Woke Privilege at the University of Richmond

Thomas Hall, a UR dorm building upgraded five years ago for $7.9 million.

by James A. Bacon

Faculty and students are up in arms at the University of Richmond,  demanding the renaming of buildings that are named after a president and long-time rector the segregationist era. Faculty have voted to approve a statement of “no confidence” in Rector Paul Queally and have called for him to resign. Meanwhile, the Black Student Coalition organized a march across campus recently, chanting, “No justice, no peace, no racist trustees.”

Read the list of demands in this Richmond Times-Dispatch article. Decide for yourself how self-indulgent they are. Just remember, this is an institution that costs rich families $74,600 a year for tuition, room, board, and other charges but provides an average need-based aid package of $53,900 to 39% of the student body.

I have have zero sympathy for anyone at UR complaining about anything. By virtue of attending this cloistered academic oasis, they’re all “privileged.” And that especially includes people getting steep tuition discounts, whatever their race or ethnicity.

UR dining facilities

Here’s what would impress me. Instead of marching and chanting, why don’t UR’s woke students do something to help someone who actually needs the help? Like who? Oh, I don’t know… maybe the 55% of black 3rd graders in Richmond city schools who failed their English Standards of Learning exams or the 46% could couldn’t pass their math exams? I suspect a lot of these children could benefit from tutoring.

That seems to be the outlook at the Richmond Read Center, which is looking for volunteer tutor-mentors. States the website: “Volunteers serve as Adult Literacy Tutors for our students, teaching reading, basic math, and digital skills. Volunteers may work in a teacher-led classroom or be paired one-to-one as a tutor with a student.”

Or how about helping children from the 55% of households in the City of Richmond who live in single-parent households? Big Brothers Big Sisters of Richmond is looking for volunteers, too. States the BBBS website:

More than 70% of kids on our waitlist are boys looking for a Big Brother. And a majority of those boys are African-American or Hispanic. The need in our community for youth to have a role model is more urgent than ever.

All it takes is a couple of hours each week to help someone realize their potential, and go on to achieve their brightest possible future.

How ironic that UR students are complaining that the university has only two black counselors to serve a student body that is 6% black. Counseling is most beneficial, the RTD informs us, when the counselor can identify with the client. Black students are demanding the university fund off-campus counseling services “to provide a supplement for the unique experiences and conditions Black students might face.”

I wonder if poor inner-city kids looking for a reading mentor or a big brother feel the same way. Do they, too, look at every relationship through a racial lens? Do they feel inadequately served when their mentors and big brothers don’t “look like them”?

The agitation about building names won’t create structural change. It won’t help the “marginalized.” It’s pure symbolism over substance. UR could cave in to every single demand being pushed upon the Board of Trustees and it wouldn’t improve the life of one person by one iota. What a waste of talent and energy. Wokism is all about advancing the power and privilege of cultural elites.