Friday, November 20, 2015

Ivy League universities and the legacy of racism

    Friday, November 20, 2015   No comments

A 32-hour protest about the racial climate at Princeton ended Thursday night when the president and students reached an agreement that included consideration of the idea of renaming the university’s storied Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Soon afterward, the university announced an anonymous threat of violence that referenced the protest.

The debate came in the midst of a national escalation of the topic of race on campus, with students at dozens of colleges confronting administrators and other students and presenting demands — and anonymous threats surfacing, as well.

The Black Justice League at Princeton had demanded that the president acknowledge the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson and remove his name from buildings on campus, mandate “cultural competency” courses for all faculty and staff, and provide cultural space for black students on campus.

President Christopher Eisgruber immediately agreed to the idea of a cultural space Wednesday night, but declined to sign the demands and promised to continue talking with students about the other ideas.

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Wilson, an alumnus and president of the university who went on to become the 28th president of the United States, advocated for separation of races and opposed efforts by civil rights leaders to combat discrimination against black people. Students asked that his name be removed from a residential college, the university’s school of public and international affairs, and that a mural of him be removed from a dining hall.

Eisgruber agreed that in his opinion the mural should not be there, and the process began to consider its ultimate removal.

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Ed Isr

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