Anti-Israel protest University of Virginia camping The Schilling Show

by Elaine Schultz

Guest Editorial Graphic Schilling Show BlogAn open letter to the University of Virginia community:

The above photo was posted at 5:30 AM on May 1. After reflecting on the scene, the protests, and the underlying cause, a number of questions popped into my head, which I now share with you.

  1. The Daily Progress reported that UVA said protestors could stay as long as the gathering didn’t become an encampment. But they slept in a big group on Grounds and are asking the public to keep them supplied so they can stay? An encampment needn’t have tents to be an encampment. Sleeping outside overnight is camping as anyone who camps knows. This violation was condoned by UVA through non-removal.
  1. UVA has a rule about the size of groups that are allowed on Grounds that aren’t officially sponsored by a sanctioned University group. The Daily Progress reported around 100 people were there yesterday. Please take names of every person there this morning to determine if they are officially affiliated with UVA. If a single person is not a UVA student, faculty or verifiable parent, or a spouse or child of a student or faculty, why are they allowed to sleep on Grounds?
  1. If sleeping on Grounds overnight is allowed, then parents and families should be allowed to sleep rough the night before final exercises to be first in line for the lawn ceremonies, right? As long as they don’t have tents, UVA is saying it’s okay to sleep there.
  1. If these were homeless people, would UVA allow them to sleep on Grounds overnight? If not, why not? Many homeless I speak to and interact with have deeply held beliefs and a surprising number have chosen to “protest” the status quo by living rough. In a truly free and equitable application of laws and regulations, all protest is equal as long as it follows the agreed upon rules. The current accepted standard is that as long as you don’t have tents, it’s fine. So anyone claiming protest should be allowed to sleep on Grounds going forward?
  1. If this event is sponsored by sanctioned University groups, I suggest you release the names of those groups to the public so those of us who support many UVA groups financially or with resources can choose our financial support of said groups accordingly in the future. Knowing exactly which groups are sponsoring this will also save face for UVA in the public eye that you don’t apply your rules to some groups and not others.
  1. The assembled protestors seem very concerned about Covid, as they have stated such and are almost exclusively “masked.” Since they aren’t wearing the masks to obscure their identity, then they should have no problem giving their names and identities to police. It’s very important that police collect the names of these people sleeping on the Grounds of the university supported by Virginians’ tax dollars and tuition fees. There could be felons, sexual offenders, people with outstanding warrants, or drug dealers living on the Grounds where Virginia students are coming and going — often alone and often at night. Due diligence says that UVA should collect all of their names to ensure that all of their students remain safe. Doing anything less is ignoring the threat to the young student population we entrust to UVA. If protestors aren’t wearing masks to obscure identity, then they should happily produce identification when asked. If they are unwilling or unable, then I would think they would need to leave in order to ensure students’ safety.

These are interesting and challenging times and all members of the Commonwealth look forward to seeing how the University puts ALL the students’ well-being first, enforces rules equally, and acts with clarity and transparency before damage to UVA’s reputation or UVA facilities is affected (including the grass and historic trees to which their signs are affixed).

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The Schilling Show frequently publishes guest editorials from community contributors on topics of interest to this audience. The views expressed within do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher, although they may. For consideration of publication as a guest editorialist, please send an email to The Schilling Show.

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