The Washington and Lee University board of trustees voted on Friday 22-6 against the removal of Robert E. Lee from the institution’s name. Lee was a commander of the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
Washington and Lee University’s board decided, in the year 2021 of our Common Era, that they would embrace Robert E. Lee indefinitely. https://t.co/HMtwiRTAD5
— Heard FC, aka Hoary-Throated Barwing (@HeardFC) June 4, 2021
Response to the Board of Trustees' Name Change Decision pic.twitter.com/js9sRcZzIM
— W&L Law Review (@WLULawReview) June 6, 2021
While the administration will not change the university’s name, they will work on reducing Lee’s prominence throughout the institution through a series of initiatives. These include renaming Lee Chapel to University Chapel, removing his image from diplomas, putting an end to Founder’s Day celebrations on his birthday, and allocating $225 million to “need-blind admissions,” internships, and enhanced curricula.
“We will continue to conduct rigorous and nuanced explorations of our history, with the humility and honesty to acknowledge both our successes and those moments when the university failed to live up to its ideals,” the university said.
Acknowledging Washington and Lee for ‘Direct Actions’
In a statement released by the university, it explained that discussions over the name change were filled with “sharp disagreements among people who love the university.”
They cited the history behind their association with George Washington and Lee, saying that these names were chosen to acknowledge the “direct actions” they undertook for the benefit of the school.
“In 1796, George Washington made a gift to Liberty Hall Academy that ensured its survival, in recognition of which the trustees named the school Washington Academy. In 1870, immediately following his death in office as President of Washington College, the trustees added Lee’s name in recognition of his leadership in saving and transforming the school after the devastation of the Civil War,” they wrote.