Author Archives: jimbacon1953

A Time to Mourn

D’Sean Perry (l) Devin Chandler (m) Lavel Davis Jr. (r)

The Jefferson Council joins the University of Virginia community in mourning the deaths of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis and D’Sean Perry in a shooting last night. While knowing that no words can salve the pain of such tragic loss, we extend our condolences to the families of the three young men and pray for a quick recovery of the two UVa students still in the hospital.

The Commissars of Charlottesville

Leon Trotsky, People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs, 1918

by James C. Sherlock

Leon Trotsky, who headed the Red Army from 1917-22, did not trust it.

On 6 April 1918, he wrote in Isvestia:

The military commissar is the direct political agent of Soviet power within the army. His post is of the highest importance. Commissars are appointed from the ranks of exemplary revolutionaries, capable of remaining the embodiments of revolutionary duty at the most critical moments and under the most difficult circumstances…. The military commissar ensures that the army does not become isolated from the Soviet system as a whole and that individual military institutions do not become breeding grounds for conspiracy.

With commissars at every level of the army, they had their own reporting chain independent of the operational chain of command. And punishments both quick and much to be feared.

Progressives, themselves unwilling to entrust the revolution to those who may subvert it, are fond of similar structures.

Witness the broad and deep Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) system at the University of Virginia. Continue reading

Third-Year Student Defends Free Speech in Oratory Competition

by James A. Bacon

Occasionally, we spot signs of pluralism and diverse thought at the University of Virginia, and we applaud them when we see them. Such is the case with an oratory competition organized by faculty adviser Mary Kate Cary and a committee of students in the second annual Oratory Competition.

This event showed a very different side of UVa than what we’ve come to hear from the Student Council and Faculty Senate, which are heavily populated by far-leftists intent upon squelching viewpoints they find problematic (the views of half the U.S. population or more).

The topic was, “Is free speech important at a public university in our democracy — and why?” The winner of the competition and $500 prize was Jered Cooper, a third-year government major from Fort Washington, Md.

Cooper gave a ringing endorsement of free speech in the age of cancel culture. You can find a transcript in this UVA Today article. But a few passages struck me as especially profound and worth highlighting. Continue reading

In Higher-Ed, Diversity = Affirmative Action

More blue M&Ms, please

by Allan Stam

A couple of years ago, in a conversation with another dean at the University of Virginia, I was asked about my views on the ever-expanding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion enterprise. I explained that I was not a fan of the diversity movement and affirmative action. When asked why, I explained that my preference was for merit, and merit alone, to determine the allocation of scarce resources and in particular, admissions and employment spots. The conversation then turned to what the effects might be of basing admissions decisions solely on merit.

“Would you be OK with the student body being 40% Asian?” I was asked.

“Of course,” I responded. “But if you feel that UVA, as a public institution, should have a student body that represents Virginia’s population, then be explicit about that, and adopt quotas. I wouldn’t be happy with that, but at least we wouldn’t be hypocrites.”

My partner in the conversation, being of a legal mind, then observed, “You know we can’t do that, adopt quotas. Quotas are illegal.” And therein lies the rub.

Diversity, as practiced in American higher education, in general, and at the University of Virginia in particular, is a fraud. The word ‘diversity’ is a linguistic dodge to enable universities to sidestep what lawyers refer to as ‘strict scrutiny’ of the legality of affirmative action. Affirmative action, as a term, is a euphemism for race-based discrimination. So, Diversity is a double dodge. Continue reading

Optional SATs Are Here to Stay

These numbers combine media English and math SAT scores. Data source: State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

by James A. Bacon

There are two broad trends driving change in the admissions policies of higher-ed institutions these days. The first is the declining number of students enrolling in colleges and universities. The other is the increasing philosophical commitment to increase demographic diversity, which in practice means admitting more “under-represented minorities.”

Arising from the second trend is an attack on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT exams, which were designed to predict student success in college, as racist because they reflect subtle bias against minorities and create inequitable outcomes. Indeed, the very concept of using objective, meritocratic, non-race-based criteria has been criticized as inherently racist.

The last thing elite higher-ed institutions want to do is speak honestly about their intentions. Openly abandoning the meritocratic ideal or establishing racial quotas would create a furor. Instead, admissions offices create proxies for race/ethnicity such as raising the percentage of “first time” students (students who are the first in their family to attend college), or favoring applicants who overcame personal adversity, or recruiting students from a wider range of neighborhoods.

In the effort to engineer preferred demographic profiles of the student body, admissions officers find that mandatory SAT scores are an embarrassment.  Invariably, when median SAT scores for racial/ethnic groups are published, they show that Asians have the highest scores by far, suggesting that their bar for admissions is much higher than for other groups. Conversely, Blacks and Hispanics have lower SAT scores, indicating that their bar is much lower. SATs, once used to open up elite schools for Jews and minorities, now are viewed as an obstacle to social justice. Continue reading

UVa Employee Donations Down to a Mere 91% for Dems

The percentage of campaign donations from University of Virginia employees fell from 95% in 2020 to only 91% this electoral season, according to data compiled from Federal Election Commission records by Walter Smith, a member of The Jefferson Council.

Polls show that Hispanics, Blacks and suburban White women are deserting the Democratic Party in droves this year. Of course, there aren’t many of those constituencies at UVa. The university population represents in its purist form the Whites-with-advanced-college-degrees demographic. When you lose 4% of those people, you know the Dems are in trouble!

What else do these numbers tell us? We already knew in 2020 that, among the university faculty, staff and other employees who made contributions, only 5% swam against the anti-Trump tide of that year. This year we discover that UVa has a swing vote amounting to 4% of employees employee donors. Continue reading

UVa Faculty Senate Censures Ellis for Thought Crime

Bert Ellis. Photo credit: Washington Post

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia Faculty Senate has voted to censure Bert Ellis, a Board of Visitors member, for violating the university’s “foundational values” two years ago when he “prepared to vandalize a protest sign” by a resident of the Lawn.

Ellis acquired a paint-scraper razor with the aim of removing a large sign that said, “FUCK UVA,” but did not act upon his intention when two student ambassadors (unarmed volunteer adjuncts to the university police) advised him not to.

The resolution expressed the Senate’s opposition to Ellis’ appointment to the Board and censured him for behavior “which neither reflects the Mission Statement of the University of Virginia nor fosters the safe space requisite for the free investigation, deliberation, and exploration of ideas.”

Sixty-one of 84 Faculty Senate members voted in an online tally after the resolution was proposed last week. Thirty-seven members voted in favor of the resolution, while 15 voted against and nine abstained, according to Senate Chair Tish Jennings.

Ellis was one of four board members appointed in June by Governor Glenn Youngkin to the UVa Board, which was, and still is, dominated by holdovers from the Northam administration. A conservative businessman and alumnus, Ellis is president of The Jefferson Council, which is dedicated to protecting the Jeffersonian legacy at UVa, upholding the dignity of the Academical Village of which the Lawn is a part, preserving the Honor Code, and protecting free speech, free expression and intellectual diversity.  Continue reading

Three Strikes and You’re Out, Mr. Ryan

Jim Ryan

by James A. Bacon

If University of Virginia President Jim Ryan wants to recruit more African-American students, faculty and staff to the university, here’s some advice: Stop reinforcing racial paranoia. Stop lending legitimacy to the idea that Blacks at the University of Virginia are under threat.

So far this semester, there have been three racial scares at UVa. First someone threw a rock through the window of the Office of African-American Affairs. Then someone laid a flag bearing an owl symbol next to the Enslaved Laborers memorial and donated an anonymous check to an African-American student. Then someone hung a noose around the neck of a statue of the blind Greek poet Homer.

The three incidents generated alarm about a “larger pattern of racially motived crimes” before the full facts came in. Upon investigation, the first two were found to have no racial motivation and significant doubt has been cast on racial hate as a motive for the third.

UVa officials deserve some credit for quickly releasing exonerating information as it became available. But rather than dampen unfounded speculation in his early remarks, Ryan legitimized it. Continue reading

Is It Still a Hate Crime If the Perp Was Protesting Pedophilia?

An Albemarle County man, Shane Dennis, has been charged with intimidation for placing a noose on the statue of Homer at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville news media are reporting. Dennis, who appeared for a bond hearing Tuesday in Albemarle County District Court, also has been charged with contempt of court for misbehaving in the courtroom by refusing to communicate with court officials.

The discovery last month of the noose, which many associate with the lynching of African-Americans, reverberated through the university. The UVa Police Department and President James Ryan promptly declared the act a hate crime. In one of many denunciations emanating from the university community, the Young Democratic Socialists of America @ UVA described the episode as an “act of hate [and] part of a larger, highly coordinated effort by white supremacists to threaten and intimidate the multiracial working-class out of higher education.”

According to The Cavalier Daily, however, the motive was not motivated by race. Police believe Dennis, who is not affiliated with the university, also left a pile of items at the base of the statue over the weekend, including two masks, a “civil peace flag,” a Christian cross, and a sealed envelope. Inside the envelope, a letter contended that the statue, in which Homer is shown sitting by a nude boy, “glorifies pedophilia.”

“[We] are all so blinded by hatred and racial division [that we] refused to see the truth that is hidden in plain sight,” the letter said. ““If you live in reality you will see an old man with a nude adolescent boy in between his legs.”

The letter did not contain any racial or religious references. Continue reading

Not Gilly Sullivan’s Alumni Association Anymore

Gilly Sullivan

by James A. Bacon

Aiming to address the lamentable decline in state/local news coverage, States Newsroom supports local news operations in 29 states, including Virginia. As Jim Sherlock detailed here, the nonprofit organization was launched in 2019 by the left-of-center Hopewell Fund, which itself is managed by the left-of-center Arabella Advisors. Its Virginia Mercury digital publication has made a valuable contribution to Virginia journalism by breaking many important stories. While the Mercury can credibly profess to be politically “nonpartisan,” its news coverage leans hard to the port side of environmental and social-justice issues.

In a nod to transparency, States Newsroom publishes the names of all individuals and groups that have contributed $500 or more since November 2019. One of the names listed is the “University of Virginia Alumni Association.”

Conservative UVa alumni might ask themselves the question: Why is their alumni association contributing funds to a left-of-center news organization?

I posed that question to Richard Gard, vice president of communications for the association. It turns out that the alumni association did not make the contribution. Rather, it acted as a pass-through for another UVa-affiliated entity.

And therein lies a story illustrating the opaque organizational structure of the University of Virginia and its Oort Cloud of satellite foundations and affiliated groups. Continue reading