English

-- James K. Randall, Professor of Music, Emeritus

-- Eileen Reeves, Professor of Comparative Literature

-- Sindhumathi Revuluri, Lecturer in Music

-- Michael Rockett, Class of 2006

-- Fermín Rodríguez, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Ana Rodríguez Navas, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Luis O. Rosa Rodríguez, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Matthew Saks, Graduate Student of English

-- Jacob K. Savage, Class of 2006

-- Martin R.Scherzinger, Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and Music

-- Bryan Schwenk, Class of 2007

-- Linda Seltzer, Graduate Student in Music

-- Ali Shames-Dawson, Class of 2006

-- Alana Shilling, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Prerna Singh, Graduate Student of Politics

-- Amy Sitar, Graduate Student of Religion

-- Jason T. Stell, Graduate Student of Music

-- Stanley J. Stein, Professor of History

-- Susan Stewart, Professor of English

-- Mairaj U. Syed, Graduate Student of Religion

-- Frances H. Symes, Class of 2006

-- Ramin Takloo-Bighash, Professor of Mathematics

-- Toma Tasovac, Graduate Student of Comparative Literature

-- Maya Tudor, Graduate Student of Woodrow Wilson School

-- Jack Turner, Graduate Student of Politics

-- Lunia Vera, Lecturer of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Rachel Ward, Graduate Student of Applied and Computational Mathematics

-- Timothy Watson, Professor of English

-- Stefan Weisman, Graduate Student in Music

-- Cornel West, Professor of Religion

-- Bruce Western, Professor of Sociology

-- Frances White, Graduate Student in Music

-- Rebecca Wolpin, Graduate Student of Spanish and Portuguese

-- Michael G. Wood, Professor of English

-- Daniil Zavlunov, Graduate Student in Music

-- Maria Zeisberg, Graduate Student of Woodrow Wilson School

-- Holger Zellentin, Graduate Student of Religion

This letter was originally sent privately to President Tilghman and Dean Slaughter, and was later published in the ads section of the Daily Princetonian on October 14 and October 17, 2005.

 

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