US & Canada

Princeton considers dropping Woodrow Wilson name after protests

The 28th President of the United States Woodrow Wilson Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Woodrow Wilson led Princeton University before being elected US president

Princeton University students have urged school officials to rename programmes and buildings named for former US President Woodrow Wilson because of his views on race relations.

University President Christopher Eisgruber has agreed to consider their demands after protests.

The Ivy League university's School of Public and International Affairs and a dormitory are named after Wilson.

As US president, he led progressive initiatives but supported segregation.

Mr Eisgruber said he was thankful for the "willingness of the students to work with us to find a way forward".

Racial segregation, which mostly took place in Southern US states, was legal policy during his presidency from 1913 to 1921.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Students staged a sit-in outside the university president's office

Wilson served as president of New Jersey's Princeton University from 1902 to 1910.

He was then elected as president, leading the country during World War I and championing American membership in the League of Nations - a forerunner to the United Nations.

The Black Justice League lead the protesters, who have called for the university to both remove Wilson's name from the international affairs school and his name and photograph from other public spaces on campus.

University officials, as part of a signed agreement with students, said they would consider removing a mural of Wilson on campus, start conversations about his legacy of racism and increase cultural competency training for Princeton faculty.

The protests come at a time when universities across the US are grappling with race relation and diversity issues.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former Princeton professor and State Department official, wrote on her Twitter account that talking about Wilson's complexity is a better choice than removing his likeness from campus altogether.

"Human complexity. All our idols have feet of clay. All our heroes have dark sides, but they can also do [great] things," she wrote on Twitter.

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