One afternoon while I was showing a group around campus, a mother stopped me midsentence to ask why an assembly of men dressed in gray and wielding Confederate flags was protesting in front of the chapel. I tried stalling for a few moments. What were we supposed to tell people again? Oh yes: “This is not typical at Washington and Lee. The protesters should be gone for good soon.” But to my surprise, the mother on my tour praised them “for just celebrating their heritage.”

An African-American family just happened to be with us. After that comment, they didn’t ask any more questions about the school. They left right after the tour.

This scenario should be of much deeper concern to the campus community than whether Confederate battle flags fly in the chapel.