CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA- Lawnies are in for a rude awakening when they learn that Mr. Jefferson is the father of our country’s independence, not the right to freedom of speech.
It’s no secret that Thomas Jefferson is hailed as a hero here at UVA (I mean, why wouldn’t he be?). But even those of us who took APUSH sometimes get our Founding Fathers and their achievements confused.
While it normally wouldn’t be a big deal to confuse John Adams with Samuel Adams, the necessity of a remedial history lesson has been made clear in light of UVA’s controversial plans to control what can and can’t go on the doors of Lawn rooms.
A friendly reminder: the First Amendment to the Constitution was actually written by James Madison.
“We understand that some of our Lawn residents think that they should have the right to post whatever they want on their doors under the First Amendment,” reads a statement that, ironically, was stapled to every Lawn room door in the middle of last night. “If you wanted to attend a school that respects the First Amendment, you should’ve gone to JMU.”
In a recent virtual press conference, Dean of Students Allen Groves spoke down to the UVA community, reading the entirety of the Declaration of Independence live on Zoom. Groves cracked a subtle grin before dropping what he must have thought was a killer closing line: “If Thomas didn’t write it, we don’t need to abide by it.”
“If the kids want to revolt against us, they have every right,” President Jim Ryan told WUVA in response to the student uproar. “I mean, it says so right here!” President Ryan pointed to a framed poster of the Declaration of Independence. One can only assume this museum gift shop poster has consoled our school’s president on more days than one.
Last time I checked, Jefferson never wrote about the importance of doors as community building spaces where students are free to express themselves. Then again, he also wasn’t the biggest fan of an oppressive power restricting the freedoms of those who are under its control.