by James A. Bacon
Walter Smith, a University of Virginia alumnus, was miffed when UVa leadership mandated that all students must be vaccinated if they are to return to the university in the fall. His daughter, a UVa student, had caught the COVID-19 virus, lived through 10 days of quarantine, acquired natural immunities, and was at near-zero risk of spreading the virus. He saw no purpose in exposing her to whatever dangers might be associated with taking the vaccine. Moreover, he had concerns about health-privacy violations as well as philosophical objections of a civil-liberties nature.
You may disagree with Smith’s characterization of the vaccination mandate — which has been adopted at most other Virginia public universities, incidentally — as “un-American, un-scientific, [and] totalitarian.” But if you believe in transparency, then you should be concerned about what happened when Smith tried to ascertain UVa’s reasoning for the requirement.
News reports were worthless. In May Smith wrote UVa President Jim Ryan and Rector James Murray to ask the justification for the mandate. Ryan did not respond, but Murray did. He wrote: Continue reading →
This letter to University of Virginia alumni and parents appears in a change.org petition. As of 11:00 p.m., March 18, it had racked up 1,769 signatures. — JAB
As students at the University of Virginia during a time of crisis, we are reaching out for alumni and parent support. Unfortunately, we are writing this letter anonymously because we have seen a violent backlash at the University toward people who speak up against COVID restrictions. As for Alumni, during your time at the University, voices that spoke in favor of freedom and the student experience did not receive the same treatment, and were likely hailed as leaders and protectors of the invaluable traditions that have been crucial aspects of student life here for generations. As for parents, you undoubtedly sent your child to this University under the impression that the principles stated above would be represented by our leaders, but we must apologize to the many parents of first years. This has been an abysmal year, and we can say first hand that the experience of first years has been worse than we could have ever imagined. Continue reading →
by James A. Bacon
COVID-19 infections may have been trending down in Virginia for almost two months now, but they spiked at the University of Virginia several days ago, and the Ryan administration imposed tough new rules to curtail the spread. Not surprisingly, many students have violated the restrictions. In so doing, they have sparked a backlash that appears to be directed not at rule breakers generally but at offenses associated with fraternity and sorority activity.
Under the new COVID regime, in-person attendance at classes are allowed, but social gatherings are not. Students are allowed to walk to and from classes, work, dining or medical care, but otherwise told to isolate themselves. Inevitably, questions arose in the interpretations of the rules, and the Dean of Students clarified that two students could walk together, but they must wear masks and stay six feet apart.
Needless to say, fraternity and sorority parties are not allowed. Continue reading →