September 22, 2020

Watson Coleman Statement on U.S. Department of Education Investigation of Princeton University

In response to the U.S. Department of Education’s announcement that it would investigate Princeton University for “admitted racism” after Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber denounced the school’s history of systemic racism, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) issued the following statement:

“While it’s hard to be surprised by the law- and logic-defying audacity of this administration in what will hopefully be its last days, this is an impressive lack of reasoning. President Eisgruber rightly acknowledged that Princeton, like countless institutions that laid the groundwork for our day-today-experiences in this country, was built on systemic racism. He went on to lay out strategies for mitigating the enduring effects of systemic racism – among them, ways to provide the prestige of Princeton for communities where such education has traditionally, systemically, been out of reach. For those thoughtful notes on inclusion, Trump’s administration has opened an investigation into racist practices by the school. It is dumbfounding. Mindboggling. It is utter stupidity, and a waste of taxpayer resources to investigate racism and threaten to clawback over $75 million from a school that has just said it will do everything it can to address its racist past. 

“Those resources would have been better used to investigate targeting of minorities by for-profit colleges, where they often left such students loans and no meaningful skills or degrees. They certainly would have been better used to continue Obama-era policies to end the school to prison pipeline crisis by reducing suspensions and expulsions. But, from an administration whose Secretary of Education suggested Historically Black Colleges and Universities created during segregation were great examples of school choice, I can’t say that I’m surprised.

“This mistaken ideology that exploring the racism of our past is un-patriotic, that righting the enduring systemic wrongs that such racism created is somehow a threat to society is racist unto itself. You can believe in the beauty of this country and understand the wrongs of its past – in fact you’ll be better at it. You can find us to be the greatest nation in the world while understanding that we haven’t always valued the equality we proclaim in our founding documents – in fact, you’ll fight harder to make us that much better. 

“This investigation is a symptom of a sickness, and I’ll do everything in my power to find its cure.”