The faculty of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, voted on Monday to remove the name of Robert E. Lee from the university’s name. During a faculty meeting on Monday, 79 percent of faculty voted in favor of a change to the university’s name.
According to a report by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the faculty at Washington & Lee University voted on Monday to remove “Lee” from the university’s name.
Zoila Ponce de Leon, an assistant professor at the university, argued that the name change would be a small step towards making students from “diverse backgrounds” more “comfortable” on campus.
“A name change is a symbolic gesture, but what we really need to invest our energy in is changing our behavior as faculty and students,” Ponce de Leon. “The members of our community who come from diverse backgrounds don’t feel comfortable because of how we treat people — it isn’t just the name.”
Jim Casey, an economics professor at the university, argued that many of his peers voted in favor of the name change to avoid being on the “wrong side” of history.
“We feel like we’re going to end up on the wrong side of this as an institution and that it will harm us,” Casey said. “Everyone who was in that conversation feels that the best thing for our institution is to drop our affiliation with Lee.”
Brandon Hasbrouck, an associate professor of law at the university, argued that his peers have not taken their fight for social justice far enough. Hasbrouck argued that the university should remove George Washington’s name as well.
“It is worth exploring why the faculty has decided to make a collective statement on Lee and why the faculty has not included a demand to drop Washington in their petition,” Hasbrouck said. “It is no longer acceptable, profitable or convenient to be associated with Lee but it is for Washington.”