by James A. Bacon
One of the key events that sparked the creation of The Jefferson Council was the defilement of a Lawn residency door. In 2021 a 4th-year student posted “F— UVA” in large letters, along with a bill of particulars detailing why the university was a racist institution. Outraged alumni mobilized to protest the desecration of Thomas Jefferson’s academical village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site visited by thousands of potential students, their parents, tourists and others every year.
Turning the door into a bulletin board for profane political posters violated the terms of the lease and the spirit of Lawn residency, described on the UVA website as respecting the living space as “a place of historic value and as the public face of the University.”
The Ryan administration argued that because it had failed to enforce those terms from the beginning of the school year, removal of the sign would constitute a violation of the woman’s right to free speech. However, the administration did issue new guidelines effective the following semester restricting door postings to a small bulletin board on the doors. From that point onward, unhappy alumni were assured, the guidelines would be enforced consistently.
For a time, Lawn residents abided by the new guidelines. But enforcement slipped and flier creep set in. Students began putting up fliers that were bigger than the bulletin boards. Then they began adding extra fliers.
Here’s a photo of a door we took October 12.
Then, five Lawn residents covered the entire door, as seen in the Students for Justice Palestine Instagram photo atop this post.
Palestinian sympathizers are entitled to their views. They are free to hold demonstrations. They are free to declaim their opinions on a soapbox. They are free to write op-eds. They are free to post their feelings on social media. They are free to express their feelings in classes and in essays. They are free, if associated with a student club, to put up posters on public bulletin boards in accordance with university policy. They are NOT free to clutter up their Lawn doors to support their political causes in violation of the terms and conditions of the lease contracts they signed.
Students may not be attuned to such legal niceties, but University officials should be. Once again, we may find ourselves in a situation where the administration failed to police its own policies, and that failure makes it impossible to enforce guidelines because any action would constitute a free-speech violation.
It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the administration made concessions on the use of Lawn doors only shut up vocal alumni, and after creating the new guidelines it promptly stopped caring. Rest assured if someone had plastered their doors with MAGA fliers, the response would have been very different. In this and a thousand other small ways the administration sides with faculty and students with left-wing sympathies and makes it abundantly clear that some viewpoints are more equal than others.