SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Antonin_Ferre “United States, Coronavirus and Protest against Racial Discrimination”
Summer 2019, I finished my studies abroad for about seven years in Japan. And I came to the United States which is the third country for my studying abroad.
The City Princeton, which is the base for my day-to-day life now, seems like another world to me. If I compare Princeton with Tokyo, Tokyo is one of the biggest cities in the world. It is said a word “Campus”, which means “field” in Latin, has been used as “the premises in Princeton University”. For the first time when we step in “the campus” of Princeton University, everybody will nod with their agreement. When I saw an old map of the latter part of the eighteen centuries, “the campus” students at that time have called “campus” jokingly, we can understand there had been nothing except some field surrounded by buildings. At present, though the number of university facilities has increased dramatically and the city itself has developed, also there is no change in its richness in nature. You can understand such richness from other living things that live symbiotically together with human beings. Starting from raccoons which are mascots of Atsumi International Foundation, squirrels, foxes, rabbits and deer, all the living things are enjoying their lives in “campus”.
The new type of coronavirus has spread in campus. During these few months, almost all the students had returned to their homes and other students who had no choice stayed back in campus inside their rooms. It added my feelings of isolation from the outer worlds and it caused me to add my sense of reality also. During our school term when we had busy weekends, I didn’t realize much. But once I become free from restraining terms, it increased such feelings. When it’s clear during summer, many people go out for a walk.
But the campus remains quiet as we can see only postgraduate students of scientific fields go to their laboratories, opened recently.
However, even in the small town in the State of New Jersey, violent social movements are occurring now. After George Floyd’s killing by the police on May 25, protest movement of discrimination against African-American started throughout the country. At present, the end of June, demonstration and riots are spreading. In the City of Princeton, except students of Princeton University, where majority of the population is white people, there was no such big demonstration as Minneapolis. It is said that, as a university, they are trying to raise consciousness of the community against racial discrimination which has been engraved in the structure and history of American society. It is said also that university, as an organization of higher education and research organization, is studying how to engage in such issues.
As one of the measurers, the name of Woodrow Wilson was deleted from the graduate student dormitory of the Faculty of Public Policy/Graduate School. President Woodrow Wilson, a graduate of Princeton University, was a great figure. He became the President of the United States through his career of teaching and the President of Princeton University, Governor of the state of New Jersey and received Nobel Peace Prize. During his presidency services, he was evaluated for not only the establishment of the League of Nations but also contributed to the vigorous development of Princeton University.
However, he was a segregationist. When other Ivy League colleges admitted African-Americans, though the numbers were limited, Princeton University rejected their admission. When he served for the U.S. President, he introduced racial separation again in the civil service system which had been abolished before. It means he has kept his standpoint as a segregationist. According to the President of Princeton University who declared the measure, mentioned above, “Woodrow Wilson’s segregation was very important remarkably basing on the standard at that time”.
Against the deletion of such an influential name, not only in Princeton University but American history, from the name of faculty or graduate school, advocates of the conservative wing said “it is excessive political correctness” or “it is nothing but revisionism of history”. It may be a discretion of the University who shall be admired or who shall be a model of students. It is respectful that African-American students of the Faculty of Public Policy/Graduate School are reluctant to be assimilated to the person who did not admit their entrance. Anyway, deletion of the name “Woodrow Wilson” was welcomed in the community of the University and many people congratulated saying “Princeton School of Public and International Affairs”.
I never thought that American society would amid in flames of the COVID-19. I realized our campus, which seems to be sleeping, is maintaining its life and I am distracted from feelings of desolation.
Antonin_Ferre / 2019 Raccoon, Princeton University (East Asia Research Center)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala