Today’s College News: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

First up, Washington and Lee University in Virginia has decided, after a long and stupid debate, not to change its name because, you know, Robert E. Lee, who as president of Washington College after the Civil War, rescued the institution from bankruptcy, whereupon the faculty had moved to have his name added to the institution. That was then, and this is now, to naturally the imperatives of the wokerati had demanded Lee be sent packing.

After much conversation, pushback and debate, the Board of Trustees at Washington and Lee University has voted not to change the institution’s name. The latter part of the name honors Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate States Army and former president of the institution. The board voted 22 to 6.

The name had been the topic of serious conversation at Washington and Lee for the past few years, and advocacy for a change was redoubled after the murder of George Floyd. In the wake of national protests, many colleges and universities re-evaluated their institutions and made changes to symbols and traditions.

The board took up the issue last July and said it would consider and vote on the decision this month.

I’m guessing the trustees got an earful from alumni in the process of reaching this brave vote. Of course, if they had stripped Lee from the university’s name, they’d have had to take the next step, and strip George Washington’s name too, since he was a slaveholder. At which point, Charles Lipson pointed out, the place would have to be named “And University.”

On the other hand, check out who Washington and Lee has just named to be its new dean (language warning):

The F*ck Quilt Lady Is W&L’s New College Dean

The University of Virginia had its “F*ck UVa” sign controversy. Brace yourself for Washington & Lee University’s “F*ck quilt” brouhaha.

About ten days ago, W&L announced a new dean of the college, Chawne Kimber, head of the math department and co-director of the STEM education at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. She will oversee 21 departments and 13 interdisciplinary programs. . .

One of Kimber’s artistic tropes is to “challenge boundaries” by quilting variations on the word f*ck and other profanities. As she says on her quilting blog, “completely cauchy,” “We express our potty-mouths in patchwork using the ultimate in four-letter words.”

It’s not entirely clear from the completely cauchy blog what the philosophical impetus is behind the ornamentation of profanity.

It is increasingly evident that most American colleges and universities are simply unfixable. Fill in the next sentence yourself (as we shall be doing in due course).

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