The flippant headline, “Goodbye to Woody Woo,” on the September PAW cover is tasteless and offensive in the context of the concern over the question of Woodrow Wilson’s name. I disagree with your decision to remove it, as it implies that, in Wilson’s life, regardless of his achievements, the most important question about his life is whether he liked Black people or not. He was a man of his time, and, without studying the matter, I would guess that a majority of the American population then were also racist. Does your decision thus imply that we should get out our family picture albums and remove grandfathers and uncles? Should we, these days, stop communicating with friends who are admittedly racist?
You have made that decision to signal that the University condemns racism. I should have hoped that this was evident already. Regardless of its consequences to the University, I expect that this action will have little resonance with Black people in general, who have better things to worry about than intellectual debates in the Ivy League. If you were seriously interested in improving the lives of Black people, you would urge your students to advocate for the destruction of the power of the teachers’ unions that restrict the ability of Black families to choose schools that they prefer for their children. Absent this, all your posturing over names is nothing but an irrelevant charade.
However, as long as symbols are important to you, I suggest you deal with the tiger, who seems an overly masculine and aggressive personification for a university that is mostly feminine and compassionate. How about a dove instead, or perhaps a chicken?