I am both confounded and troubled by the University’s proposal to unilaterally seize financial and editorial control of the Princeton Alumni Weekly that since 1900 has served so expertly and responsively as “a magazine by alumnae/i for alumnae/i.” In fact, Princeton alumni classes operate separately and independently, electing their own officers; raising and administering their own funding; and in many cases supporting independent public- and University-service programs, including the Class of 1955’s Project 55 that encourages public service by graduates and the Prize in Race Relations initiated, funded, and administered by our Class of 1966.

Moreover, each year these classes collectively contribute many millions of dollars in Annual Giving to support the mission and administration of the University. Therefore, the University’s offer to cover the costs of class PAW subscriptions for alumni is essentially philanthropy done with mirrors, returning in subsidies that the classes have each year already given directly as subsidies to the college. And so in this context, the University's apparently high-minded concern that PAW “operates in a manner that is consistent with University policies” — however controversial or misguided those policies may appear to students or to alumni readers and contributors — is in fact pre-censorship masquerading as benevolent and patronizing public relations.

No thoughtful dissenting voice is editorially prohibited from the pages of the Alumni Weekly, which instead includes a full President’s Page in every issue for his official articulation of university policy and political perspectives. At the same time, the magazine provides in-depth reporting of student concerns and issues on campus, most recently including in-depth reporting on student dissatisfaction with college responses to sexual assault concerns on campus and in study abroad, a dissatisfaction supported by data from a survey of the incidence of this issue composed and administered by students themselves.

In fact, a University pre-censored and financially controlled Alumni Weekly would threaten freedom of speech among all constituencies in the fundamental/foundational intellectual discourse of a so often self-proclaimed “great university.” Disingenuous, self-interested, cynical, and high-handed, the University's proposal willfully sacrifices the freedoms of the press and thought in its engineered preference for looking good on its own terms.

Robert Harsh ’66
Essex, N.Y.