More Identity Aggrievement at UVa

UVa Hispanic students feel left out? Really? Photo credit: University of Virginia Multicultural Services website

It didn’t take long for the University of Virginia’s new president, Jim Ryan, to have his first encounter with the university’s identity politics. A few days before his inauguration Oct. 19, Hispanic students circulated an open letter calling for more Hispanic faculty, Spanish-translated documents, and tours in Spanish and Portuguese for applicants and their families.

As of Monday, reports the Cavalier Daily, the letter had been signed by more than 70 student organizations and 450 individuals. Stated the letter:

This year, the University of Virginia admitted its ‘most diverse’ class in history. This is a great stride toward improving diversity at UVA; however, UVA cannot celebrate this when many minoritized students at the University feel underserved, underrepresented, and isolated. In order to help change this, there must be sufficient infrastructure to support minority students after their admittance to the university.

“Historically, providing and advocating for these resources has fallen on student organizations, students, and members of the community. We deserve to experience UVA as students and not as free-labored assets,” the letter read.

Welcome to UVa, Mr. Ryan!

Signatories urged the administration to expand staff in Multicultural Student Services. The letter also noted that while Hispanic students comprise 6% of the student body, there are only 24 Hispanic faculty members — 2.8% — in the College (presumably of the Arts & Sciences) faculty. Outside of the language departments, there are only 10 Hispanic professors. (The letter referred to “Latinx” faculty. I’m not ready yet to swallow that politically correct nomenclature. And for the record, university-wide, there were 80 Hispanic faculty members in 2017.)

So, Hispanic students at UVa have joined the ranks of the perpetually aggrieved. While the letter signatories purport to speak for Hispanics at the university, it’s not clear how many they actually represent. The 450 signatories are only a fraction of the number of 1,069 Hispanic undergraduates (2017 figures) and 312 Hispanic graduate students at UVa. Moreover, I’m willing to wager that many signatories are members of other races/ethnicities.

Furthermore, the letter notes that the first Latino Greek organization, La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, has been “inactive” for the past two years. Isn’t this evidence that many Hispanic students were perfectly happy joining non-ethnic fraternities, had no trouble getting accepted into them, and saw no need for an ethnic safe haven?

I suspect that the tone of whiny aggrievement and entitlement in the letter reflects the views of only a fraction of UVa’s Hispanic students.

By my count, there are at least ten active student organizations devoted to Hispanics:

  • The Darden Latin American Student Association
  • The Latin American Law Organization at UVA
  • The Latinx Student Alliance
  • The Latino/Hispanic Peer Mentor Program
  • The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
  • The Hispanic American Network at Darden
  • Destina (a Hispanic Christian group)
  • DREAMERS on Grounds
  • Fuego (an Hispanic dance team)
  • The Latin Student Network at McIntire

That doesn’t include a number of other groups dedicated to “minorities” and “diversity.” If these groups don’t fulfill their social and emotional needs, Hispanic students are free to form groups that do. Given the Student Council’s solicitude toward identity politics, they should have no trouble getting funding.

The freedom to form their own groups is not something the letter writers seem to appreciate. They want the administration’s validation and action. But I have to ask: How many Hispanic students at UVa genuinely feel “underserved, underrepresented, and isolated?” Is the feeling of isolation a real thing, or is it a political affectation of the Left? Do conservative, Republican, and non-political Hispanics — I’m sure there must be a few — feel left out?

How do letter writers think that expanding the staff of Multicultural Student Services will help? If the existence of 10 student groups doesn’t do the trick, what will adding a couple of multicultural staff members accomplish that students couldn’t do just as well by showing some initiative and launching their own groups?

What kind of world do these students imagine awaits them when they graduate? Do they expect their employers to bend over backwards to cater to their politically progressive Hispanic identity? Will they wilt like delicate flowers if they don’t have a multicultural bureaucracy to support them? Will they flounder if their bosses don’t “look like them”? Will they feel any responsibility to adapt to the corporate culture of their employers, or will they insist that their employers and fellow employees adapt to them?

Just as important, what kind of message will Jim Ryan and the UVa administration send their Hispanic students? Will they create a protective bubble to guard the tender sensitivities of the letter writers, or will they encourage them to grow up and learn to deal with the real world as, I’ll wager, most Hispanic students feel perfectly capable of doing?

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17 responses to “More Identity Aggrievement at UVa

  1. “What kind of world do these students imagine awaits them when they graduate?” In an academic culture dominated by identity politics, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the best way for a student to prove his bona-fides with other identity groups on-campus is to make a fuss about his own identity — however mainstream he may in fact feel, or be. [And oh yes, I’m old enough to remember when “his” in a generic context implied “all” not just the male gender.] Eighteen-year-olds are heavily into acceptance and inclusion by and imitation of their peers. Your question remains: will this be the template for how they attempt (or demand) to live after graduation?

    • Acbar –

      Immigrant Hispanic activist organizations played a strong roll in the Antifa riots, throughout the nation. Factions within UVA faculty provided strong logistic support for those riots in Charlottesville. Teresa Sullivan long considered UC at Berkley a model for UVA, as she stated numerous times. President Ryan’s job just got harder, UVA is at, or near, a tipping point.

  2. As long as I can remember there have been “identity” groups on colleges campuses…. and I do remember when only lily white gals could be cheerleaders!

    Most of these groups on campus have traditionally been much more welcoming of nation-born American culture and I don’t think it’s “identify” grievances or politics for others to now want to have their own groups also.

    I suspect this is threatening to old white guys who were happier when it was an All American All male “culture” and now… well now.. it’s gone to hell in a handbasket and the old white guys are just beside themselves so they gotta spout this foolishness about “identity”.

    Like it or not – we ARE a much more diverse society with cultures from around the world and yes.. there are brown and black folks also.

    Oh the HORROR!

    A lot of this back and forth will gradually recede as old white guy geezers convert themselves into dirt.

    (written by an old white guy).

    • “I don’t think it’s “identity” grievances or politics for others to now want to have their own groups also.”

      I’ve got no problem with people forming their own ethnic groups. UVa Hispanics already have their own groups, and they’re free to form whatever additional groups they please. But some people just like to bellyache.

  3. yep – a lot of older white guys who don’t care for all these other cultures asserting their “identities”

    • As Winston Churchill said: “It’s better to be old, than to be stupid.”

      • old and stupid though? we got an epidemic. !!!!

        be advised that we have ALWAYS had grumpy old men complaining about the younger generation…

        https://youtu.be/oepK8jMXt9w

      • Yes, as so typically happens, you just proved my point yet again. Some people are irrevocably stupid. Quite incapable of change.

        • Indeed and now participate in the hate and anger torch and pitchfork antics we see with associated with old white guys and “identity politics”, white supremacy and other rancid behaviors endemic with some folks today and well reflected in their rhetoric here and elsewhere.

          “change” needs to be constructive, not destructive. some folks didn’t learn that lesson when young and now are totally ignorant of it to the harm of all of us.

  4. Decades from now, many people who have been persuaded to see themselves mainly through a group label will face emotional crisis as they realize their individuality has been repressed. We are certainly defined, in part, from our heritage but also much more than that.

  5. This is just downright silly. What’s wrong with creating a group ay UVA for people of similar Latin identity? Who cares how many other groups there are? Who cares if some frat is inactive. Why are these people somehow transformed into bomb throwing radicals?

    BR STILL is the place to go for musings of old white guys who somehow feel threatened that UVA and the state are becoming more diverse. I say — bring it on!

    • “What’s wrong with creating a group at UVA for people of similar Latin identity?”

      Nothing’s wrong with that. As I wrote, “If [existing ethnic-based student] groups don’t fulfill their social and emotional needs, Hispanic students are free to form groups that do. “

  6. Kind of sad and funny when we see mostly white guys hurling the “identity politics” towards all the other groups that are different from them.

    Reminds me – not in a good way – about how some folks behaved during Massive Resistance in Virginia – not that many years ago.

  7. The key question is in Jim’s last paragraph – how will Ryan respond. Any word on that?

    We live in the Network Age – I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. We can’t stop a group of students from being aggrieved when everybody else seems to be, starting with our President. We can only hope that adults have the courage to respond politely but firmly.

  8. Baffling that the US seems to have woken up yesterday imagining that immigration presents some new, uncharted challenge. What does everyone think that immigrants have done since the nation was founded? Was it any easier/harder for Irish, Italians, Slovenians? I bristle at the mention of building a wall and chuckle at the notion that white males are suddenly threatened in some new way. Everything new is old, ad infinitum.

  9. Bravo, Lift. One common idea on the blog is that if you are White Anglo Saxon and Protestant, you are not “ethnic.” Everyone else is.

  10. Another weird perspective. I know a woman from New Mexico of Mexican descent. SHe is referred to as being a “foreigner,” and “immigrant” and “ethnic.” SHe told me once that was odd since her family has lived in what is now the U.S. and New Mexico for at least 400 years — often far longer than snooty people making her seem an alien.

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