University Board Votes to Keep Robert E. Lee’s Name
Washington and Lee University, the non-public liberal arts college in Virginia, won’t change its title after a monthslong evaluation over whether or not to take away its reference to the Accomplice normal Robert E. Lee, the varsity introduced on Friday.
The varsity’s board of trustees voted 22-6 on Friday in favor of holding its present title, which developed as an acknowledgment of a donation given by George Washington within the 18th century and Lee’s tenure as college president after the Civil Warfare. The vote got here after an almost yearlong evaluation of the varsity’s title and the symbols related to its historical past and campus environment in Lexington, Va.
Final July, amid nationwide protests towards racial injustice and debates over Accomplice monuments and symbols, the college’s board of trustees obtained requests from college students, school and alumni calling for adjustments on the college. These included requests to rename the establishment itself and alter the design of its diploma, in accordance to the college.
“Over the previous yr, we now have engaged in deliberations over these requests and different essential points relating to range and inclusion on campus,’’ the college stated in an announcement. The varsity added that it had “discovered no consensus about whether or not altering the title of our college is in keeping with our shared values.”
“We’ve been guided by our duty to make sure the college’s future success in a posh and altering world,’’ the college added.
Initially based as Augusta Academy in 1749, the college has repeatedly modified its title throughout its historical past. It turned Liberty Corridor Academy in 1776, and Washington Faculty in 1813, after the primary president gave it a major monetary reward.
The varsity’s board of trustees invited Lee to lead the school in August 1865, solely months after he surrendered within the Civil Warfare.
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His legacy and that of one other Accomplice chief, Stonewall Jackson, have loomed over Lexington for nicely over a century. Each males are buried within the small faculty city — as are members of Lee’s household — and their names have been seen all through the town, together with on the previous Robert E. Lee Resort, now known as The Gin Resort, and the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, now often called Oak Grove Cemetery.
However lately, attitudes in regards to the metropolis’s well-known Accomplice forebears, who each owned enslaved individuals, started to change. In 2017, the Grace Episcopal Church eliminated Lee from its title. In 2019, the native Boy Scout council eliminated Jackson’s from its council title. And final yr, as cities across the nation re-evaluated imagery and symbols of slave house owners, 79 p.c of Washington and Lee’s school voted to strip Lee’s title from the varsity.
University officers stated they’d heard from greater than 15,000 college students, school, employees, alumni and oldsters who shared their views in surveys, letters and listening periods.
“We’ve listened rigorously and are grateful for the considerate method by which you have got shared your views and experiences with us,’’ the college stated.
The board did determine to make one title change. Lee Chapel, the place the previous Accomplice normal labored and attended companies, shall be renamed University Chapel consistent with its unique Nineteenth-century title of Faculty Chapel.
The board stated it will oversee and approve inside adjustments to restore its unadorned design and to bodily separate the auditorium from the Lee household crypt and a Lee memorial sculpture. As well as, the varsity’s Founders Day, which was historically held on Robert E. Lee’s birthday, shall be discontinued.
The college additionally stated it will undertake a brand new design for its diplomas, eradicating some photographs. Pupil levels have historically featured the portraits of Lee and Washington, who additionally owned slaves.
Moreover, the college stated it will create a board committee on range, fairness and inclusion to “deliver further perspective to our work and assist us oversee, direct and help the administration’s initiatives.”
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