Princeton Retains Wilson Name

Errin Haines Whack, AP, April 4, 2016

Woodrow Wilson’s name will remain on Princeton University’s public policy school, despite calls to remove it because the former U.S. president was a segregationist, the Ivy League university announced Monday.

Princeton was challenged to take a deeper look into Wilson’s life in the fall, when a group of students raised questions about his racist views and their impact on his policy. The Black Justice League held a 32-hour sit-in inside the Princeton president’s office, demanding Wilson’s name be removed from programs and buildings, including the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs, and for other changes to be made on campus to make the university more diverse and inclusive.

The school has borne Wilson’s name for more than eight decades. It will remain, but Princeton pledged to adopt other changes, including establishing a pipeline program to encourage more minority students to pursue doctoral degrees and diversifying campus symbols and art.

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Princeton created a website that included input from nine Wilson scholars and biographers, and received more than 600 submissions from Princeton alumni, faculty and the public. The program changes were recommended by a 10-member committee that met about a dozen times between December and March.

The board of trustees’ decision comes on the same day that the school launches an interactive exhibit putting Wilson in context for his era while emphasizing that he was a man apart from it–for better and worse. {snip}

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But his faults are laid bare from the beginning of the exhibit. One states plainly: “Among Wilson’s most serious failings was his racism and the damage it did to individual lives at home and abroad.” Another quotes him in his own words: “Segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”

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