Princeton Removes Woodrow Wilson’s Name from Public Policy School Due to ‘Racist Thinking’

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th U.S. President, poses for a portrait in this undated photo. (AP Photo)
AP Photo

Princeton University is removing President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and a residential college due to the former president’s “racist thinking.”

“The trustees conclude that Woodrow Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students, and alumni must firmly stand against racism in all its forms,” announced Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber on Saturday.

“Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time,” added Eisgruber. “He segregated the federal civil service after it had been racially integrated for decades, thereby taking America backward in its pursuit of justice.”

The board voted on Friday to change the names of both the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College.

The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs will now be named “The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.”

As for Wilson College, Eisgruber claimed that the university was already planning on closing the college, but now the school will instead “accelerate retirement of the name” so that students won’t have to “identify with the name of a racist president for the next two years.”

Now, Wilson College will instead be called “First College.”

“Wilson’s segregationist policies make him an especially inappropriate namesake for a public policy school,” Eisgruber pointed out in his statement.

“When a university names a school of public policy for a political leader, it inevitably suggests that the honoree is a model for students who study at the school,” continued the university president.

“This searing moment in American history has made clear that Wilson’s racism disqualifies him from that role,” added Eisgruber of the former Democrat president.

The university president went on to say that Princeton honoring Wilson makes the university “ultimately the problem” with America today, and even suggested that in retaining Wilson’s name, the school is facilitating an environment in America that makes people believe they can behave like former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin without facing any consequences.

“Princeton is part of an America that has too often disregarded, ignored, or excused racism, allowing the persistence of systems that discriminate against Black people,” said Eisgruber.

“When Derek Chauvin knelt for nearly nine minutes on George Floyd’s neck while bystanders recorded his cruelty, he might have assumed that the system would disregard, ignore, or excuse his conduct, as it had done in response to past complaints against him,” he added.

The university president concluded by stating that these are not the only steps Princeton is taking to “combat the realities and legacy of racism, but they are important ones.”

“The steps taken yesterday by the Board of Trustees are extraordinary measures,” said Eisgruber.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.


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