The University of Virginia's president is facing a backlash from teachers and students alike after quoting the school's founder — former President Thomas Jefferson — in an email urging students to unite after last week's divisive presidential election.
"Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students 'are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes,'" university president Teresa Sullivan wrote in the email, according to the Cavalier Daily, the school's student newspaper. "I encourage today's U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility."
Some professors objected to the quote since Jefferson owned slaves and held "other racist beliefs," the paper reported.
"We would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson's legacy, others of us came here in spite of it," they wrote. "For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey."