I noted yesterday that, in a significant move, the Board of Visitors of Virginia Tech quietly dropped affirmative action. It turns out they did more than that. According to the Collegiate Times, the Virginia Tech student newspaper, the Board of Visitors also eliminated sexual orientation from the anti-discrimination policy.
It’s not quiet any more.
The student government association is planning a lawsuit to force the sexual orientation language back into the anti-discrimination policy statement, and in general all hell is breaking loose. Edd Sewell, the non-voting faculty representative on the Board, says the university is turning into a proto-Nazi police state.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “they are systematically deconstructing the freedoms, the civil rights of the people at this university….”
“It certainly puts Virginia Tech in the light that we are no longer a viable academic community,” he said.
Sewell likened the BOV’s actions to pre-World War II Germany.
At the beginning of the Nazi rise to power, civil liberties were quietly rolled back, people were discriminated against and people merely stood by and watched it happen.
That’s exactly what is happening now at Tech, Sewell said.
“I think we need to start reading the history of the 1930s,” he said.
Actually, reading some history might lower the hyperbole quotient a bit, but Faculty Edd was certainly not alone in his concerns.
The outside perception of the university is likely to take a severe downturn, said Lisa Tabor, a graduate student in English.
“The perception is that this is a racist, homophobic and misogynistic institution,” she said.
Meanwhile, back in Charlottesville, UVa’s Cavalier Daily editorially condemned the changes at its sister institution, and a front page news story was even more critical. It quoted Susan Gooden, identified as president of the black caucus of Virginia Tech, who claimed that the policy changes “will create an intolerant and intimidating atmosphere at Virginia Tech.”
“It sends a very negative message that Virginia Tech is an unwelcoming community for minority students, women and for people of different sexual orientations,” Gooden said. “This will have a very, very strong chilling effect.”
I still find it remarkable that institutions are denounced as racist (which is what “unwelcoming” means here) when they announce that they will not discriminate on the basis of race.