Tag Archives: Lawn controversy

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.

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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

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, Wokeness, and Rooms on the Lawn

by James A. Bacon

Once upon a time in a galaxy far far way, it was considered a great honor among 4th-year University of Virginia students to be selected for residence on the Lawn — the architectural heart of the university designed by Thomas Jefferson and now designated a world heritage site. The accommodations  were less than luxurious — most memorably, the 47 rooms were not equipped with their own bathrooms. There were offsetting advantages. The rooms had fireplaces, and the University provided a plentiful supply of wood. But living on the Lawn was mainly about status. It conferred recognition of a student’s accomplishments in his or her first three years.

Something is happening at UVa, and I don’t fully understand it. The prestige of a Lawn residency is declining. The trend was made visible last year when a 4th-year woman posted a prominent sign on her door emblazoned with the words “F— UVA” and in subsequent statements dismissing founder Thomas Jefferson as a slave-holder and a rapist. As evidenced by supporting signage on other doors, other Lawn residents shared her sentiments.

But the decline in prestige long precedes that particular expression of animus toward the university granting the honor, and it precedes even the reign of wokeness under current President Jim Ryan. As shown in the table above, submitted by UVa in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by UVa alumnus and Bacon’s Rebellion contributor Walter Smith, applications to live on the Lawn have fallen steadily and precipitously — 37% — over the past five years. Continue reading

We Are Losing the Soul of Our University

TO: All UVA Alumni and Friends Who Care About Our University

FROM: The Jefferson Council

RE: We Are Losing the Soul of Our University

DATE: May 20, 2021

On the eve of Final Exercises at our University, we, the founding members and Board of the Jefferson Council, feel the need to send out this letter regarding very troubling developments at our beloved University. Every aspect of the legacy of UVA is under threat from our President and his hand-picked administration. They have a social justice agenda that is in many cases contrary to the values at UVA that made our institution so unique and so beloved.

We cannot solve everything in one fell swoop. Like the adage about how to eat an elephant, the answer is one bite at a time. Therefore, we have narrowed our focus and set our goals to address four core issues at UVA that we know to have wide-spread alumni support. These four core issues of The Jefferson Council are as follows:

  1. Open Dialogue: We will fight for the University to adopt and enforce a set of principles providing for open dialogue from all parties within the University. No one should be vilified or physically abused or have their grades docked for expressing a contrary opinion on any issue, political or social.
  2. Mr. Jefferson: We will fight to protect the legacy of Mr. Jefferson as our Founder and as a Founding Father of America.
  3. The Lawn: We will fight to remove all signage from the Lawn doors and preserve the sanctity of the Academic Village.
  4. The Honor System: We will fight to resuscitate and preserve the Honor System at UVA. It has been severely weakened and will only survive with a concerted effort by the Board of Visitors, the Administration, the alumni, and the students.

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UVa’s Lawn Signage Controversy Flares Anew

by James A. Bacon

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), an organization dedicated to  defending freedom of expression and conscience on America’s college campuses, has sided with fourth-year student Hira Azher regarding her right to post political speech on the door of her room on the Lawn at the University of Virginia.

A new sign showed the grim reaper standing behind a hooded KKK figure and the Rotunda, along with a quote from Kwame Ture: “In order for non-violence to work your opponent must have a conscience,” and the words, “UVA HAS NONE,” and “BURN IT ALL DOWN.”

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Sign Standards for UVa’s Lawn Upheld

No longer allowed

by James A. Bacon

No longer will it be permissible for residents of the University of Virginia’s rooms on the Law to post large signs on their doors proclaiming, “F— UVA,” as a Lawn resident did last semester. Under new policies issued by the University administration, Lawn residents will have to confine their profane proclamations to within the borders of two message boards, reports the Cavalier Daily.

In a collective statement to the student newspaper, several Law residents criticized the new rules as prejudicial against students of color. The restriction, said the statement, will result in “increased surveillance,” which in turn will “inherently harm and endanger the most marginalized and vulnerable students in this space.”

“This policy displays the extent to which the University is selective about who can exercise free speech and the content of that expression. Evidently, BIPOC students and allies cannot be critical of the University while simultaneously living on the Lawn.” Continue reading

Did UVa Stack the Deck in Its Lawn Selection Process?

by James A. Bacon

It is deemed a great honor to be one of the 47 fourth-year students at the University of Virginia awarded a residence on the Lawn, Thomas Jefferson’s architectural masterpiece and World Heritage site. A committee of 60 students selects the residents from a pool of applicants, in theory based on their record of “unselfish service and achievement in their respective fields of activity and academics.”

But when the Cavalier Daily published an article yesterday providing the racial/ethnic background of the individuals who were offered a spot on the Lawn next year, it didn’t emphasize their accomplishments. Rather, drawing from data provided by Dean of Students Allen Groves, the article focused on the increased demographic “diversity” of the Lawn residents.

“Students of Color” received nearly 60% of the offers this year, compared to only 30% last year, reported the student-run newspaper.

The dramatic one-year shift in the racial/ethnic composition of Lawn residents raises the question of whether race and ethnicity has become an explicit but not-stated-publicly criteria for selection. Continue reading

Nov. 22, 2020 Letter from Aubrey M. Daniel III to Rector James B. Murray, Jr.

Dear Rector Murray,

Honor calls us to be honorable to each other not merely by not committing
transgressions, but also by doing reverence to the other in our midst.
— by Professor Michael Suarez, S.J.
Adopted by the Honor Committee

UVa’s Lawn Scandal — Bad Leadership and Worse Lawyering
— by James C. Sherlock

The Jaw Dropping Political Contributions of UVa’s Board of Visitors
— by DJ Rippert

Ryan Wilts in Conversation with [his student]
— by James A. Bacon

GRIM: President Ryan shouldn’t live in a mansion
By Adam Grim

The reasons I decided to return to this debate are all shown above, as well as my review of your last letter. I am deeply concerned about the health of The Honor Code, headlines which demonstrate the reputation of the University has been tarnished, as well as the financial damage caused by lost donations, all of which will continue unless you fulfill your fiduciary duties to the University and the
people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Continue reading

Is Love More Powerful than Hate on UVa’s Lawn?

A University of Virginia student shared the photo above and appended the following anonymous note:

I am a student at UVA. I put out these signs this morning (10/31) to show my support for the University, and to counter the hate in the messages posted on the doors behind the signs. All they say is the simple message “I love UVA.”

I put the signs up at 8:00 am. In less than 1 hr 1/2 hours, the fourth year living in lawn Room 10, with friends, ripped all the signs down. You can see my signs in Room 10 in one of the attached photos.

So much for free speech.

Please speak out. The First Amendment applies to everyone.

Question: How will the UVa administration spin this incident? President Jim Ryan says the student who posted “F— UVA” on her door is protected by free speech. Does our correspondent also have a protected right to express the sentiment on a sign that says “I ♥ UVA”? Does the occupant of Room 10, which is located near the room with the “F— UVA” sign, have the right to take down signs she disapproves of? If so, do other students have the right to take down her sign? Continue reading