Our 2017 Annual Meeting, held at John Oakes’s 1860s loft (thanks, John!) in New York City on Wednesday 8 February was attended by no fewer than seven undergraduates, a good number of PPro members and contacts, and two special guests.
After introductions, we reviewed briefly the past year’s activities and this next year’s plans (all noted here on our website). We then turned to the real subject of the evening: how we might expand PPro’s influence, particularly among current undergraduates.
The undergraduates who were present each represented one of the progressive student organizations that have previously requested (and in some cases received) support from PPro for various efforts. We talked at length about the various ways in which we could help, and various directions in which those organizations could move, given the grim political realities that now exist.
The discussion was enhanced by our two special guests, Prof. Max Weiss (Associate Professor of History and Near Eastern Studies) and City Council member Helen Rosenthal. Weiss encouraged students not to be shy about involving faculty members in their activities; Rosenthal listed a variety of public activities likely to be effective.
All attendees felt that the meeting had been very successful. Immediate plans are for a campus-wide open house, to be held on Wednesday 15 February, at which a number of progressive organizations can expose their existence to the student body as a whole; the goal is to attract members from among the many students disaffected and enraged by the election results.
This discussion was so absorbing that we had literally no time to discuss at any length our ongoing concerns about active membership within PPro, that is to say, volunteers to help share our workload. One partial answer is for these concerned undergraduates to join PPro after they graduate.
Another concern is improving our geographic reach; while it is true that we have members or contacts all over the country, there is only one person regularly involved who lives outside the Northeast/New York metropolitan area. Past attempts to help establish satellites in other regions have not been successful. If you are reading this and would like to help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The other big general concern is, naturally, finances. While we have a small reserve that allows us to support for example students’ small-scale requests, we constantly need to ask for donations so that we can carry out larger-scale projects. And so we need somehow to establish a significant reserve. Due to time constraints, we were not able to discuss strategies for approaching likely donors who are capable of making these kinds of significant donations, although we find ourselves discussing this all the time in other contexts. Here even more than above, please contact us if you can help.
One other event of the evening was the awarding of our annual Head in the Sand Award, this year to Ken Buck ’81. The text of that award appears elsewhere on the website, here.
And so finally the Executive Board felt that the meeting had given us some real directions forward, but we are acutely aware of how far we still have to go if we are to have the effect we hope for in counteracting the still too-common idea that Princeton alumni are generally rich conservatives without social consciences.