It’s time

Submitted on Mar 26, 2015 by Mike Walters (Col ’69)

One shudders to catch the phrase “University of Virginia” coming from a national news broadcast these days. Apart from sports, I have heard three stories in such broadcasts recently: one a murder, one an alleged rape and the latest one an unfortunate beating. Only one of them had anything to do with the university: the alleged rape, which became the subject of a thorough investigation by local police this week. Their report was lucid, impressive and seemingly based on a well-conducted investigation. The report cast great doubt that any of “Jackie’s” story held water. Otherwise, two UVA students found themselves in horrific circumstances, one that ended tragically and the other which has created great controversy regarding how much fault to heap on the student victim versus the officers who bloodied him.

What is becoming increasingly noncontroversial in my mind is the competency (or lack thereof) for our President to guide the University to any kind of vision of future accomplishment. In the case of the alleged rape, she grotesquely overreacted to uninvestigated accusations and then held steadfastly to the conditions of her overreaction as the basis for her actions melted away like snow in April. In the case of the manhandling of Martese Johnson, she foolishly linked an event to the University that had nothing to do with academics or life on the grounds. Her sense of judgement is beginning to appear to be questionably grounded at best.

I would hope that when I hear President Sullivan’s name in the middle of such broadcasts that it would have to do with providing clarity on how online education fits with her future vision of what UVA is or should be, or how improved fiscal management can give UVA a leading position on how to make education more affordable for the general public, etc. Instead, the inclusion of her name in these broadcasts makes me cringe.

It’s time to wonder if a good decision made a couple years ago was followed by a bad one to undo the first one. I vote yes, it was.

Comments (1):

  1. Belinda M. Barham on said:

    Mr. Walters,

    With all due respect to your stated opinion, all of the stories involve UVA as they each include either living or dead student(s). President Sullivan is privy to large amounts of data for which others do not have access. Your description of a “grotesque” overreaction to horrific stories/events/crimes (not circumstances) is more applicable to the alleged perpetrators, in my opinion, until the cases are fully developed and concluded. You were not very specific as to the cases in the media in your statement, so I will respond in general terms: (1) there is no statute of limitations on murder; there is no statute of limitations on rape in Virginia; and (3) the photograph of the beating is what it is — simply horrifying and worth investigation. The rights of the all of the parties involved in these events allow that months, even years can pass before the legal process evolves and concludes.

    What’s your hurry? Why is your answer (to these tragic recent events and crimes and sensitive headlines) simply a rush to judgment to oust President Sullivan from UVA? What would that solve? I see no justification for such an action whatsoever.

    Can we not let others simply speak their truths and then just listen — and respond, if we must, with tolerance and respect of one another? Should not our words stand on their own merit without degrading someone else? President Sullivan has every right to speak her truth, just as you do.

    Every individual has the right to voice their story — their truth, including alleged victims and perpetrators. We do not, however, have the right to dehumanize or demoralize one another in the process.

    I respect your words. I simply ask that you allow freedom of speech and the legal process to unfold with respect to yourself and others. Also, be specific. Then meaningful conversations may occur.