In Response to: Keeping Wilson’s Name

Published online May 11, 2016

The healthy and magnificent maelstrom at Princeton over the name of Woodrow Wilson 1879 brings to mind the wisdom of various world sages whose guidance might be relevant. Ego and the importance of self are repeatedly remonstrated by thinkers as disparate as Confucius and Martin Luther King Jr. 

It is unfortunate that the amount of focus, energy, and determination being afforded this issue is not instead being directed at what might be an equally pressing area of need within the University.

Whatever the resolution, similar controversy will likely be encountered again because we are all of us human, and few of us are blameless no matter our contributions. On campuses, in communities, even in commerce we might do ourselves a favor in making it policy to avoid the reverence of ego in assigning personal names for facilities and places, and instead seek other sources if any are needed at all. The name “Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs” would seem to be entirely sufficient for all that needs to be said.

Rocky Semmes ’79
Alexandria, Va.