- Class: Alum
- Major: Other
- Gender: M
- High School: St. Albans School
- Transfer Student: N
The best thing about the University is its academics. There is a work hard, play hard attitude, but the work that students do is remarkable in its quality, and you get a great education. The social aspects of the school are limited, students must make their own fun because the town is small and offers more for those interested in hiking or arts and crafts than for those looking for a night life. The school is about the right size, I'd say. The biggest problem with the school is the limited diversity, not just in terms of background but also in terms of viewpoint. It is a very conservative place. At the same time, minority recruitment has made strides over the years but there is still much room for improvement. Also, the way gay and lesbian students are treated here by other students, as well as the way women are treated, is extremely disappointing. The culture is still male and hetero-centric, and there are a large number of students who aim to keep it that way, whether it means resisting calls for change or actually engaging in harassment or verbal degradation of women and minority students. The Administration means well. They are in the inenviable position of any administration: trying to please all the students and faculty and trustees at the same time. They try hard, and I think many of them would like to change things more than they have, but they do not want to take the risk of acting in a bold manner.
W&L education is great. It is geared more towards an overall education than towards job training. On the undergrad side, I think the students are well prepared for employment and place respectably well. The Law School has had a weaker record on employment, but new staff in career services there have taken new initiatives that are starting to pay off. Class participation is indeed common and encouraged, and there is a lot of discussion about class and other intellectual issues outside of class. W & L may not be a perfect community, but it is a highly engaged community in the intellectual sense.
I have had the pleasure of knowing a variety of constituencies at Washington and Lee, and while most students are white and do come from well to do backgrounds, there is a niche for everybody. I've addressed LGBT and women's issues above. I think gay students would certainly feel somewhat out of place at W & L, but that can change from year to year depending on how many gay kids are admitted. Politically liberal students may feel some hostility towards their views, but they will not feel out of place, and some may even thrive on it. It is a politically engaged campus.
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