March 1, 2017

Citizen Scientists Plan Day of Action

A coalition of student groups will be hosting a “Day of Action” at Princeton University next Monday, March 6, in response to the Trump Administration and the current political climate. Staff and students will attend a series of teach-ins, workshops, and panel discussions at the Frist Campus Center, exploring issues of human rights, the environment, international peace, and security С all channeled toward the goal of organizing and taking action. 

Princeton Citizen Scientists and Princeton Advocates for Justice have put together the event, with more than 50 different sessions, most led by faculty and staff, assisted by graduate and undergraduate students.

At last count, more than 1000 members of the Princeton University community, including more than 100 faculty, had signed a letter supporting a call for the March 6 campus-wide day of action.

Graduate students Sebastien Philippe and Michael Helper created The Princeton Citizen Scientists organization after last November’s election in order “to better understand the situation that we all expect to face in the coming years and what actions we can take as the Princeton community to protect the ideals of equality, justice, compassion, and fact-based public policies.”

“Princeton Citizen Scientists is a graduate students’ organization that feels it is important to talk politics now, decide what you think, and what you want to do about it,” Mr. Philippe explained. “The March 6 day of action is intended as a conversation on how to think about what Trump’s victory means for the United States and for the world, and the second half of the day as a discussion of practical methods for making a difference through organization and action.”

The schedule includes a town hall meeting from 9 to 10 to start the proceedings, a panel discussion at the end of the day to discuss how to move forward, and a rich array of sessions throughout the Frist Center during the day on such topics as “Between Trumpism and Elitism: the Scientist’s Plight Under Capitalism,” “Picturing Colonialism and
Resistance in America in the 21st Century,” “The Border Wall as a Policy Option and Political Symbol,” “Climate Change: Life and Death,” “Trump and the Nuclear Doomsday Machine,” “Sanctuary Politics,” “Militarization and Endless War,” “Closing the Gap: Gender and Prestige in Science and Medicine,” “Palestine/Israel and Academic Freedom in Trumpland,” “Standing with Standing Rock,” “Teaching STEM College Courses in New Jersey Prisons,” “Meeting the Stranger at the Gate: Global and Local Responses to the Refugee Crisis,” and “Bystander Intervention: Preventing Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence at Princeton.”

According to Paul Gauthier, geosciences post-doctoral research associate and the press relations team leader for the event, the University administration is supportive of the Day of Action. Many faculty who have classes on Monday have said they will bring their classes to the teach-in or cancel classes to give students the opportunity to attend the sessions.

The Frist Center on the University campus next to Washington Road is open to the general public, and Mr. Gauthier emphasized that Princeton residents and others are welcome to attend and participate in the Day of Action.

“A lot of people feel we have to do something,” Mr. Gautier said. “We want to make an example of what it is possible to do. Other universities have contacted us, and we hope other universities will get inspired and take action. The goal is to have a snowball effect. Every day this sort of action is becoming more and more important and relevant.”

Describing the Day of Action as an affirmation of the values of Princeton University, a statement by the Princeton Citizen Scientists asserts, “This day is intended as an opportunity to put routine aside and focus our attention on learning from each other about the challenges that face us today, as well as what this means to us as a community devoted to scholarship, the use of knowledge for the common good, and the ideals of equality, diversity, freedom, democracy and justice.”