I read the article, “Should Departments Weigh In on Politics?” (On the Campus, September issue) with interest and concern.
As is pointed out, Princeton has a long and cherished tradition of “institutional restraint,” allowing for unfettered freedom of speech, enjoyed by generations of faculty members and students alike. In this and other respects, Princeton has remained very much in line with the views of our founding fathers and the Bill of Rights. Many of us have felt that this is one of the inherent strengths of Princeton in the nation’s service.
Currently, freedom of speech may be significantly challenged within the federal government, in national news networks, and in social media, thus posing uncomfortable issues for us, as Americans and Princetonians. Although accuracy of information is also a concern, we have generally believed that truth is served by freedom of expression.
At this point in our history, it seems particularly important to reject policy statements regarding controversial issues of the day as part of departmental management. Our junior faculty carry many of our hopes for the future, and their thoughts and opinions should not be constrained by guidelines determined by others.
Editor’s note: In September, the Faculty Advisory Committee on Policy withdrew its proposal for a policy on the issuance of statements by University offices, departments, or other units.