It is, unfortunately, more common than not for woke culture to dominate university campuses. It is not common, however, for a pillar from the surrounding community to stand up to it. On September 23, 2022, Rob Smith received a phone call from the University of Richmond President Kevin Hallock informing him that he and the board "had decided to 'dename' the T.C. Williams School of Law.
This was of particular interest to Smith not only because he is a graduate of the law school but also because the law school's namesake, T.C. Williams, is Smith's great-great-grandfather. Apparently, T.C. Williams would be erased from the school's history because he owned slaves. The University has stripped six other buildings of their names, including one named after U of R founder Robert Ryland for similar reasons.
Smith launched his @urwoke campaign—with help from his brother Walter and his nephew Stuart—as an answer to the weak-kneed, virtue-signaling leadership at the University. The school had bowed to the "Cancellation Culture Activists" one too many times and picked a fight with the wrong family in the process.
The Denaming Commission and Other Absurdities
Smith received an email referencing the denaming the same day as the phone call from Hallock. The email referenced a March 26, 2022, statement on "Naming Principles" set forth by the dystopian-sounding "Naming Principles Commission." This roster of advisors spent a year cooking up the guidelines whereby Trustees would enjoy the "right to remove names" in accordance with the "University's mission, values, and aspirations." The guiding principles would dictate, among other things, the belief that "No building, program, professorship, or other entity at the University should be named for a person who directly engaged in the trafficking and/or enslavement of others or openly advocated for the enslavement of people."
Smith called b.s. on the entire scheme, pointing out the irony of removing an ancestor whose 150-year philanthropic legacy has greatly benefitted the University. At the time of his death, T.C. Williams, Sr. was the largest contributor in the school's history. In fact, the Williams family legacy seems almost integral to the historical survival of the institution. Not to be outdone, other family members continued as benefactors, often quietly, never wanting accolades. Smith's letter to the University describes in detail the numerous contributions each of his many family members made to ensure the success, and even the very survival, of the University of Richmond. There is a rich and amazing history of giving in the family. We strongly suggest you read it.
Smith believes it is "a form of fraud to induce money from a benefactor and then discredit the benefactor after he is long dead. At a 6% compounded interest over 132 years." Smith adds, "T.C. Williams gift to the law school alone is now valued at over $51 million, and this does not include many other substantial gifts from my family to the University." Smith set out to get his money back and defend the man who could no longer speak for himself. All told, he is seeking the entire endowment of $3.3 billion dollars, with a "loan" for the remaining $300 million above the endowment, providing that the loan be secured by the campus buildings and the "woke" faculties assets.
University of Richmond Untethers from its Christian Founding
The worst of it for Smith was the disingenuous decision by the University to "untether itself from its Christian founding" with the denaming of his ancestor's building. Smith aptly points out the irony of a liberal arts institution that would ignore historical context in service of erasing the history of a good man. A liberal arts university, says Smith, is a place where "academic enlightenment, tolerance, and freedom of expression" should be foundational, guiding principles. Smith believes the outcome of kowtowing to the "woke mob" will only lead to destruction. In defense of his ancestor, Smith writes:
"T.C. Williams practiced the tenets of his faith primarily to love and serve others. The mob that you and the Board are so afraid of worships hatred and ignorance. They feign indignation, but their real objective is destruction. You and the Board have fallen for this subterfuge.
The Board has insulted the honor of my family; thus this response is necessary. Your decision seems much like an ex-parte Stalinist tribunal. The defendant does not get to defend himself, faulty evidence is presented, the 'party' gets the verdict it wants, and a good man is liquidated, forever to be invisible. Could no one in my family be contacted to put on a defense? It is despicable to destroy the character of an exceedingly good man out of political cowardice.
Hatred and jealousy are the oldest and most pernicious sins of mankind. They are the jet fuel that propels Cancel Culture. Perhaps you and the Board do not realize that you are under attack, because this enemy has already infiltrated your ramparts. Academic enlightenment, tolerance and freedom of expression are anathema to the woke mob. Until you and the Board grow a pair of testicles, this enemy will destroy the University of Richmond. Your decision to dishonor my family is anti-intellectual, cowardly and hypocritical."
Smith has challenged Hallock to think long and hard about his own contributions to the University of Richmond. Those stand in stark contrast to the contributions of the man (and the family of the man) whose legacy has now been erased.
"Mr. Hallock, are you a better man than T.C. Williams? Have you done more for the University of Richmond than he did? What exactly have you done other than spread division and dishonoring all the people and families who devoted themselves to the University and made it great? These are people of real accomplishments as distinguished from the unhinged and doltish purveyors of ignorance and hate you and the Board grovel to."
Cultural Rot Sets in on University of Richmond Campus
Smith also exposes the cultural rot found on the U of R campus in his @urwoke linktree. The rot is the result, he believes, of a faculty and Board that "caters to the mob, out of complete and utter cowardice." A series of images posted by Smith of the "University of Richmond Woke Signage" speak to the undeniable influence of progressive politics on a campus that should be apolitical and welcoming of all worldviews. Progressives have mastered the art of bullying masked as "doing the right thing."
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Woke Professors and Departments
Smith's nephew Stuart researched Instagram posts shared by Nathan Snaza. Snaza is a professor in the department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at the University of Richmond. Snaza posts references to Marxist literature, humanism, trans issues, feminism, and dead animals. According to Stuart, Snaza's Instagram posts show "a creepy fascination with taking pictures of dead animals and the occult." He has "50-plus photos of dead animals" on his profile. In another post, Snaza "introduced one of his students to the slutists today," according to Stuart.
Stuart also unmasks activist Dana El Kurd, a young Muslim professor in the poli-sci department. Stuart shows El Kurd seen holding a sticker with a graphic depicting an individual wearing a gas mask, holding a molotov cocktail—that says "solidarity with people, not states, anti-imperialism." In the Tweet below, she uses the words "children of the dog." "Dog" is a commonly used anti-semitic slur used by some Muslims. She later denied the reference in her response to replies from her post.
Prof. Dana El Kurd/U of Richmond
Don't Waste Your Money on Woke Universities
Smith discourages students from attending the University with its $77,000 price tag. He also says if the University can be "tainted" by its historical legacy figures, the money that resulted from their generosity should also be deemed "tainted" and returned to the family so that it can be used "to fulfill the charitable purposes to which it was intended." Smith continues:
"Demonstrate your virtue and give it back. I suggest you immediately turn over the entire $3.3 billion endowment to the current descendants of T.C. Williams, Sr. We will use it all to fulfill the charitable purposes to which it was intended. We will take a note back for the remaining $300 million, providing that it is secured by all the campus buildings and all your woke faculty pledge their personal assets and guarantee the note."
"Give the money back."
I doubt they will.