Students and professors at the University of Virginia have been offended by their university president who sent an email quoting the school’s founder and the 3rd U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson.
In the email, Sullivan encouraged students to unite in the wake of this year's election, arguing that University students have the responsibility of creating the future they want for themselves.
“Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students ‘are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes,’” Sullivan said in the email. “I encourage today’s U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility.”
Professors on campus were disgusted with the email, citing Jefferson as a racist.
“We would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson's legacy, others of us came here in spite of it,” the letter read. “For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”
Four hundred and sixty-nine students and faculty members signed the letter.
In 1819, well after helping create the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson founded Virginia's first public university in Charlottesville.
On Jefferson's gravestone, he did see it fit to list any other accomplishments in life other than these:
"...on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more:
Here was buried
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia
because by these," he explained, "as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered."