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A Statement to the Community

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Published Date

July 24, 2020

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A Statement to the Community

In response to the recent and ongoing violence against persons of color and the renewed struggle against inequality in which this country is now engaged, Princeton’s Department of Classics reaffirms its commitment to diversity, equity, and justice within our field. We add our voices to those calling for an anti-racist, inclusive society for ourselves, our students and, indeed, for all. We affirm our belief that Black Lives Matter as do the lives of all those who suffer from discrimination (whether based on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, or religious affiliation). We pledge ourselves to defend, in word and deed, the oppressed and vulnerable within our society.

Classical antiquity has been used to justify countless morally repellent and harmful ideas and practices. Institutions of classical antiquity included the enslavement and exploitation of conquered peoples and, with few exceptions, placed unimaginable constraints on the lives of women. At the same time, the struggles against slavery and other forms of oppression have drawn inspiration from thoughts and actions recovered from the Greco-Roman past. No nationality, ethnicity, or generation owns the past—its literature, monuments, and artifacts. We must take responsibility for how we use the legacy of classical antiquity in this present moment. We therefore commit ourselves to developing a curriculum that enables our students to engage critically with our discipline’s history— and with the ancient Greco-Roman world itself—while also acquiring the skills, methods, and resources to make the artifacts of the ancient past tools in their work of forging a way of living well, individually and together, in the present.

The Department of Classics has supported, and will redouble its efforts to support, student activism and continued dialogue around issues of racial justice. We are committed to creating a safe and supportive departmental environment for all, regardless of race, gender, or social and economic background. We believe that Classics can be a force for positive change in the world. Our fundamental goal as educators is to prepare students, both undergraduate and graduate, to be that force for change.

Michael Attyah Flower, Chair

Brooke Holmes, Director of Graduate Studies

Joshua Billings, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Andrew Feldherr, Chair of the Equity and Inclusion Committee