4 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2017
    1. 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

    2. 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

  2. Oct 2017
    1. Also the whole of his Slaves amounting to 57 in number.

      In a portion of the document that lists areas of land that will be used by the University, it is shocking to see the inclusion of a group of people. By associating the 57 slaves with pieces of land, the document and its author imply that the slaves have an equal status to the purchased land--they could be owned, bought, and sold at will. In planning the University, Thomas Jefferson had shown his progressiveness for the time period in which he lived--by choosing to place a library rather than a church at the center of grounds, for example. However, this small, concise sentence reverses any sense of forward thinking that the audience may have had up until this point in the document. For all the discussion at the beginning of the document regarding the University's goal of enriching their students--teaching them to act morally and with fairness in their communities--the founders still refuse to recognize the immorality of their treatment of slaves.

    2. 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.