Hundreds of students participate in walkout to pressure Washington & Lee board to make a decision on renaming school

Roanoke Valley News

LEXINGTON, Va. (WFXR) — Hundreds of students at Washington and Lee University marched from Cannan Green to Lee Chapel on the Lexington campus to spark action from board members on the proposed name change.

Organizer Otice D. Carder, a student at the university, organized the “walkout” after proposing the name change. The board vowed to have a decision by October, he says, but it did not get back to them until December.

Carder had around 300 students and staff join in the protest, which started at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23. They then held speeches in front of Lee Chapel where Robert E. Lee is buried. Six speakers shared their experiences and opinions on why the name change needed to happen now.

University officials said in a statement they support students rights to peacefully protest.

Washington and Lee University supports our students’ right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest. The Board of Trustees continues its detailed review of the university’s name and related issues, and the trustees’ highest priority has been to engage with and listen carefully to the views of every audience associated with W&L. The students have been afforded multiple means of communicating with the board, including a survey and student listening sessions, and today’s event is one more way they are making their voices heard. More than 15,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents have shared their views on these issues. The board has been carefully reviewing the massive amount of input it has received and remains open to additional contributions from anyone associated with the university. 

Drewry Atkins Sackett ‘93
Associate Director of Communications and Public Affairs

Students were vocal that the board meets immediately to discuss the name change, and take action.

University officials say the next scheduled meeting is in May.

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