Category Archives: Intellectual diversity

Proposed Topics for President Ryan’s Podcast

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan hosts “Inside UVA,” a podcast designed to highlight the “inner workings” of the University of Virginia. Over the past two seasons, he has chatted with figures ranging from Rector Whitt Clement to alumni such as Katie Couric, administrators such as Provost Ian Baucom, and students such as Lauren Kim, chair of the University Judiciary Committee — 22 in all, so far. You can see the list here.

The “Inside UVA” promo bills the podcast as featuring “candid, open conversations.”

No one from The Jefferson Council has been invited to appear… yet. But if President Ryan is interested in having a candid, open, civil conversation with someone who wishes UVa well but questions current policies and priorities, we’d be happy to volunteer. We’d even be willing to suggest some topics.

What does he mean when he says that UVa can be both “great and good”? Does being “good” encompass anything beyond “social justice” and “sustainability”?

What are his thoughts on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion? Does he believe America is systemically racist? Is UVa systemically racist? Does he share Ibram Kendi’s definition of “anti-racism”? Does he share Robin DiAngelo’s definition of “white privilege”? How does it improve students’ sense of “belonging” when DEI policy places a premium on racial, sexual and gender differences? Continue reading

UVa GOP, Dems Back on Speaking Terms

College Republicans, University Democrats pose with President Jim Ryan and Institute of Democracy Executive Director Melody Barnes at the “Talking Across Differences” dinner.

Kudos to the Karsh Institute of Democracy for organizing an event, “Talking Across Differences,” that brought young Republicans and Democrats together for a bridge-building dinner of conversation at the Colonnade Club. Kudos also to President Jim Ryan for giving his imprimatur to the initiative by dropping by, and kudos to UVA Today for highlighting this example of pluralism at the University of Virginia.

On Oct. 10, five members of the College Republicans’ executive board and five members of the University’s executive board met to get to know each other as people, not political foes.

“Politics is very important to me and of course I have strongly held beliefs and things like that, but, at the end of the day, we are all Americans,” said College Republican President Jack Forys. “And in this instance, we’re all students at the same university.” Continue reading

Religious-Rights Speaker Stirs Controversy

by James A. Bacon

Three days ago the National Lawyers Guild at UVA condemned the invitation of Erin Hawley, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, to a Federalist Society event previewing a U.S. Supreme Court case touching upon religious freedom. The “progressive” law student group cited Southern Poverty Law Center designation of the Alliance as an anti-LGBTQ+ “hate” group.

In the aftermath of the triple-murder shooting at the University of Virginia Sunday night, the Federalist Society canceled the meeting “out of respect for the tragedy,” said Julia Jeanette Mroz, president of the UVa chapter. “As a student group, we felt it appropriate to follow the University’s lead in designating today a Day of Observance. No other circumstances bore on this decision.”

The Society is working with Hawley to reschedule the event this spring.

The Federalist Society, a group of mostly conservative and libertarian law school students, invited Hawley to a discussion of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a pending Supreme Court case.  The Alliance Defending Freedom represents the plaintiff in that case, Lorie Smith, who believes on religious grounds that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and refuses to design websites for LGBTQ+ couples.

The National Lawyers Guild (NGL) at UVA “condemns the views of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as well as the Federalist Society’s decision to give them a platform by inviting them to speak at an event at the law school,” stated the NGL Facebook page in a post that garnered 88 “likes.” Continue reading

A Reminder of Why UVa Needs the Jefferson Council…

Hosted by UVa’s Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:

Here are some other suggestions for the Division of DEI:

Tim Scott, U.S. Senator from South Carolina
Candace Owens, author and activist
Ben Carson, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
John, McWhorter, author
Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State
Deroy Murdock, columnist
Larry Elder, talk radio host
Wilfred Reilly, author
Allen West, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas
and the legendary Thomas Sowell, one of the greatest intellectuals in modern America

Haha! There will be blizzards in Hades before UVa invites any of these leading lights. Your donations to the Jefferson Council will help us bring conservative speakers — such as conservative African-Americans such as Mia Love, who spoke last year — to Mr. Jefferson’s University.

What Is Free Speech Without Intellectual Diversity?

by James A. Bacon

Eleven days ago the Editorial Board of the Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia student newspaper, opined that it could not condone the “platforming” of former Vice President Mike Pence by allowing him to speak on the university grounds.

The blowback has been gratifying to see.

While some students have expressed support for suppressing ideas deemed hateful and hurtful, others have denounced the editorial. Crucially, UVa President Jim Ryan and Provost Ian Baucom weighed in in favor of free speech, stating in a CD piece that “all views, beliefs, and perspectives deserve to be articulated and heard, free from interference.”

Let us praise the Ryan administration when plaudits are due. But let us also recognize that at UVa “free speech” is a sub-set of a larger issue: an ever-narrowing range of permissible viewpoints. Threats to free speech spring from intellectual monocultures, which is exactly what UVa is becoming. A defense of free speech would not be necessary in a university that fostered more intellectual diversity. Continue reading

Youngkin Decries Higher-Ed Cancel Culture

Governor Youngkin at a Jan. 27 press conference. Image credit: Associated Press

by James A. Bacon

Glenn Youngkin didn’t have much to say about “cancel culture” in Virginia’s colleges and universities when he was on the campaign trail, aiming his fire instead at radical social-justice policies in K-12 schools. But at a speech delivered at the University of Virginia law school Friday, he criticized intolerance in higher education and made the case for intellectual diversity on college campuses.

Vladimir Putin is a tyrant, Youngkin said in an address to The Federalist Society, but the greatest threat to American democracy does not come from abroad. Said he:

The greatest threat to our democracy comes from a growing tendency to loathe rather than listen. It comes from a desire to bully and not persuade. Such a culture of contempt, this cancel culture, is toxic to our democracy, and unless the schools that exist to teach our young people take responsibility for being a solution, our democracy will indeed be in danger.

Continue reading

Revisiting the Founding Debates

There are still islands of intellectual diversity at the University of Virginia. One of them is an active Federalist Society. On March 4 & 5, the society is hosting an event, “The Federalists Vs. the Anti-Federalists: Revisiting the Founding Debates.” States the event summary:

Many who study the Founding focus only on The Federalist Papers. Of course, the Federalists “won” in that they supported the eventually ratified Constitution. But the Anti-Federalists were the other half of the story. Their concerns framed the debate. And, although they “lost,” they are responsible for our Bill of Rights. This symposium will provide an opportunity to revisit the founding debates and discuss the arguments for and against our Constitution.

The symposium will host six debates/panels on significant constitutional issues: Continue reading

The DEI Oath

The Jefferson Council has heard from a tenured University of Virginia professor who has been required to submit a statement detailing his contributions to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in his teaching, research and service. In response, he has composed the following parody. Seeking to avoid administrative retribution and social ostracism, he asks to remain anonymous.

I pledge allegiance to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and to those People for whom it represents, without liberty and justice for all.

I promise to discriminate by preferencing certain demographic groups over others, and to stereotype by identifying some demographic groups as “oppressors” and others as “victims,” regardless of individual differences. Continue reading

Lessons from the Virginia Governor’s Race

Editor’s note: The curators of the Jefferson Council blog have frequently observed how rarely UVA Today profiles faculty or students who profess conservative, or even moderate, political or philosophical views. We are pleased to note an exception to that rule, in which the University of Virginia’s house organ republished a piece by Mary Kate Cary, a lecturer in the University of Virginia’s department of politics and a self-described conservative, opining on Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election. Especially heartening is her observation that the young people she teaches are eager to hear a diversity of viewpoints. — JAB

by Mary Kate Cary

I teach political speech writing. My students know that earlier this year I served on a committee that wrote the University of Virginia’s statement on free speech and free inquiry, which stated that “All views, beliefs, and perspectives deserve to be articulated and heard free from interference.”

I’m also a conservative who recently co-taught a 2020 elections class with a liberal colleague – and we both managed to survive. In my class, the mainly liberal students know they can speak freely about what’s important to them. Being open about your political views is important – but so too is listening generously to those of others. Read more.

Jefferson Defended

by James A. Bacon

I was proud of the University of Virginia last night.

The Young Americans for Freedom organized an event, “Defending Thomas Jefferson,” featuring National Review editor Rich Lowry and Texas Congressman Chip Roy, both UVa alumni. Organizers believe it was the first time that conservative speakers from outside the university had been invited since former Senator Rick Santorum had appeared four or five years ago. (It’s been so long that memories were hazy about the details).

Many posts on social media had been critical, and there were rumblings that a protest might be organized. But university police posted outside the Newcomb Hall lecture room provided security, and nothing remotely unpleasant occurred.

More than 150 people attended the event, which easily met expectations. What I found most encouraging was the healthy contingent of Black students who came to hear what the defenders of the university’s founder might say. One could deduce that many were not sympathetic to the views of the speakers because they sat silently through the applause lines. But they listened respectfully and, when the time came for questions, a number asked questions that were pointed but polite. (I am pleased to note that one Black student, who spoke with an African accent, said that she found Jefferson inspiring.)

The event was exactly what a great university should be doing — exposing students to different perspectives and facilitating the civil exchange of views. I am delighted that the Jefferson Council played a role in helping make it happen. Continue reading