Tags: Education | university of virginia | thomas jefferson | quote | election

Students, Professors to UVa President: Stop Quoting Thomas Jefferson

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By    |   Tuesday, 15 Nov 2016 06:26 PM

The University of Virginia's president is facing a backlash from teachers and students alike after quoting the school's founder — former President Thomas Jefferson — in an email urging students to unite after last week's divisive presidential election.

"Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students 'are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes,'" university president Teresa Sullivan wrote in the email, according to the Cavalier Daily, the school's student newspaper. "I encourage today's U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility."

Some professors objected to the quote since Jefferson owned slaves and held "other racist beliefs," the paper reported.

"We would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson's legacy, others of us came here in spite of it," they wrote. "For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey."

A total of 469 professors and students signed the letter.

"The intention of the email was to start a conversation with our administration regarding ways to be more inclusive," assistant psychology professor Noelle Hurd, who drafted the letter said. "In the current climate, we must seize every opportunity to communicate that this university welcomes individuals from all backgrounds."

Sullivan responded on Monday, saying she fully endorses the right of students and professors "to speak out on issues that matter to all of us, including the University's complicated Jeffersonian legacy."

But, she added, "Quoting Jefferson (or any historical figure) does not imply an endorsement of all the social structures and beliefs of his time."

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The University of Virginia's president is facing a backlash from teachers and students alike after quoting the school's founder - former President Thomas Jefferson - in an email urging students to unite after last week's divisive presidential election.
university of virginia, thomas jefferson, quote, election
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2016-26-15
Tuesday, 15 Nov 2016 06:26 PM
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