Students at Princeton University have been rallying and protesting to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from the School of Public and International Affairs on account of the fact that he led a highly racist life. Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, attended Princeton and became its university president. Upon his presidency within Princeton, Wilson did not allow black students to gain admission to the university; presidents in schools such as Harvard and Yale were more progressive and thought Wilson was behind the times in his decision. Although Wilson led the country along a path of peaceful internationalism during World War I, he also supported many views that would now be deemed racist and socially unacceptable. Wilson openly backed the Ku Klux Klan’s endeavors to purify the nation as they saw fit. He believed that segregation could be a benefit to society.
Students who are part of The Black Justice League at Princeton organized a sit-in to protest for the removal of both Wilson’s name from the prestigious public affairs school as well as his portrait from one of the school’s dining halls.More often than not, Wilson is emblematic of peaceful objectives in international conflicts, particularly during World War I. He is seen as a stable authoritative figure with the best intentions for his country and for other countries in mind.
It is not right to single him out solely for his good deeds. Princeton students are justified in their anger. However, while it is necessary to acknowledge the fact that Wilson was particularly biased against people of color, it is futile to take down and replace artifacts that were erected in order to preserve the history of a domain.
In this case, Wilson was an indispensable part of Princeton’s history, and his name and portrait should not be effaced for that reason. Instead, the way that Wilson is addressed within Princeton should be changed. Wilson should be regarded for both his positive and negative contributions to the school and to the world. Princeton students should focus on the fact that Princeton’s public affairs school was named after Wilson primarily due to his involvement in the mollification of the war.
To remove historical icons of the past who strayed from the morals that we abide by today would be a completely anachronistic judgment. In the case of race, which became a hot topic only recently in U.S. history, it is simpler than ever to shun certain figures from our present lives due to their now-rendered immoral behavior and beliefs. While the movement to eradicate immoral and impractical beliefs is understandable, erasing chunks of history in the process is not the right way to execute it.