May 29, 2019

PU Stand-Off Continues As Protesters Plan Demonstration at June 1 P-rade

By Donald Gilpin

The school year is winding down at Princeton University with exams over, Reunions on tap for this weekend, and graduation next Tuesday, June 4. But there is unfinished business for the Princeton Students for Title IX Reform (PIXR), not satisfied with the University’s response to their demands for changes in Princeton’s sexual misconduct policies.

The student group, which held a sit-in at Nassau Hall for more than a week earlier this month, issuing 11 demands for the University administration to take action in combatting sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence, has called for a demonstration at the Reunions P-rade on Saturday, June 1. Earlier this week PIXR was joined by the student environmental and social issues organization Pink House, which, in a Facebook post, urged supporters to wear purple, not orange and black, to the P-rade.

“This year, WEAR PURPLE to the P-rade in support of the survivors throughout Princeton’s class years,” stated the the Pink House post. “A wave of purple interrupting the sea of orange and black will send a message of strength and unity as we call for reforms.”

Advocating safer Reunions, the Pink House announcement continued, “This Reunions, we stand in solidarity with Princeton IX now in calling on the University to reform its handling of sexual and interpersonal violence and to address their 11 demands. This Reunions, we recognize that sexual assault and harassment happen in and out of the tents; we come together to call for a safer Reunions for all.”

PIXR member Jamie O’Leary, a graduating senior, urged all Reunions participants to wear purple. “Interpersonal violence is an issue that has affected students throughout Princeton’s history,” she said. She noted that PIXR was planning a bystander intervention campaign during Reunions, reminding alumni to “look out for their friends and step in when they see red flags.” Brochures and posters will alert alumni to the need to intervene if encountering predatory behavior, unwelcome physical contact or interactions, or severe intoxication.

O’Leary acknowledged that the University has begun to respond to the PIXR demands — Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber did meet with six of the protesters and has authorized an external review of the University’s Title IX office — but “not with the urgency that the situation demands.” 

Princeton University’s 2018 We Speak survey on sexual misconduct on campus indicated that every year one in five undergraduates faces sexual violence, and, O’Leary noted, “sexual violence is routinely underreported. Members of our community are actively hurt by the trauma and harm that result from these incidents, but many survivors, especially those whose identities make them more vulnerable, do not trust that their cases will be handled justly, safely, and compassionately.”