Some Princeton Grad Students Say Name Change Isn’t Enough to Address Racism - Higher Education

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Some Princeton Grad Students Say Name Change Isn’t Enough to Address Racism

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While Princeton University’s decision to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from its school of public policy roughly a week ago came as good news to many, the school’s graduate students continue to stress that “changing the name, though long overdue, cannot and will not be enough” to address systematic racism.

In a letter written before the name change and signed by more than 500 students and alumni from the School of Public and International Affairs, the graduate students outlined seven demands to the administration.

Those demands call on Princeton to:

  • commit 5% of its $26 billion endowment to reparations for the descendants of slavery. According to the group, the university’s first nine presidents were active or former slave owners;
  • permanently divest any existing investments from the prison industrial complex;
  • cut ties with the Princeton Police Department, defund Campus Public Safety and shift funding to mental health and “other campus services that holistically deliver public safety”;
  • incorporate anti-racist frameworks into core courses;
  • ensure that 25% or more of Princeton’s affiliated professors are Black by the end of 2022. According to a Princeton demographics report, less than 5% of the faculty are Black;
  • establish and “generously fund” a Center for Anti-Racist Policy;
  • and increase Black student enrollment. About 9% of undergraduates and 4% of master’s students are Black, according to the demographics report.

“We want to attend an institution whose funding scheme accounts for past and ongoing injustices, and reside in a place where social challenges are elevated and addressed through community resources, not stifled and subdued by officers,” states the letter. “We want to believe that engaging in anti-racism, dismantling structural racism, and achieving racial equity are things a policy school can and must teach us.”

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