17 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2018
  2. Nov 2017
    1. 4. The best mode of government for youth in large collections, is certainly a desideratum not yet attained with us

      For as important as student government seems to be at UVA, I am surprised it is not mentioned more explicitly. Perhaps this was a quality of UVA that came later. I think that Uva is somewhat centered around student governance - however good or bad it may be - and because it is used as such a defining aspect and selling point I was really expecting it to be more present in a document as crucial to the foundation of the university as this one. I would not have thought it would come alter and just be added in to the university's important qualities list. Jefferson also already had clearcut plans for the Academic Village and where certain buildings and facilities were to be placed as outlined in this report. This is another central quality to UVA and it exists right here from the start. Where is the concept of student government?

    2. What, but education, has advanced us beyond the condition of our indigenous neighbours?

      I completely missed this phrase and the connotation behind it the first time I read through this report. It is possible I missed it because I was distracted by the racism near the front of the report on the importance of the university’s proximity to white people. At first, I thought this sentence was just as inconsiderate and reflective of the time period in which the Rockfish Gap Report was written and in which our university was founded. However, upon further analysis of the question I realized that it seems as though the writers of the report are insulting themselves, in a way, with this choice of language. While I personally do not believe comparing oneself or others to indigenous neighbors is insulting, at the time it was not a common thing to do and would not have been taken as a positive comparison. However, in this sentence, the report’s authors seem to be saying that the only thing separating them from the Native Americans or “indigenous neighbors” is education. I find it very intriguing that the founders would write this, especially because of the connotation it would bring at the time. However, perhaps it is purposeful and a way to stress the importance of higher education and furthering oneself to remain advanced. Education can be tied to the many differences between the white man and the natives such as guns, housing differences, and clothing. I can’t forget to mention though that the education of the Native Americans on how to grow crops in North America is what allowed the early settlers to survive. Education was important in this area too. Maybe education does not differentiate these two groups as much as they may think. I think education in different areas of expertise is what mainly separates the men in this report from their indigenous neighbours. While they choose education in school and on more worldly matters, their neighbours are more education in the ways of the land and survival and both are important for each group's’ way of life

    3. 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

    4. 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

    5. and the hope delusive of rendering ourselves wiser, happier or better than our forefathers were.

      This quote I find heartening and a spirit that the University can use as its mission today. We have an ugly history, but as the Report says no man is fixed. We can separate ourselves and move on from our history and be "wiser, happier, or better" than our predecessors were. It is this duality of this report and the institution at which I attend that is so interesting. Our intentions are good, but we need to be sure we practice what we preach. Matt Mandell

    6. To improve by reading, his morals and faculties.

      Can you "improve" some one's morals? To me, good or bad morals are a subjective analysis of the ethics of a man. Everybody has their own idea of what is right or wrong, and to institutionalize an idea of better morals is dangerous, especially with the morals held by some of the University''s founders. Matt Mandell

  3. Oct 2017
    1. To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business. To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express & preserve his ideas, his contracts & accounts in writing.

      This part of the text makes it known that everyone who was to be involved in the University's establishment should have the right of knowing what goes on with his own transactions. While reading this, i was constantly reminded of how my engagement constantly talks about people having the right to control what goes on to their bodies. Some people choose to stay ignorant to the problems going on in their body while others care to know what is going on and what indeed is the best way to proceed forward. It is all a right and in no way, shape, or form should this right be violated and/or questioned. I believe that while, several other aspects of the document were designed for failure, this section provided some sort of hope for equality and self awareness. - Kayla Thomas

    2. To understand his duties to his neighbours, & country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either.

      This idea seems to be really important in being a conscious and involved member of society in our time. In light of recent events, we can look to interpret the "duties to [our] neighbors" to mean that we need to care for and support each other, regardless of differences.

    3. The objects of this primary education determine its character & limits. These objects would be, To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business. To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express & preserve his ideas, his contracts & accounts in writing. To improve by reading, his morals and faculties. To understand his duties to his neighbours, & country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either. To know his rights; to exercise with order & justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciaries of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence with candor & judgment. And, in general, to observe with intelligence & faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.

      This portion of the document is extremely important because it addresses the purpose of the University, but is also somewhat ironic regarding what was stated earlier in the document. In the first paragraph, it is revealed that the University's location was chosen based on its centrality to the white population in Virginia. Although this statement implies a bias against non-white Virginians, the listed purposes of the University and what it hopes to impart to its students paint a different picture, one in which a student would use his education to behave morally in society. In this light, the purpose of the University can be interpreted in different ways, either as a way to serve the white population so that they may "preserve [the] ideas" of the time Oppositely, students could use the knowledge they gain to "improve [their] morals," and work to bring about change in society by educating others about the ethical way to interact with people of all races.

      Claire W.

  4. Sep 2017
    1. This doctrine is the genuine fruit of the alliance between church and State

      While Jefferson is often accredited with being on of the primary figures supporting a separation of church and state, this line brings that into question. This seems to assert that the church and the government have a bond and are on the same side. In many ways, this is true; both religion and public education have similar goals in educating youth so that they can be productive and valued people in the future. The only difference being that these institutions have different definitions for what is "valued". In the Can a text be Ethical engagement class, it is frequently discussed how the Bible is used as evidence for many philosophical arguments. It is clear that the writers of the Rockfish Gap Report do respect the church and its basic beliefs because they freely admit to being in an alliance with the church. However, in spite of this, it must still be asked whether Jefferson and the other writers of this document were for or against the complete separation of church and state.

      Ryan Keane

    2. We have proposed no formal provision for the gymnastics of the school, altho a proper object of attention for every institution of youth.

      This is consistent with the University today as there is no requirement of physical education or activity for students. However, in a world where people are becoming increasingly unhealthy (especially in white-collar occupations), it is only natural that one reasons that it is necessary for youth to be more educated about how to stay healthy throughout life. Education involves more than only intelligence, it is about being able to apply what you know to do positive things. If we are not teaching people how to take care of themselves, we are doing them a disservice. Jefferson himself was quoted with advising people to give 2 hours to exercising the body each day. However, people often cannot see the future benefits of their actions. Therefore, something such as required physical education is something that encourage fitness and will lead to a continued sense and pride in one's overall health. Ryan Keane

    3. Some of these have rendered the elements themselves subservient to the purposes of man

      Ideas themselves don't support an argument. People can skew the meanings of ignore the overall context to serve their own purposes. Interpretation is a large factor whenever we learn or teach. It isn't unethical to use knowledge as evidence, but it's wrong to purposefully assume meanings without considering the full history and still continue to publish it.

      Wei Guan

    4. that to secure Ourselves where we are, we must tread with awfull reverence in the footsteps of Our fathers.

      The word "secure" demonstrates a need for status and purpose. This seems interesting in reflecting on the document as a whole, which is essentially a declaration of establishment and is securing the meaning of the university. "Tread with awful reverence" prompts a reflection upon what is considered a good and valuable life in this situation. Do we need to keep this reverence in mind with all decisions that come with the progression of the school? Tana Mardian

    5. Districts of such extent as that every parent should be within a days journey of his son at school, would be desirable in cases of sickness

      In my Mortality and Morality engagement class, we often times talk about the role of family in the event that someone does become sick and how their presence can make a huge impact on how a situation is carried out. Family is often time seen as an extra layer of protection over any individual, especially for children. We assume that children are not old enough or mature enough to make major decisions for themselves, so it is ideal to keep them within reach in case of emergency. Therefore, if a school can supply resources that could be beneficial in times of need many parents would view that as a plus. - Kayla Thomas

    6. and the board, after full enquiry & impartial & mature consideration, are of opinion that the central point of the white population of the state is nearer to the central college

      This clause directly following the colon intrigues me in its oxymoronic quality. The paradox of using the same breath to explicitly state that race was the chief determinant for the location of the University of Virginia and to then describe this decision as having been reached by impartial deliberation immediately came to my attention as ironic. Looking at this fragment through the lens of the Ethical Engagements, the words "impartial" and "mature" accomplish two things. The first word reveals the intrinsic acceptance of discrimination based on race and the blindness to the possibility that it could even be accepted as discrimination. The second word, "mature", belies the value and justification the authors of the document and those who took part in the decision hold in regards to the conclusion they reached. In plain terms, they believed their actions to be of the purest standard based on an engrained ideology that fundamentally repudiates the pure standards of impartiality and morality they believed they were upholding.

  5. Sep 2013
    1. and utterly ignorant of the pleasures and desires of mankind and of human character in general

      There isn't a direct connection, but it seems like he's an ethical egoist, i.e. that one ought to be concerned only about herself.