LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Faculty at Washington and Lee University voted on Monday to remove Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s name from the school, but that doesn’t necessarily mean such a change will occur.
The motion was approved during a special video conference meeting attended by 260 faculty members. The vote marks the first time such a recommendation has been sent to the board of trustees of the small liberal arts school in Lexington, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
“The university’s name rests with its board of trustees, and there are no current plans to change it,” university spokesperson Drewry Sackett said.
The school was named for George Washington, an early benefactor, and Lee, a president of the university who is buried in a campus chapel.
The faculty meeting was called by school President Will Dudley after 225 faculty members signed a petition seeking the removal of all references to the Confederacy from the campus, as well as from the W&L name. Faculty members started talking about a possible name change a couple of weeks ago during a virtual meeting.
“We feel like we’re going to end up on the wrong side of this as an institution and that it will harm us,” said Jim Casey, an economics professor and W&L graduate who organized the initial meeting. “Everyone who was in that conversation feels that the best thing for our institution is to drop our affiliation with Lee.”
Three permanent Black faculty members at W&L’s law school wants both names removed, according to a letter sent to Dudley.
The issue has regained intensity since demonstrations for racial justice erupted in the U.S. following the death of George Floyd in May while in custody of Minneapolis police.
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