A statue of Thomas Jefferson on the University of Virginia's campus has become a focal point for controversy.
Student groups at the University of Virginia have issued a list of demands that includes racial quotas and mandatory “education” about Thomas Jefferson’s connection to white supremacy.
The Minority Rights Coalition (MRC) at UVA, a coalition of minority student groups, hosted the “March to Reclaim Our Grounds” on August 21 to “send a message to the university that we demand more from them [sic] in these times.”
Taking that vow literally, the MRC members delivered a ten-point list of demands during the rally articulating the steps they believe UVA must take to “reclaim” the campus after it was overrun by white supremacists.
The list begins with a demand that UVA “remove the Confederate plaques on the Rotunda,” referring to a building that stands at the center of Thomas Jefferson’s historic Academical Village. The plaques, which were erected “in memory of the students and alumni of the university who lost their lives in the military service of the Confederacy,” stand beside a series of other plaques honoring UVA alumni who perished in other armed conflicts.
Another item on the list, conversely, asserts that the statue of Jefferson on UVA’s campus “serves as an emblem of white supremacy, and should be re-contextualized with a plaque to include that history” before going on to insist that “more buildings named after prominent white supremacists, eugenicists, or slaveholders should be renamed after people of marginalized groups.”
In light of the recent Charlottesville riots, the students also state that “white supremacist groups, particularly UVA alumni Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer, should be explicitly denounced and banned from campus.”
Just to be certain, though, they also ask that UVA declare its main lawn a “residential space” where concealed firearms and open flames would be prohibited.
Campus Reform inquired with the university as to whether such a designation would allow temporary or permanent structures to be erected on the lawn, but did not receive a response by press time.
In addition, the MRC ultimatum asserts that “all students, regardless of area of study, should have required education on white supremacy, colonization, and slavery as they directly relate to Thomas Jefferson, the University, and the city of Charlottesville,” complaining that the existing curriculum only mandates such classes for students in the College of Arts and Sciences, and even then allows them “to focus in on aspects of difference of their choice.”
Two other items on the list demand explicit racial quotas for both the faculty and the student body, saying that the composition of each group should reflect statewide demographics.
“As of last year, the percentage of undergraduate African American students...was 6.4%,” the students point out, saying UVA “must take action to ensure that as a public university, this number is reflective of state demographics at a 12% proportion.”
Similarly, they argue that the “proportion of faculty for an underrepresented group should strive to match the proportion of the student population of that group at minimum,” deeming it “unacceptable” that only three percent of the faculty was African American in 2016.
The students also want UVA to acknowledge a $1,000 gift that the school received from the KKK in 1921, saying it should highlight this “racist history” as part of the school’s Bicentennial celebrations, as well as “re-invest this amount, adjusted for inflation, into existing UVA and Charlottesville multicultural organizations.”
The $1,000 gift, adjusted for inflation, would amount to approximately $13,000 today.
Finally, the list concludes by asking the university to “issue a strategic and actionable diversity plan, with input sourced from minority student leadership,” which “should include a special emphasis on improving diversity and inclusion for faculty, staff, and students of color, as well as relations with the Charlottesville community.”