PRINCETON BOROUGH, N.J.
An article in the annual joke issue of Princeton University’s student newspaper has left some readers accusing its staff of racism. The Daily Princetonian issue included a column with a byline that closely resembles the name of Jian Li, an 18-year-old Asian man who filed a civil rights complaint against the university last summer after he was denied admission.
Under a byline of Lian Ji, the article published Wednesday used broken English and spouted racial stereotypes to bash the school for his rejection.
“Hi Princeton! Remember me? I so good at math and science. Perfect 2400 SAT score. Ring Bells?” the article begins. “Just in case, let me refresh your memories. I the super smart Asian. Princeton the super dumb college, not accept me.”
Li, who now attends Yale University, told The Associated Press on Saturday that his complaint against Princeton accusing the school of bias against Asian students remains under investigation.
“I think the article was extremely distasteful,” Li said. “Whoever decided to publish it showed an extreme lapse of judgment.”
The article ran with a disclaimer informing readers that it was part of the joke issue, but that didn’t stop students and alumni of the Ivy League school from accusing those who wrote it of racism.
“I consider myself an easygoing person, but guys — this article doesn’t even try to use humor to hide the underlying hate,” Andre Liu, who identified himself as a 1991 graduate, wrote in a letter to the editor.
An article on the controversy was published in Friday’s editions, along with a note from The Daily Princetonian’s managing board saying that its members “sincerely regret having upset some of our readers,” but defending their intentions.
“Using hyperbole and an unbelievable string of stereotypes, we hoped to lampoon racism by showing it at its most outrageous,” the note said. “We embraced racist language in order to strangle it. At its worst, the column was a bad joke; at its best, it provoked serious thought about issues of race, fairness and diversity.”
Chanakya Sethi, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, said Saturday he understood why some people were angered by the column and hoped the controversy would spark a dialogue on campus.
“There are honest differences about what is humorous and what is not, and it was a regrettable mistake to think everyone would see the column as we do,” he said.
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