Addressing the elephant in the room

Princeton University is now encouraging students to report “problematic experiences based on their identity


Princeton University is now encouraging students to report “problematic experiences based on [their] identity,” encompassing behaviors ranging from the “unpleasant” to the “disturbing.”

Posters distributed across the Ivy League school’s campus by the Office of the Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity note that “not every experience can or should be addressed through a disciplinary process,” but reassure students that “there are always resources available to help you manage your experience.” They encourage students to “consider reporting your experience.”

“Even if you do not want to pursue disciplinary action, or your experience is not appropriate for disciplinary action,” the posters proclaim that reporting negative identity-related incidents “helps Princeton monitor behavior on campus and identify opportunities to improve it.”

Princeton University allows its students to record their gender identity—or identities—in official university records.

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The choices include “Cisgender,” “Genderqueer/gender non-conform[ing],” “Trans/transgender,” “Man,” “Woman,” and “Other,” and students may select multiple options if they wish.

The flyer lists several reporting options, such as the opportunity to “talk to someone informally” at the Carl A. Fields Center for Diversity and Cultural Understanding, the Women*s Center, the LGBT Center, the International Center, the Office of Religious Life, or the Office of Disability Services.

“These offices are not confidential resources,” the poster cautions, though it states that students may “consult a confidential resource” such as the Ombuds Office, the chaplains in the Office of Religious Life, Counseling and Psychological Services, or the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources, & Education (SHARE) Office.

There is also “coaching on conflict resolution or mediation” available from the Ombuds Office, “if desired.”

For the most serious offenses students are encouraged to “file a formal complaint”. “The appropriate office may then conduct interviews, gather evidence, and make a determination of responsibility.

Finally, students are reminded they may file complaints with a law enforcement agency or “external regulatory agency” such as the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.

I am not sure I could go to a University today. I am certain that I would end up in some sort of diversity or sensitivity training. At which point I would ask them where the safe space was located so I could go color in my “I’m so sick of white people” coloring book. Or maybe I would make a transgender man out of the supplied play dough.

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