The Jefferson Council Annual Meeting

By all accounts, the inaugural meeting of The Jefferson Council was a tremendous success, bringing together alumni, students, faculty members, and parents in support of free speech, intellectual diversity, and the Jeffersonian tradition.

We have posted videos on the blog as they came available. If you would like to watch them in the order of the program, follow this table of contents.

Opening remarks — Bert Ellis, Jefferson Council president, provides an overview of the inaugural annual meeting and summarizes the four pillars of the Council — freedom of speech and intellectual diversity, preservation of the Jeffersonian legacy, revitalization of the Honor Code, and upholding the dignity of the Lawn as a World Heritage site.

Case study: Nick Cabrera, president of the University of Virginia branch of the Young Americans for Freedom, describes his up-close-and-personal encounters with the free speech-stifling radicals of the UVa student government.

Case study: Buddy Weber, Jefferson council board member, recounts the Kafkaesque journey of his client Morgan Bettinger through the University of Virginia’s woke student justice system.

The New McCarthyism: Joel Gardner, Jefferson Council board member, describes how conservative voices are stifled at the University of Virginia.

Free speech: Connor Murname with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education tells how FIRE fights for free speech and free expression on college campuses.

Video Greeting from Governor Glenn Youngkin

“Our University: Things that Change and Things that Stay the Same.” Kenneth Elzinga, UVa’s legendary economics professor, lists the changes at UVa over the past half century that please him and the changes that dismay him.

Keynote speech: Jason Miyares. Speaking from the perspective as the son of a Cuban immigrant, Virginia’s Attorney General defends the legacy of Thomas Jefferson and his contribution to human freedom.

Inaugural Annual Meeting — Jason Miyares

Speaking from the perspective as the son of a Cuban immigrant, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares defends the legacy of Thomas Jefferson and his contribution to human freedom.

Inaugural Annual Meeting — Joel Gardner

Jefferson Council board member Joel Gardner describes how conservative voices are stifled at the University of Virginia — the “new McCarthyism.”

Inaugural Annual Meeting — Buddy Weber

TJC board member Buddy Weber recounts the tortuous, Kafkaesque experience of his client Morgan Bettinger through the University of Virginia’s woke student justice system.

Inaugural Annual Meeting — Connor Murname (FIRE)

Connor Murname with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education describes how FIRE fights for free speech and free expression on college campuses.

Inaugural Annual Meeting — Nick Cabrera

Nick Cabrera, president of the University of Virginia chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom, describes his up-close-and-personal encounters with the free speech-stifling radicals of the UVa Student Government.

Inaugural Annual Meeting — Bert Ellis Opening Remarks

Bert Ellis, president of The Jefferson Council, provides an overview of the inaugural annual meeting and summarizes the four pillars of the Council — freedom of speech and intellectual diversity, preservation of the Jeffersonian legacy, revitalization of the Honor Code, and upholding the dignity of the Lawn as a World Heritage site.

Inaugural Annual Meeting — Elzinga Speech

Our University: Things That Change and Things That Stay the Same

Kenneth G. Elzinga
Robert C. Taylor Professor of Economics
Jefferson Council @ Alumni Hall
April 5, 2022

Professors are always willing to profess, but I do not intend to profess about economics. I plan to talk about Mr. Jefferson’s University, where I have had the privilege to be employed since the fall of 1967. UVA has had nine presidents. I have served under six of them. I am told that I have taught more students than any other faculty member in the history of the school: approaching 50,000. I also am married to a UVA alumna. My wife Terry is a graduate of the Architecture School. The seven letters on her Virginia license plate spell: ROTUNDA.

When I reflect on my experience at UVA, I hold in tension a deep sense of admiration for the University and, at the same time, I can restrain my enthusiasm for characteristics of the school that have surfaced during my time on the faculty. Continue reading

Inaugural Annual Meeting — Governor Youngkin Address

The Jefferson Council’s inaugural meeting last night was a huge success. Highlights included a video greeting from Governor Glenn Youngkin, a keynote speech by Attorney General Jason Miyares, an address by legendary University of Virginia professor Kenneth Elzinga, and presentations by Jefferson Council members. For those not fortunate enough to attend, we will post video clips and other materials from the event as we can assemble them.

Here is the clip from Governor Youngkin.

Money quote: “It is up to all of us to ensure that freedom of speech will be fostered here at the University of Virginia. The greatest threat to our democracy does not come from tyrants abroad or unprincipled politicians at home. It comes from the growing tendency to loathe rather than listen.”

UVa Has Issues, But At Least It Is Not Yale

by James A. Bacon

On March 10 the Federalist Society, a group promoting conservative/libertarian principles in law schools, hosted a panel discussion at Yale Law about freedom of religion and speech. About 120 student protesters descended upon the event, shouted down the speakers, and then, after repeated warnings, continued their noisy demonstration in the hallway. In the aftermath, more than 400 law students, about 60% of the student body, signed an open letter voicing support for the protesters and assailing the presence of armed police. While the protesters were excessively loud and “engaged in rude and insulting behavior,” wrote Law School Dean Heather Gerken, they did not violate the school’s “three-warning protocol.” Heated debate over the contours of free speech continues to this day.

At the University of Virginia, by contrast, the Federalist Society held a symposium on the topic, “The Federalists Vs. the Anti-Federalists: Revisiting the Founding Debates.” The event went off without a hitch. There were no protests, no open letters, and no need for statements by the dean.

The exercise of free speech and free expression leaves very much to be desired at the University of Virginia, but students, parents, faculty and alumni can console themselves: At least UVa is not Yale. (Which is fairly ironic, given the fact that President Jim Ryan, Provost Ian Baucom, and law school Dean Risa Goluboff all hold Yale degrees.) Continue reading