William and Mary College Reaches Compromise to Returns Cross to Campus Chapel

A compromise announced today will permanently return a brass cross to the chapel at the College of William and Mary in a prominent display rather than its previous altar post.

The compromise was offered as a recommendation by a panel comprising alumni, students and others formed by President Gene Nichol in response to outcry created by his decision to remove the cross.

"This has been a challenging task for the committee, but it has produced a compromise that allows for permanent display of the cross in the chapel, while remaining welcoming to all," Nichols told the Associated Press.

“We knew our short-term mission was to come up with a proposal that would allow this college to come together and move forward as a community. We are confident this recommendation accomplishes that goal. We now look forward to examining the broader question of the role of religion at a public university,” said Alan Meese and James Livingston, co-chairs of the Committee on Religion in a Public University, which produced the recommendation, in a joint public statement reported by the school's newspaper, The Flat Hat.

In November, Nichol told the college’s Board of Visitors that he ordered the 18-inch brass cross to be removed from the post where it stood since 1940 because it “sends an unmistakable message that the chapel belongs more fully to some of us than others,” reported The Flat Hat.

Some College of William and Mary alumni began holding back donations until it was permanently restored. Competing online petitions were initiated with more than 17,792 people having signed their names a petition condemning the decision at www.savethewrencross.org, started by 1988 graduate Vince Haley while more than 2,136 students, alumni and others signed a document supporting the cross removal at www.thepetitionsite.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.