Militants to Ryan Administration: “Bullshit”

Source: UVA Encampment for Gaza Instagram post

by James A. Bacon

Pro-Palestinian militants erected tents last night at their “liberation zone for Gaza” near the University of Virginia chapel in defiance of orders to take them down. The administration’s immediate response: engage in dialogue.

“We are writing to acknowledge the document you shared with us early this morning outlining the interests of your group,” wrote Kenyon Bonner, vice president and chief student affairs officer, and Brie Gertler, vice provost for academic affairs, to the Gaza zone participants.

“We thought it would be most productive to respond in writing, with the hope of scheduling a time to discuss your goals in greater detail with the appropriate representatives from your group,” they said.

The protesters posted their response, written in bold letters over a copy of the letter, on Instagram: “Bullshit.”

An ad hoc group of radicals organized under the banner of UVA Encampment for Gaza first set up tents in an “encampment” Sunday but took them down when confronted by University police. While pro-Palestinian student demonstrations took place on the Lawn, the Encampment for Gaza maintained its own desultory, round-the-clock gathering all week near the UVA Chapel on the far side of the Rotunda. The student groups ceased protesting as exams began, but the Charlottesville radicals, buttressed by UVA faculty and graduate students, persisted.

Numbers in the tentless encampment fluctuated as people came and went but generally ranged around 40 to 50 as the week dragged on. Two days ago, the group issued an ultimatum: UVA had until noon Friday to divest endowment investments with links to Israel and to cease all academic relations with Israeli higher-ed institutions.

Encampment for Gaza around noon Friday. Photo taken from image taken from X video posted by Anahita Jafary, WVIR News.

The deadline passed with no immediate answer from UVA. Then around 4:00 p.m., the administration delivered the Bonner-Gertler letter to the militants. About two hours later, the pro-Palestinians responded with their profane Instagram post, and then another post accusing the University of “letting” Nazis with tiki torches march through UVA in 2017 while threatening students in 2024 who were protesting genocide.

“Administration, will you send the police on us like you didn’t send them on the white supremacists?” asked the post. “The ball is in your court.”

Social media posts showed that tents were back up and students were “still holding space” last night.

Around 8:00 a.m. this morning, Encampment for Gaza issued a call for reinforcements. “Police and admin are back at camp this morning and want students to take down tents. We need numbers to defend the camp!! Please come now.”

In their letter to the militants yesterday, Bonner and Gertler addressed the group’s main demands.

Regarding the demand for divestment, they noted that UVIMCO, the entity that administers UVA’s $14 billion endowment, has an Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (ACIR) that considers how to balance the need for strong investment returns with ESG (environmental, social, governance) factors.

“Following the student referendum in February, members of the ACIR met with students who are interested in the issues you have highlighted,” Bonner and Gertler said. “The ACIR would welcome the opportunity to hear more about your questions and concerns. We would be happy to arrange this for you.”

Regarding the demand to sever ties to Israeli universities, the administration’s response was a flat no: “To terminate study abroad-programs, fellowships, research collaborations, and other collaborations with Israeli academic institutions would compromise our commitment to academic freedom and our obligation to enabling the free exchange of ideas on our Grounds, both of which are bedrock values of the University.”

The administration agreed to a third demand to allow students, faculty and staff to protest “without the risk of administrative discipline” — with one proviso, that the “expressive activity” occurs “within the limits of the laws and policies we have in place.” (The letter made no mention of the wearing of masks for the purpose of concealment, illegal under state law but a provision that, according to UVA, local prosecutors are unwilling to pursue in court.)

The letter also mentioned the work of the University’s Task Force on Religious Diversity and Belonging, created in December to ensure the University is welcoming to individuals across the full spectrum of religions and cultures.

“Members of this task force have worked tirelessly over the course of the last several months, examining data, engaging broadly with members of our community, and considering the ways in which we can ensure that the University of Virginia is welcoming to students, faculty, and staff from the full spectrum of religious and cultural backgrounds,” Bonner and Gertler said.

It wasn’t clear why UVA officials thought the reconciliatory activities of the task force would be of interest to the Encampment for Gaza protesters, whose ideology is militantly pro-Palestinian and whose rhetoric justifies violence against Israel, as seen in this Instagram post yesterday:

We are inspired by the students around the globe, with origins at Columbia University, who have initiated encampments as a call to demand that academic institutions end their complicity in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians, the brutal apartheid state, and the ongoing Nakba.

It is noteworthy that organizers attributed their understanding of events from the intellectual environment at UVA fostered by the Ryan administration itself.

In our collective experience at UVA, we have learned of oppression throughout history, including the horrific atrocities of slavery that occurred to create these very grounds. Our University has educated us on liberation movements across all time and lands, yet have continually proven themselves to stand on the wrong side of history. Resistance is not an abstract academic theory. An apology will not be accepted. The students of this university will not stand idly by.

The encampment was still standing and the protesters still posting on Instagram around 10 a.m. this morning. The Jefferson Council will keep members updated as this fluid situation plays out.

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J. Swift
J. Swift
13 days ago

Referencing UVA Policy SEC-013 (on “Tents’):

Compliance with Policy:
Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion in accordance with relevant University policies and may result in prosecution in accordance with state and federal law. This includes complying with the applicable adopted version of the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code along with the associated legal proceedings to restrain, correct, or abate such alleged violation.

walter smith
walter smith
13 days ago

You don’t negotiate with terrorists.

Even though UVA claims it won’t enforce the anti-mask policy because the Soros like Commonwealth’s Attorney won’t enforce it, UVA’s policies require compliance with all laws. Have the University Police book everybody wearing a mask. That way you can find out who are the student radicals and who are the activist (likely Antifa or Antifa adjacent) locals. Then follow the money and the socials and pull the strings on funding, etc. These are coordinated events.

Next, tell all the “brave” students their demands for no discipline will not be honored. In fact, discipline is guaranteed.
Guess what will happen?

So why doesn’t the Admin do that?

You know why and now you know the problem at UVA and all the other so-called “elite” universities.

13 days ago

Excellent article and objective summary, Jim.

I have two core points for the Ryan Administration:
1) In military and foreign policy history, negotiations with authoritarian regimes, dictators, and terrorists have never worked. It’s called appeasement. These “protestors” openly support the positions of Hamas, a legally designated terrorist organization whose core Covenant calls for the destruction of Israel and the eradication of Jews nationwide.
2) In the college administration world, campuses like Texas and Florida whose presidents immediately took down the tent encampments and enforced university regulations against the pro-Palestinian/Hamas radicals have had no further issues.

By allowing the UVA groups to continue their protest, President Ryan is in effect encouraging them. He says that he will not allow them to continue to protest if they are in violation of existing UVA regulations. They are and have been for weeks: wearing masks is a felony in the Commonwealth of VA; openly supporting genocide and Hamas, a terrorist organization is not “free speech” and is forbidden; and assembling on university property with pitched tents is also a direct abrogation of UVA regulations.

Yet the Ryan administration continues to allow it.

Appeasement didn’t work for Neville Chamberlain in 1938. WWII and the Holocaust would have been prevented if he and other Western Powers had stood up to Hitler when he entered the Rhineland and then invaded Czechoslovakia.

President Ryan should learn from history as well as the feckless Ivy League presidents who allow these ill-informed and destructive protestors to continue to foment hate and ignorance against Israel and Jewish students. If he doesn’t, the Board of Visitors should take actions that Ryan appears to be incapable of or amazingly reluctant to enact.

These actions are neither “great nor good.” UVA continues to decline under the President Ryan administration. Action is needed. Now.

13 days ago

Well, there you have it.

UVA Police Chief Longo was on the scene at 7:30 AM to demand the protestors take down the tents. UVA Facilities truck arrived. Protestors did not comply but instead retreated to their tents and refused to leave. UVA sends out Emergency Alert via texts, etc. at 11:56 AM, with some repeats, alerting the community to avoid the area due to “Police Activity.”

Imagine being in an exam and having your work interrupted by an emergency alert. And 9-12 was indeed an exam block for things like Advanced Organic Chemistry.

Who can argue that the “Encampment” is not interfering with the academic mission of the university?

maeve ellis
maeve ellis
13 days ago
Reply to  Update

I was in an exam at 2pm and heard the emergency alert multiple times. Personally, I continued working because I knew the protest exists in the name of peace. Lo and behold, violence only occurred when police in riot gear with weapons created it. Funny how the mass murder of people bothers me more than an alarm about a protest. Especially when it is sponsored by the profiteering investment activities of the institution I pay to attend.

12 days ago
Reply to  maeve ellis

LOL, ellis, “in the name of peace?” Perhaps you could revisit the chants and what the words promote. Let alone all the physical acts of antisemitism that have been documented against Jewish UVA students.

Maybe focus on truth for a change rather than the mind corrupting effects of “social justice” that only serve to obviously blind.

walter smith
walter smith
12 days ago
Reply to  maeve ellis

Lo and behold…violence only occurs with Alinsky tactics seeking to provoke violence…with the illegal encampments and the mask wearing. Show your faces…cowards! You only believe in your cause when you get to hide. You can’t have an honest debate or discussion. Oh, and quit engaging in terrorism. Renounce intifada. Hamas provoked a war. If “Palestinians” want peace, act like it and get rid of Hamas…

12 days ago

Human behavior is no different now than before over millenia, both as to display of terrorist behavior and how to counter it, as exemplified in the attached website founded by a UVA grad doing great work. It simply requires leaders who are adults.

What stands out in this current campus disgrace is the participation of not only outside agitators but also university professors, T.A.s, etc. both of whom need to be fully revealed, prosecuted and especially monitored going forward as to coaching young, impressionable students to break the law. And as is being revealed all these entities are currently incentivized in various ways by money, whether to take courses on DEI or paid to show up and foment terrorism.

If I were a parent especially of a current student I would be knocking on Ryan’s door demanding accountability especially as to employees of UVA. This will continue into the summer and in particular the fall semester. The governor of Virginia as well as all university presidents, governing boards must nip this in the bud NOW! If they need a training model as to a great leader who knew how to deal with these useful Marxist idiots they can watch the video.

Baylor Trapnell
Baylor Trapnell
7 days ago

The Administration could make a demand: that the protesters sit through a film presentation of atrocities in full color that Hamas forces committed against the Israeli people. There would be no further discussion of protester issues until the viewing was accomplished.