Frequently Asked Questions

For too long, Washington College has idealized its founding and founders, and avoided the systemic racism that is also part of our history. Now we’re working to tell the whole story—and build a community that truly reflects our values of freedom, justice, and leadership.

The Asterisk Initiative is one component of the larger WC History Project, and is the work of the Acknowledge Committee, whose charge is to acknowledge the ways in which our authentic history has been largely untold. The goal of this project is not to rewrite history, but to expand it to also include what has previously gone unacknowledged – good and bad.

The purpose of the Washington College History Project is to engage with our history in its full context; to understand how our community fits into a larger national story about discrimination and bigotry; to explore how past generations have made positive contributions and also perpetrated injustices; and to reconcile honestly and openly with our past so we can move toward a better future.

The easiest way to get involved with the Asterisk Initiative is to engage with the content. There is much to learn from reading the narratives, watching the videos, and experiencing the virtual tours. Encourage others to follow suit and then engage with those important – and often difficult – conversations in a respectful, civil, and compassionate way. We are particularly excited to highlight the many positive and previously untold stories of contributions from Black students, faculty, and staff and we encourage everyone to join us in celebrating them.

As we continue to move forward, we will be creating more asterisks or spaces to dialogue around this topic, including: listening sessions, feedback forms, suggestions, and more. Those opportunities will be shared with the community in the following phases of the project, so we encourage you to take part in any or all parts that fit your interests.

Yes! This is a living and breathing Initiative and more sites will be added in the coming weeks, months, possibly even years. We expect this Initiative to expand, as more and more untold stories come to light.

The primary investment in this project is time and expertise. The WC History Project has three distinct subcommittees: Find/Acknowledge/Reconcile, in addition to an Advisory Group. These subcommittee seats are filled by staff, faculty, board members, and students. Members meet on a regular basis to design initiatives to attain their assigned goal and make recommendations for ways in which the College can move forward.

A specific gift directed to the WC History Project is funding the Asterisk Initiative; that is, the Asterisk signs and related materials.

No way. George Washington will not be erased. What we are striving for with this initiative is a more full and honest understanding of him as a person who was both exceptional and flawed. To simply cancel him and put him away would, in our estimation, be taking the easy way out. Instead, we are doing the hard work to reckon with our history honestly, so that we may all learn and grow from it. In doing so, we will be able to still celebrate his achievements while also shedding light on how he responded to the moral conflicts he faced.

We are focused on the journey to understand, acknowledge, and reconcile our known history with the untold truths. Our approach is meant to invite conversation and learning. In keeping with our liberal arts focus, we want to engage all members of our community in critical thinking as well as honest, open, and civil discourse on these important topics.

There is room for all voices and perspectives. You can share your comments, thoughts, and unanswered questions by clicking here. This form also give you the option to sign up for our mailing list. In the coming months, we will be creating opportunities for you to be heard, and for us to listen.