Category Archives: Features

At Princeton, the debate over Wilson’s legacy rages on

By Berenice Davila and Katie Okumu
Texas City, TX and Berea, KY

In the basement of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, an exhibit tries to provide a fuller understanding of Wilson’s complexities: He was a U.S. president, a university president–and a bigot. One dimly lit section is dedicated to arguments scribbled on bright orange four-by-six index cards.

“Black Lives Matter, but not to Wilson,” reads one card.

“Way overblown, get over it,” says another.

It’s a sign of how the debate surrounding Wilson’s legacy refuses to die. Continue reading

Wilson leaves behind a troubled legacy

By Aisha Tahir
Annandale, VA

Last year, on the morning of November 18, nearly 200 students gathered outside Princeton University’s Nassau Hall. They came together from many diverse backgrounds to advocate for one cause: demanding that the school remove the name of Woodrow Wilson—the 28th president of the United States and a former president of the University—from its buildings.

The news immediately went viral around the world, with headlines like “The Case Against Woodrow Wilson at Princeton” in The New York Times, “Erasing Woodrow Wilson’s name is not that easy” on CNN, and “Expunging Woodrow Wilson from Official Places of Honor” in The Washington Post.  Continue reading

With re-election looming, Princeton mayor reflects on first term

By Allison Scharmann
Southwick, MA

Liz Lempert, mayor of Princeton, N.J., is the kind of politician who chooses her words carefully. She’s coming to the end of her first term and four years filled with controversial battles including gentrification, wage theft, infrastructure, and other issues that reflect the town’s changing demographics.

A former journalist, Lempert jumped into politics with Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and served as Princeton Township Deputy Mayor for four years. Since being elected mayor in 2012, she’s governed a town that’s experienced growing tension amid urban development and gentrification, especially in neighborhoods consisting largely of people of color.  Continue reading

Calmness and continuity: the story of Princeton mayor Liz Lempert

By Jamal Burns
St. Louis, MO

Liz Lempert sits in a beige conference room in Princeton’s municipal complex. The room is utterly silent, besides the faint hum of central air conditioning. But the calmness of the room belies persistent tension in the Princeton community, whether about the environment, the cost of housing, or racial prejudices on Princeton University’s campus.

Lempert, 46, is the first mayor of the newly consolidated Princeton Township. But she hasn’t always been in politics. She started her unconventional journey in journalism, as an editor for the Stanford Daily, and later, as a graduate student at Boston University. “I thought I was going to go into print [journalism] because you gravitate to what comes easy to you, and I always loved writing,” she said. Continue reading

First-generation Princeton students speak out

By Anahi Figueroa and Jesus Lino
Commerce City, CO and Los Angeles, CA

At the country’s most selective colleges, all first year students commence their college experience in the same way. Armed with over-packed suitcases, they stroll through a manicured lawn passing a medieval Harry Potter-style library to arrive at their empty dorm. After sliding their freshly minted I.D’s, they open the door to new faces with differing backgrounds. They all arrive to the room in the same fashion, yet the subtext of their past experiences shapes their new ones. Whether you’re the daughter of a farmer or the son of a Wall Street shark, your upbringing shapes how you navigate in a new environment. For first-generation and low-income students at Princeton University, their backgrounds can present unique obstacles for maneuvering their education, especially without support from family or the administration.

While administrators believe that Princeton University is doing a marvelous job in assisting first-generation students, some students say that a lot of work still needs to be done. Continue reading

Construction on $300m arts and transit complex moves along

By Hector Gutierrez
McFarland, CA

Through the glass walls of Princeton’s new arts complex, viewers can see rooms hanging from the ceiling, as though they are waiting to be secured into the rest of the building. But the rooms will remain where they are, held by strings attached to the ceiling. The unique structure is designed to isolate the rooms from each other so musical vibrations do not travel.

The beauty of the building cannot conceal the fact that Princeton has not always emphasized arts in this way. As the Princeton campus prepares to welcome the $300 million architectural marvel that will house the production of myriad masterpieces as well as a new Dinky station, it marks a transition from the period when arts weren’t integrated as an important component of the curriculum.  Continue reading

Residents discuss police-community relations

By Aracely Chavez
Pacoima, CA

Because of the violent, often fatal, acts police have committed toward people of color—such as the killings of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner and Michael Brown—some Americans currently have a negative perception of police. But recent interviews with people in the John Street neighborhood—a historically low-income neighborhood of Princeton—suggest that this is not the case here.

“I think they treat us better” because now “they even greet [us],” said 40-year-old Juan Orellana. Similarly, 35-year-old Consuelo Retanalo said that police help a lot and “do a good job.” According to local resident Joanne Rice Parker, “I respect the police…They look out for us.” Many of the sources, such as 44-year-old Oliverio Sanchez, had never had an interaction with police, but made sure to clarify that “not all” police officers are racist and sometimes need to use force on those that resist them. “To tell you the truth, they’re awesome…They don’t bother me,” said Winston McFarlane. Continue reading