Some older alumni see the changes as an effort to abandon history and tradition. Sewanee alumnus James K. Polk Van Zandt, a 65-year-old retired Episcopal reverend, said he was on the university’s board for decades but became frustrated by repeated efforts to erase the institution’s past. “Whether we like it or not, it is part of our history,” said Mr. Van Zandt, who is white. “If they got kids from New Jersey who don’t want to go there, let them go somewhere else.” – Wall Street Journal
“By failing to act in this case, the University remains silent in the face of a broader injustice. And to paraphrase Eli Wiesel, silence always benefits the oppressor.” The Bishop Trustees of the University of the South.
Responding to students’ call the vice chancellor asked whether revoking the degree would accomplish anything. Doing so would be “to add a feather to a thousand-pound weight,” he said.
In December, students at Sewanee submitted a petition to the board to rescind an honorary degree awarded to Charlie Rose in 2016. Rose was accused last year by several women of sexual assault, and has admitted that the claims are true. After long deliberation, the university board has decided that the honorary degree shall remain, citing the need for Christian forgiveness.