So Much for Empathetic Listening

by James A. Bacon

Militant students and faculty at the University of Virginia — and elsewhere — often talk about having “hard conversations” about the tragic realities in Gaza. To see what those “conversations” sound like, click on the video above.

It was hard alright — hard for President Jim Ryan. The students had no interest in confronting any discomfiting truths themselves.

The Daily Progress has the back story.

Ryan had an appointment on his calendar for more than a month with UVA Apartheid Divest, a coalition of 43 student groups demanding that UVA divest endowment assets from any company doing business with Israel. He entered Pavilion VI on the Lawn, accompanied by Chief Student Affairs Officer Kenyon Bonner and Dean of Students Cedric Rucker, expecting the meeting he had agreed to. But the students had other ideas.

“President Ryan, your students are waiting for you outside,” they said. They stepped out of the room and onto the Lawn where 30 classmates had gathered. Many had red paint on their hands, symbolizing blood.

Fifth-year student Najwa Labban began reading a statement denouncing statements Ryan had made in a recent “town hall” accusing him of lying about his actions in shutting down the “liberated zone” for Gaza. Then the crowd erupted into chants.

“35,000 dead, you’re arresting kids instead.”

“Jim Ryan, you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide.”

Ryan has spoken often about engaging in civil dialogue and empathetic listening. But there was no chance here to engage in dialogue of any kind. The students had no interest in listening, empathetic or otherwise. Ryan, Bonner and Rucker simply walked away.

How did students explain their behavior?

“President Ryan’s actions were so inexcusable that there was no way we could have a good faith conversation with him after he refused to engage in good faith with students protesting peacefully for Palestine,” said Josh Rosenberg, the third-year student and head of Students for Justice in Palestine who spoke on behalf of UVa Apartheid Divest.

“The meeting wasn’t going to yield any results,” Eli Weinger, a second-year student also representing UVa Apartheid Divest, told The Daily Progress. “If he is willing to lie in front of 3,000 people in a town hall, he’d be willing to lie in a closed-door meeting with five students.”

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walter smith
walter smith
7 days ago

Please, crazed student mob, don’t make me defend Jim Ryan!

I have always had a problem with the implications of “Great and Good.” I don’t know when everybody else will figure it out – my take of G&G is – UVA may have been great, but it wasn’t good, and Messiah Jim is here to fulfill “and Good,” which seems entirely intertwined with Leftism, and is an abandonment of the pursuit of truth and “education.” Besides, I already have the real Saviour and don’t need what Jim is preaching.

BUT, he deserves better than that. On the other hand, he is reaping what he has sown…

7 days ago

Ben Sasse of the University of Florida had it right, when he said “ This is not complicated: The University of Florida is not a daycare, and we do not treat protesters like children — they knew the rules, they broke the rules, and they’ll face the consequences.” If only Ryan had as much backbone.

Walter smith
Walter smith
7 days ago
Reply to  BHN

For me, he is such a better College president than Senator. Really seems to hit the right tone, setting the adult example.

6 days ago

So there you have it all on video, another “Run with Jim” student event, except in this case Jim is “running” as fast as he can back to Madison Hall not as usual with but from the children chanting Hamas nursery rhymes. As he too late realizes they have played him and his accompanying DEI hires who were likewise clueless as to in any way advising him that they were walking into a trap. I am certain Rector Hardie scolded Ryan in the closed session that followed for not thinking to bring along some “Run with Jim” t-shirts to hand out.

So at any level of properly functioning education throughout human history just who is supposed to be in control?!!!!!

But I suppose this episode befits the Ryan idea of “Great and Good” and the DEI woke cult ideology which in entirely predictable fashion results in another just plain stupid and humiliating to all UVA spectacle.

For my alumni donation this year just in time for the upcoming final exercises I am considering shipping to Madison Hall from Amazon(is there anything you can’t buy from Amazon?) a replacement more currently befitting for those funny little frumpy caps that faculty and administration typically wear. Dunce caps emblazoned in of course orange & blue lettering, Great and Good on the front and DEI in the back.

For the president and Hardie a special little distinguishing pom-pom attached at the peak. I am hoping this new woke graduation attire will impress the presidential search committee at Harvard such that they will soon snatch him up. But sadly maybe not.

Back to the subject of predictable, my thoughts go directly back to early August 2018 when on the very first day Ryan showed up for work at Madison Hall I sat down with Jerry Baliles and John Jeffries, Ryan’s then chief executive assistant. After relating to them my observations as to attending public events around the Grounds in which to my dismay not truth but woke ideology was the obvious intent, I then turned to John Jeffries and said, “like before as in the case of Casteen, they will be coming for you.”

Of course, the response couched in smug ivory tower hubris again predictably fell on deaf ears, as what did I know especially as an alumnus living out in the boonies in flyover country. So perhaps, Ryan, Hardie et al can now remove the egg on their face along with whatever else those “dirty birds coming home to roost” threw on them, get in a bus and roll down 29 to Lynchburg to view a peaceful campus where wise adults are in charge. Oh but they might protest that is not possible at UVA as that is a private university. Well then get back on the bus come on down my way to sunny FLA to UF and see how it is done at a much larger public university than UVA.

Is this really all that hard to figure out? Is it something about the effect of self imposed woke on the ivory tower unlike ever before that so blinds as to common sense even those who one would assume should know better? Is it time like at UF to ditch the woke? Heck even yesterday those “flyover types” at the University of Wyoming managed to figure it out but at Mr. Jefferson’s University it remains a mystery and those dirty birds just keep coming home to roost. How proud can a UVA alumnus be?