When I attended Princeton, I already knew Wilson was a terrible Southern racist. I also understood that many Princeton presidents before him never would have admitted Jews to Old Nassau. There is some delicious irony in attending a school where various barriers and prejudices existed in the past — barriers that would have kept many of us from attending Princeton in past decades.
Perhaps we should step back and ask just how much can we (or should we) erase? Even the Constitution refers to three-fifths of all persons — i.e. slaves. And justly beloved Lincoln trimmed his sails on racial equality. The story of this country is evolution.
As for President Eisgruber ’83, he has my sympathy. In his place, I might have thrown the occupiers out of my office with (a) a snarl, (b) handcuffs, or (c) a tolerant smile, depending on my mood that day. But I think we have to remember that every day, his job entails dealing with outraged members of three disparate groups — alumni, faculty, and students. I am grateful not to have his job.