Publisher’s Letter: Conservative Ecumenicalism

Greetings Tory readers! My name is Sam Norton, and I am the new Publisher of the Princeton Tory. I am honored to have been chosen to carry on the Tory’s long tradition of bringing accountability journalism to Princeton University. I am especially grateful to my esteemed predecessor, Aaron Smargon, who showed incredible leadership and dedication during his term as Publisher, and has been enormously helpful to me as I learn the mechanics of being in charge of a student publication.

After becoming Publisher, my first task was to assemble the highly qualified corps of officers whose names you see on the bar to the right of this note. I could not be more proud of the team that I’ll be working with this coming year. Together, they encompass the broad spectrum of conservative thought, and their backgrounds attest to this diversity. They represent a plethora of center-right groups on campus, including College Republicans, College Libertarians, the Anscombe Society, Princeton Pro-Life, Tigers for Israel, Students for Education Reform, and Students and Workers for International Free Trade. This is a stark contrast to previous years, when conservative organizations generally tended to operate in isolation from one another, ignoring the potential for all to benefit from collaboration and building connections.

The range of viewpoints offered by the Tory’s staffers is intrinsically linked to the mission of the magazine. My goal is to expose Princeton students and alumni to the perspectives of conservatives of all flavors on campus and national issues, and to challenge preconceived assumptions from across the social and political spectrum. By featuring authors who have varying opinions on what it means to be a conservative at Princeton University, we can appeal to the widest possible audience of readers, including those who don’t typically identify themselves as conservatives. Since the Tory focuses primarily on campus issues, which don’t necessarily align on a tidy left-right axis in the way that national issues do, I urge even committed liberals to check us out; you might be surprised to find yourself in agreement with the Tory on many occasions.

Despite the multiplicity of different strands of conservative thought included in the Tory, however, I believe that we all share certain basic principles that define conservatism. We are united by a skeptical attitude toward rapid and capricious change, and an unflinching opposition to the deliberate expansion of the scope and scale of government at all levels, as well as the arbitrary exercise of its authority. But while many Princetonians may hold these ideas, their applicability to events on campus is not always apparent. That’s where the Tory comes in. We have the institutional resources, as well as the independence, to conduct penetrating investigations into Nassau Hall’s abuse of power and its reckless disregard for well-established tradition, and to celebrate the great University that we are privileged to attend while offering constructive suggestions for its further improvement.

The expression of these key conservative tenets– valuing the legacy of the past, and limiting the prerogatives of government– can be witnessed in the articles in this month’s issue of the Tory. Toni Alimi discusses how ideology has trumped reasoned analysis in the administration’s drive to formulate a permanent policy on gender neutral housing, while Chris Goodnow illuminates the lack of transparency that characterizes the University’s preferred instrument of decision-making, the ubiquitous task force, and Andrew Blumenfeld recounts the saga of President Tilghman’s inconsistent, wavering stance on early admission. These cases are not anomalous, but rather, demonstrate recurring themes in campus politics. So long as such tendencies are manifested, the Tory will continue to expose them.

While I cannot predict what kinds of stories we will uncover in the next year, I can guarantee that we will never hesitate in the face of a challenge. We will always be respectful, but we’re not afraid to be controversial or provocative. As former presidential candidate and conservative icon Barry Goldwater famously said, “extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

I look forward to serving you, our readers, as Publisher in the coming year.


Sam Norton ’12

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