Given President Eisgruber’s statement about his recent remarks at the CPUC, readers might conclude that Dr. Pangloss is alive and well at Princeton, and then give the matter no further thought. But President Eisgruber’s statements warrant careful evaluation.

I, too, am a supporter of freedom of speech at Princeton. The University’s Statement on Freedom of Expression explicitly recognizes, however, the existence and need for important limits as to what, when, where, and how speech can be conducted. President Eisgruber should provide the University community explication of how his administration identifies and enforces these limits. The problem of harassment would be a good place to start.

President Eisgruber assured the University community, “I have never heard calls for genocide, or calls for murder, on this campus …” He elides the rampant calls at Princeton cloaked in euphemism for these very ends. PAW rightly explains that cries for “intifada” are understood by many as “advocating the mass murder of Jewish people.” So, too, the open advocacy at Princeton for “From Princeton to Gaza, globalize the intifada,” “We don’t want a two state, we want ’48,” “From the river to the sea,” and more. But President Eisgruber would have the readers of his remarks believe that he is simply unaware of calls at Princeton for genocide of Jews.

Equally troubling are President Eisgruber’s words to U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill about what his administration does to “ensure that students are free from bullying and harassment on our campus.” He cites, among other measures, “procedures by which students may file a harassment complaint” — to which he adds, “[W]e take every complaint seriously.” PAW readers should compare this with the experience reported by Princeton graduate student Zachary Dulberg in his opinion column for The New York Post, “Princeton punished me for fighting to fix DEI and antisemitism on campus.”

Tellingly, President Eisgruber, in his comments about his CPUC presentation and his letter to Rep. Sherrill, omits any reference to important speech standards and enforcement mechanisms regarding permissible use of the University’s websites, email, and other IT resources. The University’s Acceptable Use Policy and related Guidelines for Compliance prohibit use of these University-provided resources for “malicious, harassing, or defamatory content” (and even for “electronic misconduct … regardless of the location from which the misconduct originated or the network or devices used”).

These have relevance to the present barrages on Princeton’s IT infrastructure. For example, a few days after the October 7 pogrom, the Princeton Students for Justice in Palestine emailed to every Princeton student a statement that found — among other provocative claims — “the Israeli apartheid state ultimately responsible for the tremendous loss of life in Occupied Palestine, Gaza, and the West Bank.” First, a mass mailing without prior University permission violates the Guidelines. Moreover, some of the recipients likely experienced the method and substance of this SJP proselytizing as harassment.

Another example comes from Dulberg’s opinion column. At least one of the online statements he listed (“you know you’re the one … committing terrorism, killing innocent people on a daily basis” regarding an alum who had served in the Israel Defense Forces) potentially violates another prohibition (against defamation). Dulberg described the online verbal assaults as “heinous” and “numerous.”

Is President Eisgruber’s administration willing to apply and enforce Princeton’s rules for the use of University-provided communications resources? “[W]e take every complaint seriously,” President Eisgruber assures us. Perhaps they will give their prompt attention to – and provide public explanation about — this CPUC complaint on issues relating to SJP and Dulberg.

Some chant for “justice in Palestine.” I call for justice at Princeton. 

Bill Hewitt ’74
London, Ky.