The Confederate flags have been removed from Lee Chapel.

According to the museum director, the flags hadn't hung on the back walls since 1985. Instead, they were in stands in the corner of the chapel.


After a group of students petitioned Washington and Lee University leaders to remove Confederate flags from inside Lee Chapel, the school will do so, according to a statement made by President Kenneth Ruscio.

The flags are replicas of originals that had been at the chapel until the 1990's, when the Museum of the Confederacy asked to have them back due to deterioration.

Now, W&L and the Museum have agreed to have the originals, now restored, be displayed on a rotating basis inside the chapel museum and not where groups of students are sometimes required to gather.

"In this way, those who wish to view these artifacts may do so, and the stories behind them can be properly told," Ruscio writes.

"These are legitimately complicated matters, and they are often uncomfortable, too; I fervently hope that one of the outcomes of these deliberations is that we become more comfortable dealing with them than we have been before."

The issue of the flags is not the only source of controversy at the university. Some students are also asking for classes to be canceled in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Ruscio feels classes should not be canceled, although the decision is left up to faculty.

"The question has never been whether or not we 'fully recognize' King Day; the question is how we choose to honor Dr. King. For many years, we have offered both the W&L and Lexington communities an impressive array of presentations, service projects and performances to commemorate Dr. King's life. I worry that this compelling series of events would give way to an uneventful three-day weekend. Canceling classes may have symbolic significance; I prefer the substance of our current programs over the symbolism of a day off."

You can read the full statement here.