Should graduates of Washington and Lee University be able to opt out of having the visages of the university’s namesakes appear on their diplomas?
Several hundred current law students and alumni think so. They’ve circulated a petition asking the university to let students request that George Washington and Robert E. Lee’s portraits be kept off their degrees. In the current diploma design, pictures of the two men flank the university name at the top of the document.
According to the petition, the ability to receive a degree without those pictures will create a more “inclusive” atmosphere, but it stops short of detailing why some graduates may feel uncomfortable with the men appearing on their diplomas. (George Washington was a slave owner and Lee led the Confederate Army before serving as president of the Lexington, Virginia, university after the Civil War.) The goal, according to the petition, is to have diplomas that graduates are “proud” to display in their homes and offices.