Graduate Student Petition to Remove Witherspoon Statue Gathers Steam

Nov. 22, 2022

A petition created by members of the Department of Philosophy last summer requesting the removal of the John Witherspoon statue from Firestone Plaza has advanced to the next stage of consideration by the University community. The petition, which garnered nearly 300 signatures, prompted the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) Naming Committee to schedule listening sessions to allow faculty, staff and students to express their views as it considers the proposal. (Full story: The Daily Princetonian.)

Organized by philosophy graduate students Waner Zhang, Katie Rech, Brendan Kolb and Giulia Weissman, with the assistance of the Chair of the department’s Climate and Inclusion Committee Professor Boris Kment, the petition proposes that the towering 10-foot bronze statue honoring Witherspoon be removed and replaced by a plaque explaining both the positive and negative aspects of Witherspoon’s legacy.

John Witherspoon was the sixth president of Princeton University (known as the College of New Jersey at the time), serving from 1768 until his death in 1794. He had a lasting influence on the University and, as documented on the Princeton & Slavery website, a complex relationship with slavery.

Review the petition.
Sign up for a listening session on the proposal.
Share your feedback in writing on the CPUC Naming Committee website.