BREAKING: Princeton will not reconsider decision on renaming the Wilson School
‘The question of Wilson’s legacy has been fully addressed by the trustees and will not be reopened’
After Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber and the Board of Trustees received an impassioned letter Sunday evening penned by a participant in the Black Justice League demonstrations of 2015, University spokesperson John Cramer said that the Wilson legacy question has been appropriately addressed and will not be reconsidered in response to an inquiry from the Tab.
The letter from the student comes a day after Yale University announced its decision to rename Calhoun College after American computer scientist Grace Hopper. Yale University President Peter Salovey had in April 2016 announced that the school would keep the namesake of Calhoun, an active proponent of slavery in Antebellum America.
The letter addressed to Eisgruber states that numerous parallels can be drawn between Woodrow Wilson and Donald Trump, ranging from ordering raids to respectively target political dissidents and immigrants to stoking fires of nativist sentiment. The letter praised Eisgruber for taking the lead in issuing a letter condemning Trump’s immigration bans. However, it also noted that “if we find ourselves unable to celebrate Trump in the present moment, we must ask ourselves why we continue to celebrate the White supremacists who paved way for Trump, including Wilson.”
The letter also said that though the trustee’s decision last April to keep Wilson’s name was disheartening, the present moment has presented the University another opportunity to “become a trailblazer.”
In response to The Tab’s inquiry on whether the University would revisit its Wilson decision, Cramer shared the following with The Tab. The statement can be read here in full.
“The question of Wilson’s legacy has been fully addressed by the trustees and will not be reopened.
Following a very thorough and broadly consultative process last year, Princeton’s trustees issued a report that candidly acknowledged Wilson’s views and actions with regard to race, but also recognized Wilson’s many and transformative positive contributions to the University, the nation and the world. Wilson’s legacy on our campus and beyond is very different from Calhoun’s legacy in this country and at Yale, and that led to different outcomes in applying similar principles.
The University has been carrying out the recommendations of the Wilson committee that were adopted by the trustees last year, and it will continue to do so. Princeton is committed to acknowledging and discussing Wilson’s legacy, including through an exhibition that has been traveling from location to location on campus. A committee to establish a marker at the Woodrow Wilson School that educates the campus community and others about Wilson’s “positive and negative dimensions” launched a website last month to seek input from Princeton students, alumni, faculty and staff. Other committees are working to diversify campus iconography and to suggest names for campus spaces – beginning with the atrium at the Wilson School and West College – that express the University’s enhanced commitment to diversity and inclusion. Last fall, the University created a Princeton Histories Fund to support the exploration of “aspects of Princeton’s history that have been forgotten, overlooked, subordinated, or suppressed.”