Tag Archives: James A. Bacon

Open the Books Digs Up 100 More DEI Employees at UVA

Adam Andrzejewski

by James A. Bacon

Back in March, Adam Andrzejewski and his team at Open the Books, a non-profit dedicated to transparency in government spending, concluded that the University of Virginia is spending $20 million in payroll for 235 employees (including student interns) on work relating to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Describing Andrzejewski’s numbers as “wildly inflated,” UVA officials countered with a count of 55 employees earning salaries of $5.3 million.

So, Andrzejewski sent his researchers back for a second look. As it turns out, Open the Books concluded, their initial findings were far off the mark. They were way too low. The organization has identified 100 additional employees across 80 offices and departments who have been sucked into the University’s DEI vortex.

These are employees who, in addition to their primary roles at the university, contribute variously as DEI deans, directors, project leads, coordinators, representatives, fellows, council members, faculty advisors, ex officio members, and even “JEDIs” (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion personnel), Andrzejewski writes in a column published in City Journal. Continue reading

Money Alone Won’t Solve Teacher Shortage

by James A. Bacon

Virginia, like other states, is facing a teacher shortage. The debate over how to reverse the thinning of the ranks has been mind-bogglingly superficial. As a consequence, there is little prospect of solving it.

The root of the problem is that the Virginia Education Association (VEA) and its ideological allies in the mainstream media define the problem as insufficient pay — a problem that can be addressed only by boosting teacher salaries. VEA rarely if ever makes an issue of poor working conditions.

Thus, we read in the Virginia Mercury that Virginia teacher pay “gets a boost in budget, but it’s still projected to fall short of national average.” The two-year budget signed last week includes $540 million for 3% salary increases each year. Predictably, the VEA says it’s not enough to keep Virginia salaries competitive.

The article delves into a discussion of methodological differences between the VEA and the Youngkin administration on how to calculate average teacher pay so it can be comparable across the 50 states.

Here’s what the arcane budget debate ignores: the teacher shortage in Virginia isn’t caused by teachers picking up and relocating to states with higher pay. It’s caused by teachers dropping out of the profession because they think their jobs suck. Continue reading

UVA Groups Are Hamas Proxies, Lawsuit Contends

by James A. Bacon

Matan Goldstein, a first-year Israeli-American student at the University of Virginia, has filed a lawsuit against President Jim Ryan and Rector Robert Hardie, alleging that they stood by and did nothing while pro-Hamas groups subjected him to harassment, intimidation and abuse for his religious and ethnic identity.

Goldstein drew attention as one of the only Jewish students at UVA willing to publicly defend Israel after the Hamas terror attack on Oct. 7, 2023. He was insulted, ostracized and spit upon. His pleas to the administration went unheeded. According to the lawsuit, Ryan and Hardie declined to intervene even when the president of the UVA chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) sought to silence him by filing bogus Honor Code charges against him.

“Pro-Hamas students have turned what once was a beautiful bastion of enlightened freethinking and tolerance into a trash-laden wasteland of antisemitic and anti-Israeli hate, and Defendants UVA, Ryan, and Hardie allowed it to happen,” states the lawsuit, which was filed May 17. Goldstein is represented in the case by the Charlottesville law firm Brown & Gavalier PLLC.

For a quick overview of the lawsuit, read the article in Virginia Business magazine. But that story skims the surface. The lawsuit consolidates a vast body of material about antisemitism at UVA, much of which will be familiar to Bacon’s Rebellion readers but some of which is new. Anyone deeply interested in the subject should consult the lawsuit itself, a highly readable document expressed in colorful language.

There is far too much detail to include in a single article, so I shall address major themes in separate posts. Today I will explore the lawsuit’s argument that the expressions of pro-Palestinian support at UVA were orchestrated by pro-Hamas groups, at least in part, as part of a broader propaganda campaign rolled out in conjunction with Hamas’ Oct. 7, 2023, assault on Israel. Continue reading

Fewer Children Seeking ER Treatment for Cannabis Ingestion

Cannabis-Related Pediatric Emergency Department Visits by Month. Source: Virginia Hospital Association

by James A. Bacon

The number of pediatric patients visiting hospital emergency rooms in cannabis-related incidents fell 21.5% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period the year before, a decline that some attribute to bipartisan legislation regulating the production, sale, and potency of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana-related products.

A Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association analysis shows that the volume of cannabis-related visits among pediatric patients had been trending higher over the past several years, peaking in late 2022 and early 2023 before dropping sharply in June 2023.

“This law was introduced to protect Virginia children and families from being harmed by ingesting unregulated, intoxicating products that can pose serious health risks,” said Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, who sponsored the bill to regulate THC-infused products. “So, it is certainly welcome news to see that this policy change appears to be having a positive effect in terms of declining pediatric emergency department visits due to cannabis exposure.” Continue reading

UVA Grad Students Urge Withholding of Year-End Grades

From UCWVA Instagram post

From UCWVA Instagram post

by James A. Bacon

The United Campus Workers of Virginia (UCWVA) at the University of Virginia has launched a campaign urging faculty and graduate students to withhold grades until the Ryan administration capitulates to its demands of amnesty for people arrested during the May 4 crackdown on the pro-Palestinian “liberation zone.”

“UVA exec admin stood by while state police cracked down on a peaceful gathering,” says the UVA chapter. “If you disagree with the repression of campus protest, join your colleagues in this immediate action to demand amnesty!”

The Jefferson Council has not yet been able to determine the degree to which the grade-repression movement has gained traction. However, UCWVA claims on Instagram that Provost Ian Baucom “is sending scared emails.”

“Punishing students by withholding their grades to pressure the Ryan administration is reckless, irresponsible, and grounds for immediate dismissal,” said Tom Neale, president of The Jefferson Council.

Neale urged students, faculty, and parents to notify him at tom74@comcast.net if they know of any classes where semester grades are being withheld. Send him the names of professors and graduate students and the classes they teach. He will make sure the Administration and the Board of Visitors are made aware. Continue reading

The Crying Game

by James A. Bacon

After President Jim Ryan ordered a breakup of their liberation zone for Gaza a week ago in what one might call a “mostly peaceful” police action, encampment veterans are posturing as victims of “brutal” fascist state “violence” and “trauma.”

“I got brutalized by the police at a UNESCO World Heritage site,” reads one meme making the rounds.

“Welcome to the University of Virginia, where we encourage free speech and expression unless you’re protesting genocide, where we brutalize our students and mace our community members,” says an UVA Encampment for Gaza post on Instagram.

“I just want to acknowledge the trauma that I believe some of them [the protesters] felt in all this,” said a health-care provider participating in a two-hour “Honest Town Hall” organized by faculty members in response to Ryan’s earlier “town hall” presentation.

A student speaking at the counter-town hall spoke of “layers of violence” at UVA stretching back to the displacement of the native peoples and days of slavery. “The University is unique in the kind of violence that it has … endorsed and propagated.”

“Every time I go to Grounds,” the student continued, “I actually am physically ill when I’m near the Range. I feel like I’m surrounded by the ghosts of slaves … and also the recollection of seeing police brutalize my friends.”

Time out, snowflakes! Are you ready for some hard truth? You don’t have the faintest idea of what it’s like to be brutalized or to experience trauma. You belong to the most coddled, privileged, self-indulgent generation in the history of mankind. Most of you wouldn’t know hardship or adversity, much less brutality or trauma, if it smacked you over the head… with a foam pool noodle. Continue reading

So Much for Empathetic Listening

by James A. Bacon

Militant students and faculty at the University of Virginia — and elsewhere — often talk about having “hard conversations” about the tragic realities in Gaza. To see what those “conversations” sound like, click on the video above.

It was hard alright — hard for President Jim Ryan. The students had no interest in confronting any discomfiting truths themselves.

The Daily Progress has the back story.

Ryan had an appointment on his calendar for more than a month with UVA Apartheid Divest, a coalition of 43 student groups demanding that UVA divest endowment assets from any company doing business with Israel. He entered Pavilion VI on the Lawn, accompanied by Chief Student Affairs Officer Kenyon Bonner and Dean of Students Cedric Rucker, expecting the meeting he had agreed to. But the students had other ideas.

“President Ryan, your students are waiting for you outside,” they said. They stepped out of the room and onto the Lawn where 30 classmates had gathered. Many had red paint on their hands, symbolizing blood. Continue reading

FUCK UVA Redux: The Revolution Consumes Its Own

by James A. Bacon

Militant students and faculty held an online gripe session today skewering President Jim Ryan and Provost Ian Baucom, and their rhetoric — including calls for Ryan’s resignation — is more heated than ever. While I support the actions Ryan and Baucom took to shut down the UVA Encampment for Gaza, where protesters were flouting university regulations and spoiling for a confrontation, I have to say that the failure of University leadership to consistently enforce its rules makes it partially to blame for the mess.

For example, Team Ryan has long tolerated political messaging on Lawn room doors in violation of occupants’ lease terms. We’ve been through this drill before. The infamous “Fuck UVA” sign in 2020 was a trigger for furious alumni to organize and create The Jefferson Council. Ryan allowed the sign to remain on the grounds that taking it down would violate the student’s free speech. But he promised to enforce new lease rules, which limited signage to a small bulletin board on the doors, in the future. Enforcement faltered, and the signs blossomed. Now, just in time for graduation ceremonies, a new “Fuck UVA sign” (shown above) has been taped to a Lawn door.

Ryan defends his action shutting down the pro-Palestinian tent compound last Saturday on the Grounds, maintaining that there are limits to free speech based on “time, place and manner.” I agree. He did the right thing. But why should campus militants have taken him seriously? Lawn room residents had been flouting the rules for months — as Tthe Jefferson Council has repeatedly documented. Continue reading

Has the Rural Brain Drain Ended?

During the first year of the COVID-19 epidemic, decades of migration out of rural counties nationally sharply reversed. But migration into rural counties has persisted even as the epidemic has receded.

by James A. Bacon

Remote work isn’t the only trend encouraging Americans to relocate from major metropolitan areas to small towns and rural communities, suggests Hamilton Lombard in a new StatChat post. The rise of social media has allowed smaller communities to emulate the entertainment and culinary offerings of big cities, while the rise of Amazon.com puts even remote communities within one-day delivery of the world’s largest marketplace of retail products.

The lower cost of real estate has always favored rural/small town America, but that advantage has been more than offset by the “agglomeration” effects of big metros with larger, deeper labor markets and clusters of industry expertise. New technologies are tilting the balance back toward smaller communities. Even as professionals and free-lancers find it easier to make a living in remote areas and smaller metros, Lombard observes, they enjoy access to a greater range of amenities than ever before.

There’s another factor that Lombard omits, no doubt because of its intrinsically political nature — he is scrupulously apolitical in his analysis — and that is the growing unease at signs of social breakdown. Decriminalization of minor crimes. Disorder in schools. Protests on college campuses. Homelessness and tent cities. A sense that things are spinning out of control and that urban elites are either blind to it or are part of the problem.

Whatever the reasons for the migratory shift, the data leave no room for doubt that it is occurring. Continue reading

UVA Soft on Nazis but Brutal to Students?

White supremacists carry tiki torches in 2017 march through Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village. Photo credit: Salon.com.

by James A. Bacon

A continuing meme in the ongoing rhetorical battle between leftists and anarchists on the one hand and the Ryan administration on the other is that University of Virginia authorities brutally cracked down on peaceful protesters May 4 while allowing White supremacists to march through UVA unmolested in 2017.

For example, the Virginia Student Power Network posted the following on its Instagram account three days ago:

#Charlottesville students who stood up to torch-bearing Nazis in 2017 affirm their solidarity with the UVA encampment for Gaza, which is currently being threatened by dozens of cops in riot gear – the same police agencies that were fully aware of + allowed 300+ white supremacists with torches and guns on UVA’s campus.

UVA President Jim Ryan took the meme seriously enough that he addressed it during the virtual “town hall” meeting yesterday in defense of his decision to shut down the UVA Encampment for Gaza protest. Continue reading

Team Ryan Defends Shutdown of Tent Encampment

President Jim Ryan during virtual Town Hall

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia called in the Virginia State Police to disperse “UVA Encampment for Gaza” protesters because they feared the demonstration was spiraling out of control, said President Jim Ryan, University Police Chief Tim Longo, and other University leaders in a virtual town hall early this afternoon.

Some protesters had tried to smuggle in wooden structures that could be used as barricades to fortify the encampment, as seen at pro-Palestinian demonstrations at other universities. Although that effort was thwarted, law enforcement authorities learned that four individuals associated with previous Charlottesville events “that resulted in violence” had entered the so-called liberation zone. Meanwhile, organizers were using social media to appeal to more outsiders to join them, and the numbers were growing.

Ryan said he acted before more outsiders joined, the encampment became more entrenched, and the potential for violence increased. “If we didn’t act, would we be faced with 50 tents and 20 outsiders?” he said. “Where would we be then?”

Ryan, Longo, and Provost Ian Baucom stated repeatedly that protesters spurned repeated efforts to engage in dialogue. The limited communications that did occur were relayed through faculty members. University officials were at pains to contrast the anarchist protest with other pro-Palestinian demonstrations organized by student groups, in compliance with university guidelines. Continue reading

Intellectuals Yet Idiots on the Loose

Microsoft Image Creator’s AI-generated image of Intellectuals Yet Idiots… well, Intellectuals Yet Fools, actually. The word “idiot” violates its word-usage guidelines.

by James A. Bacon

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the “Black Swan” and “Antifragile” author and curmudgeonly critic of just about everyone, coined the term Intellectuals Yet Idiots (IYIs) to describe the modern-day class of journalists, academics, and other cultural elitists who think they know everything better than anyone else.

The term well describes professors with the University of Virginia Department of History who signed an open letter critical of President Jim Ryan’s crackdown on the “Encampment for Gaza” protest on UVA grounds  in violation of university rules.

“As historians” they wrote, “we are acutely aware that this police action fell on the anniversary of the murder of four student protesters at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. History has not judged those who ordered the violent repression of that protest kindly. History will also judge the University of Virginia’s actions on May 4, 2024, and we have no doubt that history will also condemn the disproportionate, draconian and excessive use of force against nonviolent protesters exercising their free speech rights on an academic campus founded by the author of the Declaration of Independence.”

Yeah, right. The crackdown on pro-Palestinian protesters was just like the Kent State massacre in which four students were killed and nine wounded by the Ohio National Guard…. except for the fact that no one at UVA was killed. Or wounded. Or seriously injured. Continue reading

With the Tents Down, the Blowback Begins

by James A. Bacon

Following the decision to take down the tents in the UVA Solidarity Encampment for Gaza “liberated zone” at the University of Virginia on Saturday, UVA President Jim Ryan is facing strong blowback from leftist elements in the UVA and Charlottesville communities.

Pro-Palestinian protesters had rebuked the administration’s orders to take down the tents and refrain from the use of loudspeakers in violation of University rules. After repeated warnings, the decision was made to send in Virginia State Troopers in riot gear Saturday to break up a tent encampment of anarchists and militants near the University Chapel, resulting in the arrest of 25.

The Jefferson Council contends that the takedown was fully justified. The issue was not the protesters’ right to free speech — they had been shouting and chanting their pro-Palestinian views for almost a week — but their refusal to abide by the rules regarding time, place and manner of protests that everyone else is expected to obey. Continue reading

Militants to Ryan Administration: “Bullshit”

Source: UVA Encampment for Gaza Instagram post

by James A. Bacon

Pro-Palestinian militants erected tents last night at their “liberation zone for Gaza” near the University of Virginia chapel in defiance of orders to take them down. The administration’s immediate response: engage in dialogue.

“We are writing to acknowledge the document you shared with us early this morning outlining the interests of your group,” wrote Kenyon Bonner, vice president and chief student affairs officer, and Brie Gertler, vice provost for academic affairs, to the Gaza zone participants.

“We thought it would be most productive to respond in writing, with the hope of scheduling a time to discuss your goals in greater detail with the appropriate representatives from your group,” they said.

The protesters posted their response, written in bold letters over a copy of the letter, on Instagram: “Bullshit.” Continue reading

At UVA, One Pro-Palestinian Protest Disperses, a Second Persists

by James A. Bacon

One of two pro-Palestinian demonstrations at the University of Virginia wound down around 5 p.m. yesterday without incident. Although the rally was marked by all-too-familiar anti-Israel chants and sloganeering, protesters dispersed at the scheduled time. A parallel demonstration, a tent-free “encampment,” continues this morning.

University officials set clear expectations from the beginning that university rules would be enforced. When a pro-Palestinian group erected tents Tuesday near the University Chapel in imitation of encampments at other campuses, university authorities quickly told them to take down the structures, for which they had not obtained permits. In other interactions, Police Chief Tim Longo personally engaged with protesters to inform them about university policy regarding trespassing and amplified sound.

“The protest activity near the University Chapel has continued peacefully and in compliance with University policy since it began Tuesday afternoon,” said University spokesperson Brian Coy. “Organizers have complied with requests to remove tents and other prohibited materials.” Continue reading