Is Anyone In Charge Over There?

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.

Last week Hector Terrazas Valencia, resident of Room 46. lost no time upon occupying his room for the fall semester in writing “F— UVA (respectfully)” on his message board — an apparent homage to the same words affixed to the door of Lawn resident Hira Azher last spring. The university refused to remove last year’s signage on the grounds that it would abrogate the resident’s right to free speech. The administration argued that because it had failed to police Lawn signage restrictions previously, singling out Azher would constitute a free-speech violation. After an alumni outcry, the administration re-wrote the rules and promised to enforce them this fall.

The administration had not acted to address the new F— UVa message. Now signage on Lawn doors in violation of the space restrictions, which clearly violates the requirement to “maintain their rooms and exterior areas with appropriate care and consideration of others.”

The Jefferson Council President President Bert Ellis took these photos yesterday:



As members of The Jefferson Council, we’ve got to ask — is anyone in charge over there? Is the administration willing to protect the dignity of the Academical Village, or will it let enforcement lapse like it did last year?

 This column was posted originally on The Jefferson Council website.