by Logan Dubil
Some Princeton university students are pushing back after receiving a politically-charged email from a dean following the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.
Princeton University students enrolled in the School of Public and International Affairs received a Nov. 20 email, obtained by Campus Reform, titled “Our Moral Duty” from the dean of the school, Dean Amaney Jamal.
“Last August, Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two protestors and wounded a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin. During his trial, he emotionally broke down on the stand, saying he was acting in self-defense. Today, he was acquitted of all six charges against him, including three of which were homicide related,” the email read.
Jamal then goes on to assert that Rittenhouse was an “minor vigilante carrying a semi-automatic rifle across state lines, killing two people,” saying she “fail[s] to comprehend how he could be “declared innocent by the U.S. justice system.”
Evidence revealed that Kyle Rittenhouse did not in fact carry a weapon across state lines. He obtained it in the state of Wisconsin, the location where the incident took place.
In the email, Jamal also asked students to conduct research about the current justice system in place.
“What we do know without a doubt is there are racial inequities in nearly every strand of the American fabric. Today’s verdict employs me to ask you — our current and future public servants — to investigate our policies and practices within the justice system and beyond. How can we use evidence-based research in pursuit of the public good? What role do we play, and what obligation do we have to serve?”
Two Princeton University students, Abigail Anthony and Myles McKnight, sent a response email, also obtained by Campus Reform, titled ‘Regarding Your Statement.”
“We were nominated and elected by peers to serve as Undergraduate Representatives on the Department of Politics Undergraduate Committee, and we feel obligated to convey the concern and disappointment expressed by our fellow students with regard to your statement in response to the Rittenhouse verdict,” Antony and McKnight’s email reads.
Anthony and McKnight call out the dean’s email, bringing attention to the “factual inaccuracies, misconstrual, and virtue signaling.”
“There is a sizeable cohort of your students who agree with the Rittenhouse verdict; they think––as we do––that the jury executed its fact-finding mission faithfully and thoroughly, and that the facts of the case were applied to produce an outcome in accordance with what the law (not the moral judgment of a dean) requires.”
“That opinion has been echoed by many serious legal commentators. Issuing such a one-sided and misleading statement in your capacity as Dean, we fear, sends a message to students that the institution (qua you) has taken a position on the matter (the “right” position), and runs the risk of chilling serious intellectual discussion on important public issues. In sum, we found your statement to be factually and pedagogically erroneous,” the email continues.
Anthony told Campus Reform that the student body and the department at large has yet to receive an apology from Dean Jamal regarding her email and its inaccuracy.
“If our institution is committed to truth-seeking, then our deans should not spread misinformation,” Anthony said.
McKnight told Campus Reform that his “objection was not to the factual inaccuracies of Dean Jamal’s statement, embarrassing though they were.”
He explained his main concern was that university administrators should try to stay neutral when it comes to events like the Rittenhouse Trial.
“My own view is that university administrators should remain officially neutral on controversial issues that don’t have an immediate impact on the university’s ability to function, leaving totally free-of-institutional-influence the conversations which would occur about such issues.”
“Dean Jamal violated that principle,” said McKnight.
Princeton University student Jake Snyder also disapproved of Jamal’s email.
“The Dean of our School of Public and International Affairs took a stance on the trial, and I’ve signed a petition to our president that says this kind of behavior hinders free speech on campus,” Snyder told Campus Reform.
Campus Reform reached out to Princeton University and Dean Amaney Jamal for comment, but did not receive a response.
Princeton University is not the only university accused of spreading misinformation about the trial.
Similarly, Student Association (SA) Executives of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse recently published an article through Wis Politics regarding the Rittenhouse Verdict.
The article, titled “UW-La Crosse Student Association: Response to Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict,” highlights the Student Association Executive’s concerns about the trial.
“Now and in the future, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) Student Association Executives will unequivocally denounce white nationalism and hate-filled violence fully and without hesitation. Unfortunately, we have seen far too many hate-fueled attacks on communities of color throughout our state and the rest of the nation. We stand in stark opposition to white nationalism and the killings that follow it. Black and Brown people across this country should not be targeted and subjected to excessive brutality and violence,” it reads.
SA continues by calling Kyle Rittenhouse a racist, even though the trial had nothing to do with race.
“The idea that our criminal justice system is so broken as to allow racist acts of violence to go unpunished is shameful.”
The response concludes with a message geared towards “Black and Brown faculty, staff, and students,” promising that “UWL Student Association Executives will work to confront injustices within our campus and community. We hope that each student will stand with us to support Black and Brown folks in our community, state, and nation. White supremacy has no place on our campus, in our communities, or anywhere else in Wisconsin.”
UWL Executive Director for University Marketing and Communications Maren Walz told Campus Reform that the views of SA does not represent that of the university. clarifying that “Their statement is not an official statement nor representative of a position of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
“In support of UW System’s Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression policy, UWL encourages the exchange of diverse thoughts, ideas, and opinions and the right to express those with others,” Walz added. “It is UWL policy on civil discourse and free speech to provide all members of the university community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn.”
“We also acknowledge the right of every member of the campus community to speak out in response to ideas they find offensive or harmful,” Walz continued. “No person is ever exempt from being criticized. But disagreement must be conducted without harassment, intimidation, disruption of learning or other university activities, and discrimination. This is part of the robust and vigorous public debate, which is central to the purpose of any university.”
Campus Reform reached out to the Student Association Executives for comment, but did not receive a response.
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Logan Dubil is a Pennsylvania Correspondent for Campus Reform. He is currently a junior at Point Park University majoring in Marketing and Sales as well as minoring in Political Science, hoping to graduate in the Spring of 2023. Throughout high school and his early years of college, Logan’s passion for journalism and conservatism saw a significant spike, which led him to apply for the Campus Reform Correspondent Program. Besides writing, Logan is vocal on Twitter and other social media platforms about the world of politics.
Photo “Kyle Rittenhouse” by Kenosha County Courthouse.