Acampora Previews Religious-Diversity Recommendations

Christa Acampora addresses the Board of Visitors while board member Stephen Long looks on.

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia’s task force on religious diversity and belonging won’t issue formal recommendations until the end of the month, but task force chair Christa Acampora gave the Board of Visitors a preview today of the topics it likely will address. At the top of the list will be integrating the religious identity of UVA community members into the broader Inclusive Excellence framework for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

The primary emphasis of Inclusive Excellence and DEI until now has been race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender. To those identity groups, presumably, UVA would add religions, particularly “minority” religions.

Acampora did not elaborate in the brief time allotted to her what that might entail, but the Inclusive Excellence website articulates principles for implementing DEI throughout the University’s organization and culture. Board members were given no time to ask her questions.

The Ryan administration created the task force last December to deal with the fallout from the protests, rallies, teach-ins and other activities following the Hamas terror attacks on the “apartheid” “colonial settler” state of Israel, which gained momentum after Israeli incursions into Gaza created thousands of civilian casualties. Jewish students reported dozens of incidents they interpreted as antisemitic. More than 80 faculty members signed a letter accusing President Jim Ryan of being insufficiently sympathetic to the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Acampora put a positive gloss on task force activities. “I think we’ve learned a lot,” she told the Board. The task force has created a forum for people of different religious backgrounds to share their experiences, she said.

The dean declined to mention the state-police crackdown on the pro-Palestinian “encampment” for violation of the university’s tent ordinances in May, or the resignation of religion-department professor Oludamini Ogunnaike, a Muslim, from the task force in protest of that action. Instead, she briefly described how the group was “engaging” with people of different religious perspectives, gathering data on attitudes, examining complaints of religious-based bias, and benchmarking UVA against 13 peer and five in-state institutions.

Other recommendations, she said, will address:

  • The different experiences that Muslims and Jews have from other religious groups;
  • Strengthening academic offerings, training and modeling;
  • Support services;
  • Community engagement;
  • Reporting of bias incidents;
  • Special accommodations for religious minorities;
  • Expressive conduct.

… and more.

It remains to be seen if the concern about “inclusion’” and “belonging” will be extended to Christians. Although Christians outnumber Muslims, Jews and other religious groups by a significant margin and Christian respondents expressed a greater sense of belonging in a 2018 campus-climate survey, they, too, have their complaints. Significant hostility toward Christians exists in the predominantly secular culture at UVA. Under the 0ppressor-oppressed paradigm that animates the DEI bureaucracy, Christians are typically numbered among the oppressors.

James A. Bacon is publisher of the Bacon’s Rebellion blog and contributing editor of The Jefferson Council.

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49 responses to “Acampora Previews Religious-Diversity Recommendations”

  1. Chip Gibson Avatar
    Chip Gibson

    This once great Nation has reached a very sad and sick state. How about providing higher education to the students and cut the BS politics? This is a Judeo-Christian Nation which tolerates the private faith of others. If that does not suit someone, it is time then for that someone to depart.

    1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      “This is a Judeo-Christian Nation which tolerates the private faith of others.”

      We are not a “Judeo-Christian Nation”, and what we tolerate as a secular society is public practice of faith. There is absolutely no requirement to only practice one’s faith in private. There are a significant number of “Christians”, btw, who are actually not very tolerant of any practice of other faiths (or no faith for that matter).

  2. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Wow. Fools rush in….Modern academia and free religious expression will not mix well. But hands off is just not in their nature.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Liberty U and the like will lead the way on this…… doubt.

  3. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    Some neat groundwork being laid there, JAB… July is just around the corner, eh?

  4. Marty Chapman Avatar
    Marty Chapman

    Well, someone has to be the "oppressor"!

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    what would you want to bet that UVA will do the religious thing better than the Religious Higher Ed ?

  6. UVAPast Avatar

    Will she address DEI in Palestine?

  7. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    Just imagine religious diversity saves DEI at UVa. Now, if the university can avoid advocating theocracy, such might be progress.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    The ORIGINAL DEI is public schools where we take money from everyone rich and poor and use it to provide equal education to rich and poor! Awesome CONCEPT!

  9. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “More than 80 faculty members signed a letter accusing President Jim Ryan of being insufficiently sympathetic to the suffering of the Palestinian people.”

    Geee… I wonder why…

    “Israeli missiles struck a U.N. school building that has served as a shelter for the displaced since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks. Israel says it killed Hamas militants sheltering there, but Palestinians in the building say the victims were mostly women and children.”

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Yes. But some folks see this reaction as "anti-Semitic". You can't care about them because it means you don't care about others? Curious "logic"!

      Who would trust those same folks to really understand and deal with other realities in this world?

  10. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    Just to let you know how much UVA practices "unequivocal" support for "free inquiry," this is the typical UVA response FOR EVERY SINGLE COMMITTEE established by UVA – be sure to read to the end!

    Subject: Freedom of Information Act Request :: V003741-050624
    Dear Walter Smith:

    I am writing in response to your recent request for records under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Va. Code § 2.2-3700 et seq., for the following records:

    Professor Ogunnaike's resignation letter from the religious belonging task force cites the "good work" and "recommendations" of the task force. I would like to see all the documents of the task force to date.
    Va. Code §2.2-3704(F) provides that a “public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost” in fulfilling a FOIA request and, “shall make all reasonable efforts to supply the requested records at the lowest possible cost.” Further, public bodies shall “inquire of the requester whether he would like to request a cost estimate in advance of the supplying of the requested records.” Any costs we incur in estimating the cost of supplying the requested records shall be applied toward the overall charges to be paid for the supplying of such requested record.” In this case, the University can provide a free estimate of costs, as detailed below.

    We estimate that this would take approximately 8 hours to complete and costs for this request are estimated to be $433.44.

    Since estimated costs exceed $200, we require advanced payment as permitted by FOIA. Va. Code § 2.2-3704(H). For us to proceed, please make advanced payment by submitting a check payable to the University of Virginia in the amount of $433.44 to:

    Office of the University Counsel

    Attn: FOIA Office

    P.O. Box 400225

    Charlottesville, VA 22904

    Please keep in mind that this estimate reflects approximate costs. Actual costs may be more or less than this figure. UVA will only charge for the actual costs incurred in satisfying your FOIA request. This includes costs incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the records you have requested, including, but not limited to, the costs of reviewing records to determine whether or not they are public records responsive to your request, exempt under FOIA, or may not lawfully be disclosed pursuant to some other provision of law (See Va. Code §2.2-3704(F)). Any overages paid in advance will be refunded to you, and conversely, you will be responsible for any additional costs, above the estimated amount, incurred in satisfying your request. Please review the estimate and let me know how you intend to proceed.

    Please also note that we do anticipate a number of these records to be exempt under VFOIA, such as the Presidential Working Papers/Correspondence exemption. The University of Virginia does not release records subject to an exemption under FOIA or may not lawfully be disclosed pursuant to some other provisions of law. Va. Code § 2.2-3705.4(1).


    Freedom of Information Act Officer

    University of Virginia

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Scumball academics, like cockroaches, hide in the dark and scatter when the light is turned on.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Well they sorta know who their enemies are and endeavor to treat them as such!

        1. walter smith Avatar
          walter smith

          Larry – I am not an enemy of UVA. I love UVA. I have 3 degrees from UVA. 2 kids went there. Shoulda been 3, but that’s a different story.
          I am an enemy of Marxism. I am an enemy of lying. I am an enemy of political indoctrination at a place that is supposed to be engaged in education.
          Meanwhile, as to FOIA – I could be asking for data in bad faith, and UVA would have to give it to me. UVA’s own website says FOIA is not an adversarial process. If UVA is violating FOIAbecause I am “an enemy,” then UVA would be breaking the law intentionally, in bad faith.
          I don’t go that far. However, I do believe UVA is breaking the law in some of its exemption claims, most egregiously, an extremely expansive interpretation of “working papers.”
          It is possible to disagree with people and institutions and not be an “enemy.” That seems to be a big problem during the era of TDS…

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Well, do you think they KNOW who you are AND they LIKE you back and think you’re not looking for things to attack UVA over?

          2. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Larry – it is so hard not to be mean to you, because you are so plainly wrong in everything. I saw the post on Virginia separating itself from obeisance to the Fruits and Nuts State on EVs, which don’t work, aren’t necessary, nobody wants, and are actually worse for “the environment” and of course you have to blather with ridiculous posts showing your never-ending love for Big Brother (by the way, your water standard talks about notice of potential reproductive harms – go do the mandated Covid not really a vaccine jabjabjab you so fervently love and its effects on pregancy – known when given EUA status. Was that “bad?”).

            Back to UVA – your post shows what is wrong with all things Lefty – because I disagree with UVA, it is OK for UVA to break the law? Now let’s extend the logical (sorry, this part will be hard for you) implication – so people in charge of institutions have the license to not comply with the law when the request for compliance comes from people who disagree with them. Is that a “problem?” No fecal matter Sherlock! And that is what is happening now – it is the real “threat” to democracy

            Now let’s do the corollary – If people agree with the beliefs of the people in charge of the institution, then those people are not obligated to comply with the law. See Summer of Love. See encampments. See all the Troll acolytes “protesting” by shouting down, intimidating to suppress speech they don’t like.

            Now back to UVA again – I was named in a petition by the woke snowflake faculty and grad students of UVA as a threat to academic freedom for “filing over 200 spurious FOIA claims.” I have filed no “spurious” FOIA claims. I support academic freedom. I just have this crazy belief that “academics” need to stick to “academics.” There is a responsibility which goes with that “right.” They have abandoned “academic freedom” and use it only when they oppose something politically. They should have said NO to the MANDATED DEI statements, NO to DEI hiring requirements, NO to mandated (non)vaccines. So their sudden claims of “purity” not only ring false, they are false. How would the faculty even know that I have filed a ton of FOIA claims – shouldn’t that be known only by the FOIA office and the maybe 5 professors whose syllabi I have requested (because they seem kinda crazy or I have received a report from a parent about said craziness). Is that a “threat?” Shouldn’t someone “teaching” welcome inquiry, AND challenge? To test their beliefs? To strive for truth?

            I am not the problem at UVA and I am not an enemy of UVA. I think UVA is acting contrary to its duty to the Commonwealth, and betraying its mandate to “follow truth wherever it may lead.” Get back to education. Lower costs. Quit breaking the law. Maybe we could even get back to that quaint concept of don’t lie, cheat or steal…

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            We had the same "anti" folks opposed to getting mercury out of coal plants, unleaded gas, higher gas mileage rules… etc, etc.. same folks.. so no surprise on EVs either and they WILL prevail…. because in the end they get about twice the MPG as combustion AND the price of electricity will not fluctuate like gasoline does. I'll bet that even climate skeptics will buy hybrids and EV just simply on straight economics.'

            For UVA, I strongly suspect your name is on the FOIA office bulletin board. Right?

            Pretty sure they "know" you and know your views…

            and are not going to accommodate you if they can help it.


          4. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Larry – I don't care about your unmerited love for Big Brother and the EVs which nobody wants and which we can't produce the electricity for.
            Back to UVA – you epitomize everything wrong with the Left and how Leftists project like IMax.
            So UVA has the permission to break the law because they perceive me as an "enemy" for asking difficult questions. Are you smart enough to see any problem there?

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            Have you seen this:

   It's like I said, the "anti" folks and luddites stand in the way of innovation as usual.

            For UVA and FOIA, for ANY agency/organization, if they perceive you as systematically and continuously "fishing" for stuff to cause them trouble – what do you think?

          6. CJBova Avatar

            It’s not being a Luddite to challenge unsound ideas. Remember the offer to Virginia schools to subsidize electric school buses a few years ago? The deal was for them to be available as individual storage units. Of course that would take them out of service for the schools until the power supply was restored.

          7. LarrytheG Avatar

            they're "unsound" to the folks that usually oppose – go back and look at other changes
            and the opponents… same church… same folks opposed going to unleaded gas, to stricter vehicle emissions, higher mileage standards, etc.

            Remember the "war on coal"? same folks

            DO you not understand the school buses Carol. WHEN
            they ARE sitting and not used… are they available for power? It works like solar and wind. You
            use them WHEN they ARE available. You don't rule them out because they are not available 24/7. THey
            still have times when they are available. THink of hydro. Often not available 24/7 but better used to
            serve peak demand and recharge at low demand.

          8. CJBova Avatar

            No Larry when they’re sitting and unused they’re charging., unless it’s a weekend

          9. LarrytheG Avatar

            until they are full and then they are available. you still don’t get it.
            the folks that say “unsound” are the same ones that said that before when changes
            were made. It’s the same folks. IT’s the way they are. They never made a pollution restriction
            they liked. They denied the impacts of pollution and play the “regulations hurt us” game
            and still do.

            New technologies take some time to optimize. The original cell phones were terrible. The first cars to run on unleaded fuel were a mess. The EPA restrictions on emissions wreaked havoc on engines that could
            not be tuned properly. On and on.. it’s the same anti folks. THey like the status quo even when it’s killing people.

    2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      Read it to the end. Nothing unusual here. FOIA is pretty specific in these matters and what they are saying here would be a typical response to most any such broad request. How would you have them respond differently?

  11. Lefty665 Avatar

    What part of the first clause of the 1st Amendment <i>Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof</i> does Acampora not understand?

    That is <u>not</u> a requirement to promote religion, or to protect religion. Many of our founders were fleeing persecution by state religions. Their intent was to keep government out of religion, aka the separation of church and state.

    <i>"integrating the religious identity of UVA community members into the broader Inclusive Excellence framework for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.</i> "Establishment" by any other name (DIE) would equally reek.

    If UVa is smart it will stick to education, abide by the Bill of Rights and avoid religion.

  12. Wahoo'74 Avatar

    Really Dean Acampora? If your Religious Diversity Task Force were actually doing its job, then UVA Jewish students would not be harassed.

    Before the usual leftist trolls erupt, I can assure you that this is happening. I’m in constant contact with the parents group. It is despicable.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      "The University of Virginia’s task force on religious diversity and belonging won’t issue formal recommendations until the end of the month,
      The primary emphasis of Inclusive Excellence and DEI until now has been race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender. To those identity groups, presumably, UVA would add religions, particularly “minority” religions.

      maybe give them to the end of the month to "fix"?

      but's it perfect for DEI.. right?

      1. Wahoo'74 Avatar

        Are you kidding? The Diversity Task Force should wait to protect Jewish students who’ve been harassed, intimidated, and persecuted in earnest since October 8, all of which has been documented and relayed to President Ryan and Provost Baucom in detail? Yet they should address non-existent discrimination against racial and gender minorities, for which there is ZERO evidence?

        What wonderland of perceived aggrievement justifies that illogical conclusion?

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          big orgs move slow…and what other schools have moved quicker on this? but I’m not totally convinced of the claims against the Jewish students.. have you got something the public sees that shows it? And they’re not the first minority that has been treated badly – and for decades. .. before it got better.

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