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May 6, 2021 · OPINION

Renaming college looks like a “cancel culture” decision

By Gregory A. Schumacher
The Plains

At our May 4 monthly meeting, the Fauquier County Republican Committee unanimously approved the resolution below concerning the renaming of Lord Fairfax Community College.

The college board insists the renaming is simply a part of their strategic plan and rebranding, and seems convinced the current name is a major problem for recruiting students. Schools named after significant Founding Fathers are being renamed all over the country simply because the person was a slaveowner devoid of any other context. Just last week in Falls Church, Mason High School and Jefferson Elementary were renamed for that singular reason. Never mind that Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence and George Mason the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the template for our Bill of Rights.

Are we saying it was OK that they owned slaves? Of course not. But to try to obliterate and minimize some of the most significant persons in our founding, and ignore their contributions to forging a nation that has been the greatest force for freedom and economic opportunity for the most people from all races and backgrounds in the history of the world, is a knee-jerk reaction to the current cultural moment and is divisive.

What’s next: GMU? JMU? Fauquier County? Mount Vernon? The Washington Monument? It has to stop somewhere. We say it should stop here.

Fauquier County Republican Committee Resolution

Be it resolved that the Fauquier County Republican Committee opposes the renaming of Lord Fairfax Community College as recommended by the LFCC advisory board for the following reasons:

1. Given the controversy, and not seeing hard evidence of research indicating that the name is associated with decreased enrollment nor that a name change would be a significant factor toward increasing enrollment, it would appear the best course of action for the present would be to defer this contentious point of LFCC’s strategic planning indefinitely.

2. This appears to not be a longstanding, contentious issue, and serves to promote division where very little to none existed previously. Our purpose, whenever possible, is to promote a unified citizenry. While we need to be aware of and learn from negative aspects of our history, we must focus primarily on the positive. No relationship or organization can survive with relentless focus on the negative.

3. It appears to be reactionary, aligning with actions all over the country to obliterate history. Specifically, the timing of the LFCC board’s recommendation coincides with a resolution from the state board specifically inviting, and actually encouraging, local community college boards to consider changing existing names.

4. If the renaming is executed, it will serve as precedent to view anything with a historical name to be a candidate for divisive, name-changing exercises. Further, renaming is a much less profitable activity than actually leaning from the history associated with names.

5. With strained budgets in institutions everywhere, there appear to many more profitable uses of the funds that would be required for renaming and rebranding.

6. Representatives of LFCC and the LFCC advisory board state that the proposed name change has nothing to do with the state board’s direction to all community colleges to consider such name changes, nor to be part of an increasing trend for such name changes across the country. Deferring this contentious name change is the best way to show that’s true.

The writer serves as chairman of the Fauquier County Republican Committee.
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