What Should Washington and Lee University Do?
It is unlikely that the general public will hear much more regarding the list of demands made by a small group of black law students at W&L University about their school’s connection to the history of slavery and the Confederate memory. My hope is that the administration and student body will arrive at a resolution that benefits the entire school community and the surrounding community as well.
Regardless of the details, the agreement should have an educational component at its core. I recommend that students and administrators consider following in the footsteps of the University of Virginia, which recently established a President’s Commission on the close connection between slavery and the university. There isn’t much on the website, but it does outline a wide range of activities that might be appropriate for W&L.
The university can’t and shouldn’t erase its past, but it can find creative ways to address it head on and in a way that adds to the intellectual and cultural life of the campus.