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Sit-in at Princeton University Ends After Agreement Reached

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.”

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Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • amp

    Well done!

  • amp

    Ha! OMG.

  • Community Conscience

    Intolerance of beliefs other than your own from a supposedly tolerant Liberal. Obviously you believe all the lies and completely disregard the truth. No wonder New Jersey is headed down the rat hole.

  • Martha Friend

    We will have to agree to disagree about the mission and honest communication by both BLM and BJL movements. Your previous postings over last year or so have made your feelings obvious and apparent about many social justice issues and I will waste no time engaging with you. And because, as far as I know, you aren’t running for public office, your opinion is simply your personal opinion. Also- you don’t have to put my last name in quotes as that is my actual name. I feel no need to hide behind a pseudonym.

  • Community Conscience

    Lying, and the promulgation of lies by the BLM and BJL folks is certainly NOT “acknowledging each other’s experiences.” A lie is a lie is a lie. Interesting that you, Ms. ‘Friend,’ support them in their interest in segregated spaces. Perhaps a former Southern Democrat?

  • Martha Friend

    I’m so very glad that you weren’t elected, Ms. Ditosto, as it’s obvious you would not speak for all residents in Princeton. It’s beside the point whether or not you agree with the Princeton students’ demands. Your comment makes it obvious that can’t step out of your own reality to imagine that someone else might experience the world differently. Acknowledging each other’s experiences is vital to being part of a positive community (be it a university or a town.)

  • Community Conscience

    Petition from Princeton Students:

    We, the undersigned members of the Princeton University community, appreciate the concerns but oppose the demands of the Black Justice League. We call for increased dialogue and the creation of a process that properly considers the input of all students and faculty, not merely those who are the loudest.

    WHEREAS the Black Justice League has condemned Woodrow Wilson’s undeniable racism and demanded that the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs and Wilson College be renamed,

    WHEREAS the Black Justice League has demanded that undergraduates be required to take “classes on the history of marginalized people,”

    WHEREAS some members of the Black Justice League have reportedly demanded “affinity housing for people interested in black housing,”

    WHEREAS some members of the Black Justice League criticized the university for “focusing on free speech;”

    We, the undersigned members of the Princeton University community, affirm the following:

    THAT the first of these three demands represents an alarming call for historical revisionism and seeks to eliminate vindication of a significant historical figure who, despite his flaws, made great contributions to this University,

    THAT the second of these three demands represents a thinly veiled attempt to impose the Black Justice League’s unilateral narrative upon all undergraduates through the conduit of the core curriculum,

    THAT the third of these three demands represents a morally abhorrent and blatantly illegal call for what is essentially racially segregated housing.

    THAT free speech is fundamental to Princeton’s role as an institution of higher learning and excessive political correctness stifles academic discourse.

    We, the undersigned members of the Princeton University community, request that the President, Trustees, and Faculty affirm the following:

    THAT any steps to purge this campus of its Wilsonian legacy creates a dangerous precedent and slippery slope that will be cited by future students who seek to purge the past of those who fail to live up to modern standards of morality,

    THAT a properly enacted “diversity requirement” should allow students to study a non-American culture or American minority of their choice—not merely those who have been deemed marginalized by the Black Justice League—and will be accompanied by a required course in Western or American civilization in order to better enable cross-cultural understanding,

    THAT racially based housing creates segregation and is thus anathematic not only to the University’s purported goal of promoting a diverse student body but also to the core values of American society.

    THAT this University maintains its commitment to free speech and open dialogue and condemns political correctness to the extent that it infringes upon those fundamental academic values.

  • Community Conscience

    Not to be outdone, Berkeley student protesters demanded a building be renamed for a convicted terrorist fugitive on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list:

    “WE DEMAND that the name of Barrows Hall be changed to Assata Shakur Hall.”

  • Matthew Newgarden

    Marginalized Princeton student = oxymoron.

  • Lee

    Here’s a change to consider: keep the name of the school in question, with one word subtracted: “Woodrow.”

    Make it, instead, the Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and add a nice plaque in the lobby, announcing that building and program honor both Woodrow Wilson and his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, who for all intents and purposes was acting U.S. President in the 17 months between WW’s severe stroke in October 1919 and the inauguration of Harding in March 1921. As a direct descendant of Pocahontas, she was also partly Native American, which makes this solution even more agreeable.

  • Nosilla

    Why not rename Witherspoon Hall? John Witherspoon owned slaves after all…

  • Get nothing and like it

    It’s nice they’re naive enough to believe that their demands were met. Or pragmatic enough to pretend that they were met. The school has committed to almost nothing. And rightly so.

  • Kelly Deegan Ditosto

    How about places where only white students can congregate. Oh no that would be racist. Smh.

  • Community Conscience

    It will be interesting when the black students have their own special rooms and black-only housing, as they have demanded.

    There used to be a name for that … it was called Segregation.

  • Community Conscience

    “We have a duty to amend the past so it doesn’t influence the future.” – #occupynassau

    Right up there with “War is Peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” and “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

    Orwell was simply 31 years ahead of his time.

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