PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — Princeton University has agreed to look into the legacy of alumnus and former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson after a group of students staged a sit-in to protest his views on race and segregation.
Students gather inside Nassau Hall during a sit-in, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, in Princeton, N.J. The protesters from a group called the Black Justice League, who staged a sit-in inside university President Christopher Eisgruber’s office on Tuesday, demand the school remove the name of former school president and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson from programs and buildings over what they said was his racist legacy. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
That resolution comes after university President Christopher Eisgruber and two other school officials signed an agreement late Thursday with the Black Justice League to end the 32-hour sit-in. The university said 17 students signed the agreement.
“We appreciate the willingness of the students to work with us to find a way forward for them, for us and for our community,” Eisgruber said. “We were able to assure them that their concerns would be raised and considered through appropriate processes.”
Wilson, who graduated from Princeton, was president of the school from 1902 to 1910 and served as New Jersey’s governor from 1911 to 1913, when he entered the White House. The Democrat was a leading progressive but supported segregation and appointed Cabinet members who segregated federal departments.
The protesters, both black and white, wanted the school to acknowledge what they say is the racist legacy of Wilson and to rename the buildings and programs named for him.
Princeton is home to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs. His name is on one of the school’s residential colleges, and there is a mural of Wilson in a dining hall that protesters want removed.
Students gather at the entrance of Nassau Hall at Princeton University, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, in Princeton, N.J. The students, from a group called the Black Justice League, demand that the school remove the name of former school president and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson from programs and buildings over what they said was his racist legacy. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
The agreement says Eisgruber will email the head of the board of trustees to begin conversations about Wilson’s legacy. It also says the board will collect information on the “campus community’s” opinion, but it does not give further details.
Princeton officials also agreed to designate four rooms in the Carl A. Fields Center to be used as “Cultural Affinity Centers” as well as enhancing cultural competency training for some staff.
The agreement comes as students at colleges across the country rally over race and other social issues and comes soon after Princeton announced it was ending the “master” title for leaders of the six residential colleges where students live on campus. The faculty members will now be known as “head of the college.”
The Black Justice League declined to comment.