Is Anyone in Charge Over There?

The new rules for occupying a prestigious room on the University of Virginia’s Lawn allow students to post comments and materials on two message boards affixed to each door. An addendum to the “Terms and Conditions for Lawn and Range Residents, Housing and Residence Life” states:

“Any materials placed on the message boards must fit within the four corners of each message board and cannot extend beyond the outer edges of any such board.”

The addendum also provides this context:

The Academical Village – the Rotunda, Lawn and Range rooms, hotels, gardens, and pavilions – is an area of historic and architectural significance that serves as the centerpiece of the University. The beauty and historical significance of the Academical Village is reflected in its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Lawn is also the backdrop for many University events and draws visitors from around the world. It is a place visited by school children who are seeing a college campus for the first time, and a place where grandparents picnic with their grandchildren. It also regularly draws many local families and young children. … Lawn and Range residents should respect the unique nature of this space and use and maintain their rooms and exterior areas with appropriate care and consideration of others.

Continue reading

Ryan Awarded $200,000 Bonus — COVID Performance Cited

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan was awarded a $200,000 bonus during a closed session of the June 3 Board of Visitors meeting, The Cavalier Daily student newspaper has revealed. The university froze salaries for all employees during the early months of the COVID-19 epidemic, and Ryan and other senior officials took a 10% pay cut.

Said Rector Whittington Clement: “When the situation this year became clearer and we had a highly successful handling of COVID-19, we think the University did as well as, if not better, than any institution of higher learning in making the adjustments necessary to COVID-19, we thought that it was appropriate to give him a bonus.”

According to the terms of his 2018 employment contract, Ryan was entitled to a performance bonus of up to $100,000 based upon “achievement of mutually agreed upon performance objectives determined by the Board of Visitors and Mr. Ryan.” When Bacon’s Rebellion used the Freedom of Information Act in November 2021 to obtain those performance criteria, the university denied the request.

Letter from Tom Neale, Co-Founder of the Jefferson Council, about the “FU” Lawn Sign

Dear President Ryan, Provost Magill, Rector Clement and the University Board of Visitors:

The desecration of Lawn rooms didn’t even take a week to start this year. Hector Tarrazas Valencia’s door is pictured above. We all suffered through an entire semester of Hira Azher’s obscene “F-UVA” sign last year, which was quickly replicated by several other Lawn room residents. If Mr. Valencia’s equally crass screed against the University is not removed immediately with the unequivocal message sent from the Administration that these messages will not be tolerated, there is no doubt that many more will proliferate – on the Lawn and elsewhere.

In response to the Lawn signs from last year, the Administration published a “2021-2022 Addendum to the Terms and Conditions for Lawn and Range Residents” last spring, and it was represented on your behalf that the new terms would assure no recurrence of the Azher episode. (https://housing.virginia.edu/housing-terms-lawn-range). I have included an excerpt from this addendum below: Continue reading

Unequivocal Support for Free Speech… but Not Transparency

by Walter Smith

To the tune of “Unforgettable”…

Unequivocal you’re not at all
Unequivocal nowhere this fall
Like an empty phrase that runs from me
How your illusion does things to me
Never before has something been less
Unequivocal in every way

The University of Virginia formed the Free Expression and Free Inquiry Committee in February 2021. In May the Board of Visitors “unequivocally” endorsed the work of the Committee. Personally, I think the statement is a disgrace to Jefferson’s free speech legacy – I was hoping for more than the Chicago Principles and got a lukewarm, turgid, academic, PC jargon, kinda sorta saying UVA believes in free speech..

Does UVa really believe in free speech? We have seen that F— UVA is vigorously protected on the Lawn, but what about in the classrooms and on the Grounds? Are students and professors free to express their beliefs without fear of recrimination? Anecdotally, I don’t think they are. I have heard stories. and I have seen true harassment and shaming and threats for the “crime” of not agreeing with current woke ideology du jour. Continue reading

It’s Baaaack!

Photo credit: The Schilling Show

Hira Azher, the fourth-year student who posted a large “F— UVA” sign on the door of her Lawn residence last year, may have graduated, and the University of Virginia may have implemented measures to ensure that messages and displays on Lawn doors comported with the dignity of the Lawn and Rotunda as a World Heritage site, but the “F— UVA” sentiment is alive and well. Hector Terrazas Valencia, resident of room 49, has painted the words, “F— UVA !!! (respectfully)” on a panel of his door.

To prevent the ugly proliferation of leaflets and profanely expressed political sentiments in an architectural gem that attracts many visitors, UVa officials are requiring Lawn residents to confine their verbiage to message boards fitting in the door panels.

Hat tip: The Schilling Show.

UVa’s Ideological Litmus Test — “Diversity Statements”

by James A. Bacon

In the fall convocation ceremonies at the University of Virginia this week, President Jim Ryan said many things that once upon a time would have been considered unremarkable. The purpose of a UVa education, he said, is to pursue the truth. The search for truth is unending, and progress toward the truth is predicated upon free speech and open inquiry. UVa is a place for honest and respectful conversations between those who disagree, Ryan said. UVa is a place where civil dialogues can take place.

An alumnus in the audience, Bert Ellis, was reassured by Ryan’s words. Ellis is president of The Jefferson Council, a group dedicated to upholding the Jeffersonian legacy at UVa that has catalogued the suppression of free speech and expression and the drift toward intellectual conformity, and he was primed to be skeptical.

“All in all, I liked his remarks,” says Ellis. “I was pleasantly surprised by his references to and respect for Mr. Jefferson and his legacy and with his very strong support for open dialogue and for the Honor System. I hope his actions over the upcoming school year will be as strong as his words.”

Continue reading

Make “Contextualization” Open, Vibrant and Dogma-Free

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia has taken down the statue of Indian fighter George Rogers Clark and is expunging other monuments and tributes to individuals who fall short of lofty, progressive 21st-century ideals. President Jim Ryan has promised that the statue to Thomas Jefferson, the university’s founder, will stay. But it will be “contextualized.”

What that contextualization will look like is anybody’s guess. The project has been handed to the “Naming and Memorials Committee” for elaboration. Will Jefferson be portrayed as a founding father and progenitor of principles that guide the United States today… or a slave-holding rapist? It is too early to say.

What we do know is that considerable thought has been given to the machinery of contextualization. Whatever the message may be, it will be delivered digitally. Envision standing near the Jefferson statue, or the Rotunda, or the Lawn, or other spots deemed worth of recognition, such as the Black Bus Stop, the Ginger Scott Case, or the Coat and Tie Rebellion. You can take out your smart phone, scan a QR code, and access text and audio descriptions.

But there are warning flags galore as to where this initiative is heading. Continue reading

UVa and Tech Are Leaders in Building Massive Diversity Bureaucracies

Source: “Diversity University: DEI Bloat in the Academy”

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia and Virginia Tech have the second and fifth largest bureaucracies devoted to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion among 65 large public universities studied by the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy. UVa has 94 DEI personnel, while Tech has 83, according to Jay P. Greene and James D. Paul in their paper, “Diversity University: DEI Bloat in the Academy.

In another way of looking at the data, the authors found that UVa has 6.5 DEI staff for every 100 tenured and tenure-track professors. Tech has 5.6 DEI personnel per 100 faculty — compared to 3.4 per 1,000 for the average university. The figures for UVa, Tech and other universities surveyed are conservative in the sense that they do not include positions such as admissions and facilities managers that include DEI as part of their missions.

Based on climate surveys at several universities, the authors found no relationship between the size of the DEI bureaucracies and student satisfaction with their college experience. Continue reading

The Community of Trust, Circa 1995

Britt Hume narrates the 1995 introduction to the Honor Code.

Attached is a link to a video that was sent out in 1995 to all incoming students by the University of Virginia administration under President John T. Casteen and then-Honor Chair Ms. Raya Papp. Many thanks to Van Krebs for finding it in his files.

The 20-minute video, brilliantly narrated by then-ABC Correspondent Brit
Hume explained both the history and workings of the UVa Honor System and
the value of a community of honor.

It is a wonderful video but also a very sad commentary on how far we have fallen since 1995. There are many interviews with students and faculty and administrators supporting the honor system at UVa that would be damn near impossible to get now. The video is way too long for the attention span of today’s students and the background pictures are totally non-PC in today’s world. The letter from Papp is brilliant.

— Bert Ellis
President
The Jefferson Council


Dear Incoming Student,

On behalf of the Honor Committee, welcome to the University of Virginia. You will soon be able to explore the vast opportunities available at the University — both academic and extracurricular. You will be able to do so in an atmosphere based on mutual trust among students, faculty and administration. Continue reading

Intolerance, Distrust, Divisiveness

Letter by math major Katharine Hennessy in The Wall Street Journal

Critical race theory and related ideologies dominate the University of Virginia’s campus culture. Beta Bridge, painted by students in a longstanding UVA tradition, was painted over the summer with “ACAB” — short for “all cops are bastards.” The Washington and Jefferson societies barely hold formal debates anymore; any disagreement with current woke standards is unacceptable. Students feel compelled to fall in line or risk being ostracized. Continue reading