by James A. Bacon
As a critical vote approaches in the Virginia state senate, The Cavalier Daily has doubled down on its denunciation of Bert Ellis, and in so doing has revealed its real motive for campaigning to block his appointment to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors: Ellis represents a threat to Business As Usual at UVa.
In a Jan. 28 column, the Editorial Board rehashed its absurdly one-sided portrayal of Ellis’ actions as a member of the University Union 50 years ago and the two-and-a-half-year-old thought crime of intending, but never following through, to use a razor blade to cut down the infamous “F— UVA” sign on the door of a Lawn resident. The editors have persisted in their cherry-picking of facts despite the publication of multiple articles providing the full context of these incidents. (To refresh yourself on the details click here.)
The Cavalier Daily is not engaging in journalism. The editorial, like its previous articles and editorials libeling Ellis as a racist and homophobe, is a partisan polemic. Sadly, as the student newspaper’s charges have been amplified by the UVa Student Council and Faculty Senate and propagated through social media and the rumor mill, they have inspired Democratic Party opposition in the General Assembly to the confirmation of Ellis, who was nominated by Governor Glenn Youngkin last June.
Normally, Virginia’ governors’ nominations for state boards and commissions are lumped together in a single bill and approved en masse. This year, two of Youngkin’s nominations have been stripped out for separate confirmation: State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, who has expressed skepticism of “systemic racism” as a cause of racial differences in racial health outcomes, and Ellis.
Why has Ellis been singled out? Why the grotesque misrepresentations? Why have the CD’s allegations transmogrified into claims so outrageous that even the CD would not recognize them — for instance, that Ellis used a razor blade to assault the young woman who penned the F— UVA sign?
Militant leftists perceive Ellis as a threat to their stranglehold on UVa’s culture and power structures.
The Cavalier Daily’s editors frame the underlying issue as preservation of student self governance:
Ellis … poses a threat to this University’s tradition of student self-governance. The Board is responsible for licensing our entire system of student self-governance, in part by creating contracts with special status organizations. Any individual appointed to oversee our system should not be opposed to its basic tenets. When these organizations have strayed from Ellis’ narrow conception of acceptable behavior, he has been quick to undermine and attack their efforts. From the condescending language used to criticize the University Guide Service to his plea to encourage the Board to subvert the will of the student body in last spring’s Honor referendum, it is clear that Ellis only cares about the promulgation of his personal views here on Grounds. Such a self-serving mindset is ill-suited to the work students are doing to push the University forward and prepare ourselves to be citizen leaders in the process.
“We deserve better than Bert,” intones the article’s headline. “It’s time for leaders in Richmond to stand up on our behalf.”
What arrogance. The Cavalier Daily doesn’t speak for the student body. It speaks for the clique of militant leftists that have taken over the institutions of student self governance. As executive director of The Jefferson Council, I have had the opportunity to interact with many students who dissent from leftist orthodoxy. They’re voiceless and disempowered. One might say, to borrow a word that is au courant on college campuses these days, marginalized.
As an institution, The Cavalier Daily itself answers to no one. Its editorial staff is a progressive clique in which senior editors, as they graduate, hand off power to the next generation of progressives. It now functions as an enforcement arm of leftist ideology on the grounds.
Student Council is dominated by student militants because so much of university culture now revolves around identity groups recognized and subsidized by the university: Blacks, Latinos, Asians, foreign students, feminists, LGBQTs, etc. These organized groups get out the vote for leftist identitarian candidates in student elections, while other student organizations respond to increasing intolerance by retreating into apathy and disengagement. Other institutions of student government, from the Student Judiciary to the Honor Council, come little closer to representing the full spectrum of views held by UVa students than The Cavalier Daily or Student Council.
Ironically, Ellis is the best friend that most students will ever have in the Board of Visitors. He does represent a threat to the status quo, especially to UVa’s bloated administration, its mind-numbing red tape, its rampant inefficiencies, and a cost structure that requires in-state undergraduates to fork over $36,000 to $87,000 a year in tuition, fees, room and board, depending upon year, school, and in/out-of-state residence. Ellis joins a handful of other board members who are serious about bringing tuition costs under control. If students knew more than the Snidely Whiplash version of Ellis they read in the Cavalier Daily’s screeds, they might even appreciate what he is doing on their behalf.
Meanwhile, you can count on CD editors to ignore the issue that matters to most students — the cost of attendance — while pursuing their ideological agenda.
Well said, Jim. Do you know when the State Senate is voting? Will there be an opportunity for public comment?
What an unfortunate parallel to the Chinese Cultural Revolution pursued by the Red Guards waving their “Little Red Books.” We have a well propagandized body of activists for whom truth and facts matter not, just the ideology of authoritarians.
As usual, your remarks are right on point. Sadly we learned this morning that the Democratic-controlled Senate voted NOT TO CONFIRM our friend Bert Ellis. This is a sad day for Virginia and for the University. It means we need to redouble our efforts and take back the University from the Left.
How very upsetting. Those who think that the big universities are a lost cause may be right.
Code of Virginia 23.1-1300 –
C. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection E or any other provision of law, the Governor may remove from office for malfeasance, misfeasance, incompetence, or gross neglect of duty any member of the board of any public institution of higher education and fill the vacancy resulting from the removal.
D. The Governor shall set forth in a written public statement his reasons for removing any member pursuant to subsection C at the time the removal occurs. The Governor is the sole judge of the sufficiency of the cause for removal as set forth in subsection C.
Whitt Clement should have been removed when Jim Ryan’s contract was extended in March of 2022. No notice to the public, AND contrary to the already-negotiated provision for discussion of extending his contract. Conveniently extended to beyond Youngkin’s term and the new governor would have had 3 years of appointments. (Thereby a new majority of BOV members from the new Governor.)
I am sorry to say this as everybody I know who knows Whitt says he is a wonderful person. That’s great. But he is a failure as Rector. The BOV is to set policy, and Ryan is to execute that policy. Things are upside-down, and a supine BOV just rubberstamps Ryan’s destruction of the University. The fact that Ryan and Whitt and other BOV members haven’t called off the dogs indicates how radicalized the BOV and the U has become, proving why The Jefferson Council is necessary.
Also, did you know this language from 23.1-1304 –
B. Educational programs for the governing boards of public institutions of higher education shall include presentations relating to:
1. Board members’ primary duty to the citizens of the Commonwealth;
The BOVs are not supposed to be rabid partisans – they owe their duties to the entire Commonwealth. NOT a political agenda. UVA, and all the other public universities, need to get back to the EDUCATIONAL mission.
Could the Jefferson Council publish who the swing votes might be in the Senate vote so that we can all call them to vote to approve Ellis? Thank you.
You’re asking who are the sane Democrat Senators…
The only one I know to be sane, by reputation, is Chap Petersen.
There may be others – Creigh Deeds was once thought to be acceptable as Lt. Gov, and generated a lot of sympathy when his mentally ill son attacked him. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but sometimes Joe Morrissey likes to buck the establishment. There may be others – I just don’t know – my Senator is Siobhan Dunnavant.
And I left out maybe the D who won the Jen Kiggans seat recently? Roane? That was a close win and the district appears pretty competitive…
Just wish we had a BOV with the competence and courage of the one at UNC.
Bert, How can I help? Bill Bunn Darden ’79
Lest we forget two key players in this leftist political game against Bert Ellis appear to be a father-daughter team composed of the former CD editor Eva Surovell who initiated the campaign at UVA and now has handed it off to her father Scott Surovell a state senator from the 36th district in Northern Virginia. Keeping the political gamesmanship and subterfuge all in the family-how nice.
Not enough people are talking about this…
I would find it extremely unpleasant to visit a campus controlled by such far-left woke people. That is why I will not return to UVA for my 45th law school reunion or give one cent to that University.
True. I have not given the CD any credibility for years. It pushes some political narrative. It isn’t helping anyone with reporting, investigation, or facts, sadly.
Honestly, checking in on this blog every now and then is so funny. A grown man, obsessed with his alma mater and the “militant leftists” that run the -checks notes- student newspaper. LOL dude, grow up, but in the meantime, thank you for the entertainment.
To those who have asked how they can support Bert, the Jefferson Council thanks you. The vote could take place as early today, and we are fairly confident (though not certain) that Bert will be confirmed.
You would think UVA students would be more inclined to think critically instead of following these self-serving “leaders”. No student thinks for themselves anymore at this University. They simply follow the status quo set by these indoctrinated and unconcerned woke students.
The Cavalier Daily bears no resemblance to an objective journalistic publication. It’s libelous, radical bias is appalling. It makes Pravda look like the Federalist Papers.
P.S. I’d wager its Editors have no idea what my analogy is or the Federalist Papers were.
Wait a minute there Tom!
The CD is just a student rag. The real Pravda is UVA
Pravdaoops! UVA Today…
Maybe we can let the CD have Izvestia…
And Student Council can be the Comintern!