A group of 469 professors and students at the University of Virginia (UVA) are calling for the school’s president to stop quoting school founder Thomas Jefferson, on the grounds that Jefferson was a slave owner.
In a post-election email to the UVA community, school president Teresa Sullivan included a Jefferson quote saying that UVA 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.” Sullivan encouraged modern UVA students to “embrace that responsibility.”
But some at UVA say that quoting Jefferson in such a manner is completely unacceptable.
“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,” the public letter says. “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.”