Many of my generation have participated in more than one peaceful protest against the Vietnam War and racial discrimination, as well as in demonstrations to promote human rights, environmental action, and other causes. Such peaceful protests and demonstrations support democracy by giving a constructive voice to many in our communities.
Larry Giberson ’23 (On the Campus, April issue) was present at an armed and deadly insurrection against the federal government. By his own admission, he was there. [Giberson pleaded not guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges on April 18.] As his attorney correctly points out, we must let the judicial process do its work in deciding whether Mr. Giberson is guilty of any crimes. Nonetheless, it does not take a rocket scientist to see that, by his own admission to being there, he participated in this armed rebellion.
Although I do not wish that the University rush to judgement about his criminal charges, I also do not wish to see the University condone Mr. Giberson’s actions by granting him a Princeton degree. Does one want Mr. Giberson to be able to crow about being a Princeton graduate? I think not. I think Princeton should stand firm in its conviction that it will not tolerate such actions by its students.
This news story also raises an issue about what Princeton should do about other students who have participated in past armed insurrections against the U.S. government, i.e., those alumni who served in the Confederate insurrection in the Civil War. Is it time to look at such individuals and to decide what Princeton should do about their degrees?