In his Sept. 13 President’s Page on “Petitions, Divestment, and the Freedom to Think Otherwise,” President Eisgruber declares a reticence toward making “political statements” while making many.
Believing that $22 billion should be invested to maximize returns and be insulated from moral and ethical scrutiny is a controversial claim. So, too, is asserting that its use should be determined by past donors and not current students — a claim that seems increasingly radical as we learn more about the sordid histories of where elite universities’ wealth originated. It is equally polemical to define the University’s “central ... values[s]” such that climate change, gun violence, and mass incarceration do not constitute a “direct and serious violation” of them.
In the annals of the increasingly bizarre ways that “free speech” is being used to cudgel student activists on university campuses, Eisgruber’s claim that divestment would silence “vigorous high-quality debate” stands out. Insofar as he fears that being asked to commit Princeton not to profit from private prisons, for example, would “stifle argument” about criminal-justice policy, he himself seems like quite the snowflake.