Princeton University has made the decision to keep Woodrow Wilson’s name on the campus’ academic buildings despite the recent outcry over the name’s racist implications.
Students have made complaints, arguing that the former United States President’s name implies an endorsement of his segregationist views. Wilson held office from 1913 to 1921, and was the leader of the Progressive Movement, but also showed support for racial segregation.
Wilson also served as Princeton’s president between the years of 1902 and 1910. What concerns the school’s current students is the “position he took as Princeton’s president to prevent the enrollment of black students,” as well has the policies he put into place as U.S. president that led to the re-segregation of the federal civil service.
A student group called the “Black Justice League” staged a 32-hour sit-in on November 19 inside the Princeton president’s office. They demanded that Wilson’s name be removed from all university programs and buildings, and requested additional changes to create a more diverse and inclusive campus environment.
A special committee was formed after students demanded the removal of Wilson’s name in November. The Wilson Legacy Review Committee, after taking a deeper look into the former president’s life, released a report stating their opinion that “both the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Woodrow Wilson College should retain their current names and that the University needs to be honest and forthcoming about its history.”
Princeton, like all of the ivy league schools, is a predominately white campus despite the efforts activists have made since Woodrow Wilson’s time. It is clear, however, that today’s college student, regardless of race, is more aware of social inequalities than in past decades. As three-quarters of college graduates move at least once and are far more likely to live in multiple states throughout their lives, one can only hope that as they leave Princeton, they take with them their strong moral compass and strive to lead change across the nation in years to come.