President Eisgruber ’83 calls on Princetonians to “Speak Up for Princeton and for Higher Education” and to be “an ambassador for Princeton and for higher education” (“President’s Page,” March issue). I would reply “yes (mostly)” to the first, but absolutely “no” to the other. 

I’m grateful to Princeton for the opportunities it afforded me. But what the president misses is how deeply he and his colleagues have entered the American partisan fray and joined the combat he laments. It’s not surprising; viewed from “across the pond,” virtually every American and every American institution seems to have become engulfed in the civil war convulsing American culture and society, whilst protesting their neutrality. 

In fact, large parts of American higher education are complicit in provoking the attacks they confront, in their academic programs and priorities, their admissions procedures, their tolerance of intolerance amongst their students and staff, and their selective embrace of some forms of “inclusivity” at the expense of others. 

Consequently, they have exposed themselves to irresponsible demagogues seeking to undermine their integrity and independence. 

No one’s political persuasion should govern whether they choose to attend any particular university. But can it be doubted that it has become a key metric for many Americans? 

American universities have to detach themselves from the frontlines and regain the support and confidence of both sides of the divide. They should play a mediating role in this conflict. Otherwise, they risk becoming casualties of it.