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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