I find the decision to remove the name of Woodrow Wilson both appalling and hysterical. This irrational decision erodes the legacy of Wilson as the architect of Princeton as the modern university we have come to recognize as a world-class institution. Prior to the arrival of Wilson, the “College of New Jersey” enjoyed the status of a small liberal arts college in suburban-rural New Jersey, and the College was regularly the object of derision among American higher education. Wilson curtailed the influence of the Presbyterian clergy that had hitherto dominated University affairs. It was also Wilson, along with his predecessor James McCosh, who transformed the “College of New Jersey” into the Princeton we currently know, by enacting reforms and programs that enhanced the quality of a Princeton education, and thereby creating the Ivy League institution as we know it. If not for Wilson, the “University” very well could have remained a liberal arts institution, akin in contemporary terms to other elite though regional colleges, but by no means the peer of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Chicago, MIT, and the like.
Therefore, before we acid-wash the name of Wilson from the campus and the communal memory, I ask all alumni to reflect on the degree to which Princeton has shaped their identity, the extent to which the Princeton-name has procured opportunities for them, and all those occasions on which he or she has invoked the name “Princeton” to his or her professional, social, or economic benefit — and fully realize that this privilege and status owes to the accomplishments of Woodrow Wilson. After all, we could have been graduates of the College of New Jersey, at Princeton, instead of Princeton University. For all those disturbed by the Woodrow Wilson name, perhaps they should renounce their Princeton degrees to adequately demonstrate their dedication to social justice, lest they continue to associate themselves with an institution crafted, shaped, and operated in the shadow of Woodrow Wilson. While you’re at it, abolish the Graduate College, which Wilson championed over the objections of the Trustees and alumni. Let’s revert to the College of New Jersey! That’s the only logical conclusion.