Virginia Tech Cleans up Encampment. UVA Faces Similar Test.

by James A. Bacon

Virginia Tech arrested two dozen or more students Sunday night while dispersing an “encampment” similar to other anti-Israeli protests spreading around the country, according to media reports.

The gathering of several hundred people on the lawn of the Graduate Life Center was “not a registered event consistent with university policy,” Tech officials stated in explaining its actions.

“Given these actions by protesters, the university recognized that the situation had the increasing potential to become unsafe,” the university statement said. First, protesters were asked to disperse voluntarily. Then university police approached those who did not comply, warned them that they would be charged with trespassing, and asked them again to leave. At 10:15 p.m., police gave protesters five minutes to disperse. Those who remained were subject to arrest.

Tech President Timothy Sands deserves kudos for handling a difficult situation in a firm but restrained manner.

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan likely will face a similar test. Left-wing groups at UVA have announced a May Day event Wednesday on the Lawn to show commitment to “Palestinian Liberation.”

A militant group calling itself Dissenters posted the following on its Instagram account:

During the “May Days” strike of 1970, UVA students announced “Freedom Day” to rally students together in their opposition to the U.S.’s imperialist war in Vietnam. This May Day, Dissenters and the UVA Apartheid Divest Coalition are declaring a day-long liberated zone on the lawn in solidarity with the Palestinian people to call for an END to occupation and an end to our institutions’ complicity in genocide. Show out for a day of community & solidarity and to reaffirm our community’s commitment to Palestinian Liberation. DISCLOSE! DIVEST! WE WILL NOT STOP! WE WILL NOT REST!

As part of a national Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement, UVA students voted in a referendum (with about 30% of the student body participating) that called upon UVA to divest from its endowment any investments doing business in Israel. The UVA Apartheid Divest Coalition led that initiative.

President Jim Ryan has incurred the wrath of UVA’s left-wing element for not endorsing the divestment resolution, which has no binding authority on the university. Josh Rosenberg, president of the Students for Justice in Palestine, pointedly criticized Ryan for his divestment stance during a “die in” protest earlier this month. By declaring its intention to create a “liberated zone on the lawn,” the Dissenters have signaled a possible desire to go beyond rallies and protests lasting an hour or two and become more confrontational.

At the same time, others will be watching to how rigorously Ryan enforces the Student Code of Conduct, which describes behavior generally prohibited to enrolled students at UVA. Among eleven standards listed, the Code prohibits:

  • Intentional disruption or obstruction of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, other University activities, or activities authorized to take place on University property.
  • Unlawfully blocking or impeding normal pedestrian or vehicular traffic on or adjacent to University property.
  • Disorderly conduct on University-owned or leased property or at a University-sanctioned function. Disorderly conduct is defined to include but is not limited to acts that breach the peace, are lewd, indecent, or obscene, and that are not Constitutionally protected speech.
  • Failure to comply with directions of University officials acting under provisions 1-11 set above. This shall include failure to give identity in situations concerning alleged violations of sections 1-11.

The pattern at many universities during the wave of pro-Palestinian protests has been for gatherings to begin peacefully in an orderly manner and then to deteriorate over time, devolving into heated antisemitic rhetoric and occasional violence. There is evidence that agitators from outside the universities have stoked tensions.

Leadership at Columbia University and other northern universities allowed the situation to spiral out of control. Sands at Virginia Tech appears to have handled the challenge well, although he may have benefited from the facts that that Tech’s student body is more centrist politically than most other institutions and that Blacksburg is remote from Arab and Muslim communities that have contributed to the worst agitation.

Ryan faces a different situation at UVA. Charlottesville is home to a militant leftist community — much larger, I dare say, than Blacksburg, which is in the heart of red-state country. Those militants also maintain close connections to leftist groups in Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, and Charlottesville is a relatively short ride from Northern Virginia, a center of militant Muslim activity. There is a significant risk that the May Day event could be infiltrated by outside pro-Palestinian radicals who could care less about UVA values or UVA’s reputation.

The Jefferson Council will be watching closely. I’m sure others will be as well.

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walter smith
walter smith
18 days ago

So many of the people arrested at the crazier schools are outside activists. At the highly embarrassing Abigail Shrier mob UVA permitted I am sure many were outsiders. UVA said so. Enforce the masking law and arrest the violators. Publish the mug shots. Even of the students. Funny how many of the arrested are now asking for amnesty.

There aren’t supposed to be consequences when the pet activists of the Left get arrested!

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
18 days ago
Reply to  walter smith

👍🏻🇺🇸

wahoowa
wahoowa
17 days ago
Reply to  Wahoo74

any young student who dares speak up against the military industrial complex, risking their own academic success, should be imprisoned in our country’s worst prisons. ideally they should be shot.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
18 days ago

The protestors are digging their own collective holes. We will see what Wednesday’s May Day brings on Grounds.

It is not lost on those of us who truly know history that May Day’s origins date back to 1889 and the early Karl Marx communist movement. Not coincidental that SJP@UVA refers to fellow SJP chapters at Columbia and elsewhere as “comrades.”

Connect the dots.

https://www.marxists.org/subject/mayday/articles/tracht.html.

wahoowa
wahoowa
17 days ago
Reply to  Wahoo74

Anyone who wants to seize the means of production for the masses should be shot!
Long live the USA

Last edited 17 days ago by wahoowa
Clarity77
Clarity77
16 days ago
Reply to  Wahoo74

Thank you Wahoo74 for that article. And so with the advantage of now being able to review the history of May Day as a celebration of workers’ rights, the present day ultimate effect as clearly evident in China is in fact a Marxist system where workers are essentially slaves who are controlled by a few ultra-rich families in the Chinese Communist Party. Conclusion: Marxism is clearly the epitome of insanity as promoted by faculty at UVA and at all the other universities at which today their indoctrinated useful idiots will be celebrating their self evident idiocy.

Allan W.
Allan W.
18 days ago

I wonder how much of this protest is calendar-driven. During Occupy Wall Street, there were tents on the “street” side of the Rotunda.

Cav Daily had article saying students announced their protests were over. I looked at the calendar and announcement coincided with last day of final exams.

walter smith
walter smith
18 days ago

For all the students who think they are being righteous…
Watch this video and think.
It’s civilization vs barbarism.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAr9oGSXgak

Clarity77
Clarity77
18 days ago

Quite simple, as herein demonstrated, when faced with a situation requiring swift decisive leadership the clear choice always favors an engineer, as in Sands’ case vs. a Yale trained lawyer.

As one whose blood runs orange and blue this is hard to admit, but especially in this issue Tech clearly has the better president.