Four years ago today Daisy Lundy, then a second year student at the University of Virginia “of black and Korean background” and a candidate for president of the the student council, claimed that she was assaulted by a student-appearing white male who sneered that “no one wants a nigger to be president.”
This incident, or alleged incident, occurred on the eve of the run-off election. The university erupted in a paroxysm of institutional guilt and “diversity” fervor — first candelight vigils, then new committees and advisory groups that produced new reports, here a Kaleidoscope Center for Cultural Fluency, there a new “chief officer for diversity and equity,” mediation sessions with psychiatrists, student groups with their list of demands, (one of 16 in one letter demanded the University file briefs supporting affirmative action at other schools), etc. In the immediate aftermath, and least important, Ms. Lundy’s opponent withdrew, and she became the new president of the student council.
A number of people at the time, and still, strongly suspected that this incident was a hoax, designed both to achieve a political victory for Ms. Lundy personally and, more substantially, instigate the institutional guilt and resulting rash of “diversity” initiatives that it in fact did achieve and instigate. After all, at the time there was, skeptics noted, a veritable Crime Wave Of (Fake) Hate Crimes around the country (also here). In addition to some troubling details of Ms. Lundy’s report of what happened, skeptics doubted that there was in fact any resistance among students to a minority student body president. After all, in the decade before her election four of the 10 student council presidents had been minorities.
At the time, however, for understandable reasons, few skeptics were willing to voice their skepticism out loud and thus risk the wrath, charges of racism, etc., from those, nominally dedicated to tolerance and inclusiveness, who had become high on the heady fumes of this enhanced political correctness on steroids. (I have written about the Lundy affair far too many times to cite. If you want to sample some of these posts, just type “Lundy” into the search box on the right.)
Now comes Alex Sellinger, the talented former managing editor of the Cavalier Daily, with a long and thoroughly researched retrospective, “Years Later, Lundy Incident Casts Long Shadow.” Indeed, given the thoroughness of Sellinger’s research, it appears that skeptics are still unwilling to talk, at least not on the record. Although Sellinger notes one “possibility, raised by some who are suspicious of Lundy’s account, is that the assault was contrived to win the Student Council election,” and he quotes a former university official (not necessarily a skeptic) pointing out the apparent anomaly of the history of minority presidents of the student council, this possibility is left tantalizingly dangling, and no mention is made of the raft of fake hate crimes that have been exposed elsewhere.
By contrast, University officialdom is reported to be quite proud of itself, its former guilt assuaged by the myriad “diversity” initiatives now in place. Maurice Apprey, a psychiatrist who was former diversity chief at the UVa medical school and is now the dean and head of the Office of African-American Affairs, said
Tensions have eased up because steps were taken to ensure that the electoral system was fairer. Steps were taken to show that the faculty and administration was committed to change….
Apprey cited the example of a recent town hall meeting to discuss issues of race in University housing as a model for effective discourse.
“Today we talk rationally about some of these issues,” Apprey said. “It was a very rational, thoughtful discussion between well-meaning parties to look at the pros and cons of those issues. That was not possible before.”
Apprey noted, however, that
Students still feel they have to be cautious. It is part of the African-American story to deal with the tension between what is my place and what it not. It is an ongoing story that has to deal with how an African-American balances risk and caution.
Still overtones, it appears, that the Grounds of the University of Virginia remain something of a battleground. Incidentally, the former Dean of African-American Affairs, M. Rick Turner, had written an email from his office to all black students urging them to vote for Ms. Lundy. Last year Dean Turner retired after it was determined that he had lied to federal investigators involved in a drug investigation.
Pat Payne, who worked as a resident assistant at the time, said she thinks the Lundy incident
helped race relations over time. I think it made people more aware of a lot of things: It made the administration more aware and students became more open.
University president John Casteen said Lundy’s tenure as student council president
is an important piece of the story. By actions rather than merely by words, she proved that she belonged where she was. In that sense, she may have created the more respectful, mutually tolerant atmosphere that has developed since.
Casteen also noted that
African-American students here have been tougher and smarter over time than have been those who have wanted to abuse them or to drive them out.
Of course, those “who have wanted to abuse them or to drive them out” remain as mysterious and unidentified as Lundy’s alleged assailant.
Ms. Lundy herself refused to be interviewed for the article (why?), but she did submit an email to Sellinger stating that she is
optimistic for long-term, positive change at the University. Each day we, as individuals and as an institution, must rededicate ourselves to making the University a more welcoming and inclusive environment. Through moral courage and critical engagement, I am hopeful that we will be able to build a University with a profound commitment to justice, civility, and equality.
Still a long way to go, more hard work ahead, etc., etc.
UPDATE: “Diversity” Pays [4 March]
Whether or not “diversity” as practiced on college campuses today has any tangible educational payoffs is unclear, but there can be no argument about the fact that it pays very well indeed.
On Friday, 1 March, the Cavalier Daily published a four-page supplement listing the salaries of all University of Virginia faculty earning over $30,000 per year. This data is not yet available online, but a quick visual scan of the tiny print columns reveals that the University’s Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, William Harvey, with an annual salary of $315,000, is one of the highest paid members of the faculty or staff.
And also demonstrating that “diversity” pays is Ms. Daisy Lundy herself, now Daisy Lundy Lovelace, who is employed, with a “faculty” designation and a salary of $54,500, as Diversity Chief Harvey’s assistant.