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No Free Speech?
TGR v. Mr. Rubenstein's 'Diversity Arena'

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TGR's Response to
Herb Rubenstein Letter Above 

By The Executive Committee of The Generals Redoubt

IN RESPONSE TO MR. HERBERT RUBENSTEIN

Mr. Ruberstein’s recent letter, which this paper published on successive weeks, is a collection of hypothetical concepts. Unfortunately, they are not consistent with the actual events at Washington and Lee over the past several years.

The General’s Redoubt (TGR), a group of devoted alumni, parents and current students, has a clearly stated purpose---"The Generals Redoubt empowers alumni, students, and parents in the Washington and Lee University community to advance the University's unique history and traditions of honor, civility, and classical liberal arts education.”
 
      Mr. Rubenstein’s personal attack on Tom Rideout, the President of TGR and the author of the letter published by this newspaper on August 3, 2022, completely ignores TGR’s proclaimed mission and goals. Perhaps this is because he has never read them.

 

       Contrary to Mr. Rubenstein’s assertions, TGR has never “forced the president, provost and most of the trustees of Washington and Lee to resign…..”  While disagreeing with many of the their collective actions, TGR has, repeatedly for the last several years, attempted to engage President Dudley, the Board of Trustees and other administration officials to discuss important campus issues—such as the sanctity of Lee Chapel, an alternative building for student assemblies, free speech, adherence to The Chicago Principles, anonymous grading in the undergraduate schools, and many others  These are indisputably matters that concern the Washington and Lee Community, yet President Dudley and the  W&L Administration have consistently refused to sit down and discuss these issues.

 

       Without any factual support, Mr. Rubenstein claims that TGR wants   to “force upon this private university the will of the minority…”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  TGR has proposed, not “demanded,“ on numerous occasions that President Dudley and other University officials promote public debates on these and other issues.  Those offers have been ignored, and in most instances, did not even receive the courtesy of a response. It is unclear what “minority” Mr. Rubenstein might be referencing.
 
       Mr. Rubenstein’s speculation about debate at “my university” (apparently believing that other alumni, parents and students do not have as much, or greater interest in Washington and Lee as he does) is totally contradicted by the recent actions of President Dudley and his subordinates—from the “looking the other way” when a faculty member violated the Faculty Code of Conduct by destroying student banners (which had been approved by the Administration), to threatening a student who had vocally supported the “Retain the Name” campaign, to a totally illegal attempt to prohibit students from sharing literature in support of a political candidate less than a year ago, to the desecration of Lee Chapel and Robert E. Lee’s legacy, just to name a few.  Many students have complained they are too intimidated by fellow students, faculty members and administrators to express their views on these and many other topics.

 

       If Mr. Rubenstein spends any time on campus or talks to members of The University Community, he will quickly learn that his conjecture about the viability of The First Amendment is not supported by reality.
      
       Finally, Mr. Rubenstein’s trots out the time worn conclusion that General Robert E. Lee “was a traitor…” Once again, he ignores the many facts to the contrary.  These include General Grant explaining to President Andrew Johnson that Lee was not a traitor; that he was included in President Johnson’s Second Amnesty on December 25, 1868; that Lee was never charged, much less convicted of any offenses related to his service on behalf of The Confederate States of America; and that his citizenship was restored by The United States Congress and President Gerald Ford in 1975.  General Lee may not have been a perfect man, especially when judged by the standards of today, but the characterization of him as a “traitor” is not factually 
accurate.

       It also cannot be seriously debated that President Lee saved Washington College in the years after The Civil War. Every student and faculty member since then has benefitted from his vision and efforts,  
 
       Finally, there cannot be serious disagreement that President Dudley and his hand-picked Administration has had a negative impact on Washington and Lee.  The rankings of both the undergraduate school and law school have dropped dramatically since his arrival, and financial support from alumni has decreased as well.  These are events that greatly concern TGR; hence our effort over several years to have a debate on campus about these matters, and, more broadly, to bring back a culture where more than one side of a selected issue of community interest and purpose is allowed to be heard. 

 

Presented by the Executive Committee
The Generals Redoubt