Attacks from left-leaning activists are part for the course for conservative college students these days. But what happens when the university steps in and defends the conservative?
Max Wagner, a law student at the University of Virginia, discovered just that. At The Daily Wire, Wagner writes of a controversy on campus that ultimately resulted in UVA’s pushing back against the liberal mob that had aligned again him.
“A few weeks ago, I wrote an article for the law school newspaper, Virginia Law Weekly, about terms in the immigration debate,” Wagner writes at The Wire. “I hoped to start a discussion about the immigration debate and the policies proposed in Congress.
“My article, Untangling the Immigration Debate, examined the origins and use of three popular leftist euphemisms that confuse conversation about immigration: (1) Illegal Immigrant/Undocumented Worker; (2) DREAMer; and (3) Chain(ed) Migration,” Wagner continues.
The backlash to the article, Wagner writes, was “immediate.
Within a day of publication, friends were pulling me aside in the halls to warn me that people were “really upset” by the article and to watch out. Perhaps it was naïve to think that the response would be reasoned debate with a response in the school paper, but what happened instead was unexpected and shameful.”
As time went on, Wagner writes, some of his friends “informed me that they were facing blowback for being associated with me. There were statuses and comments on Facebook calling the article and me racist for using the term ‘illegal immigrant’ and for mentioning statistics that were not flattering about a portion of DACA DREAMers. My article was labeled ‘xenophobic and racist.’ Some charges of racism came from people whom I had been close to for the last year and a half.”
Coordinated vandalism followed: “First, in an attempt to silence me, leftist students stole bundles of the printed newspapers, a violation of UVA’s strict, one-strike Honor Code — an expellable offense. Second, they defaced the paper and slandered me by leaving one copy of the paper in the newsstand with my name scratched out and “XENOPHOBIC” scrawled across the article. Third, they tried to intimidate me and the newspaper editorial board by cutting out the article, using red marker to circle it and write “SHAME” in large letters across the page, and pinning it to the board outside the Law Weekly’s office.”
Then two things happened, Wagner wrote, that took him by surprise:
First, a significant portion of the liberal student body has come out against this reaction by the school’s far left activists. Some of the liberal students still found the article to be “problematic,” but they have reached out to me to make sure I am alright, and have said that the theft, smearing, and intimidation by the far Left students is embarrassing and repugnant.
The second, greater difference was the response from the administration. Within a day, the administration contacted me to see how I was handling the situation. They assured me that I had their support in writing and publishing what I wanted. They also assured me that the school’s policies are content neutral and protect all students from actions such as targeted harassment.
The administration has considered each of the far Left students’ actions separately: (1) the theft of the papers is to be treated as a serious breach of the school’s code of conduct; (2) the posting of the article outside the Law Weekly office was seen as a protest — the school errs on the side of caution with free speech; and (3) the online statuses and comments online were outside the reach of the administration — the school does not police students’ social media accounts.
The administration’s investigation into the theft of the papers is ongoing and an official response by the school is being withheld until the investigation is completed. I am hoping the investigation uncovers the thief and the administration issues a strong response that upholds the community’s standards and integrity.
“Other schools may learn from the direction UVA Law appears to be taking: the bullies are few in number though loud in action. They are easily outnumbered and resisted when a community rallies around its core values and the honor it shares,” Wagner points out.