As an undergraduate in the 1950s, I happily accepted the message of “Princeton in the nation’s service,” and linked it to the image of Woodrow Wilson as a committed public servant and advocate for international cooperation. Anticipating a career in law or public service, I was proud to be major in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. I also became aware that Princeton was regarded as “the most Southern” of the Ivy League schools and was forced to acknowledge the anti-Semitic and racist nature of campus culture during the 1958 rebellion against the 100-percent bicker system.
At the time, I did not think of Wilson as actively racist, but rather simply as a man of his place (Virginia) and time. Over the last few years, however, the University’s dedicated exploration of its connections to slavery and its posture on civil rights and race relations has exposed Wilson’s deliberate efforts as president to enforce segregation in the federal civil service and otherwise to suppress minority rights. In light of these revelations, I strongly support the decision to remove his name from campus structures. Let us hope that the nation comes to see, instead, today’s Princeton as reflected in the service of Michelle Obama ’85 and Anthony Romero ’87.