The Surprising Details About Sonia Sotomayor’s College Past That You Won’t Find in Her New Book

Charles C. Johnson, The Blaze, January 29, 2013

Sotomayor’s time at Princeton takes up much of the book, but her account of her alma mater left a lot out, especially her involvement in left-wing politics and an explicitly anti-white club. In fact, despite her self-description as “more as a mediator than a crusader” on racial and political issues, the archives of Princeton show that it was just the opposite. According to The Daily Princetonian, Sotomayor even “helped shape” Princeton’s affirmative action practices and used her position as a student judge to advance a left-wing agenda.

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As a sophomore, Sotomayor, then co-chairman of the Puerto Rican student group Accion Puertorriquena, filed an April 1974 complaint with the New York office of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) demanding that Princeton do a better job recruiting Latino administrators, faculty, and students. She delivered not one, but two letters to the president of the university calling for explicit quotas and timetables for Latino students, faculty, and administrators—and got results.

“Over the next few years, the University established new hiring and recruitment practices that gradually changed the ethnic makeup of the faculty as well as the student body,” wrote The Daily Princetonian in 2009.

Sotomayor demanded more Latinos on campus. She condemned Princeton’s administrators for showing “a total absence of regard, concern, and respect” for Latinos and accused them of organizing “an attempt—a successful attempt so far—to relegate an important cultural sector of the population to oblivion” in a letter to the editor in May 10, 1974.

Sotomayor saw an “institutional pattern of discrimination” at Princeton. Later in a 1996 speech, she described the complaint as Princeton’s “affirmative action failures” and the ensuing pro-racial preferences as results. “A short time later, Princeton hired its first Hispanic assistant dean of students.”

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While Sotomayor’s book mentioned her involvement with the Third World Center (TWC), she left out that the group’s politics were laced with anti-American and anti-white rhetoric. Its constitution and founding documents made this clear, as does a 1976 document from the TWC. “Oppression breeds resistance,” the students wrote in protest of the decision by Princeton University to reduce the TWC’s funding. “The history of the peoples of the Third World, who have suffered from U.S. Imperialism, and of the oppressed nationalities within the United States—Afro-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, Asians, and Native Americans, has been a history of oppression and resistance.”

The TWC’s anti-white position was demonstrated in November 1984, when the group’s board demanded that non-white students should have the right to bar whites from their meetings on campus. They also demanded minorities-only meetings with the deans. (John Hurley, “Black students, university debate closed meeting policy,” The Daily Princetonian, November 29, 1984).

This was an outgrowth of the purpose of TWC, which was to teach minority students to “become more sensitive to the consequences of a long history of prejudice and discrimination,” according to its 1973-1974 annual report. {snip}

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The legacy of the Third World Center continued after Sotomayor graduated. In fact, future First Lady Michelle Obama would later serve on its board. Almost a decade later, the political tone of the TWC was expressed in the group’s 1984 constitution with the following language: “We define the term ‘Third World’ as those nations and people who have fallen victim to the oppression and exploitation of the world economic order,” wrote the preamble. “This definition includes the peoples of color in the United States, as they too are victims of a brutal and racist socio-economic structure perpetuated by those who still exploit such groups as Asians, Blacks, and Latinos and who still occupy the homelands of the Puerto Rican, Mexican, Native American, and Alaskan peoples. Therefore, we must seek to understand the historical and contemporary ramifications of oppression we are to liberate ourselves from economic and social chains which bind us.”

While careful in her book not to associate with the “down with whitey” attitudes of many Latino students, Sotomayor wasn’t so circumspect in a speech she gave before the TWC on November 7, 1996, entitled, “The Genesis and Needs of an Ethnic Identity.”

At Princeton, I began a lifelong commitment to identifying myself as a Latina, taking pride in being Hispanic, and in recognizing my obligation to help my community reach its fullest potential in this society,” she said. “Accion Puertorriquena, the Puerto Rican group on campus then, and the Third World Center… provided me with the anchor I needed to ground myself in this new and different world.” Sotomayor further praised the methods of Manuel del Valle (Princeton class of 1971) and her friend, Margarita Rosa (class of 1974) in establishing the TWC. They, she noted with approval, “had demonstrated and taken over University buildings” to persuade the Princeton to build TWC.

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