- Nov 2017
Education generates habits of application, order and the love of virtue; and controuls, by the force of habit, any innate obliquities in our moral organization.
This is a very powerful statement regarding the purpose of higher education. The commissioners of the university clearly had a vision for how the education that the university provided should affect its students. However, the statement is somewhat idealistic in that it includes the idea that education will drive out any "innate" or subconscious deviations from morality. We all know that this was certainly not achieved at the time of the university's founding, when the practice of owning slaves was perceived as moral, and also has not been achieved today, although UVA has introduced many new efforts to combat this problem. Through the university's response to the Unite the Right rally this summer, the numerous implicit bias modules and presentations it offers, and the engagements themselves, our "innate obliquities" are being discussed and brought to light so that we as a university can take deliberate steps towards achieving this ideal view of education put forth by the commissioners of UVA. Claire Waterhouse
In conformity with the principles of our constitution, which places all sects of religion on an equal footing, with the jealousies of the different sects in guarding that equality from encroachment & surprise, and with the sentiments of the legislature in favor of freedom of religion manifested on former occasions, we have proposed no professor of Divinity
I find this point in the document to be forward-thinking, particularly considering the time period it was written in. It is well known that Thomas Jefferson wanted to create a university centered around learning rather than religion, which is why the Rotunda (a library) serves as the center of the university rather than a chapel or church, as was common among other colleges at the time. This concept of religious freedom and equality is especially intriguing after taking "Can a text be ethical?" with Professor Spittler this semester. Just as the commissioners of the university proposed not to force a prescribed set of religious beliefs on its students who may not have similar religious backgrounds, many of my discussion groups in the ethical engagement came to the conclusion that the New Testament cannot be used as the sole basis for an ethical argument, because not everyone holds the New Testament to be a sacred and valid text. Claire Waterhouse