“It was apparent that many were struggling with the issue”

Last week was one of action for Princeton administrators and trustees, with the University renaming the Woodrow Wilson School and Wilson College and President Eisgruber ’83 calling on his cabinet to apply Princeton’s resources in the fight against racism.  For students, faculty, staff, and alumni, June was a month for virtual meetings about making changes on campus and beyond, in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody and the widespread protests of police violence and racism that followed. 

“Let’s Talk: Space and Processing,” a pair of Zoom sessions led by Brighid Dwyer of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Campus Life, and Jessica Joseph and Sonya Satinsky from University Health Services, were capped at 40 staff members per session, to facilitate small-group virtual breakout rooms, and registrations reached capacity well in advance. 

“The sessions were a way to gather a community to be able to process and express any emotions or thoughts around what was happening in the country after the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests against police brutality,” the “Let’s Talk” planning team told PAW in an email. “It was apparent that many were struggling with the issue, and we wanted to provide a space for reflection and processing.”

The team added that these sessions were among many conversations — student-initiated and staff-initiated — happening in campus circles, in addition to regular conversations with students and with staff about identity led by trained leaders and Campus Life staff.   

The Graduate School’s Access, Diversity, and Inclusion team held a June 10 STEM Support discussion devoted to “supporting and making space for Black scientists and communities.” 

“There was broad interest from participants in the STEM community to have additional meetings,” Renita Miller, the associate dean of access, diversity, and inclusion, told PAW in an email after the event. “The Graduate School will continue to create opportunities for students to voice their challenges, concerns, and recommendations, while also creating programming and initiatives that reflect and incorporate those voices.”

Upcoming Graduate School programs include a fall 2020 pilot of GSP STEM, an extension of our Graduate Scholars Program (GSP), which aims to enhance and support academic, social, and community development for underrepresented students in the STEM fields; and initiatives that support the recruitment and success of Black and underrepresented scientists at Princeton.

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations, which has been rewarding high school students for their efforts to advance racial equity and understanding in their communities for the last 17 years, gathered Princeton alumni and past prize winners for a three-hour videoconference on June 12 (archived on Facebook). The program was initiated by a group of 2019 honorees who had met at the Princeton Prize symposium on race and stayed in touch over the past year. 

“I love the fact that they came to us to have this discussion,” said Arati Johnston ’84, the Princeton Prize committee chair. “We are here to listen and learn and amplify their voices. To me, that was really heartening.”

The Princeton Prize’s alumni volunteers, who do most of their work in local committees, come together biweekly for discussions about racism. In the last month, they’ve also been lending their voices and experiences to small-group events hosted by Princeton class officers. 

Other campus programs included an Office of Religious Life service of reflection, “From Lament to Prophesy: A Litany for Black Lives” (an archived version is available on YouTube), which was followed by a group dialogue on Zoom; and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students’ collaboration with Princeton Arts Alumni, which focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion in the arts and featured arts professionals Ronee Penoi ’07, Adam Hyndman ’12, and Victoria Davidjohn ’19.