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UVA Lawn Sign Raises Alumni Ire


The University of Virginia is standing by a student’s hand-made sign, even though it contains profanity.  Sandy Hausman reports on the message that has some alumni aren't happy with it.

When a student who lives on UVA’s historic lawn posted a sign on her door featuring a four-letter word addressed to the university, the KKK, genocide and slavery, some alumni took to social media to complain.

Attorney Aubrey M. Daniel III wrote, “the Lawn is a place of honor to which the sign brought dishonor,” but we found students on the lawn disagreed.  As a friend practiced for her music class, Beau Bradley joined Nafisa Alangir, Nicole Krolack and a man who chose to remain anoymous in voicing support for the sign.

“You know if you’re going to deliver a point and want people to see it, what better place than right here?” said Beau Bradley, who lives next door to the sign.

“We’re adults here,” reasoned Nafisa Alangir with a shrug.

“It’s an honor to live on the lawn, so to have that kind of power and not do anything with it seems like a disservie to the community,” said her companion, who asked to remain anonymous.

“When you’re young you feel strongly about things,” concluded  Nicole Krolack. “If this person feels that way then they have that right.”

The university’s attorney said the Supreme Court had addressed this issue during the Vietnam War, arguing that “one man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric and branding such signs as political speech,” protected by the first amendment.

UVa’s President Jim Ryan agreed, and – on a related note –said he would not support calls to remove a statue of the school’s slave-owning founder, but would approve adding historical context.  “As long as I am president,” he added, “ the University of Virginia will not walk away from Thomas Jefferson.”  

***Editor's Note: The University of Virginia is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief