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University of Virginia’s student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, released an August editorial demanding the institution disavow white supremacy by removing college founder Thomas Jefferson from campus buildings.
In an editorial titled, “To create ‘citizen leaders,’ U.Va. must do more,” the Cavalier editors argued that the university needs to “reject” the buildings and statues that “glorifies” white supremacy.”
“We reject how the University’s physical environment — one that glorifies racists, slaveholders and eugenicists with statues and buildings named in their honor — upholds an enduring culture of white supremacy,” the editorial stated.
The editorial argued the campus needs to change due to how “comfortable” marchers from the notorious Unite the Right rally felt coming onto campus. In August 2017, white nationalists marched in Charlottesville in favor of maintaining Confederate statues in the city.
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The piece warned about the politically radioactive presence the Robert E. Lee and Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson statues provide and the two statues were a significant role in the Unite the Right rally. However, the editorial didn't make a distinction between the university founder and the nations' Founding Father to the confederate generals.
“Our physical environment — from statues to building names to Jefferson’s overwhelming presence — exalts people who held the same beliefs as the repugnant white supremacists in attendance at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally. These buildings must be renamed and memorials removed,” it wrote.
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“The University has a long way to go in creating the learning and physical environment that would truly enable its students to become citizen leaders,” the paper noted.
The editorial also took aim at itself for past editorials the paper published.
“Citizen leadership requires taking accountability. To be clear, we vehemently oppose the previous editorials written shortly before and shortly after the events of Aug. 11 and 12 that ignored institutionalized racism and misdirected blame to inappropriate bodies,” it wrote. “In 2017, The Cavalier Daily was part of the larger media system that exacerbated the harmful effects of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally. It would be hypocritical to write this editorial today without recognizing these failures and rededicating ourselves to our mission statement of performing a public service.”
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The removal of confederate monuments and statues have been an ongoing debate across the country. Although the debate in some parts of the country has expanded to Founding Fathers. New York City's Public Design Commission unanimously voted to remove an 187-year-old statue of Thomas Jefferson from city hall late last year.
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