Princeton Students Protest in President's Office for Change

Princeton Students Protest in President's Office for Change

Thirty Black and white students demand the school acknowledge racist legacy.

Published November 18, 2015

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — About 30 black and white Princeton University students protested inside the school president's office on Wednesday, demanding changes for the social and academic experience ofblack students.

The protesters from a group called the Black Justice League want the Ivy League university to publicly acknowledge what they say is the racist legacy of former school president and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. They also want the school to rename buildings and programs named for him, institute cultural competency training for staff and faculty, and add a cultural space on campus dedicated to black students.

"We're here. We've been here. We ain't leaving. We are loved," students chanted into megaphones outside of Nassau Hall before moving into President Christopher Eisgruber's office, according to video posted to social media.

Princeton spokesman Martin Mbugua said Eisgruber and Dean of College Jill Dolan spent about an hour talking with the students and "expect the conversation to continue beyond today's meeting."

The protest comes as students at colleges across the country rally over race and other social issues and on the same day that Princeton announced it was ending the "master" title for leaders of the residential colleges. Princeton says the faculty members will now be known as "head of the college."

Dolan, who oversees the residential colleges, said groups across campus are having discussions about Wilson's place at the school.

It's a "conversation people are having all over the campus, in part because it's part of the national conversation. There are no easy answers here," she said. "It's a conversation we all need to have about the implications of history."

Wilson was president of Princeton 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.

"I agree with you that Woodrow Wilson was a racist. I think we need to acknowledge that as a community and be honest about that," Eisgruber told the students, according to a video posted to YouTube.

Dolan said faculty members have been discussing removing the "master" title for years for the job of running the six residential colleges where students live on campus.

"Many of us who would never have been part of the Princeton experience ... often feel our own exclusion," Dolan said. "Faculty and administrators prioritize inclusion and belonging, (from the) iconography of campus, to curriculum ... in terms of making sure we represent the diversity of human experience."

In August, a professor at Yale University cited the racial overtones of the word in asking students to stop calling him "master."

BET.com explores racism and protests on college campus below.

(Photo: Mel Evans/ AP PHOTO)

Written by Associated Press

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