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Coming into college, I knew that I wanted to get involved in student journalism. I was the Editor-in-Chief of my high school’s yearbook — the closest thing we had to a student newspaper — and was eager to not only grow as a writer, but also find a community at the University that I could call home. After a brief stint as a copy editor, I found exactly what I was looking for as a columnist and later editor for the opinion section.
Three years ago, in a moment that will forever be seared into the collective consciousness of our community — and by extension the nation itself — scores of white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched through Grounds carrying tiki torches. These individuals desecrated the very space that we call home with their racist and antisemetic bile — rhetoric that is strikingly reminiscent of what was heard at the height of Jim Crow and in Nazi Germany during the 1930s. The hate in their eyes and veins bulging from their necks were not shrouded in white robes. Instead they were plainly visible. Indeed, the sheer audacity and callousness of their actions seemingly underscored the empowerment which these white supremacist groups felt in the wake of President Donald Trump’s electoral victory ten months earlier.
The University’s senior leadership team announced Aug. 28 that it would press forward with plans to welcome back on-Grounds residents and resume in-person instruction. This decision came after a two-week delay during which time many students and community leaders voiced their strong opposition to the University’s intention of reopening for the fall semester. In particular, many cited the failure of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in implementing its reopening plan as a foreshadowing of what was to come if the University continued on the same path.
Today our nation and the wider world finds itself in the midst of one of the greatest crises that has been seen in our lifetimes. It can be difficult at times to turn on the evening news and listen to reporters talk about the surge in the number of cases across the country and the possibility that the death toll may rise into the millions. What has made this crisis even more troubling is the lack of moral leadership from the White House since the moment COVID-19 first came on the radar of American officials in late 2019.
Throughout the course of our nation’s history, we have been blessed with the great fortune of having the right leader at the right time — Lincoln during the Civil War, Roosevelt at the height of the Great Depression and Ford in the aftermath of Watergate. Today, we find ourselves at a similar crossroads where bold, decisive leadership is expected and American resolve and active participation on the world stage is required. The recent escalation in tensions with Iran — a crisis which nearly culminated in a direct military conflict earlier this month — has demonstrated the perils of incompetent leadership. With the stakes now higher than ever and inaction being an untenable course, this is a moment that will require strong, steady and stable leadership. This is a moment for Joe Biden.
If you’ve been to Charlottesville at any point in the past year, you’ve likely seen electric scooters seemingly everywhere. In the span of just a year, these scooters have evolved from what was once a novel curiosity into an integral component of public transit in the Charlottesville region. According to data collected by city officials, 30,000 users have made more than 200,000 scooter rides, collectively traveling more than 200,000 miles since their debut in December 2018. These astounding figures underscore not only the popularity of e-scooters with the general public but also their necessity in the lives of so many in the region.
November’s election was a historic moment as Democrats regained control of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation, marking a new era for politics in the Old Dominion. Although this shift is reflective of the larger blue wave that has swept across the nation in response to Doanld Trump’s presidency, the outcome of Virginia’s election is especially noteworthy when considering that Republicans held a 67-seat supermajority in the House of Delegates only three years ago.
Over the past several decades, Virginia has essentially become two separate states — Northern Virginia, or “NOVA,” and the rest of the Commonwealth — with each region having a distinct cultural, economic and political identity. It is in the midst of this dramatic transformation that Democrats have reestablished themselves in Virginia politics, relegating the legacy of the Byrd Organization and Massive Resistance to the ash heap of history and building a powerful base of support in Northern Virginia. Although this separation with the party of the past came into question earlier this year, Democrats have vowed to build a “New Virginia” should they emerge victorious this November. And yet, just as Democrats are on the cusp of regaining control of the General Assembly for the first time in nearly 20 years, their hubris and disconnect with certain regions across the state may ultimately tarnish these dreams.
After months of rumors and anticipation, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., D-Del., formally announced his candidacy in April, quickly emerging not only as the frontrunner in the crowded Democratic field but also as the single greatest threat to President Donald Trump’s reelection prospects. Since then, Trump and his allies have become fixated on the possibility of a matchup against Biden in the general election with polling data, including from their own sources, consistently showing few, if any, possible avenues for reelection. This threat is only further amplified by the fact that most polls have continued to show the former vice president to be well ahead of Trump in many of the states that proved to be decisive in securing his 2016 victory including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio.
Since 2016, the University Programs Council has hosted its annual, University-wide concert during Welcome Week to celebrate the return of students to Grounds as well as the arrival of the incoming first-year class. This event directly coincides with Block Party in the hope that it will deter students from visiting the area surrounding Wertland Street — a site that has traditionally been a hotspot for violent crime and underage drinking during move-in weekend.
This summer’s recent mass shooting in Virginia Beach serves as yet another painful reminder of the tremendous cost that has been unduly paid by far too many Virginians as the result of gun violence. It was only 12 years ago that a lone gunman went on a killing rampage at Virginia Tech, brutally murdering 32 classmates and instructors before ultimately turning the gun on himself, committing what at the time was the single largest mass shooting in American history.
The Board of Visitors earlier this year approved a measure to dedicate the new upper-class student residence hall on Brandon Avenue after the late Julian Bond, a history professor at the University and one of the most prominent figures within the civil rights movement. In many ways this decision is reflective of a much larger effort by the University over the past several years to highlight a greater share of its history in the memorials and structures dedicated across Grounds.
In 1818, shortly after construction had begun on the Academical Village, Thomas Jefferson outlined in a letter to a friend his vision for the role of education in the newly established republic. "If the condition of man is to be progressively ameliorated, as we fondly hope and believe, education is to be the chief instrument in affecting it." In establishing the University, Jefferson believed that this institution cradled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains would serve as the nexus of intellectual and political free thought, ensuring the survival of the fledgling republic and nurturing future generations of leaders and scholars alike.
Earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law legislation which officially raised the legal purchasing age of tobacco and vapor-related products from 18 to 21. In a state whose very origins and history are heavily intertwined with the cultivation of tobacco — tracing its earliest roots to 1611 at Jamestown — and remains one of its largest industries, this move by lawmakers in Richmond was monumental. Yet despite this, numerous inherent flaws and loopholes still exist with the Commonwealth’s strategy to address the recent upsurge in teen consumption of e-cigarettes.
Over the past month, Virginia’s state government has gone through what one can only describe as an unadulterated dumpster fire whose proportions, ramifications and publicity far exceed that of any other previous political scandal in the Commonwealth’s history. All three of Virginia’s top elected officials — Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring — have each become embroiled in a series of separate controversies which strike at the very heart of many of today’s most complex and sensitive social issues. In short, these scandals have profoundly embarrassed the Commonwealth and undermined the confidence of its electorate.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) formally declared his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination on Feb. 19, becoming the 10th major candidate to enter into the race. And while the Iowa caucuses are still almost year away, now is a good time for Democrats to begin asking themselves what exactly it is that they will need to find in a nominee in order to successfully retake the White House.