Detached, Clueless, Pedantic and Non-Responsive

UVa’s Beta bridge offers a “divergent viewpoint” concerning Young Americans for Freedom

by James C. Sherlock

A series of communications among Nickolaus Cabrera, a first year student at the University of Virginia, President James Ryan of the University and the University’s Rector, James Murray, has come into my possession. 

I have posted them here. I will offer here my assessment, but I urge each reader to access the documents and open the links therein to get a full view of the exchange.

Mr. Cabrera provided President Ryan well-documented evidence of severe personal harassment and threats he had received from members of the University community for his political views. 

  • The evidence included a video of a student council meeting in which any he was harassed directly and profanely for his opinions. 
  • He reports that he subsequently was blocked on Twitter by his Resident Advisor.  
  • He was subjected to a Student Judiciary Committee trial for appearing in a photo off grounds without a mask.  Seriously.  It was clearly the context of the photo that resulted in the SJC trial, not the fact that he was not wearing a mask.  
  • He reported that he gets a ride from members of the local Young Americans for Freedom club from his dorm to class to avoid confrontations. 
  • He provided screenshot evidence of extensive harassment. 
  • He named names and provided direct evidence of their links to his harassment.

One would think that President Ryan, offered this evidence, would have ordered an investigation by University Police leading to banning from the Grounds those found guilty of such harassment.  

Instead, Ryan’s anodyne, non-responsive email reflected his habit when he does not wish to engage.  His opening sentence:

“Thank you for reaching out, and I was sorry to read about your year.”

One could be forgiven for thinking Mr. Cabrera’s cat had died instead of the fact that he so reasonably feared for his personal safety that he was considering a transfer.

Remember the ongoing case of the medical student.  In that case the University took action decisively and with an iron fist.

“Upon consideration of all information available to it, the University’s Threat Assessment Team made a decision to issue a no trespass warning. … The Medical School could not in good conscience permit the return of a student who posed a potential threat to fellow students..”

No mention in Ryan’s letter of that famed Threat Assessment Team or of the “good conscience” of the College or Arts and Sciences or the University. 

Instead, Ryan encouraged Mr. Cabrera,

“or any student who is feeling threatened, to make a report (handy link provided) and connect with Dean Groves about ways to resolve the issues you raise, including your decision about whether or not to transfer.” 

I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that Mr. Cabrera thought his communication, that was also addressed to Groves, in fact constituted a “report”. 

“Your letter also raises concerns about whether there is sufficient diversity of thought on Grounds and whether there is a climate that promotes divergent viewpoints among students and faculty.  I think that’s a fair question.”  

Ryan can see the photo above for evidence of the climate for divergent viewpoints. I found with some difficulty a non-obscene one.

Ryan then told him of Rector Murray’s initiative (he did not credit Murray) in launching the “Democracy Dialogues” in January. As if that had anything to do with Mr. Cabrera’s complaint, its resolution or any action by Ryan himself.  

Again Ryan:

“As a University, we are also working to reaffirm our commitment to the free and open exchange of ideas across the political or ideological spectrum.” 

He cited: 

“the newly formed Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry.  The Committee will craft a statement that identifies the role that free expression and free inquiry play in UVA’s academic enterprise and how they shape engagement with the ideas of others. “  (“craft a statement”?)

“Finally, I have also devoted my own office’s resources to more closely working with organizations around Grounds that are working to open lines of respectful dialogue across differences.”  

It tells you everything you need to know about Ryan that he considers that substantive action. 

Ryan’s last sentence:  “I wish you every success in the years ahead.”

I have tried to put myself in the position of this young first year student, but my imagination fails me. I was myself a first year at UVa, and I was lucky to find my way to classes and meals, much less run for and win a slot on Student Council and, for my dedication, suffered insults and threats that reasonably caused me to fear for my safety.  

I can, however, imagine the reaction of B.F.D. Runk, the Dean of Men when I was there, had he been presented with the evidence provided to Ryan. He would have personally conducted an investigation and, failing the presentation of countervailing and compelling evidence by the harassers, expelled them forthwith.

Instead, Ryan’s response was simultaneously detached, clueless, insulting, totally lacking in honest empathy, non-responsive and insufferably pedantic. 

Rector Murray’s response, as we have come to expect from him, is far more to the point than Ryan’s. “The behavior you have described has no place at the University of Virginia.” Would that Ryan’s pathetic letter had provided the same clarity.  Instead: 

“Free speech is the lifeblood of any university, but that does not mean that we should condone personal attacks.”  

No, President Ryan, it means that you should expel those found guilty of attacks that threaten the safety or freedom of speech of any student. Start with Mr. Cabrera’s Resident Advisor if he did what Mr. Cabrera reported.  If you gave that authority to RAs withdraw it.

Now consider what would have happened if members of Young Americans for Freedom had harassed radical progressive students in the same way.  You and President Ryan both know the answer.

Ryan’s response in this matter alone is sufficient grounds for Rector Murray and the Board of Visitors to discuss Mr. Ryan’s near-term successor.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


22 responses to “Detached, Clueless, Pedantic and Non-Responsive”

  1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Maybe Nick and the YAF need to get the attention of Dean of Groves. In the video below Dean Groves explains the required compliance of social distancing masks etc or face disciplinary measures including expulsion from campus. Wouldn’t it be nice of Dean Groves put out a required viewing of a Freedom of Speech and Tolerance edict? And then backed it up with action? Thanks for sharing Captain.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Typical UVa administrator … compressing :45 of information into a 7:59 blather. I’m guessing this guy never met a mirror he didn’t like.

  2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    Here we can find the enforcer Dean Groves sharing how to tie a preppy bow tie. Maybe he could do a demonstration video on how to act like an adult on campus and treat fellow students with dignity and respect. Nick and the YAF deserve at least that.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Beyond useless. Go to Youtube and search for “how to tie a bow tie”. Dozens (hundreds?) of results. Just what the world needed was this guy providing his rendition.

      I love the part where he says he stopped wearing a bow tie at his law firm until he became a partner.

      I love me.
      Yes siree!
      No one is as cool as me
      With a knick knack paddywack just throw me a bone
      I really need to be sent home.

  3. Clearly, there are two sets of standards — one set for “protected” classes of students, and one set for everyone else.

    I think the clearest illustration of double standards was when Victoria Spiotto tried to persuade the UVa student “Ambassadors” to protect the banners the Young Americans For Freedom erected at the Amphitheatre, she was denied. Conversely, two Ambassadors were on site to protect Hira Azher’s “Fuck UVa” sign on the Lawn.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Let’s work hard to elect a Republican governor who #$%^can clowns like Ryan.

  4. Diversity is welcome — left and far-left speech/actions.

  5. Publius Avatar

    …detached, clueless, insulting, totally lacking in honest empathy, non-responsive and insufferably pedantic…
    But other than that it was really reassuring, right?
    I also think these students need to complain to the Marxist DEI committee for violation of “diversity” and “inclusion…”

  6. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    There is freedom of speech and then there is freedom from hate crimes. Posting the words is not illegal. Threatening a person and harassment are illegal. Unfortunately, we have to allow the good and bad to appear in writing, but we do not have to allow bad to play out in physical harm, threats, or hate crimes.

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

      This comment really identifies where lines are crossed in political discourse. The responders have every right to be as nasty and reactive as they want (often in response to intentionally inflammatory messages from the get go). Threats or targeted harassment, on the other hand, are illegal (as is vandalism in the prior example) and should be prosecuted if they have crossed the legal threshold.

  7. Maybe you could ask Dr. Janice Underwood, Governor Northam’s cabinet-level Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), how UVa fits into the “One Virginia” global equity plan for higher education?

    The Principles of Community starts out, “[Organization/Agency] is committed to [City], [State], the nation, and the world.”

    The Principles also say, “We affirm the right of each person to express thoughts and opinions freely. We encourage open expression within a climate of civility, sensitivity, and mutual respect.”

    “We reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including but not limited to those based on age, color, ability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, and veteran status. We take individual and collective responsibility for helping to eliminate bias, and discrimination and for increasing our own understanding of these issues through education, training, and interaction with others.”

    (Emphasis mine.)

    Afrterthought: If a university is to reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination…based on ability, what will happen to admissions criteria?

    1. Why do I have the uncomfortable sense of a missing word– re-education?

    2. vicnicholls Avatar

      Dr. Underwood caused enough problems at ODU. Doubt she will do anything to help this young man – but that wouldn’t be true if he agreed with her. This is why they are blocking FOIA’s. She didn’t want the truth known at ODU, much less here. There was a discrimination case that the DoJ just recently, that ODU lost.

      1. Vic, do you have any details on the ODU case you refer to here? Did the Virginian-Pilot cover the case?

    3. DJRippert Avatar

      If there is a prohibition against discrimination on the basis of ability then I guess I should consider how to use my four years of remaining eligibility on the UVa basketball team. Tell Coach Bennett that I’ll be contacting him shortly. It will be the first time that a college coach had a player older than he is.

  8. Rob Austin Avatar
    Rob Austin

    Ryan is simply mentally ill-equipped to run a university. He coddles the woke, institutes new levels of expensive hierarchy that insulate him from presidential governance, and is captive by the far-left Faculty Senate to which he and his provost bow and scrape. Simply put, the man is way, way over his head.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Just like Teresa Sullivan before him.

  9. James C. Sherlock Avatar
    James C. Sherlock

    I have taken this to the level that Ryan should have done.

    I have contacted Chief Longo of the University police with a formal complaint of harassment and threats to a student with Mr. Cabrera’s letter attached. That letter indicates that he had also filed a police report.

    I have asked Chief Longo if a criminal investigation has been or will be conducted. The level of evidence provided by Mr. Cabrera is rarely seen.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      I received an immediate response from Chief Longo. He and his staff, including the Threat Assessment team, are launching an investigation.

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        Three cheers Captain! I hope some good will come of this. I cannot help but to be drawn to the lesson about the dangers of conformity delivered by Mr.Keating in the film Dead Poet’s Society.

  10. […] significant evidence of the criminal harassment of two conservative students, one a student council member at the University of Virginia and the other a soccer player at Virginia Tech, for their political […]

Leave a Reply