by Jock Yellott
“This year, members of the Class of 2025 are required to attend a historical tour and debrief discussion centered around the history of enslaved
laborers at the University.”
— Sydney Hertzog, Cavalier Daily, Sept. 22, 2021.
Why does this rankle? The University of Virginia, after all, has many mandates:
• Social Sciences – 6 credits from two different departments
• Humanities – 6 credits from two different categories
• Historical Studies – one 3 or more credit course
• Non-western Perspectives – one 3 or more credit course
• Natural Science and Mathematics – 12 credits from two different
Why shouldn’t 1st years also be forced to “learn about the University’s
history of white supremacy and enslavement that has been suppressed for
If any students objected, they were smart enough not to say so. To the contrary, according to the Cavalier Daily. Students “really enjoyed going on the tour because it has given them context of where they go to school.”
This is not Woke faculty indoctrination, or at least not directly. Says the Cavalier Daily: “This program was built purely by students.”
Why should it bother us?
Would we react as strongly against a mandatory civics class
(recommended by Justice Breyer and Justice O’Connor before him)?
What if historical studies were required to include Thomas Jefferson, the
University’s Founder, as well as a founder of our nation?
What if UVa required mandatory training about the Honor System, or standards of behavior?
What about the difference between a date and date rape; always ask permission, even to hold hands? That sort of thing.
It is not the mandate per se that is bothersome. It is the subject matter.
Our visceral reaction may reflect our assumptions about that subject
matter. Our own prejudices.
We assume that the tour is not about who made the bricks in the
Serpentine Walls. It’s about about making white students ashamed,
burdened with an Original Sin of their forefathers, which can never be
Does the tour leave out the fact that local Indians enslaved each other
long before the whites arrived?
Does it omit to mention that as much as 25% of the freed blacks in some
Virginia counties themselves owned slaves (this from the research of
former U Va professor Carter Woodson, himself black)?
We assume so.
Worse, we assume bitter lessons about the past are meant to lay the
groundwork for excusing today’s difference in test scores, exam grades;
standards of conduct.
Beware of assumptions. Left-wing racism creates the temptation to answer
it in kind, with prejudices and assumptions of our own.
There is this, though — the admitted purpose is political, to create left-wing
activists: “to destroy the legacy of white supremacy here through activism.”
“In the end, we want it to be a call to action.”
That may in part explain our visceral reaction. It is mental enslavement to
left-wing dogma, required Social Justice training.
And political indoctrination is the opposite of critical thinking. Which is what,
theory at least, a University should be for.
Jock Yellott, a retired lawyer in Charlotesville, is an occasional contributor to Bacon’s Rebellion.
Cavalier Daily article on mandatory tours: https://www.cavalierdaily.com/
UVa College of Arts and Sciences mandated area requirements:
Carter G. Woodson, Free Negro Owners of Slaves in the United States in
1508771820 or https://www.google.com/books/edition/Free_Negro_Owners_of_Slaves_in_the_Unite/SYjXAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&printsec=frontcover