Students at the University of Washington (UW) are demanding that the school remove a statue of George Washington, claiming that its existence “perpetuates white supremacy.” Washington, the first U.S. president, is the namesake of both the university and the state it is located in.
A petition started by the University of Washington Black Student Union titled, “Demand for the University of Washington Administration to Meet the Needs of Black Students,” demands that the university “remove statues of racist figures,” and specifically calls out George Washington.
“Statues in place at the University of Washington are preservers of our dark past,” the petition reads. “The George Washington statue, in particular, symbolizes a man who owned over 300 black slaves and profited from their labor.”
“This is not a history that should be glorified and celebrated as it perpetuates white supremacy and preserves its historical imposition,” the petition adds. “Thus, the George Washington Statue, along with all others that symbolize racist figures, should be removed from the University of Washington.”
The petition goes on to demand that the university “break all ties” with the Seattle Police Department, as well as “disarm and divest” from the University of Washington Police Department.
“President Cauce has overlooked our experiences and refuses to take the actions necessary to making BIPOC students feel safe and welcome on campus,” states the petition.
“We have had enough,” the petition adds. “Thus black students will work together with faculty, allies and local activist to ensure that our demands are met.”
The petition, which has already garnered nearly 8,000 signatures, also calls on the school to “allocate funds to black [student organizations],” “hire more black faculty,” “increase the diversity credit requirement and make African Studies a major,” among other demands.
The University of Washington is not the only school to have recently faced calls to remove a statue of its namesake. Students at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, are also demanding that their school remove a statue of the university’s namesake from campus.
The students are calling on the university to remove a statue of Judge Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor, claiming that doing so will “be the start of racial healing.”