University President Christopher Eisgruber announced today that both the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and an undergraduate residential college will continue to bear Wilson’s name. The controversy began last November when around 200 students conducted a sit-in in Eisgruber’s office to protest racial injustice on campus. Their demands included calling for the removal of Wilson’s name from campus buildings due to the late president’s segregationist views. As Jamil Smith noted, such canonization “can sting as much as a racial slur uttered by a classmate.”
The New York Times reports that of the protesters’ additional demands—removing a mural of Wilson, cultural competency training for faculty and staff, a general education course on the history of marginalized people, and the creation of a cultural space for black students—only the last was fulfilled.
Princeton’s news release noted other ways in which the university will move forward with its commitment to diversity. This includes encouraging more minority students to pursue doctoral degrees and maybe naming an atrium in the Woodrow Wilson school after someone less racist. In a letter to alumni, Eisgruber stated, “We must strive energetically and imaginatively to make this campus a place where all of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni can feel fully at home.”