Unidentified vandals at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, defaced a Thomas Jefferson statue on campus last week, sticking a “DECOLONLIZE” sticker to its forehead and a depiction of a “Black Lives Matter” fist to its shoulders.
They were also spray-painting the statue white, reported Campus Reform.
By Friday, a sheet of paper inscribed with “Black Lives Matter” hung over the statue’s face.
The discovery of the vandalism occurred last Thursday, a day after students declined to meet with the school president about their objections to the statue.
Students had started a Change.org petition to gather signatures about removing the statue. Other episodes of vandalism have also been perpetrated on the statue recently, as Campus Reform and other outlets noted.
Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz offered to meet last Wednesday with the anti-Jefferson students (organized under the creative name Jefferson Has Gotta Go) — but the students declined, refusing the president’s stipulations that:
- each student would receive three minutes to speak, and
- no decision regarding the statue would be made at the meeting.
Hofstra student Malcolm McCoy understands being opposed to slavery in the nation’s past, but he offered some productive activism earlier this month on “Fox & Friends” (see video, below): “If you were really adamant about protesting slavery, there are issues where that’s still going on; Libya, or other countries — why aren’t they taking a stand against those places?”
Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s Founding Fathers, did much to promote education during his lifetime, making the sad irony of the campus activists’ activities even more puzzling — and pointing to the need to log more time in a classroom, not in protest.
“His greatest accomplishment in the field of education took place after his political career was finished,” noted educational blog 3.Nd.EDU.
“After his presidency, the last years of his life were spent creating the University of Virginia at Charlottesville,” author Brad Lightcap explained. “This school was to be a visionary new school that was to introduce America’s youth to the new ideas about government and equality.”
The protest to take down the statue of Thomas Jefferson today at Hofstra University, New York has ended!
Thanks to Hofstra Campus Security for keeping the crowd in check!
Oh! & one more thing?The statue stays!?
— ??GENESIS?? (@Genesis33K) March 30, 2018
The blog also explains that Jefferson was an educational innovator who understood students’ differences, and allowed them to strengthen and express these differences through elective courses. The university was created as a place where both students and faculty would be able to enjoy the freedom and the ability to learn.
“Jefferson helped push education ahead and allowed for a strong foundation for future universities and colleges … If it were not for Thomas Jefferson, the educational system as we know it might not exist today. For this I think we owe him our eternal gratitude,” wrote Lightcap.
The Thomas Jefferson statue at @HofstraU was repeatedly vandalized after protesters pulled out of meetings with school administration.
— Mitchell Gunter (@rMitchellGunter) April 24, 2018
None of this matters to students concerned with what they are owed by everyone, instead of thinking about what they could give back –– that is, should they concentrate on their studies and obtain a strong foundation in American history, rather than making demands of administrators without the backing of a majority of the student body.
“For over a decade, students have unfortunately been put in a position where, in addition to being students, they must also bear the burden of pleading with the administrators of their university to see the socio-emotional health and stability of its students of color, specifically those who are the descendants of colonized and enslaved peoples, as something worth investing in and something worth taking into consideration going forward,” said the student organizers in a statement, The Daily Caller reported.
“For a minimum of 13 years, black students have taken on the role of the mouse and white supremacy and misogynoir have assumed the role of the elephant’s foot,” the students continued, quoting South African activist Desmond Tutu.
The anti-Jefferson students demanded to be able to record any future meeting they have with administrators and complained about the president’s allotment of only three minutes per speaker, said the Daily Caller.
LifeZette reached out to Hofstra University but did not receive a response by publication time.
Deirdre Reilly is a senior editor at LifeZette.