We Disagree with the Board, but…
The Board of Trustees has decided wrongly in our opinion. We feel that this is just kicking the can down the road. The name will have to change sooner than they think, or the University will wither. We’ve shown the numbers below, and we will continue to provide the necessary data to hold their feet to the fire. We will continue to publish the data as we continue to delve and analyze. We can also continue to press them on our requests.
…We Had Significant Wins
We still won one three out of four of our requests. The Board committed $225 Million to fund many of those initiatives, including need-blind admissions, internships, and experiences designed to foster inclusion and plug students into campus from the outset. The Board also committed to expand representation of women and people of color. Most importantly, for symbolism, Lee will be excised from the University chapel, and portraits will no longer appear on diplomas.
About Not Unmindful
We are Not Unmindful of the future. We are not alone. And We are Not Going Away!
We are a group of alumni, students, and faculty of all stripes and ages who are concerned about the negative impact that Robert E. Lee’s name is having on the reputation of our beloved university as we believe it acts as an impediment to other necessary structural changes that will improve equity, diversity, and inclusion at the University. Renaming is only the first step among many that need to be made.
We are a very diverse group from various backgrounds, brackets, and beliefs united in our deep concern for the University’s future. We see the work you’re all putting in, we hear you, let’s start a campaign for these sustainable actions while we are waiting for the name change, which we feel has to be inevitable. There are many ways to help: This is a good place to start.
We have members who are alumni from the 70s. We have members who witnessed the beginning of co-education at the university in the 80s—which was as bold a move then as the change we champion now. We have members from the 90s and 2000s, which saw some of the school’s most meaningful diversity and inclusion efforts.
But most importantly, we have current students—the university’s future donor base—who have already joined this movement and are among its most enthusiastic supporters.
We have old friends working together. We’ve all made new friends as part of this movement. And some of our friends have really surprised us with their willingness to join and support our effort.
Emphasize Our Wins
The name was only the most visible battle
We won all the down ticket requests. Lee remains only in the name. First, his portrait will no longer appear on any diploma. Second, Lee Chapel will be now be University Chapel.
Most importantly, the Board committed to the Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality efforts outlined in the strategic plan, which is more important in the long run than the name. This one is huge folks.
Space Mountain has been removed from Confederate Disneyland.
Continue to Support Students
They didn’t choose this
But they have to live with it in the real world, and they were some of the fiercest and most fearless advocates for change amongst us.
We must stay connected to their needs and concerns, providing help and support in any way that makes sense. They are simply looking for the best education that they can get with sometimes limited resources.
Listen to them and their concerns. They will often know developments before we do.
Keep the Board Honest
Hold them to their words
While the justification of their decision used mental gymnastics that would impress Simone Biles, it also included a lot of what asked:
1. Committing to a more diverse board
2. aligning to their own strategic diversity, equality, and inclusion goals
3. accelerating these things across the board
We must commit to supporting these initiatives because they will have just as much impact on positive student experiences in the long run.
Push the Board for Details
What does the University stand for?
If, the name Lee does not define the University, what does the University stand for. What is its vision, what is its promise,.
If the University doesn’t provide some guidance, the market will continue to speak and the worst lots of our society will continue to attach themselves to what still remains as the largest Confederate memorial in the United States.
We must hold them their feet to the fire on this.
Continue to Educate People
Swell our ranks
Not Unmindful commits to continue our work, so this site will live on as the base of a platform for collective action.
We truly believe that those that were undecided during this very public process can still be convinced to join us in holding to the board accountable.
Thus, we will continue to recruit interested parties. We commit to bringing them into the fold. We are a pretty welcoming and diverse lot after all!
Keep the Pressure On
We aren’t going away
In the lead up to the decision, we consciously decided to be polite and abide by their rules.
This site’s purpose was to highlight our position as a credible one arrived at with love and concern for the University at its heart.
The last year has shown us the wisdom, and the folly, of this approach. The gloves are now off.
We are doing playing by their rules. We are done playing nice!
Jess Steinmetz Chaudry, ’08U
As a student at Washington and ***, I could leave my purse anywhere on campus at anytime of the day or night, and feel confident it would be exactly where I left it when I returned. Yet, I couldn’t go through a single day without feeling like an outsider because I was not white. I could not go a single day without thinking “where the hell am I?” Every day I saw racial micro- and macro-aggressions, whether directed at me or someone else. I felt like I was in an alternative universe— the campus was so safe in terms of my property and so friendly in terms of the Speaking Tradition yet sexual assault and racism were so rampant and accepted. Read my full letter.
Paul G. Schlimm, ’87U
My W&L story is similar to a majority of alumni in that I came from a white, upper middle-class, private school background. By my sophomore year, I was more into ROTC than I was fraternity life. That was the year the scales started to fall from my eyes. I ended up spending 27 plus years in uniform and had the privilege of working alongside many tremendous people of all backgrounds, both in the Army and in the countries we worked in. Washington and Lee in 2020 remains an anachronism, and not in a good way. W&L can and should change. Read my letter..
Elizabeth A. Green, 97U
Our beautiful, peaceful town of Lexington is on its way to being a last bastion of Lost Cause monuments. Virginia Flaggers descend on the town every year, brandishing Confederate flags. The KKK papered our campus with hate speech. What parent in their right mind would send their child to a place that is a magnet for hate groups like this?” Read my letter…
News & Views
We Are not Unmindful
We’ve made a lot of progress and noise
Since its inception in Spring 2020, Not Unmindful has grown, sometimes exponentially, but always steadily. And we managed to bend the boards ear and succeeding on most of our requests.
If you are interested in joining us or adding your name to ours, you can can read our requests to the board or sign our letter to continue to remind the board fo the right thing to do.
Contact Not Unmindful