By Time Edson
In what is a needlessly recurring controversy on this campus, several student organizations insist that Lee Hall?s name should be changed because, in the words of Direct Resistance of Privilege Alliance protestors, ?Lee was a racist.? I don?t know if he was really a racist and a Ku Klux Klan member, or just a man who unwisely made several stupid jokes in the 1896 edition of the Bugle, and his detractors don?t either. I do know he served this university for decades as a professor and rendered distinguished service to this institution in that period of time. What I would really like to know is just how changing a building?s name will change or improve anything on this campus?
If the university administration and the Board of Visitors were, for some reason, to give in to the demands of various organizations on this campus and rename Lee Hall, what would be next? Lane Hall might be a good choice. Lane Hall?s namesake, James H. Lane, served as a general in the Confederate Army before joining the faculty here as a mathematics and military professor. The DROP Alliance might want to demand that President Steger apologize for and publicly condemn the fact that this institution, called the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College when it was founded in 1872, had a faculty, administration and Board of Visitors consisting mainly of former Confederate officers for many years after its inception.
It is a mistake to begin renaming buildings, streets and anything else on this campus, or anywhere, to send a message that discrimination will not be tolerated or that diversity will be celebrated. In the South, I would wager that well over half of all public buildings and streets would have to be renamed to purge all the former Confederates, slaveholders and racist government officials. Maybe our founders should be condemned since many of them owned slaves. George Washington remains one of the greatest Americans in our history, and though he was uncomfortable with the institution, he owned slaves nonetheless. Maybe we should turn Mount Vernon into a multicultural center and place a big plaque on it condemning Washington as a racist.