Category Archives: Freedom of speech

Free Expression Committee Holds Listening Session

Free speech wall in downtown Charlottesville pedestrian mall

The Committee on Free Expression and Inquiry heard more than 20 students, professors, alumni and parents during an hour-and-a-half “listening session” May 4, but did not respond to questions or concerns.

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan created the Committee on Free  Expression and inquiry in February after bitter complains from alumni, students, and a faculty members that conservative voices on the grounds were being stifled by social-media harassment and an administration that vacillates between indifference and hostility. He tasked the committee to craft a long-term set of values to which the University should adhere.

Several faculty members said that the administration no longer tolerates criticism of University policies, reports the Cavalier Daily. Continue reading

UVa’s Crying Game

UVa law school library — trauma site

by Jock Yell0tt

“When Dean Goluboff took the stage to respond, she immediately started crying and was largely incoherent to the audience for much of the first part of her response … ”

Risa Gobuloff, Esq., is Dean of the University of Virginia Law School.

Dean Gobuloff’s crying spate occurred at a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, April 19, 2018, called by the school’s Minority Rights Coalition to discuss the previous day’s emergency.[1]

The emergency was: a man sat in the law library reading up on the law. Continue reading

UVa Response to Medical Student First Amendment Lawsuit

Norman K. Moon Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Jim Bacon reported April 8 on the claims of Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya, a former student at the University of Virginia Medical School, who alleges that he was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment freedoms at a panel discussion by the University’s chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association (“AMWA”).

Senior Judge Norman K. Moon of the United States District Court Western District of Virginia in a memorandum opinion dated March 31, 2021, dismissed three of the four complaints but left in place the First Amendment allegation. 

Mr. Bacon offered the following cautions: 

“That ruling presents only one side of the story, Bhattacharya’s, and has to be considered in that light.”

Continue reading

Hate, Hostility and Harassment at UVa

Nick Cabrera tweeted this photo of himself posing maskless with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green at the Conservative Political Action Conference. COVID scolds wanted to impeach him from student council.

by James A. Bacon

Last fall Nickolaus “Nick” Cabrera ran for election as a first-year representative to student council at the University of Virginia. His platform was anodyne — showing unity in confronting COVID-19, getting Class of 2024 t-shirts delivered, that sort of thing. He didn’t run on an ideological or partisan political platform, but he didn’t hide anything either. It wasn’t until he was actually elected to a spot on Student Council that people took notice. Horrors! He supported Donald Trump for president! The word went out on the social media tom-toms. Before long, he was a campus villain.

It wouldn’t be long before Cabrera received his baptism under fire as the sole conservative representative in a student council populated entirely by representatives on the blue end of the political spectrum.

Continue reading

Students Launch Conservative Publication


A dozen University of Virginia students have launched an online newspaper, The Jefferson Independent, to provide news and commentary from a conservative perspective on issues of interest to the UVa community.

“In providing an outlet for intellectual diversity, objective truth, and the marketplace of ideas and debate, our goal is to mainstream conservatism amid an increasingly anti-UVA cultural hegemony,” states the publication’s mission. “Our ideas and values will be unapologetically shared and challenged without fear of being ‘canceled’. Never will we allow intimidation to silence us from upholding truth at Mr. Jefferson’s University.” Continue reading

When “Words Are Violence,” Only One Side Gets to Speak

If you’re not woke, you’re a fascist.

by James A. Bacon

Victoria Spiotto was brought up in a conservative, religious family of Italian descent in Loudoun County.  It was at the University of Virginia where she found her political identity as a conservative. One day in her third year, she was walking the grounds when she came across a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) table displaying a 9/11 memorial. She found the club appealing, and started learning about thinkers to whom she’d never been exposed to before — the philosophers and thought leaders of conservatism. By her fourth year, she was leader of the club, determined to grow the organization.

Conservatives are mostly invisible at UVa, and they have few means of connecting. Spiotto wanted to let people know the group was out there, that YAF was a club where students of a conservative/libertarian stripe could find like-minded people and make friends. So, she began organizing a series of initiatives to get noticed. “It wasn’t a call to fight.” The idea, she says, was to “stand your ground. Don’t compromise on the truth you believe in.”

YAF now may be the most vilified student organization at UVa. The hostility is unrelenting. Spiotto and her buddies don’t worry for their physical safety. But left-wing students take down their signs and rain down vitriol on social media. Student Council leaders stifle dissent. Continue reading

The Bureaucratic Banality of Academic Oppression

by James A. Bacon

Two-and-a-half years ago, Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya, a medical school student at the University of Virginia, attended a session on “microaggressions” in which psychology professor Beverly Colwell Adams gave a presentation about her research. In what he considered to be a collegial manner, Bhattacharya challenged her analysis.

The challenge was not well received. Indeed, other participants in the session deemed his questions disrespectful. There followed a sequence of events in which Bhattacharya was investigated by the Academic Standards and Achievement Committee for unprofessional behavior, was told to submit to psychological evaluation, was suspended, was branded as a threat to the university community, was banned from the university grounds, and ultimately was expelled. Continue reading

UVa’s Lawn Signage Controversy Flares Anew

by James A. Bacon

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), an organization dedicated to  defending freedom of expression and conscience on America’s college campuses, has sided with fourth-year student Hira Azher regarding her right to post political speech on the door of her room on the Lawn at the University of Virginia.

A new sign showed the grim reaper standing behind a hooded KKK figure and the Rotunda, along with a quote from Kwame Ture: “In order for non-violence to work your opponent must have a conscience,” and the words, “UVA HAS NONE,” and “BURN IT ALL DOWN.”

Continue reading

Will Historians One Day Contextualize the Contextualizers?

by Walter Smith

The Virginia Magazine newsletter recently featured this article on two newly formed commissions: one to articulate the university’s commitment to free expression and inquiry, the other to pursue recommendations of the Racial Equity Task Force regarding the renaming of buildings and memorials.

Regarding the first commission, the fact that an internationally respected institution founded by Thomas Jefferson, perhaps history’s greatest advocate for free speech, finds it necessary to study the issue is damning on its own terms. No further comment needed.

My primary complaint dwells on the naming and renaming commission. To start with, I cannot believe a name of an inanimate building, thing or place is truly “harmful” to any thinking person. You could name the buildings after Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Nebuchadnezzar, Genghis Khan, or any other offensive person you can think of, and I would not be “harmed.” I might think you were stupid, but I wouldn’t be harmed. Continue reading

Sign Standards for UVa’s Lawn Upheld

No longer allowed

by James A. Bacon

No longer will it be permissible for residents of the University of Virginia’s rooms on the Law to post large signs on their doors proclaiming, “F— UVA,” as a Lawn resident did last semester. Under new policies issued by the University administration, Lawn residents will have to confine their profane proclamations to within the borders of two message boards, reports the Cavalier Daily.

In a collective statement to the student newspaper, several Law residents criticized the new rules as prejudicial against students of color. The restriction, said the statement, will result in “increased surveillance,” which in turn will “inherently harm and endanger the most marginalized and vulnerable students in this space.”

“This policy displays the extent to which the University is selective about who can exercise free speech and the content of that expression. Evidently, BIPOC students and allies cannot be critical of the University while simultaneously living on the Lawn.” Continue reading