Tag Archives: University of Virginia

The Fascists Next Door

Displaying dangerous fascistic tendencies… Photo credit: DailySIgnal

by Ann Mclean

Want more evidence that the University of Virginia has become an impermeable thought bubble where people can say the craziest things without fear of contradiction? Consider this: Two University of Virginia professors —Manuela Achilles and Kyrill Kunakhovich — taught a history course this spring that portrays American conservatives as fascists. They weren’t being hyperbolic. They really meant it.

In their analysis, the wellspring of fascism is not worship of the all-powerful, totalitarian state — which conservatives totally reject — but the traditional American virtues of family and patriotism.

I first learned of this class from a young friend of mine. Here is her description: 

Recently, I enrolled in a fascism class thinking it would be a great way to weed through the constant accusations that politicians make about who is fascist and who is not. The class started out great. We studied Hitler and Mussolini and other fascisms in Europe, then moved to Asia to look at Japanism, but the more the course progressed, the more I was confused about what fascism actually is. My professors chose to leave fascism undefined and allow each student to come to their own conclusion. That seems pretty reasonable, right? I thought so, too. Continue reading

Don’t Ask Questions. Just Do What We Tell You.

by James A. Bacon

Walter Smith, a University of Virginia alumnus, was miffed when UVa leadership mandated that all students must be vaccinated if they are to return to the university in the fall. His daughter, a UVa student, had caught the COVID-19 virus, lived through 10 days of quarantine, acquired natural immunities, and was at near-zero risk of spreading the virus. He saw no purpose in exposing her to whatever dangers might be associated with taking the vaccine. Moreover, he had concerns about health-privacy violations as well as philosophical objections of a civil-liberties nature.

You may disagree with Smith’s characterization of the vaccination mandate — which has been adopted at most other Virginia public universities, incidentally — as “un-American, un-scientific, [and] totalitarian.” But if you believe in transparency, then you should be concerned about what happened when Smith tried to ascertain UVa’s reasoning for the requirement.

News reports were worthless. In May Smith wrote UVa President Jim Ryan and Rector James Murray to ask the justification for the mandate. Ryan did not respond, but Murray did. He wrote: Continue reading

A Volatile Mix: Sex, Obsession, Microaggressions and Mental Health at UVa

by James A. Bacon

Kieran Bhattacharya, a University of Virginia School of Medicine student who claims he was expelled for challenging left-wing political orthodoxy at the school, has filed new papers expanding upon his allegations. Among the more explosive charges, he asserts that he was twice committed against his will to psychiatric facilities, given antipsychotic medication, and once woke up from his tranquilized state to find himself in a car bound for a private psychiatric hospital in Petersburg.

UVa’s response to Bhattacharya’s “dissident speech” is “reminiscent of the infamous ‘treatment’ of dissidents in psychiatric hospitals in the former Soviet Union,” says the pleading, which was filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville in support of a request for a jury trial.

Adding another new dimension to the lawsuit, Bhattacharya contended that his ex-girlfriend collaborated with med school officials to drum him out of school after he had broken up with her. He describes her as a controlling, manipulative and vindictive woman who boasted how she had gained revenge against two former boyfriends at Emory University by charging them with rape.

After reading the filing, one is inclined to believe that one of two things must be true. Either the UVa med school is sitting on the biggest scandal in its history or Kieran Bhattacharya is a young man in serious need of help. Continue reading

A Spirited Defense of George Rogers Clark

George Rogers Clark

I reproduce here a letter from state Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, who attended the University of Virginia and lived across West Main Street from the statue of George Rogers Clark. He addressed the letter to UVa President Jim Ryan and the Board of Visitors. — JAB

I want to write, firstly, to acknowledge and express my appreciation at the University’s decision to conduct its Commencement activities in-person and without any undue restrictions. As a parent of a graduating student, it made a difference.

Secondly, I want to register my disappointment at the decision to remove the George Rogers Clark statue from its traditional location on West Main Street and presumably place it somewhere so it will never be seen again. What a mistake.

Although little known today, George Rogers Clark was an enormous figure in the early history of the United States. During the Revolutionary War, the British crown controlled the territory west of the Appalachian Mountains and waged war against their former colonists through the services of local tribes, primarily Shawnee. During that time, the British General Henry Hamilton (a.k.a. “the Hair Buyer”) paid a bounty for the scalps of American settlers, including women and children, who lived alone on the frontier and were largely defenseless. Continue reading

Can Free Speech Thrive in an Intellectual Monoculture?

Jim Ryan

by James A. Bacon

My fellow members of The Jefferson Council and I are united in our determination to protect the Jeffersonian legacy at the University of Virginia, in particular to champion free speech and expression on the grounds. An internal debate we have is whether we should work with President James Ryan in advancing this goal or rather, seeing him as part of the problem, work to remove him. We have reached no formal conclusion.

Ryan has not been entirely unresponsive to our concerns. Most notably, he appointed a committee to draft a statement on free speech and expression, which it did and which the Board of Visitors formally adopted. But, as Ryan himself conceded, the challenge now is to actually apply those abstract principles to real world circumstances.

I have argued that it is meaningless to champion free speech if all UVa administrators and faculty members hew to the same narrow range of moderate-left-to-far-left worldviews and other voices are systematically weeded out through the hiring and firing process. Creating an institution where a “marketplace of ideas” leads to a vibrant exchange of views presupposes that participants actually have… different ideas. Continue reading

Craven UVa Board Cancels More History

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors took another big step in purging its “white supremacist” past by voting Friday to take down the statue to George Rogers Clark. The Clark statue, critics say, perpetuates “the myth of brave white men conquering a supposedly unknown and unclaimed land.”

The cost of removing, relocating and storing the statue is estimated to cost $400,000. University officials expect the statue to be removed by the end of the summer. Then the university will start talking to students and the Indigenous community about what should replace it, reports The Daily Progress.

The removal, initially recommended by the UVa’s Racial Equity Task Force, advances the systematic extirpation of any names, memorials or statues that can be tangentially connected to “white supremacy.” The dismantling of the Clark statue is part of a larger set of recommendations to “repair relationships with Indigenous communities” by establishing a “tribal liaison position,” found a Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies, recruit Native and Indigenous faculty. And, of course, it is consistent with the denigration of anyone associated with the slave-holding era. Continue reading

UVa Affirms Commitment to Free Speech… at Least in Theory

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia Board of Trustees has voted to approve a statement affirming the university’s commitment to free expression and free inquiry.

“All views, beliefs and perspective deserve to be articulated and heard free from interference,” states the Statement of the Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry. “Free and open inquiry … is at the heart of the principles of academic freedom. … Likewise, the educational endeavor for students requires the freedom to speak, write, inquire, listen, challenge and learn.”

President James Ryan appointed the committee and asked it to craft a set of principles to guide the university. The committee heard testimony from students and faculty attesting to the widespread sentiment that certain views should not be expressed in or out of the classroom for fear of triggering intense social media backlash or punitive measures by administrators (many incidents of which have been documented in Bacon’s Rebellion and The Jefferson Council website).

It remains to be seen how the Ryan administration will interpret and apply these principles. The committee’s Statement genuflected to the fact that the university has not always fulfilled its aspirations — “exploiting enslaved laborers and excluding Black Americans, women, and groups and viewpoints disfavored by the majority.” It made no explicit mention of the suppression of conservative views antithetical to a core of radical students or the failure of the Ryan administration to stand up for them — things that are happening now, not a hundred years ago. Continue reading

No Vaccination Mandates for Community Colleges

Glenn Dubois

by James A. Bacon

In stark contrast to the University of Virginia, James Madison University, and the College of William & Mary, the Virginia Community College System board has decided not to require students to be vaccinated in order to attend classes in the fall.

“I believe it is in the best interests of our faculty, staff, and students to encourage everyone to get their COVID-19 vaccine,” said Chancellor Glenn Dubois in a prepared statement today. “However, we will not require an individual to be vaccinated to attend or to work at one of our colleges.”

Community colleges find themselves in a different situation than the four-year residential colleges. First, as Dubois said, community colleges don’t have residence halls. Second, they lack the public health infrastructure such as hospitals and clinics that make it feasible to support densely populated on-campus living arrangements, including the creation and protection of personal student health data like vaccination records. Third, Dubois said that mandating proof of vaccination might create an “unintended barrier” to student enrollment. 

Still, the community colleges’ decision could be seen as an implicit rebuke to four-year colleges that are mandating vaccinations. Continue reading

Would Someone Please Explain the “Science”?

COVID positivity rates for students (left) and employees (right). Source: UVa COVID Tracker.

by James A. Bacon

Let me get this straight. The University of Virginia has just announced that all students returning to the university starting July 1 must be fully vaccinated, or they will be barred from entering the grounds. But employees, while urged to get vaccinated, are under no such mandate.

Exemptions will be allowed for individuals on medical or religions grounds, but those without vaccinations will be required to be tested multiple times per week.

“This approach will enable our students to return to a residential academic setting where they can live, study, and gather together safely,” reads an email signed by President Jim Ryan, Provost Liz Magill, and other senior administrators, according to UVA Today.

UVA Today, the mouthpiece for the Ryan administration, gave no explanation of why students, who are younger and more resistant to the virus, are required to be vaccinated, while employees, who are older and more vulnerable, are not. Continue reading

UVa’s Latest Lurch Toward Leftism

Malo Andre Hutson

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia has bolstered its reputation as a Leftist intellectual  monoculture with the announcement that Malo Andre Hutson, director of Columbia University’s Urban Community and Health Equity Lab, will become the new dean of the School of Architecture.

At Columbia, Hutson belongs to both the Earth Institute and the Columbia Population Research Center. He has written about gentrification, environmental justice, and urban health, a trifecta of trendy Leftist disciplines. His latest book is entitled, “The Urban Struggle for Economic, Environmental and Social Justice.” Continue reading

UVa’s Crying Game

UVa law school library — trauma site

by Jock Yell0tt

“When Dean Goluboff took the stage to respond, she immediately started crying and was largely incoherent to the audience for much of the first part of her response … ”

Risa Gobuloff, Esq., is Dean of the University of Virginia Law School.

Dean Gobuloff’s crying spate occurred at a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, April 19, 2018, called by the school’s Minority Rights Coalition to discuss the previous day’s emergency.[1]

The emergency was: a man sat in the law library reading up on the law.

Why were law students not warned about this by e-mail alerts?

One “crying, mad, frustrated” student felt “alienated.”

“Today is my 25th birthday,” said another.  “Yesterday my heart was in my stomach, tears streaming.” Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Update: UVa Freezes Undergraduate Tuition One Year

Jim Ryan

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia is freezing undergraduate tuition in the next school year, but increases in student fees, room, and board will total about $392, or about a 1.1% increase in the cost of attendance in the College of Arts & Sciences.

The board had considered boosting tuition as much as 3.1% this year, based on the national cost of providing a college education plus 1%, reports the Daily Progress. While the Board held steady on tuition this year, UVa President Jim Ryan warned, that the respite likely would last only one year.

“If there were ever a year to raise undergraduate tuition, it would be this year, given the large and unexpected costs and the loss of revenues because of COVID,” Ryan said. “At the same time, if there was ever a year to not raise undergraduate tuition, it would also be this year, given the pandemic and the financial hardship facing a lot of our students and their families.” Continue reading

Hate, Hostility and Harassment at UVa

Nick Cabrera tweeted this photo of himself posing maskless with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green at the Conservative Political Action Conference. COVID scolds wanted to impeach him from student council.

by James A. Bacon

Last fall Nickolaus “Nick” Cabrera ran for election as a first-year representative to student council at the University of Virginia. His platform was anodyne — showing unity in confronting COVID-19, getting Class of 2024 t-shirts delivered, that sort of thing. He didn’t run on an ideological or partisan political platform, but he didn’t hide anything either. It wasn’t until he was actually elected to a spot on Student Council that people took notice. Horrors! He supported Donald Trump for president! The word went out on the social media tom-toms. Before long, he was a campus villain.

It wouldn’t be long before Cabrera received his baptism under fire as the sole conservative representative in a student council populated entirely by representatives on the blue end of the political spectrum.

UVa erupted in a furor when minority and woke-white students took umbrage at the use of language by a Commerce School professor. Student Council passed a resolution demanding implementation of a “strike” system — three strikes and you’re out — to hold professors accountable for the use of words deemed offensive. Cabrera was the only student to speak against a measure he saw as a threat to free speech and due process. His stand on principle earned him the animosity of other council members, who said in essence he had no standing as a white person to speak on the matter. (I have described that encounter in detail here.) Continue reading

The Bureaucratic Banality of Academic Oppression

by James A. Bacon

Two-and-a-half years ago, Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya, a medical school student at the University of Virginia, attended a session on “microaggressions” in which psychology professor Beverly Colwell Adams gave a presentation about her research. In what he thought to be a collegial manner, Bhattacharya challenged her analysis.

The challenge was not well received. Indeed, other participants in the session deemed his questions disrespectful. There followed a sequence of events in which Bhattacharya was investigated by the Academic Standards and Achievement Committee for unprofessional behavior, was told to submit to psychological evaluation, was suspended, was branded as a threat to the university community, was banned from the university grounds, and ultimately was expelled.

Bhattacharya has detailed his side of the story in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville against the University of Virginia and various university officials. The defendants filed for a motion to dismiss, but Judge Norman K. Moon ruled that the case should proceed. I base the account that follows upon the details contained in Moon’s ruling.

That ruling presents only one side of the story, Bhattacharya’s, and has to be considered in that light. But Bhattacharya version is well documented with emails and audio recordings. If substantially correct, the implications for freedom of thought and expression at the University of Virginia are extremely troubling. The lawsuit opens a window into the internal workings of Virginia’s flagship university. Free thought and expression are stifled not only by the widely recognized phenomena of doctrinaire faculty and Twitter Outrage Mobs, but by administrators acting through the university’s clunky bureaucratic machinery. Continue reading