UVA event defending Thomas Jefferson sparks student blowback, conservative group says

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Conservative students at the University of Virginia say they are facing a wave of blowback from other students over an upcoming event meant to defend the legacy of founding father Thomas Jefferson.

The school’s chapter of the Young America’s Foundation said on Twitter over the weekend that fellow students have launched a letter-writing campaign against an event this Thursday called, “In Defense of Mr. Jefferson,” which is set to feature National Review Editor Rich Lowry and Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas.

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“There is now an organized ‘Letter Writing Campaign Against @yaf’s ‘In Defense of Mr. Jefferson,’” the group wrote. “Flyers like these have been spotted all across Grounds to encourage students to write to the administration against our event. #TolerantLeft #StandforFreedom #DefendTJ”

“This is bonkers,” Lowry tweeted in response. “There is now a letter-writing campaign against the @yaf event I’m doing with my friend @chiproytx defending Thomas Jefferson at the University that owes its very existence and so much of what makes it distinctive to Thomas Jefferson.”

The YAF chapter included photos of a flier found on campus advertising the letter-writing campaign against the event, showing that it also included a QR code for participants to access a letter template. The group says the QR code was removed by an unknown person prior to the photo being taken, so they don’t know who specifically is behind the campaign or what the template said. They believe, however, that it’s being driven by “leftist students who are opposed to YAF on campus,” YAF spokeswoman Kara Zupkus told Fox News on Tuesday.

“As usual, leftists on campus would rather try to cancel an event they disagree with than choose to engage in constructive dialogue with the speakers,” Zupkus said. “It’s shameful that students who chose to attend Thomas Jefferson’s university are so vehemently opposed to him and America’s founding ideals. Young America’s Foundation look forward to a successful event–regardless of the Left’s attempts to derail it.”

Students walk across The Lawn at the University of Virginia

Students walk across The Lawn at the University of Virginia
(Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

University spokesman Brian Coy told Fox News that the university was not aware of a campaign to cancel the event.

“We are not aware of any such campaign, though it is common at the University of Virginia for students to express their support or their opposition for political principles or ideas,” he said Tuesday. “We continue to encourage every member of our community to express those points of view respectfully and in recognition that we are all members of one UVA community.”

Coy also pointed Fox News to the university’s June 7 statement affirming its “commitment to free expression and free inquiry.”

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The news comes after YAF reported last week that more than half of its fliers for the Jefferson event posted on campus had been “defaced” and torn down, posting photos of the alleged vandalism on Twitter.

“It’s no surprise that students at my alma mater are trashing things that great Americans like the Young America’s Foundation are doing, like flags for 9/11 or banners in defense of Justice Amy Coney Barrett,” Rep. Roy told the Washington Free Beacon. 

“You’ll have the university defend them to the hilt, but they’re not going to stand up and allow us to have a free exchange of ideas at Mr. Jefferson’s university? It’s slouching into the leftist cabal of the Ivy Leagues, unfortunately.”

Coy did not respond to Fox News’ inquiry on whether the alleged vandalism also falls under the school’s free speech commitment.

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