Washington & Lee's President Asks to Meet with Students Denouncing Robert E. Lee

Washington & Lee's President Asks to Meet with Students Denouncing Robert E. Lee

On April 18th Breitbart News called Washington and Lee University (W&L) for comment on student demands that the school “acknowledge” Robert E. Lee’s “dishonorable side,” apologize for “participating in chattel slavery,” end “neo-Confederate” marches across campus on Lee-Jackson Day, and recognize “Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the undergraduate campus.”

In response, W&L’s executive director of communications Brian Eckert sent a statement which university president Kenneth Ruscio issued in response to the demands.

In the statement, Ruscio wrote, “I first want to assure the community that we take these students’ concerns very seriously. The issues they have raised are important and we intend to address them.” 

Ruscio also wrote:

Upon receipt of [the students’] letter, I immediately responded… and asked that, as a first step, a meeting take place with them and members of the University Committee on Inclusiveness and Campus Climate (UCICC). That committee, chaired by Marc Conner, associate provost, consists of students (both law and undergraduate) and members of the faculty, staff and administration. We created UCICC in 2008 as “an institutional platform to address issues of inclusiveness and diversity, in response to concerns within the campus community.” Throughout this year, UCICC and the Office of Student Affairs have been holding focus groups with students to discuss some of the very issues that the law students are raising.

Ruscio also pointed out that he “impaneled a special committee… last year… to explore the history of African Americans at Washington and Lee.” 

He concluded “by reiterating that the students have raised important questions that relate to ongoing discussions at the University.” He said he welcomes “their contributions and those of all members of the University community” and is “certain” their concerns can be addressed “in a manner that is both respectful and productive.”

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