sotoWith Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings getting underway this morning, now seems like as good a time as any to revisit the Supreme Court nominee’s past as a student activist.

The Daily Princetonian has posted seven letters and articles by or about Sotomayor from her undergraduate days, and taken together they reveal her to be a committed advocate for Latinos and Latinas on campus, an opponent of anti-gay violence, and as the recipient of the university’s highest undergraduate honor for her “dedication to the life of minority students at Princeton.”

In a May 10, 1974 letter, Sotomayor explained a complaint filed by “the Puerto Rican and Chicano students of Princeton” alleging “an institutional pattern of discrimination” at the university. In it she noted that there were then only 31 Puerto Rican and 27 Chicano students enrolled at Princeton, and rebuked the university for its “total absence of regard, concern and respect for an entire people and their culture.” (Sotomayor is quoted in two Daily Princetonian articles on the complaint as well.)

In a letter published on September 12, 1974, Sotomayor and five other student advisors to a search for a new assistant dean for student affairs laid out their criticism of the lack of direct student involvement in the search and the racial and ethnic dynamics of the process. (Sotomayor is quoted directly on the controversy here.)

In a group letter from February 27, 1976, Sotomayor and 38 other members of the campus community condemned the recent vandalism of a dorm room that was home to two students active in the Gay Alliance of Princeton.

And on February 28, 1976, it was announced that Sotomayor was one of two co-recipients of Princeton’s M. Taylor Pine Honor Prize, “the highest honor the university confers on an undergraduate.” The Princetonian article on the honor referred to Sotomayor as having “maintained almost straight A’s for the last two years, but” being “especially known for her extracurricular activities.” (The photo at above right accompanied this article.) A follow-up piece two days later noted that Sotomayor was the first Latino student to win the award.