Now UVa Has a Religious Diversity Task Force

As tensions escalate between Muslims and Jews across the United States, the Ryan administration has announced the creation of a Task Force on Religious Diversity and Belonging at the University of Virginia.

“The ongoing conflict in the Middle East has affected all of us,” Provost Ian Baucom told the Board of Visitors Thursday. The goal is to support free speech at UVa while ensuring that “religious minorities” — he pointedly specified Muslims and Jews — feel like they belong, he said.

Referring to UVa’s “unwavering commitment to be a diverse and inclusive university,” Baucom said “that work began this week and will continue this year.”

Kevin McDonald, UVa’s vice president for diversity, equity & inclusion, and interim senior associate vice president of student affairs Cedric Rucker are “meeting with and breaking bread with our Jewish and Muslim students,” Baucom said.

The announcement follows two large rallies at UVa by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in support of the October 7 terrorist attacks on Israel. Pro-Palestinian students have chanted, “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea,” which Israel sympathizers interpret as demanding the dissolution of the Israeli state.

President Jim Ryan denounced the Hamas terror attacks, but he has declined to criticize pro-Palestinian groups for advocating what many Jews regard as a call for genocide. Supporters of Israel have deluged President Jim Ryan and the Board of Visitors with calls to exercise moral clarity and denounce SJP as well. By contrast, more than 80 faculty members signed a letter in support of the Palestinians, and pro-Palestinians put on a heavily slanted, livestreamed “teach-in.” Nationally, the conflict between Muslims and Jews came to a head Tuesday as presidents of three Ivy League universities addressed a Congressional hearing about their support for the Palestinians, and outraged Jewish alumni said they would withhold their donations.

The Jefferson Council has been in touch with several people active in UVa’s Jewish community. Most Jewish students are laying low, afraid to speak out and draw attention to themselves. Counter-demonstrations have been feeble. Our sources tell us that Jewish students have been subjected to hostility and insults, mostly from Arab or Muslim students at UVa, not native-born Americans. Our sources do not extend to the Muslim community, but we have seen no reports of Muslim students feeling afraid to express themselves.

By portraying Muslim and Jews alike as victims of the Hamas/Israel war, Baucom positioned the administration as morally agnostic.

According to University of Virginia enrollment data, UVa has the following number of students from Middle Eastern and Northern African countries:

Israel — 13

Iran — 84
Pakistan — 70
Turkey — 55
Egypt — 53
Afghanistan — 24
Morocco — 18
Lebanon — 18
Saudi Arabia — 17
Sudan — 15
Jordan — 10
Algeria — 8
Iraq — 8
Tunisia — 5
Syria — 5
Libya — 3
Kuwait — 2
United Arab Emirates — 2
Qatar — 1


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7 months ago

The numbers are self-evident, the protests confirmatory. International student diversity is overwhelmingly Muslim. Small wonder Jews on Grounds are experiencing harassment post October 7.

Mary Grabar
Mary Grabar
7 months ago

First they came for MAGA….

walter smith
walter smith
7 months ago

I can’t stand how badly the BOV has done and is doing its job.
One would think a Task Force on Religious Liberty and Belonging would not be necessary at the school established by the author of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom. You know, the one that is essentially now codified in the Virginia Constitution? The one violated during Covid and for which UVA Health has spent millions defending itself for its treatment of employees? UVA should have been sued by the students, but they were too terrified to stand up in the “unequivocal” free speech climate. But so are the professors!

Meanwhile, this is straight from the BOV manual describing the role of the Visitors –
SECTION 2.4 POWERS AND DUTIES — The powers and duties conferred upon the Board are to be exercised for the purpose of carrying into effect the Mission Statement contained in Chapter 1. The major powers and duties are 1 the preservation of the ideals and traditions of the University and particularly encouragement of the maintenance of the Honor System by the student body;

The Honor System is DEAD. Obviously, religious liberty doesn’t mean a lot.

This is directly attributable to the BOV neglecting its duties – #2 in duties is to set policy.

The kids are being indoctrinated. Ryan and cronies cannot denounce evil. The honor system is dead. Jeffersonian religious liberty is non-existent. But multiculturalism and oppressor/oppressed is doing quite well.

Kalven Principles now!
End the mandated reverse McCarthy DEI statements.
Abolish the divisive DEI department and all its entrenchments in every school and department.
Require SATs.
Obey the law and quit gaming admissions.
Teach the truth about Thomas Jefferson.

Hello BOV? Where are you? And I am talking to the Northam appointees, too. Are you just political hacks or do you care about free speech, honor, truth? Those are American essentials that are not partisan. If you can’t stand for that, do the right thing and leave.

Jordan Ball 59
Jordan Ball 59
7 months ago

Hope the members of the BOV read Walter Smith’s post. He is right on.

Tom Leinbach
Tom Leinbach
7 months ago

Don’t need a task force. UVA has a policy against harassment of members of protected groups which includes religions. Perpetrators need to be held accountable.

Peter LeQuire College '65
Peter LeQuire College '65
7 months ago

Mr.Smith is spot on. I hasn’t taken a very long time to gut the University of its attributes that made it attractive to aspiring students, exceptional faculty, high performing alumni and people who admired its founder and all that it represents. The U was wrestling with racial integration when I attended: when my children were in attendance, the issue of “safe spaces” and “thou hast offended me” narcissism and “gender equity” were the hot topics. Somewhere along the way the U decided that liars, cheats and thieves were entitled to a “do over” and would be welcomed back after a “time out”.

And now. we’re devoting significant amounts of time, talent and money to resolve every possible hint of imagined or real lack of diversity. lack of inclusion and lack of “equity” (whatever that is).

And in the process, the University has become more divided, its students less informed, its faculty more polemical and judgement impaired. More’s the pity.

A start to reversing this accelerating slide to irrelevance would be for the President of the University to quickly and unequivocally condemn the antisemitic demonstrations, regardless of the protestations of the participants (not all of whom are students).

7 months ago

The concept of accountability for one’s actions is dead on The Grounds. Replaced by a toxic culture of victimhood and oppressors, and a total disregard for the illimitable freedom of the human mind.
It is no longer the University I was once proud to call my Alma Mater.