Provost Ian Baucom and Academic & Student Affairs Chair Elizabeth Cranwell: Antisemitism issues best addressed “in another setting.”
by James A. Bacon
During the University of Virginia Board of Visitors meeting Thursday, Provost Ian Baucom briefed board members on what the administration was doing to defuse tensionsin the UVA community between Jews and the vocal pro-Palestinian faction over the Israel-Gaza war.
He mentioned “sustained academic programming” to illuminate sources of the decades-long conflict. He took note of the mental health services provided those experiencing mental anguish. He assured the Board that the University was working to bring opposing parties together in dialogue and to understand “the reality of Jewish, Muslim and other religious minorities.” UVA, he said, was committed to “deep engagement” and “freedom of expression.”
The Provost reiterated the administration’s support for free speech. UVA, he said, was a place where “people are free to disagree” but where “everyone belongs.” “We need to listen to people we disagree with,” he added, and concluded by thanking the Board for its “help and wisdom.”
But when board members began addressing the hostile environment for Jewish students at UVA, there was no sign that the Provost, President Jim Ryan, or Rector Robert Hardie were interested in “listening” to anyone who disagreed with them, much less in “engaging” with them on the most contentious issue to afflict the University in recent years. Continue reading →
On page 11 of the paper’s April 26 print edition, C-ville references the now infamous “Fuck UVA” sign controversy, by publishing the following:
Ellis in NYT
The New York Times points to UVA Board of Visitors member Bert Ellis as an example of rising “anti-woke” education movements. In an article exploring the sharp tension surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and the deep political divide between education policymakers, writer Stephanie Saul frames America’s larger battle surrounding education policy around Ellis. Ellis has been deeply controversial since his appointment was announced, due to his destruction of a “Fuck UVA” sign on the Lawn and co-founding of the DEI-critical Jefferson Council. [emphasis added] Continue reading →
I never imagined it possible to exceed the vitriol heaped upon University of Virginia board member Bert Ellis over the past few months. I thought for sure that the nastiness would die down. I was naive. Yesterday the Democratic Party of Virginia labeled him a “eugenicist” — an advocate of the philosophy of sterilizing the genetically unfit. The philosophy was adopted by racists to purge the gene pool of Jews, Blacks, Roma and other groups deemed undesirable. In so doing, the attack groups Ellis with the worst racists of history.
The charge appears in a press release lambasting Governor Glenn Youngkin’s education policy, primarily in K-12 education. While most of the criticisms were tendentious and wrong-headed, at least they were directed toward Youngkin’s policies and actions. But in Ellis’ case, the Democratic Party of Virginia engaged in a vicious personal attack with zero factual foundation. Indeed, the DPV elevated previous libels of Ellis as a “white supremacist” to new heights of malice.
Here is what the press release says.
Appointment of a Eugenicist to the University of Virginia Board of VisitorsContinue reading →
Virginia has now entered the feeding frenzy stage of the assault on Bert Ellis’ character. Abandoning all journalistic standards of impartiality and fair play, mainstream media outlets compete with another to publish anything they can find to compromise Ellis, a member of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors appointed by Governor Glenn Youngkin and narrowly confirmed by the General Assembly.
Following a Washington Post piece yesterday that highlighted such transgressions as referring in private correspondence to a UVa employee as a “numnut,” Virginia Public Media has joined the fray. Among the new affrights uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act is the scoop that Ellis also referred to UVa administrators as “schmucks”!
It is laughable that anyone would deem such language used in personal communications to be worth publishing — as if no one else in public service speaks this way in private. Ironically, the only thing remarkable about Ellis’ use of language is how restrained it is. It is less vitriolic, for example, than the language used by Jeff Thomas, the leftist author who filed the FOIA request and peddled his findings to the media. VPM reporter Ben Paviour quotes Thomas as accusing “these people” of “lashing out with these venomous personal attacks at innocent people.”
Venomous? Really? Ellis didn’t “lash out” or “attack” anyone — these were private communications. The victims never knew about them… until Thomas uncovered them and persuaded Paviour to publicize them!
Such are the New Rules of woke journalism.
But there’s more. Paviour included one exchange in his piece that had no business appearing in any article. The fact that he chose to include it exposes the shoddiness of his journalism. Here is what he wrote: Continue reading →
So… how did the University of Virginia respond to the revelation of Bert Ellis’ text messages in The Washington Post? Here’s the statement the university provided the Post.
These text messages demonstrate a disappointing disregard for the hard work of UVA faculty and staff, as well as the University’s core values of civil discourse and honor. It is important to note that the messages were sent before these members attended their first Board meeting, and that they have since had many opportunities to witness firsthand the many ways this institution, and its employees, contribute to the Commonwealth of Virginia, our nation, and our world.
In a private communication made public only through the Freedom of Information Act, Ellis referred to vice provost Louis P. Nelson, specialist in the built environments of the early modern Atlantic world with a special interest in the impact of racism on architecture, as a “numnut” (a variant of numbnut) and symptomatic of UVa’s bloated bureaucracy.
Now, let’s enter our time machine to see how the UVa administration responded when the Student Council passed a resolution calling Ellis a white supremacist: “From the bondage and abuse experienced by enslaved people, to the violent occupation by Nazis and KKK members, to Bert Ellis — the Lawn is no stranger to racist violence under the guise of “Jeffersonian ideals’ in order to maintain power for the white elite.” Continue reading →
After maligning Virginia Military Institute alumni dissident Matt Daniel two days ago, The Washington Post aims its guns today on Bert Ellis, a conservative alumnus and member of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors, with the publication of text messages obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. They were private communications. Like everyone else in the universe, Ellis expressed himself with candid language he would not have used in the public domain.
Make sure you’re sitting down. You might want to take a dose of anti-anxiety pills. Ellis actually called people “numnuts.”
He also had the temerity to express dissatisfaction with the Ryan administration’s obsessive focus on race, including its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives.
In truth, there is remarkably little that is worthy of note in Ellis’ text messages. Yet the Post quotes Jeff Thomas, the leftist chronicler of Virginia politics who obtained the FOIA documents, as asserting that the documents “demonstrate Governor Youngkin’s Board appointees are ignorant reactionaries consumed by hatred and neo-Confederate fantasies.”
The text messages demonstrate no such thing. Ellis has never been consumed by the destruction Civil War statues or the assault on Southern heritage. Rather, he has lamented the trashing of Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers. There is nothing in the text messages to suggest the existence of “neo-Confederate fantasies” — nor, for that matter, the notion that he is “consumed by hatred”… unless you consider calling someone a “numnut” an indicator of unquenchable animus. Continue reading →
The state senate confirmation vote on Bert Ellis’ appointment to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors has been delayed again, this time until Monday. For the benefit of Jefferson Council members waiting on pins and needles for the outcome, we point you to an article in The Jefferson Independent, UVa’s alternative student newspaper.
In the article entitled, “Unfounded Attacks Should Not Tarnish Board of Visitors Appointment Processes,” Eric Willersdorf defends Bert’s reputation.
As I walk through Grounds or view the Instagram feeds of student organizations, I am awestruck by the amount of unfounded claims against Bert Ellis. The typical form-letter style statements that outline the horrors of the 2017 “Unite the Right Rally” in Charlotteville attempt to connect Ellis to the bands of white supremacists that took to the streets five years ago. Just last year, the same event was cited and used as ammunition against then-Gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, effectively claiming his endorsement by Donald Trump proved his association to some sort of phantom racism. Ellis has now fallen victim to the same unimaginative criticisms.
On the heels of announcing the creation of a new biotech institute with the help of $150 million in state funding, University of Virginia President Jim Ryan traveled to the Virginia state capitol the other day to discuss how “UVA and the Commonwealth can continue to collaborate.”
Numerous bills affecting Virginia’s public universities, and by extension UVa, have been up for debate — bills calling for more transparency into university expenditures on lobbyists and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion administrators, for example, or mandating that universities with large endowments apply a minimum of 15% of market gains to making tuition more affordable.
The Jefferson Council wondered what else Ryan might have spoken to lawmakers about. Here is what university spokesman Brian Coy told us: Continue reading →
As a critical vote approaches in the Virginia state senate, The Cavalier Daily has doubled down on its denunciation of Bert Ellis, and in so doing has revealed its real motive for campaigning to block his appointment to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors: Ellis represents a threat to Business As Usual at UVa.
In a Jan. 28 column, the Editorial Board rehashed its absurdly one-sided portrayal of Ellis’ actions as a member of the University Union 50 years ago and the two-and-a-half-year-old thought crime of intending, but never following through, to use a razor blade to cut down the infamous “F— UVA” sign on the door of a Lawn resident. The editors have persisted in their cherry-picking of facts despite the publication of multiple articles providing the full context of these incidents. (To refresh yourself on the details click here.)
The Cavalier Daily is not engaging in journalism. The editorial, like its previous articles and editorials libeling Ellis as a racist and homophobe, is a partisan polemic. Sadly, as the student newspaper’s charges have been amplified by the UVa Student Council and Faculty Senate and propagated through social media and the rumor mill, they have inspired Democratic Party opposition in the General Assembly to the confirmation of Ellis, who was nominated by Governor Glenn Youngkin last June.
Normally, Virginia’ governors’ nominations for state boards and commissions are lumped together in a single bill and approved en masse. This year, two of Youngkin’s nominations have been stripped out for separate confirmation: State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, who has expressed skepticism of “systemic racism” as a cause of racial differences in racial health outcomes, and Ellis.
Why has Ellis been singled out? Why the grotesque misrepresentations? Why have the CD’s allegations transmogrified into claims so outrageous that even the CD would not recognize them — for instance, that Ellis used a razor blade to assault the young woman who penned the F— UVA sign?
Militant leftists perceive Ellis as a threat to their stranglehold on UVa’s culture and power structures. Continue reading →
The Jefferson Council, formed by University of Virginia alumni and other stakeholders, is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, the Lawn, the Honor Code, and the free exchange of competing ideas and intellectual diversity one would expect from Mr. Jefferson’s university.
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