I’m Liking Casteen More and More

I praised University of Virginia President John Casteen in a recent post for evicting students who’d staged a sit-in at Madison Hall over the issue of a living wage. I based my comments on reporting by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Now comes an e-mail from four professors/administrators associated with the Virginia Organizing Project asserting that “Casteen Betrayed University of Virginia students.”

Based on the contents of the e-mail, I have even more respect for the way Casteen handled the situation. According to the four professors:

On day one of the protest, Casteen denied food to the students, refused to allow faculty supporters to enter the building to confer with them and arrested one of the professors who tried to enter. On day two of the sit-in, Casteen ordered that wireless internet services be cut-off, disabling students from sending in their class assignments, and continued to refuse entrance to faculty supporters who brought food, water and books to the protestors.

Looks to me like Casteen was making every effort to be reasonable, increasing pressure on the students very slowly and giving them every opportunity to depart without being arrested. Obviously, the students didn’t take the hint.

By pursuing these strategies, Casteen ensured that by the time he met with students — at 2 a.m. on April 15 — to open negotiations, the students would be hungry, sleep deprived and without counsel.

First reaction: Waaaah! Second reaction: After two days of this nonsense, Casteen met with these people at two o’clock in the middle of the night? The guy must have the patience of a saint!

[The students] have followed all of the proper channels by making presentations to the Board of Visitors, meeting with Casteen and other high ranking officials, and lobbying for alumni support. It is only after eight years of attempting to make headway on this issue that the students took the step of civil disobedience.

Someone needs to explain to these people that you don’t always get your way, even when you’ve exhausted every means of persuasion. It’s called democracy and the rule of law. It’s imperfect, but it beats legislation by sit-in.


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10 responses to “I’m Liking Casteen More and More”

  1. Ben Kyber Avatar
    Ben Kyber

    Yeah…way to go Casteen…

    No better way to break up a peaceful protest than to starve them out…

    I think we may be forgetting that the student protesters had a valid point.

    Besides it isn’t the “University of Casteen.” Those students had every right to protest.

  2. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    What an absolute crock this whole exercise has been, and what a laugh I’m getting comparing these student morons to the Free Speech, End the War, March on Selma crowd they claim to emulate. Pygmies is what they are, and the word that applies to their professor/enablers is pathetic. That’s it? The worst injustice in their lives is underpaying the cafeteria workers by a buck an hour? Hell, the price of cable TV and our current energy slavery are more worhty of outrage. Wanna do a sit in, choose the Hummer dealership. I’ll respect Casteen when he boots them from school.

  3. Regardless of Casteen’s response, I think the student protesters have been successful by bringing more media attention to UVA’s living wage issues.

  4. GOPHokie Avatar

    I know alot of UVA students dont like Casteen, so thats a good enough reason for me to like him ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I am a Wahoo alum, and for years I have considered Casteen to be an ultra-liberal, PC, molly-coddling bureacrat.

    His stature has increased immensely in my eyes in about 72 hours.

  6. Michael Snook Avatar
    Michael Snook

    What’s with all the hostility toward the protesters? I like Casteen and I think he’s handled the situation well. I also think it’s pretty cool that the employees on whose behalf these students are protesting make within a couple dollars of the living wage, and far above minimum wage. Casteen doesn’t have the power to change the law that makes him incapable of meeting the students’ living wage demands, and he told them how they could contact the general assembly and the companies who employ these workers.

    All that aside: I admire these students’ dedication, cherish their right to protest, and share their dream for a living wage for all. So again: why all the hostility?

    Pygmies? Pathetic? Boot them from school? Who are you and on what moral authority do you summarily judge these people who care a little more than you do about this particular issue?

    And GOPHokie makes a good point. What do the castrated turkeys think about their president? I’ll do the opposite ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Freddie Avatar

    There is a right to protest, but there is not a right to break the law. I’m glad to see a University President with a backbone.

  8. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    So did any of the protesters take Economics at The University? I’d like to see the names of the Econ professors who taught them about a ‘living’ wage mythology.

  9. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    The professors identified themselves as follows:

    Ellen Fuller
    UVA SWAG

    Wende Elizabeth Marshall
    Assistant Professor
    Anthropology

    Bradly W. Reed
    Associate Professor Of History

    Hanan Sabea
    Assistant Professor

  10. Charles Avatar

    So are these new living wages they are pushing for paid for by the increased tuition the students will pay, or are these government workers paid for by our taxes?

    What right do 3rd-party protestors have to interfere in the contractual relationship between employers and workers?

    Why are these workers taking jobs if they don’t pay enough? Conversely, did any professor bother to explain how wages are set based on supply and demand, NOT based on some utopean notion of what is necessary to live?

    Have they been familiarized with the writings of Carl Marx? “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” — a perfect description of “living wage”.

    The “living wage” is giving to each according to their need, which apparently is much more than what their abilities allow them to give at this time (as measured by the true market value of their work).

    Why don’t the protestors simply set up a fund to supplement the worker’s pay — then the charity of “living wage” will be evident to all.

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