Education Dept. Opens Investigation into Princeton after President Claims Racism ‘Embedded’ in University

Students walk past Princeton University’s Nassau Hall in Princeton, N.J. (Dominick Reuter/Reuters)

The U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into Princeton University after the Ivy League school’s president claimed racism is “embedded” at the university, the Washington Examiner reported on Thursday.

Princeton president Christopher L. Eisgruber made the assertion in an open letter published September 2, which addressed in part the protests and riots over the summer following the police killing of George Floyd.

“Racism and the damage it does to people of color…persist at Princeton as in our society, sometimes by conscious intention but more often through unexamined assumptions and stereotypes, ignorance or insensitivity, and the systemic legacy of past decisions and policies,” Eisgruber wrote. “Racist assumptions from the past also remain embedded in structures of the University itself.  For example, Princeton inherits from earlier generations at least nine departments and programs organized around European languages and culture, but only a single, relatively small program in African studies”

Following the open letter, the Education Department notified Princeton that it was investigating whether the university lied to the department and general public regarding its nondiscrimination polices, in a letter obtained by the Examiner.

“Based on its admitted racism, the U.S. Department of Education…is concerned Princeton’s nondiscrimination and equal opportunity assurances in its Program Participation Agreements from at least 2013 to the present may have been false,” the letter read. “The Department is further concerned Princeton perhaps knew, or should have known, these assurances were false at the time they were made.”

The investigation comes after Princeton in June decided to remove the name of President Woodrow Wilson from the university’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public Policy. Wilson held racist views and upheld segregationist policies for southern states.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.