You would think that students would be free to hold whatever viewpoints they want at the University of Virginia, the campus Thomas Jefferson himself founded nearly two centuries ago. But the school denied a conservative group from opening an official chapter on campus, caving after only immense pressure.
Students at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. tried to renew a Young Americans for Freedom group this semester but were stopped dead in their tracks by the student council, reported The Daily Caller News Foundation. Young Americans for Freedom had the audacity to require its potential members agree to something called the Sharon Statement, which professes basic conservative principles like economic freedom, resistance to government overreach, and rejection of communism.
But Ty Zirkle, a student council officer, rejected the group, saying it can’t grant group membership based on political viewpoint. Now if that sounds illegal to you, congrats, you know more about government than a UVA student.
“Thomas Jefferson founded UVA; he also authored the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom,” said Spencer Brown, spokesman for Young America’s Foundation, the student group’s parent organization. “The irony is not lost that it is UVA that is violating its students’ rights.”
Other UVA groups like the Queer Student Union deny membership based on viewpoint, according to Brown.
Section 23 of the Code of Virginia explicitly states that “a religious or political student organization may determine that ordering the organization’s internal affairs, selecting the organization’s leaders and members, defining the organization’s doctrines, and resolving the organization’s disputes are in furtherance of the organization’s religious or political mission and that only persons committed to that mission should conduct such activities.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit representing the students, brought up this point in a December 15 letter demanding that UVA recognize Young Americans for Freedom by this Wednesday, hinting at a possible future lawsuit. Fox News commentator Brit Hume and former Virginia governor George Allen, both UVA alumni, also criticized the policy and well…on Wednesday…UVA reversed its decision, pledging to recognize the group.
It’s a victory for UVA and Charlottesville, but the region’s institutions still have work to do to repair a reputation tarnished by the police failings contributing to the violence in August, the city council’s decision to remove Confederate statues despite a clear majority of Americans favoring them, attacks on even the school’s Thomas Jefferson statue, and even really petty stuff like this school paper editor accusing a white guy with dreadlocks of cultural appropriation.
Mayor: Trade Jefferson’s Birthday For Emancipation Holiday
Jefferson’s birthday falls on April 13 and, up until now, Charlottesville has designated the nearest working day a paid holiday. But all that might change if city Mayor Nikuyah Walker gets her way, according to Campus Reform. The mayor suggested ditching Jefferson’s birthday as a paid holiday in exchange for Liberation and Freedom Day, which celebrates Charlottesville’s emancipation of slaves.
Walker didn’t really expand on the suggestion, but a little more vocal was city Councilor Wes Bellamy. You know, the Wes Bellamy who used to serve as vice mayor and tweeted stuff like “I DONT LIKE WHIT[E] PEOPLE SO I HATE WHITE SNOW” and “White women=Devil.”
Bellamy condemned Jefferson for being a slaveowner, which, if that’s our standard for not honoring someone, kind of excludes quite a few people before 1865. He also claimed that Jefferson raped his slave Sally Hemings. But I’ve reported before that DNA tests, as well as several Jefferson scholars indicate that Hemings didn’t give birth to ANY children by Jefferson.
The College Republicans at Charlottesville’s University of Virginia, the school Jefferson founded, criticized the mayor’s proposal, but I wasn’t too impressed with some of the language they used. The group called the Jefferson issue “complicated” and “complex” and said they were “dismayed” by the mayor’s proposal.
I really wanted to see them excoriate Walker, put her on blast. But the conservatives at my alma mater don’t seem to be of the fighting variety. UVA’s College Republicans rescinded its endorsement for Donald Trump after the Access Hollywood tape just a month before he won the 2016 election.
UVA Rejects Trump White House Visit
So when I left you guys last time, a petition was going around urging UVA not to accept a possible invite from Trump to the White House. The petition claimed Trump “has done all he can to stoke racial tension and embolden white supremacists,” citing Trump’s “very fine people on both sides” comment after the Charlottesville rally.
Of course, they don’t note that that comment was not about neo-Nazis, as the media would have you believe, but instead people on both sides of the Confederate statue debate. The whole petition’s based on a false premise, too: accepting an invitation to celebrate a sports win with an individual, regardless of who he is, doesn’t an endorsement of that individual’s politics.
Anyways, UVA basketball coach Tony Bennett released a statement saying “We have received inquiries about a visit to the White House. With several players either pursuing pro opportunities or moving on from UVA, it would be difficult, if not impossible to get everyone back together. We would have to respectfully decline an invitation,” reported Campus Reform.
So I’m just going to go ahead and call this what it is: hogwash. Do you really think Trump’s going to mind if a few players can’t make it — this is like cancelling class because some people are going to be absent. Just like the kiddos at Taylor University who are trying to disinvite Pence as the commencement speaker, UVA needs to realize that snubbing Trump’s not going to delegitimize the office, it’s just going to prevent individual students who may want to see the president and VP from doing so.
Here’s Why Biden’s Charlottesville Ad Was A Flop
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Joe Biden announced his bid for the 2020 presidency. But his announcement video was a bit peculiar in that it didn’t tell us why we should vote for Biden, but rather why orange man bad.
Biden slams Trump for the president’s “very fine people on both sides” remark, according to Campus Reform, but never actually gives the full context of that remark and it’s funny because when I was doing research for this video, I’d forgotten all about it at first, I guess because the media has so routinely omitted it in their coverage.
Trump had been referring to Confederate monument supporters/protesters, not neo-Nazis. I spoke with Matthew Nalls, a member of the University of Virginia College Republicans chapter, and he said:
“Biden’s announcement video is still a conspicuous attempt to capitalize on a tragedy in a city he has no ties to. Biden clearly did not listen to the Charlottesville community when they demanded he refrain from using the events for political purposes. Such an act is incredibly disappointing and unbecoming of any official seeking office.”
Now I’m not necessarily all about the whole “something tragic happened so therefore you must only be sad and not make any political observations that could maybe fix the problem.” It would be a bit tougher to fight radical Islam, for instance, if you couldn’t say anything after every bombing or truck attack. But here’s the thing: Biden isn’t attacking white nationalist terrorism — he’s attacking Trump. And when he’s deceitfully doing this by framing Trump’s “fine people on both sides” comment as about neo-Nazis instead of as about Confederate monument supporters, the whole thing kind of falls apart and really just resembles the campaign Hillary ran in 2016.
From “Black Lives Matter” to “all love is equal,” Democrats sure are fond of their platitudes. But they may have overlooked the aptness of one old adage: “there’s no such thing as bad press.” Billing himself as the anti-Trump instead of actually selling himself on his own merits may result in Biden just biding his time until another 2016 Dem disaster. See what I did there, fam?