Below is the letter State Senator and UVA alumni Donald McEachin sent yesterday to the University of Virginia's Board of Visitors:
Dear Member of the Board of Visitors,
As an alumnus of the University of Virginia School of Law, class of ’86, I have watched with trepidation and dismay the events of the past twelve days. I have seen students, faculty, administration and alumni fear for the heart and soul of the University, concerned that recent actions could permanently harm not just the reputation, but the community that is our UVA.
However, I am relieved that you have decided to convene another meeting to revisit the issues of the past two weeks. I want to commend you for listening to the outcry that the original actions provoked. Admittedly, acknowledging mistakes and changing course is not always easy, especially in the public venue that the UVA issue has become. I appreciate your willingness to take these remedial steps and hope that this time, you will work with the UVA community instead of secret, late night meetings resulting in public relations releases. At this and future meetings, the process must be different and the community must feel that their concerns, their perspectives and their needs are addressed. No solution will be workable until this occurs.
According to this morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges will be contacting the University to ensure they are in compliance and can remain accredited. I would encourage you in the strongest language possible, to do everything you can to ensure that UVA’s accreditation is not in any way at risk. To think that the flagship school of the Virginia higher education system and one of the very best (if not the best) public university in the country now finds itself under such scrutiny is shocking and, frankly, unacceptable. Please take whatever steps are necessary to remedy this as completely and as soon as possible.
Like most alumni, I value and cherish my time at Mr. Jefferson’s Academical Village. These were some of the most critical years of my life, not just because of what I learned in the classroom, not just because of what I experienced on Grounds, but because of what permeated the UVA environment. Neither I nor my fellow alumni will or should ever forget the sense of honor, the community of trust, the responsibility of what it means to be a member of the University of Virginia family.
As James Hays, Jr, said in The Honor Men:
"If you live a long, long time, and hold honesty of conscience above honesty of purse:Please, as we move forward in the next few days and over the next weeks and months, please keep these moving sentiments before you as you make judgments that impact not just the present, but the future and not just a university, but a Commonwealth.
And turn aside without ostentation to aid the weak
And treasure ideals more than raw ambition…
Then, remembering the purple shadows of the Lawn, the majesty of the colonnades, and the dream of your youth, you may say in reverence and thankfulness:
"I have worn the honors of Honor, I graduated from Virginia"