Students in a Comparative History of Ideas class have presented a petition to the UW administration to erect a memorial honoring one-time UW student Bruce Lee, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported earlier this week.
Lee never graduated, but he reportedly taught an outdoor martial arts when the weather was good.
He went on to make famous action movies, and the school he left behind claimed him as its own. His name and photo have already been memorialized in various media guides and publications designed to attract athletes and other prospective students to the University.
Memorializing Lee and his philosophies is a good idea. However, if it's some sort of artwork they want, the Lee crowd might have to get in line behind supporters of a statue of UW alumnus Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, the World War II flying ace.
In 2006, an ASUW resolution supporting a Boyington memorial on campus received national media attention after discussion of whether or not the student senate should support the memorial, provoking some into making decidedly anti-military statements.
Although the senate eventually approved the resolution, nothing further has been done about the statue, which would have to be approved by the UW administration and paid for with private money.
But why stop with Lee? There are so many other former Washington students whom we should memorialize. Never mind whether or not they graduated. If they ever set a toe on the HUB lawn before going off to do whatever they did, they undoubtedly deserve recognition here.
So how about a bust of travel guru Rick Steves, with a pigeon on his head outside the door of the International Programs and Exchanges office?
Maybe a statue of Jeopardy winner Ken Jennings, who spent his freshman year at the UW before heading off to Brigham Young University, pressing the button to give Alex Trebek yet another correct answer, in Red Square?
How about Scary Movie star Anna Faris, looking frightened outside Hutchinson Hall?
Perhaps Apprentice contestant James Sun going head to head with the Donald would be appropriate somewhere in Balmer Hall, or Richard Karn in an Al Borland-style flannel shirt and tool belt beside the engineering building?
Former Husky quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, with a football in his hands and a rose in his mouth somewhere inside Husky Stadium?
Former U.S. Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson looking dignified in front of Thompson Hall? Oh wait, he's already there.
The truth is that the UW has been the school of so many people to do so many amazing things that it seems silly to try and single them all out by color or creed.
According to the P.I. article, "Students say they're trying to do something more important than honoring Lee. They're trying to memorialize what he represents: Eastern philosophies and an Asian face in a predominantly white, European culture."
Perhaps the best way to accomplish that would be to forgo the statue route entirely and establish a scholarship fund in his name, or institute a Bruce Lee Philosophy Lecture Series.
Artistic value aside, whoever once said that the UW campus doesn't need any more statues of rich men (white or not) might have had a point. There should be another way to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of notable Huskies, including the four Nobel laureates and nine Pulitzer Prize winners, besides casting them in metal.
[Reach columnist Blythe Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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