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Students and Alums Protest Changes at Washington and Lee U.’s Lee Chapel, Including Removing Washington’s Portrait

Students and Alums Protest Changes at Washington and Lee U.’s Lee Chapel, Including Removing Washington’s Portrait

“Changing the [chapel] now is a complete breach of that responsibility, and it’s a major disgrace to historical sites everywhere”

Why are any schools making changes to their history when Yale does nothing? Elihu Yale was actively involved in the slave trade.

The College Fix reports:

Washington and Lee’s removal of George Washington portrait, other chapel changes draws protest

An ongoing series of changes and edits to Washington and Lee University’s historic Lee Chapel has drawn controversy and criticisms from students and alumni.

Most recently, administrators have announced plans to build a permanent wall this summer to separate the chapel’s main auditorium from a section of the building that features a recumbent statue of Robert E. Lee lying in state.

The statue is directly behind the podium from which students are addressed. Currently, the statue is fully visible from the pews, except when a temporary partition is erected during all official university events.

Last summer, officials removed portraits of President George Washington and General Lee from the chapel, as well as plaques honoring alumni and veterans from various wars, not just the Civil War.

Campus leaders have said the changes are motivated by a push to make the campus environment more inclusive. Traditionally, the chapel is used for mandatory freshmen orientation sessions, including the introduction to the school’s renowned honor system.

The changes have sparked criticism as the Virginia-based institution grapples with the complicated legacies of its namesakes. In particular, a student at the school is leading an effort to reverse the plans to build the permanent wall, efforts underscored by an active alumni group concerned about the university’s ongoing sanitizing of the chapel.

Junior Kamron Spivey, president of Students for Historical Preservation, has been vocal over the last school year in opposing the chapel changes. For one, he notes its status as a National Historic Landmark.

He said that when the university accepted National Historic Landmark status for Lee Chapel in 1961, “they pledged to uphold the site and share its historical significance with those who visit it.”

“Changing the [chapel] now is a complete breach of that responsibility, and it’s a major disgrace to historical sites everywhere,” he told The College Fix via email.


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Remove Washington’s portrait and put up the portrait of Obama sitting on a chair surrounded by leaves.and flowers. That’s a preview of what the school will look like in a few years.

Old Soldier | June 1, 2022 at 1:13 pm

W&L is becoming a bastion of Left-wing intolerance. A few years ago, the development office helped it achieve a level of fiscal stability few schools of its size can boast: income from the endowment became the primary source of operating revenue, displacing tuition. It can now offer need-based scholarships to anyone.

Unfortunately, it meant the faculty and the Administration no longer need the alumni and the mask has slipped to show them as the intolerant leftists that they are. There is not a left-wing fad the University will not embrace, from BLM, to gender-neutral bathrooms, taking down historical artifacts, to removing the namesakes of the college from Lee Chapel, and sterilizing the chapel interior in the name of “inclusivity.”

There is much talk there of diversity but it is diversity of the shallowest sort. What I see and read is stifling left-wing conformity.

As an alum of the college and the law school, and who stood in Lee Chapel almost forty years ago to take the oath as a soldier, it breaks my heart to close my modest checkbook and tell my children not to bother with Washington and Lee.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Old Soldier. | June 1, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    You could consider to giving to nearby VMI as long as it doesn’t go woke.

    Philosopher1 in reply to Old Soldier. | June 2, 2022 at 11:24 am

    Very well stated. The curriculum has also been succumbing increasingly to Woke-ism. I’m glad that Woke-ism did not preclude your having something in your checkbook, and I’m sorry that W&L is “triggering” your turning away. I wish there were an institution I could recommend as worthy of your enthusiastic support.

It is not that complicated, liberals hate what conservatives like.