"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thomas Jefferson supports Theresa Sullivan

The Lost and Founders team would like to take a moment to weigh in on a current issue at the University of Virginia regarding the recent ousting of President Theresa Sullivan due to "philosophical differences" between her leadership style and that of key members of the Board of Visitors. As UVa alumni, we echo the sentiments of the many students, faculty, and fellow alums that are outraged and feel that Sullivan was treated unfairly by the BOV.

Our loyal readers know that we take great pride in looking back to the words of our Founding Fathers for key advice on navigating the issues of the present day. We would like to point out that Thomas Jefferson himself, former President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia, once made a statement in a letter to friend and colleague James Madison that may in fact be quite applicable in this current debate:

"In times of great levity don't let the dragass hand occupy the rectum for too long. It causes great irritant and will eventually need to be removed. Simon says."

While the un-liberal arts trained eye may see this quote as quite straightforward in referring to the bowel movements of our favorite founder, upon closer inspection we find that it's far less "shitty" and rather quite clairvoyant. Indeed, the above statement, long thought to be a quote about more crude things - was actually Jefferson predicting the future of his beloved University of Virginia.

Rectum is the Greek foundation of the modern word rector. It was widely used to reference political figures in ancient Greece and later carried over to Latin where it provided a basis for the modern day English translation. In Greek as well as Latin, Rectum is a 2nd declension noun and the plural genitive case is Rectorum.

The political usage originally came about after the Trial and Death of Socrates, after which Plato became quite anti-establishment. He began to joke that Archon's should no longer be referred to as the Head of the Council and rather they should referred to as the "Butt of the Council." He thus dubbed the group of them as the Rectorum or Rector (singular). This became hip in the underground rave culture so to speak in Athens and was instantly popularized. It lost its negative connotation in the Middle Ages when the Catholic church picked it up after misunderstanding a Platonian document that was in truth more of a rant about Socrates death. Since then the word Rector has been venerated by all...except Jefferson, who as a Latin scholar spent a great deal of personal time researching the dead language. When he founded the University of Virginia, he decided to call the head of the Board of Visitors the Rector as a joke between himself and presidential cronies James Monroe and James Madison that whoever was leading was destined to be the butt of all jokes and should not be taken completely seriously.

Now to "dragass." If you simply capitalize the 'D' and throw in an apostrophe it becomes "Dragas's hand." As Helen Dragas is the current Rect[um]or and the principle player in the dismissal of Sullivan, it can be argued this term was in fact part of a very poignant statement by Mr. Jefferson, whom as we have evidenced in countless posts had an astonishing amount of foresight bordering on the mystical. If you are asking for a more clear sign that Jefferson most certainly would have taken a side in the the recent dispute between Dragas and Sullivan, we don't know that one can be provided.

Finally, if you read closely you may notice one more bit of strangeness in the "Simon says" addendum to the quote above. This was in fact (fun sidenote) the beginning of the game Simon says. It has also always been thought to be an inside joke among friends, and it wasn't until now that we realized just how impressive the magnitude of Jefferson's clairvoyance is. We believe that this was actually a nod centuries in advance to one John Simon, the current UVa Provost, who seems to be aligned with Jefferson himself in supporting the academic integrity upon which the University of Virginia is founded.

There you have it. The Founder hath spoken. If you are a student, alumnus, or faculty member of UVa, or even just a friend to the University, please speak up and let the BOV know how you feel.

- The Lost and Founders

No comments:

Post a Comment