A group of Princeton students and community members respond to the First Lady’s rare visit to Princeton, NJ for an exclusive fundraising dinner:
Dear Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States,
As Lawrence Lessig recently testified before the Senate: “In the current presidential election cycle, 0.000063 percent of America—that’s 196 citizens—have funded 80 percent of individual Super PAC contributions up to now.” While attending the $1000-a-plate fundraiser for the President’s reelection campaign in Princeton, New Jersey, we encourage you to reflect on the needs of the rest of the community, those who could not afford to take part in this event.
Your time as a student at Princeton University was, as you made clear in your senior thesis, an alienating experience: “I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong [...] I will always be black first and a student second.” These sentiments continue today. Many students still feel marginalized based on race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, socioeconomic status, and immigration status.
In fact, this marginalization extends beyond the gates of Nassau Hall to the larger Princeton community. You are returning to Princeton exclusively to hold a fundraiser hosted by the President of Princeton University Investment Company, Andrew Golden, the self-acclaimed “accidental one percent-er,” whose sole purpose is to maximize returns on the university’s $17 billion endowment. Princeton University is a rich, private institution that has favored shortsighted expansion, benefiting from tax exemptions while disregarding the needs of those who serve and support it – the day laborers, the domestic workers, the dishwashers, the schoolteachers, the firefighters, the people. In the shadows of this institution, workers are being denied a living wage, and there is a lack of affordable housing and social services. This town is a microcosm of the issues faced by many communities in this nation.
You have chosen to use this rare visit to Princeton to meet with the 1%, accepting their money and favoring their interests and political voice over the 99%, thereby perpetuating the bias against the underprivileged in favor of the wealthy. Is this what we are to expect for the next four years if the President is reelected?
- Concerned Princeton community members and students