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Letter

As published by the News Gazette. in Lexington May 17, 2021

Reasons for W&L’s Name To Change

May 17, 2021

Editor, The News-Gazette:

The direct case for the change of Washington and Lee University’s name is strong. Lee was the commanding officer of the Army of the Confederacy, an enemy country of the United States that initiated and pursued for four years the most dreadful war in our country’s history, by their own statement for the purpose of maintaining legality of human slavery. We should not celebrate either the Confederacy nor its leaders. And we have exaggerated or misstated outright much of everything we said about Lee in the past.

Already, the student body’s Executive Committee and the administration have dissociated Lee’s name from the treasured honor system. Facts are he had almost nothing to do with it.

Lee’s name is a barrier to other major objectives the trustees have established: to increase numbers of minority students and members of the faculty, to make admissions to the university “need blind,” and to improve the total atmosphere of the college to emphasize honor, civility, and service.

Most minority students and minority members of the faculty are demanding it.

If it is not done now, the issue will be back next year. If not then, the year after.

Unless the name is changed, the external reputation of W&L is likely to decline. Availability of minority faculty members and applicants for admission would likely decline, the composition of applicants become less able, with fewer leaders, and an increase in applicants from the Confederate states.

JOHN M. GUNN
Lexington and Rockbridge County, W&L Class Of 1945
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