The Washington & Lee alumni outcry against an initiative to remove Lee’s name from the university is morphing into a powerful constituency demanding influence in university decision-making. Under the name of The Generals Redoubt, alumni protesters have formed a nonprofit, raised $456,000 in funds, and articulated a coherent alternative vision for the institution.
“The Generals Redoubt is dedicated to the preservation of the history, values, and traditions of Washington and Lee University,” states the website.
While not directly addressing the administration’s embrace of social justice issues, the Generals Redoubt calls for a student body with “a variety of economic backgrounds and life experiences” as well as “greater political and ideological diversity” in hiring faculty and administrators. The group also seeks “freedom of expression” on campus and the restoration of public prayer (participation optional) at ceremonial functions.
Another goal is to critically evaluate the curriculum to ensure that Western Civilization is “at the core of the Washington and Lee student journey,” coursework based on “Identitarian Ideology” is downplayed, and students are taught skills and competencies that allow them to thrive in their personal and professional lives.
Dissenting alumni seek to pursue a “constructive dialogue” between The Generals Redoubt, the administration, and the Board of Trustees. Furthermore, they are advocating increased transparency in Board decision-making and the restoration of direct alumni voting for board positions.
The organization has taken no position yet on whether people should contribute to W&L. “That is a decision for each individual to make,” say annual fund co-chairs Neely Young and Jack Schewel in a communication to supporters.
Some of the members of TGR have made the decision to suspend donations to the university, and we are hearing of others who have made a similar decision. We are still reluctant to recommend to others what they should do. However, in light of the current circumstances, we do suggest that individuals consider conditioning their gifts to Washington and Lee on maintaining the name of the university.
In the meantime, supporters are invited to donate to The Generals Redoubt. The group has raised $456,000 since its inception in the spring, and has announced a second annual fund goal of $500,000. It is using the money to build an organization. Goals for the upcoming year include:
– Public Relations- We have hired a highly accomplished group of public relations professionals to work with us over the next six months and possibly longer to maintain the name of the university and to assist with other public relations issues. The cost of the initial engagement period is $180,000 plus expenses.
– Legal/Contingency Fund- It is our greatest desire that the name of the university not be changed, but we believe we must be prepared for any outcome. Therefore, we plan to establish a contingency fund in the neighborhood of $500,000 to $1 million.
– Support of Student Speaker Series- In order to attract high quality speakers to the campus we have budgeted $25,000 an appearance for two speakers a year. This comes to $50,000 annually.– Operational expenses- As mentioned above, we have ongoing expenses in areas like our network site, legal and incorporation fees, audit and accounting fees. etc. Fortunately, we have been able to keep these costs very low and anticipate spending only about $25,000 in this area.
Bacon’s bottom line: As I’ve noted before, the alumni of Virginia colleges and universities have been remarkably passive as their beloved institutions have been taken over by leftists under the banner of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. This is not, let me emphasize, a revolt against opening up these institutions to minorities. Rather, it is a reaction to the effort to delegitimize hallowed traditions and values. Alumni associations of most universities are captive organizations that function as house organs of the administrations — sponsoring reunions, hyping sports events, and cheerleading the institution. I expect W&L is no exception, or there never would have been a reason for The Generals Redoubt to exist. One might say that many alumni have had enough and aren’t going to take it anymore.
As nonprofit entities, higher-ed institutions have become captive to their internal constituencies, which pursue goals increasingly at odds with those of the alumni. At W&L, the alumni have revolted. They are fighting, in effect, for control of the institution. It looks like something similar could be happening at the University of Virginia. The battle for the heart and soul of higher-ed is long overdue.There are currently no comments highlighted.