by James A. Bacon
Italians demand that people treat their UNESCO World Heritage sites with respect. Consider the recent example of the idiot who scratched graffiti onto a brick of the ancient Roman Colosseum. Italians reacted with outrage at video (taken by an equally outraged American) when Bulgarian-born Englishman Ivan Dimitrov used a key to memorialize his devotion to his girlfriend with the phrase, “Ivan + Hayley 23/6/23.”
According to the Sunday Tribune, Dimitrov faces a potential 2- to 5-year prison sentence and a fine of 15,000 euros. He has since apologized, pleading that he didn’t realize the structure was nearly 2,000 years old. His legal representative hopes to negotiate a plea deal that would enable him to pay the fine without serving jail time.
Compare and contrast the reaction to Dimitrov’s offense with the response two years ago when Hira Azher, who posted the infamous “F— UVA” sign on the door of her room on the Lawn, also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Continue reading
Photo credit: The University of Virginia
by James A. Bacon
Forty-seven University of Virginia students have been offered a room on the Lawn for the 2023-24 academic year. They were selected from a pool of 152 applicants, reports The Cavalier Daily. The number of applications was down from 189 last year and 221 two years ago.
Why the decline?
There was a time when residence on the Lawn was a coveted honor. Does the fall-off in applications reflect a sentiment among UVa students that life on the Lawn is less of a privilege than it once was? Are students today more likely to find the living conditions — such as the necessity to walk outside to reach a bathroom — too primitive for comfort? Alternatively, do some students believe the Lawn selection is stacked and see no point in applying?
The Cavalier Daily does not ask the question. Those of us who are not part of the selection process are left to speculate.
Here’s a clue: The newspaper article reports the demographic make-up of the Lawn residents. The collection and dissemination of such data reflects upon the priorities of those involved in the selection process. As the old saying goes, you manage what you measure. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
The executive board of the University of Virginia student council has asked the Virginia General Assembly to reject Governor Glenn Youngkin’s appointment of Bert Ellis to the Board of Visitors.
The letter was addressed to Democratic Party leaders of the state senate. The Senate is comprised of 33Democrats and 18 Republicans, which gives Democrats the power to block the nomination if they follow a party-line vote. None have commented publicly yet on their intention.
The letter, which recycled charges made earlier this year by the UVa student council and faculty senate, described the Ellis appointment as “reckless, ill intentioned and threatening to the safety of the marginalized students at this University.”
The Daily Progress repeated the allegations and linked to the letter without any offsetting comment from Ellis, the Youngkin administration, or the Jefferson Council, a UVa alumni organization of which Ellis is president. Ellis’ email is readily available: It is listed on the Jefferson Council website, as is that of the executive director (me).
The vendetta against Ellis amounts to character assassination. The portrayal of him is so one-sided as to make him unrecognizable. Ellis offered to give his side of the story to the Faculty Senate but the offer was declined. The Jefferson Council has published rebuttals, and letters have been written to the Cavalier Daily, but Ellis’ critics have acknowledged none of the exculpatory facts and testimony. They appear to be impervious to anything that might disturb their narrative. Continue reading
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.
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
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.
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
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:
- 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.
- Mr. Jefferson: We will fight to protect the legacy of Mr. Jefferson as our Founder and as a Founding Father of America.
- The Lawn: We will fight to remove all signage from the Lawn doors and preserve the sanctity of the Academic Village.
- 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.
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.”
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