Hmmm… Implementing DE&I Might Be Trickier Than It Sounds

Here follows the transcript of an entirely fictional videoconference between University of Virginia President Jim Ryan and his Executive Cabinet. The author is not intending to be satirical. He is illuminating the issues that any honest effort to implement a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion agenda will encounter. — JAB

 by Jon Jewett

President Ryan: I have called this meeting to address the most important problem facing the University today — systemic racism. It is imperative that we make significant progress towards a solution during the 2021-22 academic year. In view of their critical roles in determining how we as a university address this problem, I have asked Greg Roberts, Dean of Admissions, Ian Baucom, Dean of Arts and Sciences. Risa Goluboff, Dean of the Law School, and David Wilkes, Dean of the School of Medicine, to join us.

I trust that by now you have all read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist. If not, you should. Make that “must.’ Kendi’s basic message can be summed up as “No More Excuses.” We all know that all races are equal. Yet there are huge disparities between whites and blacks in this country, and in this University. Supposedly we have been working to eliminate those disparities at least since the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, but they have barely changed over the last 50 years. What we have been doing has simply not worked, and it is time to recognize that reality. Kevin McDonald, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community Partnerships, will first explain what our goals must be if we are to have an anti-racist university, and then I will call on others to explain how we will achieve those goals. Kevin? Continue reading

Another Free Speech Fiasco

Charlottesville attorney Charles L. Weber Jr., represented University of Virginia student Morgan Bettinger in legal proceedings involving the University Judiciary Committee, which condemned her for words that allegedly constituted a “risk” to other students. This incident is a case study in how leftist, “anti-racist” students at UVa wield processes and procedures, with the complicity of the administration, to repress free speech and chastise those who offend them. I republish here a letter from Weber to UVa President Jim Ryan asking for redress. We’ll soon find out how sincere Ryan is in his commitment to free speech and expression. — JAB

Dear President Ryan,

I am writing to urge you to correct a grave injustice perpetrated by
the University of Virginia (the University) against a student during this
past academic year.

Morgan Bettinger was unfairly punished by the University
Judiciary Committee (UJC) for speaking words protected by the
Constitution. However, because UJC appeals are limited to process, not
substance, the Judicial Review Board (JRB) concluded that the UJC
decision whether erroneous or not was unreviewable. Continue reading

UVa Offers Social Warrior Lesson Plans to Virginia Kindergarten Teachers

by James C. Sherlock

In case anyone thinks the left ever rests, the University of Virginia ed school has struck another blow to educate children as social warriors through its ”Educating for Democracyproject.  

“Democracy is not a spectator sport; it requires our participation, and this participation must be oriented toward justice. To create a more just democracy, citizens must be able to critically assess systems of inequity and work collaboratively to redress inequity and create lasting change. Dialogue is central to the process and can be transformative. Frequent and effective dialogue can engender equity and inclusion for everyone.” 

“We believe that K-12 students across the country have the power to embody these principles and shape America into the just democracy we all desire and deserve.”

So, since “we all desire” America to be shaped into a “just democracy” from it’s current, presumptively pitiful status, the Educating for Democracy project offers teachers free online lesson plans designed to create social justice warriors.

Continue reading

Larry Sabato Is Not the Problem at UVa

Larry Sabato

by James A. Bacon

Rich Anderson, Virginia GOP chairman, is unhappy with the partisan bias of University of Virginia political-science icon Larry Sabato, whose tweets have turned bitingly anti-Trump. Anderson contends that eight of Sabato’s tweets from the past year appear to violate the university’s mission statement and faculty code of ethics.

“A reasonable taxpaying citizen can readily conclude that Dr. Sabato is demonstrating the rankest form of bitter partisanship,” Anderson wrote in a letter to University of Virginia President Jim Ryan. “In order to have faith in our institutions, it is essential that Virginians hold accountable those public employees and officials who violate institutional values, codes of conduct, and other guidelines of professional behavior.”

Anderson is entitled to his opinions, of course, as is Sabato. The question is whether the answer to Sabato’s bias is suppression of his viewpoint. Continue reading

Challenging UVa.’s Culture of Left-Wing Intolerance

Note: This column is republished from The Washington Times.

by James A. Bacon

A committee appointed by University of Virginia President Jim Ryan issued a statement this May outlining the university‘s policy on free speech. As befitting the university founded by Thomas Jefferson, a champion of individual liberties, the committee stated its unequivocal “commitment to free expression and free inquiry.”

The statement of abstract ideals was reassuring. The trick, as Mr. Ryan himself acknowledged, will be applying those principles in real-world situations. And that likely will be easier said than done. Mr. Ryan will have to challenge the university‘s culture of left-wing intolerance and expand the range of permissible viewpoints on such ideologically charged issues relating to social justice.

Faculty members addressing the committee recounted undergoing mandatory “training” sessions in which they were pressured to regurgitate officially sanctioned platitudes. Others spoke of reining in words that might be construed as micro-aggressions. Kenneth Elzinga, a popular economics professor who has taught more students than any other in the history of UVa, described students “who tell us they are afraid to express their views in the classroom.” Continue reading

Will Clement Leave His Mark as UVa Rector?

Whittington W. “Whitt” Clement

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors will have some fresh blood tomorrow. Whittington W. Clement will assume leadership as rector July 1, and he will be joined by three new members appointed by Governor Ralph Northam earlier this month on the 19-person board.

The question is this: Will anything change? Will the Board reassert its control over an institution that is run by a self-aggrandizing senior staff with no regard to the interests of students and parents who pay most of the bills? Will it act to protect Thomas Jefferson’s legacy and UVa’s proud tradition of intellectual diversity and free inquiry? Or will the Board acquiesce to President Jim Ryan’s ambition to create a monochromatically leftist faculty while tolerating a student culture of dreary ideological conformity?

I don’t know Clement well, but I can say confidently that he is a dedicated public servant who will do his honest best to balance the many conflicting demands confronting the Board of Visitors. Continue reading

A Free Exchange of Left-Wing Ideas


by James A. Bacon

There was an old joke back during the Cold War. An American diplomat was talking to a Russian diplomat. The American diplomat praised the superiority of the American way of life: “In our country, we are free to criticize President Reagan.” To which the Russian diplomat replied, “In our country, we are also free to criticize President Reagan.”

That old saw came to mind when I read The College Fix‘s re-cap of a controversy over a University of Virginia webinar in which the panelists expressed boundless contempt for white evangelical Christians. Here’s what one panelist had to say: “Because they are being selfish and because they don’t care, their racism, their sexism, their homophobia, their lack of belief in science, lack of belief and common sense may end up killing us all.”

Jim Sherlock wrote about the panelists’ hate speech in Bacon’s Rebellion, and then posted UVa President Jim Ryan’s written response, in which he said, ““I assure you we’re taking this matter seriously and looking into it.” Continue reading

Virginia’s New Ruling Class: How Exploitation Works in the Real World

Graphic credit: Axios

Medical debt, which comprises 58% of all debt collections in the U.S., is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Between January 2018 and July 2020, hospitals filed tens of thousands of lawsuits and other court against against patients, according to AXIOS, which drew upon Johns Hopkins University data. Until a public outcry compelled them to stop suing patients last year, the two most aggressive debt collectors in the country, by a wide margin, were the VCU Medical Center in Richmond (17,806 court actions) and the University of Virginia hospital in Charlottesville (7,197 court actions).

What do the VCU and UVa hospitals have in common? Several things. First, both enjoy nonprofit status. Second, both generate significant profits. Third, both are teaching hospitals affiliated with large research universities. Fourth, both universities are governed by self-perpetuating oligarchies accountable to no one, least of all to patients. Fifth, both are incentivized to suck every dime they can out of their customers to fund the thing that confers institutional prestige — medical research. Continue reading

The Real Fascists Next Door

Hitler, animal lover, with his dog Blondi.

by James A. Bacon

If you read the recent post, “The Fascists Next Door,” you would see that serious people at the University of Virginia — people who get paid actual salaries, not people who store their worldly belongings in stolen grocery carts — peddle the notion that middle-class Americans are fascists. Not all middle-class Americans, perhaps. Not the ones who think like them. Just those who wave the flag on the 4th of July, believe in the sanctity of the traditional family structure, and/or vote for Republicans. Apparently, such people are rooted in the mythic white-people past that gives rise to racism, sexism, and homophobia — in other words, fascism.

The Brainiacs who espouse such views about fascism, a doctrine that elevates the ideal of the all-powerful state, ignore the part where most middle Americans yearn to curtail the powers of the state. They also overlook the fact the fathers and grandfathers of these middle Americans, in all their toxic masculinity, waded ashore on D-Day into a hail of Nazi bullets on their way to, you know, overthrowing Adolph Hitler. Waving rainbow flags would not have chased the Nazis out of France. Indeed, if America had been counting on the snowflakes who melt from contact with college-campus “microaggressions,” we’d all be speaking German now. Continue reading

The Fascists Next Door

Displaying dangerous fascistic tendencies… Photo credit: DailySIgnal

by Ann Mclean

Want more evidence that the University of Virginia has become an impermeable thought bubble where people can say the craziest things without fear of contradiction? Consider this: Two University of Virginia professors —Manuela Achilles and Kyrill Kunakhovich — taught a history course this spring that portrays American conservatives as fascists. They weren’t being hyperbolic. They really meant it.

In their analysis, the wellspring of fascism is not worship of the all-powerful, totalitarian state — which conservatives totally reject — but the traditional American virtues of family and patriotism.

I first learned of this class from a young friend of mine. Here is her description: 

Recently, I enrolled in a fascism class thinking it would be a great way to weed through the constant accusations that politicians make about who is fascist and who is not. The class started out great. We studied Hitler and Mussolini and other fascisms in Europe, then moved to Asia to look at Japanism, but the more the course progressed, the more I was confused about what fascism actually is. My professors chose to leave fascism undefined and allow each student to come to their own conclusion. That seems pretty reasonable, right? I thought so, too. Continue reading