Letter to the Music Faculty from Graduate Students

Graduate Students of Princeton University’s Department of Music

The letter acknowledges that systemic racism, white supremacy, and police brutality are inherent in US institutions, including in Princeton’s Department of music.  It makes demands aimed at creating an anti-racist and more equitable department through transparency, faculty hiring, improved admissions practices, curriculum restructuring, and modified concert programming. The letter also calls on the Department’s faculty to demand the University cut all ties with the Princeton Police Department and disassociate from donors and endowments whose stipulations prevent structural changes towards racial equity.

The letter makes two high-priority demands and additional demands in five categories:

  1. Demand the University cut ties with the Princeton Police Department.
  2. Disassociate from donors who prevent structural change.
  3. Establish a culture of transparency and accountability: Conduct a racial equity audit, implement compulsory and yearly anti-racism training, compensate students in the departmental working group, establish a Graduate Student Committee, and create a new Graduate Student Handbook that increases transparency.
  4. Hire BIPOC faculty: Compile and release demographic statistics for faculty hiring and retention over the past decade, commit to targeted hires of Black faculty and BIPOC creators for affiliated programs, create a pathway for BIPOC faculty in non-tenure track positions to obtain tenure-track positions, and recognize invisible labor performed by BIPOC faculty and staff.
  5. Improve graduate admissions: Release demographic admissions statistics for the past decade, create a transparent recruitment plan in consultation with the Graduate Student Committee, admit more BIPOC students, remove financial barriers to applying, and publish inclusive admissions criteria.
  6. Dismantle racism in the curriculum: Decenter Western music, incorporate BIPOC music and scholarship, require engagement with critical race theory, incorporate Jazz Studies into the rest of the music department, and diversify holdings in the Mendel Music Library.
  7. Dismantle white supremacy in concert programming and performance education: Incorporate BIPOC creators and musical traditions in residency programs (with funding), music ensembles, and other concert programming opportunities.

Princeton University is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of Lenapehoking and the Lenape people. We pay respect to Lenape peoples past, present, and future and their continuing presence in the homeland and throughout the Lenape diaspora.