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Board of Washington and Lee University Votes to Keep Lee’s Name

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Board of Washington and Lee University Votes to Keep Lee’s Name

Washington and Lee College, the personal liberal arts faculty in Virginia, won’t change its title after a monthslong evaluate over whether or not to take away its reference to the Accomplice normal Robert E. Lee, the college introduced on Friday.

The varsity’s board of trustees voted 22-6 on Friday in favor of protecting its present title, which developed as an acknowledgment of a donation given by George Washington within the 18th century and Lee’s tenure as faculty president after the Civil Conflict. The vote got here after a virtually yearlong evaluate of the college’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 logos, the college’s board of trustees obtained requests from college students, college and alumni calling for modifications on the faculty. These included requests to rename the establishment itself and alter the design of its diploma, in accordance with the college.

“Over the previous yr, we’ve engaged in deliberations over these requests and different necessary points referring to variety and inclusion on campus,’’ the college stated in a press release. The varsity added that it had “discovered no consensus about whether or not altering the title of our college is in step with our shared values.”

“We’ve got 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 grew to become Liberty Corridor Academy in 1776, and Washington Faculty in 1813, after the primary president gave it a big monetary reward.

The varsity’s board of trustees invited Lee to steer the faculty in August 1865, solely months after he surrendered within the Civil Conflict.

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His legacy and that of one other Accomplice chief, Stonewall Jackson, have loomed over Lexington for effectively over a century. Each males are buried within the small school city — as are members of Lee’s household — and their names have been seen all through town, together with on the previous Robert E. Lee Resort, now referred to as The Gin Resort, and the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, now generally known as Oak Grove Cemetery.

However in recent times, attitudes concerning the metropolis’s well-known Accomplice forebears, who each owned enslaved individuals, started to vary. 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 homeowners, 79 % of Washington and Lee’s college voted to strip Lee’s title from the college.

College officers stated that they had heard from greater than 15,000 college students, college, workers, alumni and fogeys who shared their views in surveys, letters and listening classes.

“We’ve got listened rigorously and are grateful for the considerate method during which you’ve got shared your views and experiences with us,’’ the college stated.

The board did resolve to make one title change. Lee Chapel, the place the previous Accomplice normal labored and attended providers, might be renamed College Chapel in step with its authentic Nineteenth-century title of Faculty Chapel.

The board stated it could oversee and approve inside modifications to revive its unadorned design and to bodily separate the auditorium from the Lee household crypt and a Lee memorial sculpture. As well as, the college’s Founders Day, which was historically held on Robert E. Lee’s birthday, might be discontinued.

The college additionally stated it could undertake a brand new design for its diplomas, eradicating some pictures. Scholar levels have historically featured the portraits of Lee and Washington, who additionally owned slaves.

Moreover, the college stated it could create a board committee on variety, fairness and inclusion to “deliver extra perspective to our work and assist us oversee, direct and help the administration’s initiatives.”

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