Latest tactic, pick a school and demand they remove “offensive symbols”, provide birth control(Fluke) or change the school song.
Some Washington & Lee University law students want the university to live by its honor code and stop glorifying its namesake by acknowledging the dishonorable side of both Robert E. Lee and W&L.
Seven multiracial students, calling themselves The Committee, have demanded that W&L remove the flags of the Confederacy from the campus and Lee Chapel, acknowledge and apologize for participating in chattel slavery, recognize Martin Luther King Day on the undergraduate campus and ban neo-Confederates from marching across campus to the chapel on Lee-Jackson Day.
If their demands are not met by Sept. 1, they will engage in civil disobedience.
University President Kenneth Ruscio on Wednesday issued a letter to the W&L community that said “we take these students’ concerns seriously. The issues they have raised are important, and we intend to address them.”
Ruscio said W&L invites a prominent speaker during MLK Legacy Week; the undergraduate faculty decides whether classes are held on MLK day; the eight battle flags in Lee Chapel, representing armies of the Confederate States of America, are educational and historical, and the university does not observe Lee-Jackson Day.
His message did not indicate whether W&L would meet any of the students’ demands, but that he invited them to meet with the University Committee on Inclusiveness and Campus Climate that has been holding focus groups on these same issues.
The students said that they emailed the committee four days ago and had yet to hear a response.
Washington & Lee last fall announced W&L Promise, a program that covers tuition for students whose families earn less than $75,000 a year as a way to broaden the student body diversity along “social-economic, geographical, racial, ethnic — the widest possible use of the term,” Ruscio said then. The private school in Lexington, among the nation’s first universities, has in recent years promoted itself as an inclusive, diverse institution.
Anjelica Hendricks and Dominik Taylor, two of the seven law students who formed the protest committee, said they bought into W&L’s message at first. Both grew up in Virginia and understand the culture but also know that history needs to be presented in its context.
“As a native of Virginia, I understand that every prestigious school in Virginia is named after a slave owner. I went to James Madison University,” Hendricks said. “JMU was very comfortable. The name of the institution didn’t matter. It was all about the atmosphere.”
She found W&L and Lexington welcoming when she visited, but the experience soured immediately upon moving in.
“During orientation we had to go inside Lee Chapel and sign an honor contract to uphold our honor according to the honor of Robert E. Lee,” she said. Signing that contract in the shadow of a slave owner, and beneath plaques honoring Confederate soldiers and battle flags bowing to a movement to keep black people enslaved is hurtful, she said.