TCNJ students want ‘unabashed’ segregationist’s name taken off building
EWING — Three College of New Jersey student researchers have apparently uncovered testimony revealing that Paul Loser, namesake of one of the most prominent buildings on the TCNJ campus, "openly and unabashedly segregated black children" as Trenton's school superintendent prior to a 1944 court decision integrating the city's schools.
While those students have begun to distribute flyers on campus urging a name change for Paul Loser Hall, others who spoke with NJ.com on Wednesday were largely noncommittal, saying they did not know much about Loser to begin with and were doubtful a change could be easily accomplished.
Loser Hall, which Loser's son donated $1 million to help construct in the late 1980s, is situated on the western end of the campus along Metzger Drive, the main entrance from Route 31. As one of the first buildings visitors notice upon entering the campus, it functions primarily as a reception and greeting space, with an information booth in the parking lot.
For those reasons, plus an additional $5 million donation made by the Loser family in 2006, the students interviewed by NJ.com said they would be in favor of a name change, but that it was not a cause they'd be likely to actively pursue.
TCNJ spokesman David Muha was quoted in the report as saying it was "too early to speculate" on future changes to the building's name.
"We thank the students for bringing this forward," Muha said in additional comments made exclusively to New Jersey 101.5 Thursday morning. "The college will create a means through which they can share what they have learned and our community can consider its implications."
Paul Loser served as Trenton schools superintendent from 1932 to 1955, and in the 1940s, the mothers of two black students filed suit against the district, alleging that Loser forced the children to attend a school some 20 blocks outside of their neighborhood when there was an all-white school just two blocks away, the report said.
In January 1944, the court ruled in favor of the mothers, ordering the admission of black students to all Trenton schools -- and all schools throughout the state -- by the end of that year.
Earlier this year, Princeton University's board of trustees chose not to rename its Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs or remove Wilson's name from a residential college. For months, students protested the former U.S. and university president's segregationist views.
In that case, the school said in a statement that as with many historical figures, the former university president has a "complex legacy of both positive and negative repercussions" and that Princeton’s use of his name does not imply an endorsement of his views and actions. A committee reviewing a proposal to remove Wilson's name said that the university must be "honest and forthcoming about its history" and recognize "Wilson’s failings and shortcomings as well as the visions and achievements that led to the naming of the school and the college in the first place," the school said in the statement.
Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. He and his wife are both TCNJ alumni, and she is currently an adjunct professor at the school. Follow Patrick on Twitter @plavery1015 or email email@example.com.
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