In an effort to grapple with Woodrow Wilson’s complicated legacy and controversial presence on campus, the University today kicked off a raucous, twelve-day parade celebrating his accomplishments.
“I realize that Woodrow Wilson’s connection to Princeton is a sensitive issue for many in the community,” said University President Christopher Eisgruber, addressing a crowd of students assembled outside of Nassau Hall. “And with that in mind, it is imperative that we now come together and flood the streets with twelve days of rowdy, Mardi Gras-style merriment honoring his contributions to the advancement of international diplomacy.” Eisgruber then signalled the marching band to start up their rendition of “Old Nassau” as a colossal banner of Wilson’s face unfurled behind him, officially launching the day’s festivities.
After leaving the podium, Eisgruber spoke briefly with reporters to explain the University’s rationale for holding the parade. “When dealing with historical figures like Wilson, we can’t flat out judge them as being completely good or completely bad. That’s why it’s important for us to continue educating people about the less admirable parts of Wilson’s legacy, while at the same making sure to applaud the good he did for the University and for the country by staging this grand procession of floats, bagpipe players, and synchronized juggling brigades over the better part of two weeks.”
Despite Eisgruber’s enthusiasm, some parade attendees remained doubtful as to whether the intense show revelry was appropriate. “It seems kind of excessive,” said Andrew Chan, a sophomore at the University. “I get that Wilson did some great things, but should we really be celebrating him like this? I mean, Jesus, this is the guy who held a White House screening of Birth of a—” At this point, however, Chan was abruptly cut off as a throng of vuvuzela players passed by the reporters’ area, filling the air with deafening honks for several minutes before moving farther along the parade route.
Sarah Dwyer, a University student and member of the Open Campus Coalition, took a different tack when asked for her opinion on the Wilson-themed jamboree. “Whether we like it or not, Wilson is a part of our history. Organizing a parade with anything less than one gigantic, whimsical balloon for each of Wilson’s Fourteen Points would be tantamount to ignoring the past.”
“Besides,” Dwyer continued, “if we make it our mission to forget the mistakes of our forefathers, we won’t be able to learn from their errors. It’s crucial that we continue to foster a conversation on campus about Wilson’s legacy, rather than foolishly trying to erase our ties to him. When people see us marching through the main thoroughfares, overflowing with mirth, chanting Wilson’s name, the message is clear: Woodrow Wilson was a complex individual whose personal character and policy decisions deserve our renewed scrutiny.”
At press time, in the five hours since the parade began, alumni donations have increased by 65%.