To the Princeton Community:
We write in response to the April 27, 2021 Daily Princetonian Opinion piece entitled “Princeton must reform campus climate for the safety of students,” submitted by Princeton Students for Title IX Reform and the Organizing Committee of Princeton Graduate Students United.
Over the last several years, Princeton students have rightly called for more transparency, better resources, and more engagement from Princeton’s administration concerning matters of campus safety. Princeton, and virtually all colleges and universities, turned a blind eye for far too long to sexual misconduct on their campuses.
As these well-meaning movements grow and gain momentum, we have also seen a disturbing trend of intermingling reasonable calls for thoughtful reform, with unabashed, anti-democratic demands, usually in the form of expecting all those accused of misconduct be punished, even in some cases specifying the punishments against individuals, often based on little more than rumor, gossip, and speculation.
Unfortunately, the latest opinion piece follows this same pattern. While much of the piece focuses on desired policy and organizational changes to better address the problem of sexual violence on campus, it closes with a bald demand that Princeton University bend to the will of public opinion in making staffing and personnel decisions in individual cases by calling on the University to terminate employment positions immediately, solely based on allegations and without due process.
These two concepts simply cannot be reconciled. Calls for “transformative justice” must be compatible with actual notions of justice: due process, impartial arbiters, equitable support and resources, individualized determinations based on specific circumstances, and the absence of prejudice for or against any individual based solely on their gender, race, their position in the community, or whether they are a complainant or respondent.
As attorneys who handle Title IX cases throughout the country, including at Princeton, we are acutely aware of the need to protect students from all forms of sexual misconduct and sexual violence on campus. Universities must make continual, renewed commitments to protecting the welfare, safety, and rights of all students. With that commitment comes a continuing dedication to transparency, equity, fairness, and recognition of due process ..