LeeChapelInterior medKenneth Ruscio, president of Washington and Lee University, issued a statement on July 8th in response to the demands of a group of 12 law school students. Here is an excerpt from his response.

"Consequently, we will remove these reproductions from their current location and will enter into an agreement with the American Civil War Museum, in Richmond, to receive on loan one or more of the original flags, now restored, for display on a rotating basis in the Lee Chapel Museum, the appropriate location for such a display. In this way, those who wish to view these artifacts may do so, and the stories behind them can be properly told. You may view a history of the flags in the chapel at http://go.wlu.edu/chapel-flags-history."

He also stated..

"4. Groups not affiliated with the University may continue to use Lee Chapel for events so long as they do so in accordance with our established policies and guidelines. This includes such non-University events as the annual lecture sponsored by an outside group as part of the statewide Lee-Jackson Day observance in Lexington. (W&L does not observe that state holiday.) As a private university, we are not bound by the same legal and constitutional First Amendment constraints as public institutions. As an educational institution devoted to free and open inquiry, however, we are bound by these values. We can and do impose conditions for Lee Chapel's use and for the use of all campus facilities. For example, a group may not "march" on our campus or use our campus as a platform for its own displays or statements. If it wishes to use the chapel for a lecture and adheres to our policies, however, it may do so."

His complete statement is available here, http://www.wlu.edu/presidents-office/messages-to-the-community/president-ruscios-july-8-2014-message.

In their letter, the law students issued the following four demands:

  • That the University fully recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the undergraduate campus.
  • That the University stop allowing neo-Confederates to march on campus with Confederate flags on Lee-Jackson Day and to stop allowing these groups to hold programs in Lee Chapel.
  • That the University immediately remove all Confederate flags from its property, including those flags located within Lee Chapel.
  • That the University issue an official apology for the University's participation in chattel slavery and a denunciation of Robert E. Lee's participation in slavery.

 

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