Student activists at Princeton University who raised concerns about racism on campus and the legacy of Woodrow Wilson reached an agreement with school officials Thursday night that ends the 32-hour sit-in at Nassau Hall.
Officials promised that no disciplinary action will be taken against students who participated in the protests if the students left the building tonight. The student group called the Black Justice League began the sit-in after a rally in front of Nassau Hall at noon on Wednesday.
In exchange for an end to the sit-in at his office, Eisgruber agreed that school officials would initiate a process to discuss the legacy of Woodrow Wilson on campus and the Black Justice League’s request to remove Wilson’s name from campus buildings and programs. A conversation will also be initiated regarding the removal of the Woodrow Wilson mural from the Wilcox Dining Hall, and the school will commit to having more ethnic diversity represented in artwork on campus.
Students also requested a dedicated space for black students on campus. Officials agreed to designate four rooms in the Carl A. Fields Center to be used by “cultural affinity groups.” Black Justice League members will also be involved in a working group with staff members at the school’s residential colleges to begin discussions on the viability of the formation of affinity housing for students interested in black culture.
Students also demanded that faculty and staff members receive cultural competency training. Officials agreed to “enhance” cultural competency training for staff. The Black Justice League will also work with the school’s general education task force to explore the possibility of a diversity requirement in order for students to graduate.
“We appreciate the willingness of the students to work with us to find a way forward for them, for us and for our community,” Eisgruber said. “We were able to assure them that their concerns would be raised and considered through appropriate processes.”
Students cheered and hugged after the document was signed. The building was cleared by 8:45 p.m.
African American Studies Department members issued a letter in support of the students that was posted online tonight.
“As Princeton faculty, we write in support of our students who have occupied the President’s office and those supporting them across campus,” reads the letter signed by 11 faculty members. “These are difficult times. And there is a palpable sense that, even as we struggle together to make Princeton a better institution, students of color, particularly black students, all too often find themselves on the margins of this university. They do not feel a sense of possession of `Old Nassau.’ So, they are voicing their frustration and have presented demands to the leadership of our community.”
— U. Press Club (@UnivPressClub) November 20, 2015