Of the two, Robert E. Lee is held in the lowest regard these days, reviled as a military commander of the Confederacy rather than his role in reconciling North and South after the Civil War — largely during his tenure as president of the university. So it’s no surprise that W&L’s Commission on Institutional History and Community has issued recommendations to de-emphasize its connection with Lee. That would include re-naming Lee House and the Lee-Jackson House, along with Robinson Hall named for a Rockbridge County plantation owner, reports The News Gazette.
No mention of deleting Lee’s name from the university.
Meanwhile, the commission proposes incorporating the university’s history into its orientation program and curriculum. Among the specifics:
- “Require each undergraduate student to take a seminar that explores W&L history, including the involvement of the namesakes, the contribution of enslaved persons, the role of W&L in the creation and dissemination of the Lost Cause narrative, the training of soldiers on campus, and the impact of our graduates on the institution and the world. The goal would be neither to mask nor to bash the university’s history, but rather to tell the full story, confident that the university’s positive contributions to society far outweigh its shortcomings. …
- “During Spring Term, foster campus unity by selecting a topic or issue that the entire community explores and discusses, whether in multiple class offerings that address the topic from different angles; a speaker series that highlights different aspects of the issue.”
In the wrong hands, this could turn into an exercise in white guilt and self-flagellation. I don’t get the sense that W&L is loaded with professors steeped in identity politics bent upon de-legitimizing the nation’s founding… but then the content of a program like this really depends upon who is put in charge and how it is run. So, we’ll have to wait and see.
Whoever runs the program, though, I don’t see these recommendations as “fostering campus unity.” Fostering campus division is more likely.There are currently no comments highlighted.