The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Princeton president and protesters reach agreement; bomb threat deemed not credible

Students protesting in support of the Black Justice League at Princeton (Photo by Mary Hui)

Updated Friday, 3:20 p.m.

On Friday afternoon, the university issued an alert reassuring the campus community: “An investigation by the Department of Public Safety in consultation with other law enforcement agencies has determined that a bomb and firearm threat directed at the University Thursday evening was deemed not credible.”

Original post:

A 32-hour protest about the racial climate at Princeton ended Thursday night when the president and students reached an agreement that included consideration of the idea of renaming the university’s storied Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Soon afterward, the university announced an anonymous threat of violence that referenced the protest.

The debate came in the midst of a national escalation of the topic of race on campus, with students at dozens of colleges confronting administrators and other students and presenting demands — and anonymous threats surfacing, as well.

The Black Justice League at Princeton had demanded that the president acknowledge the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson and remove his name from buildings on campus, mandate “cultural competency” courses for all faculty and staff, and provide cultural space for black students on campus.

President Christopher Eisgruber immediately agreed to the idea of a cultural space Wednesday night, but declined to sign the demands and promised to continue talking with students about the other ideas.

[Princeton protesters demand ‘racist’ Woodrow Wilson’s name be removed from all buildings]

[Protesters continue to occupy Princeton president’s office]

Wilson, an alumnus and president of the university who went on to become the 28th president of the United States, advocated for separation of races and opposed efforts by civil rights leaders to combat discrimination against black people. Students asked that his name be removed from a residential college, the university’s school of public and international affairs, and that a mural of him be removed from a dining hall.

Eisgruber agreed that in his opinion the mural should not be there, and the process began to consider its ultimate removal.

He agreed to write to the chair of the board of trustees to discuss Wilson’s legacy, including the group’s request that his name be removed, and for the board to collect information from the campus community about the name.

University leaders essentially agreed to further efforts to train staff to understand cultural differences, and to discuss the possibility of a required course in diversity issues for all students.

They said that students who left Nassau Hall peacefully would not be subject to disciplinary action.

Watch as Princeton students occupy the university president's office demanding solutions to the racial climate on campus. (Video: The Washington Post)

“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 in a statement. “We were able to assure them that their concerns would be raised and considered through appropriate processes.”

Not long afterward, the university issued a campus safety alert: Bomb and firearm threat.

“The Department of Public Safety, out of an abundance of caution, is alerting members of the University community about a non-specific bomb and firearm threat that made reference to a student protest on campus.

“In response to the threat, which was received in an email, the Department of Public Safety is enhancing campus patrols and actively investigating the threat in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies.”

Read more:

Can colleges protect free speech while also curbing voices of hate?

Yale president responds to protesters’ demands, announces new initiatives to ease racial tensions

Increasingly unified protests gain voice nationally

“College is the last space that should be a ‘safe space.'”