Students at Washington & Lee University want portraits of Washington and Lee removed from diplomas

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Law students at Washington and Lee University are circulating a petition asking for the option to have portraits of the school’s namesakes — George Washington and Robert E. Lee — removed from diplomas, so alumni can be “proud to prominently display” their sheepskin without the images that “some may find controversial or offensive.”

The petition is not asking for a mandatory removal of the portraits, but requests that students be allowed to opt out. It argues, “Given the aftermath of the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville and the heightened awareness of making Washington & Lee an inclusive and compassionate environment to all students, we believe this request provides alumni the ability to honor their alma mater without the presence of the portraits that some may find controversial or offensive.”

Hundreds of past and future graduates have signed the petition endorsed by several student groups and addressed to the school’s administration and president. Some faculty members have also signed on.

While the petition does not state it outright, the Daily Mail notes that George Washington and Robert E. Lee’s “legacies as slaveholders, and Lee’s role as general in the Confederacy during the Civil War, has made them increasingly controversial figures in recent years.” – READ MORE

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