Your fortnightly review of topics deemed worthy of coverage by the administration’s house organ, UVA Today, by Ann Mclean.
What Do We Choose to Remember? Q&A With Memory Project Director Jalane Schmidt
This story features a “bird’s-eye view” painting by African-American artist Ross Browne of Richmond’s R.E. Lee Statue surrounded by BLM graffiti. It touted an upcoming April 14th virtual talk led by Jalane Schmidt, with Washington Post columnist Michele Norris, about how the German ban on any Nazi/Third Reich art can apply to the Confederate statue removal/debate.
On Words: ‘Bad’ Words and Why We Should Study Them
An extract from the “Words” article speaks for itself: Continue reading
(Editor’s note: Ann McLean will periodically take the ideological temperature of articles appearing in issues of UVA Today. As a supporter of intellectual diversity, The Jefferson Council takes no issue with left-of-center faculty, students, and issues being profiled in the University’s official house organ. We do have a problem with an administration that presents only left-of-center perspectives.)
Compiled by Ann McLean, April 2, 2012
Article: Global Forest Losses Accelerated Despite the Pandemic, Threatening World’s Climate
Deborah Lawrence, deforestation and climate change professor, cited in Washington Post article.
Left of center
Faculty Spotlight: Professor Studies Sounds of Justice
Associate professor of music Nomi Dave documenting women speaking out for gender justice.
Left of center Continue reading
The University of Virginia perpetuated the damaging stereotype of African- American society as an intellectual monoculture today with the release of speakers in its upcoming Racial Equity Speaker series. The three speakers represent a narrow range of black views on the issue of racism in America. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
I have been critical of Virginia’s colleges and universities, especially the University of Virginia, for the intolerance of conservative political and cultural viewpoints. But there’s another side to the story, and I believe in presenting all the evidence, not just the facts that fit my narrative. By the standards of other elite U.S universities — admittedly an extraordinarily low bar — UVa and Virginia Tech are less intolerant of diverse viewpoints than most.
Indeed in the College Free Speech Rankings based on a survey of 20,000 college students at 55 top universities, the University of Virginia scored 6th and Virginia Tech scored 8th for freedom of speech and expression. Both fell far short of the University of Chicago, which sets the gold standard, but they far exceeded Ivy League institutions like Princeton, Harvard and Dartmouth.
Earlier this week, University of Virginia alumnus Joel Gardner wrote a letter to President Jim Ryan outlining his concerns about the decline of intellectual diversity at the university. Writing in response, Ryan defended the diversity of viewpoints found at UVa. He cites numerous instances which have not gotten play on this blog, and I present them in the interest of… viewpoint diversity. What follows is an excerpt from a longer letter. — JAB
University of Virginia President James E. Ryan
The problem you identify is not unique to UVA, and I also believe there are some very bright spots at UVA. As I mentioned on our Zoom call, UVA is a place that fosters debate and discussion across lines of difference, through our curriculum — including the new College curriculum; student groups that intentionally bring diverse groups together to discuss issues; a wide range of student political groups; faculty who work hard to encourage robust conversations; and faculty who are themselves diverse ideologically. This may be why UVA is ranked in the top ten by national organizations that assess universities based on their protection of free speech and viewpoint diversity.
Photo credit: Washington Post
by James A. Bacon
The University of Virginia’s insurgent alumni have made it very clear what they’re against. They don’t like profane signs on the Lawn that disrespect the University. They oppose contextualizing the Thomas Jefferson statue. They’re unhappy with the endless self-flagellation for the institution’s association with slavery and segregation, as if nothing has changed in the past 55 years. I’m one of them. I share the same concerns.
But what are we for? If we can’t articulate a positive agenda for Mr. Jefferson’s University in the 21st century, people will think us like those cranky old men with pants hiked up to their chests who shake their fists and yell, “Get off my lawn!” or at worst, a bunch of old, white, Southern racists who can’t accommodate themselves to the younger generation’s thirst for social justice.
Those of us who are unhappy with UVa need to start talking about what new direction we’d like to see it take. I have some preliminary thoughts.
First, UVa should strive to be the best public university in the country, not a Southern Ivy. Continue reading
Joel Gardner, Undergraduate class of 1970; Law School class of 1974.
Letter from Joel Gardner, author of “From Rebel Yell to Revolution,” to President Jim Ryan.
First, I would like to thank you once again for being on the zoom call last week. I thought it was a very worthwhile discussion, but unfortunately, with the limited time allotted, it was only possible to skim the surface of the many crucial issues now facing the University. And as someone who has closely followed the history of the University on a real time basis for the past five decades as a Double Hoo, two time parent, member of four University boards, inveterate fundraiser and University historian, I truly believe we are at a decisive inflection point in our University’s existence.
With that in mind, I will take you up on your suggestion for us to send you recommendations and advice on how we might together address some of these critical concerns. In that regard, I’m sure you will be pleased to know that this will not include recommendations regarding the Lawn room signs. I will omit this for two reasons. First, I am sure you have already heard every iteration of the various arguments. Second, while I still disagree with how the University approached this issue, I believe you made a cogent and reasonable argument supporting your actions–in effect that forcibly removing the signs would make those students martyrs and only increase support for them among other students and faculty who thus far have not been generally supportive. Moreover, the Lawn room debacle is but a symptom of a much larger and more important set of problems at the University. Continue reading