Alumni Groups Take Advantage of Donations Against Universities That Obstruct Free Speech | New

gAlumni groups from various colleges and universities across the country are organizing efforts to withhold donations from their alma maters in an effort to push institutions to re-commit to the principles of free speech.

Jefferson’s Council is one of these groups and was founded last year following relentless attempts by the University of Virginia to overturn its founder, Thomas Jefferson, as well as a shift in the institution towards ideological uniformity.

James Bacon, a 1975 University of Virginia graduate and founding board member, told the Washington Examiner that the group’s goal is to work through the system in place to “preserve the legacy of Thomas Jefferson” as well as to push the university to embrace intellectual diversity.

But the board, Bacon said, does not feel limited to this approach and has discussed using the power of the stock market to push directors to embrace a more expressive and intellectually diverse environment that does not erase the founder and author of the university. of the Declaration of Independence.

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“We started talking very early about” using “our donations as leverage. That’s the only thing these directors will pay attention to,” Bacon said. “The main job of a president is fundraising, and they are rewarded and paid to some extent on their ability to raise funds for the university.”

Bacon said that while the Jefferson Council has yet to call on alumni to stop donating to the school, other free speech alumni groups have, including in another school in Virginia: Washington and Lee University.

“If we start withdrawing our donations, maybe we can put some pressure on,” Bacon said, adding that he suspected the majority of former students associated with the board had stopped donating to the University of Charlottesville. out of exasperation, not as part of a larger strategy. .

The issue of free speech and intellectual diversity on college campuses known to be havens of liberal thought has been a well-documented struggle in recent years, with few institutions exempt from the struggle.

Activist students and professors have forced conservative students and professors to be silent, while university administrators have often put obstacles in the way of presenting ideas contrary to the mainstream on campus.

Jefferson’s Council is part of the Alliance for the Freedom of Expression of Elders, which brings together groups in leading public and private universities across the country to more effectively advocate for intellectual diversity and freedom of expression.

A recent the Wall Street newspaper item recognized the work of the five groups associated with the alliance, alumni groups from Princeton University, Cornell University and Davidson College, as well as groups from the University of Virginia and Washington and Lee.

But the alliance’s website said since its launch in October, it has been contacted by alumni of more than 100 different higher education institutions interested in organizing free speech groups. .

“Many such organizations are already in the process of being organized and the Alliance will soon have many more members,” according to the Alliance’s website, updated last Friday.

“The Alliance provides a mechanism for the exchange of information among its members on substantive and organizational issues,” adds the site. “A priority for the Alliance is to encourage the creation of alumni free expression groups for other colleges and universities, and the Alliance will create tools to help new alumni groups organize themselves. “

Bacon said he recognizes that he and his group face an uphill battle for change at the Liberal University of Virginia, in particular preserving the recognition of the university’s founder.

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“Thomas Jefferson is one of my heroes, and no, he wasn’t perfect,” Bacon said, mentioning that Jefferson owned slaves during his lifetime.

“Are you moving the ball of freedom and equality across the playing field, or are you moving it backwards?” Bacon asked. “He pushed him forward even though he wasn’t perfect.”

Original location: Alumni groups take advantage of donations against universities that hamper free speech

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