Amid Lawsuit, Judge Voices Criticism of Virginia Tech Policies That Limit Student Speech

A case winding its way through the court system appears to have gained strong support from at least one judge on a three-judge panel.

When the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, heard oral arguments Oct. 25 in a case challenging Virginia Tech’s speech policies, Reagan-appointed U.S. Circuit Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III heavily criticized the university’s procedures and found the complaint raised several “First Amendment red flags,” Courthouse News Service reported.

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George Mason University Will Use Virtual Reality Simulations to Train Faculty on Implicit Bias

A new virtual reality program at George Mason University will help faculty learn how to fight racism and their “implicit bias.”

The university’s College of Health and Human Services announced plans for “training [that] will educate faculty to recognize and react to implicit bias and microaggressions through a [virtual reality] simulation.”

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Youngkin Announces 2022 GO Virginia Grants

Four projects focused on business development and jobs growth won the 2022 Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) grant awards totaling $1.2 million.

“GO Virginia allows us to invest in key projects that will enhance our economic growth by fostering workforce development and stimulating new business opportunities,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a Tuesday announcement. “These projects exemplify the innovative partnerships that GO Virginia grants were designed to promote, driving regional advancement and strengthening our Commonwealth.”

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Youngkin Announces New Fellows to Join Virginia Management Fellows Program

Ten new fellows will join the Virginia Management Fellows program, a joint project between Virginia Tech and the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management aimed at preparing fellows for permanent roles in Virginia agencies.The 10 fellows will be part of the 2022-2024 cohort, the fifth cohort since the program was approved by the General Assembly in 2017.

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Youngkin, Kaine, Warner, and Beyer Celebrate Boeing’s Relocating Global Headquarters to Virginia, Partnership with Virginia Tech

Governor Glenn Youngkin, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA), and Representative Don Beyer (D-VA-08) spoke at a Monday ceremony celebrating Boeing’s relocating its headquarters to Arlington and its partnership with Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus in Arlington.

Youngkin said that when Boeing announced its move to Virginia in May, “I was particularly proud because when we went to work on January 15, we talked about Virginia being open for business. We talked about Virginia raising standards and expectations and education. We talked about Virginia being the best place for our veterans to live and work and raise a family.”

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In Virginia Tech Commencement, Youngkin Highlights Need for Mentors, Moral Compass, and ‘Grace in Public Discourse’

In a commencement speech at Virginia Tech, Governor Glenn Youngkin spoke about the importance of mentors and a moral compass while criticizing “group-think” in higher education. Youngkin is the ninth consecutive Virginia governor to give the school’s commencement address in the first year of his term, according to a March announcement.

“I firmly believe that each of you has been divinely created for a purpose,” Youngkin said in the Friday speech. “If you unlock the mysteries of your gifts, you will unlock your purpose. In society today, there’s such a great emphasis on achieving happiness. Yale University even pioneered a class on finding happiness. But all the great thinkers that I have read, have said, and actually I’ve learned from my own experiences, that happiness is fleeting. It’s finding purpose that’s truly sustaining.”

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After Miyares Legal Opinion, Virginia’s Largest Universities End Student Vaccine Mandates

After Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) wrote a legal opinion last week saying that vaccine mandates for public university students are illegal, several of the state’s largest schools have backed off their COVID-19 vaccine requirements. 

“Absent specific authority conferred by the General Assembly, public institutions of higher education in Virginia may not require vaccination against COVID-19 as a general condition of students’ enrollment or in-person attendance,” Attorney General Jason Miyares said in his opinion.

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USDA Report Details More Violations at Beagle Breeder-For-Research Envigo; General Assembly Legislators Introduce 11 Bills to Regulate or Ban Practices at the Facility

Seven legislators have introduced 11 animal welfare bills in the Virginia General Assembly after investigations by PETA and the USDA found troubling conditions at a Cumberland beagle breeder-for-research. A newly-published report of an October 2021 site visit to the Envigo facility lists violations including staff providing medication without veterinarian approval, dangerous kennels blamed for deaths of multiple puppies, and buildup of grime and feces. Poor record-keeping was blamed for untreated medical conditions, unrecorded deaths, and an inability to determine cause of death in other cases.

“There continue to be severe staffing shortages and currently there are approximately 32 employees at the facility, with only 17 staff members directly responsible for all husbandry, daily observations, and medical treatments for almost 5000 dogs,” the report states.

“Mortality records show that from 2 Aug 2021 to 3 Oct 2021, nine dogs […] were injured from having a body part (such as a limb or tail) pulled through the wall of the kennel by a dog in an adjacent kennel and bitten. The exact injuries varied in each case, however regardless of whether it was a minor or substantial injury, these nine dogs were subsequently euthanized. Dogs sustaining injuries from being pulled through the enclosure wall have experienced physical harm and unnecessary pain,” the report states.

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Virginia Tech Replaces Professor Who Apologized for Being White on Syllabus

Virginia Tech University Department of Human Development and Family Science just removed Crystal Duncan Lane from teaching a course after she apologized for her Whiteness in the course syllabus.  

April Few-Demo, the head of the Department of Human Development and Family Science, sent a message to students in Human Development 1134 to announce that Duncan Lane had to be removed from the course due to “a special circumstance.” 

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Republican Students Petition Against Vaccine Mandate at Virginia Tech

Right-leaning students at a Virginia institute of higher learning are petitioning the school against its policy of mandatory vaccinations. 

“Virginia Tech students delivered a petition with about 500 signatures that urges Virginia Tech to end a policy requiring students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to take classes in the fall,” according to The Center Square. 

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Virginia Tech Team Researching Using Robot Dogs to Monitor Construction Progress

Faculty and students at Virginia Tech are putting robot dogs in construction sites testing automated monitoring of construction progress. The dogs are Boston Dynamics’ internet-viral yellow-and-black four-legged Spot robots, and researchers are using them to take 360-degree pictures to document construction sites. Initial findings from the team identify safety risks and operational challenges, but also identify opportunity with the time-saving automation.

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Virginia Tech Claims to Follow the Science on COVID, But Does Just the Opposite

Ralph Northam

Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam amended a previous executive order to ease up on COVID-19 restrictions, effective on April 1, allowing up to 50 people to gather for indoor events and up to 100 people to gather for outdoor events. However, Virginia Polytechnic Institute announced it would not follow these guidelines but maintain previous restrictions that limit indoor gathering to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 50 people.

Alyssa Jones, president of the Turning Point USA chapter at Virginia Tech, contacted her school following Northam’s announcement that he would ease COVID-19 restrictions.

In a March 23 email obtained by Campus Reform, Student Engagement and Campus Life told Jones that “after April 1st groups are permitted to have up to 50 people in attendance for indoor events.”

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Teaching Assistant Docks Point on Conservative Student’s Black Panther Essay: ‘White People Cannot Experience Racism’

Alyssa Jones

A student at Virginia Tech University was told by a teaching assistant that “White people cannot experience racism” when asked why she received a low grade on her final paper.

Students in the Nations and Nationalities class at Virginia Tech were asked to complete a paper describing a hate group from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list, and analyze how that group justifies its worldview, according to Alyssa Jones, a student in the class.

Jones is also the president of the Virginia Tech University Turning Point USA chapter and a campus ambassador for The Leadership Institute, the parent organization of Campus Reform.

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Town of Blacksburg Passes Gun Ban

The Blacksburg Town Council unanimously passed a resolution banning guns on town property including in buildings and parks, effective March 1.

In the Tuesday meeting, Council member Susan Anderson said she was on campus during the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. “After I walked home later that day, I remember asking my husband, ‘What am I supposed to do?'”

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Virginia Tech Cancels Spring Break

Virginia Tech announced that the Spring 2021 semester will continue with a combination of in-person, hybrid, and online classes. According to the Monday announcement, the school’s traditional week-long spring break will be replaced with five individual days off spread over several weeks to discourage students from traveling.

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COVID-19 at Virginia Colleges and Universities: What Do the Numbers Say?

As many colleges and universities in Virginia continue on with in-person instruction for the 2020 fall semester during the coronavirus pandemic, the schools’ COVID-19 dashboards offer insights into how the pandemic is affecting those institutions.

Since the global pandemic hit the United States back in March, more and more schools have created online COVID dashboards that present a plethora of data on total tests, case counts, positivity percentage and 7-day moving averages for positive tests. 

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Virginia Colleges Enrollment Plummets

Enrollment in Virginia’s public and private nonprofit colleges and universities for the fall semester declined by 1.3 percent or 6,658 students, according to early enrollment estimates from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) released Tuesday.

The data used by SCHEV is directly provided by 64 colleges and universities located in the Commonwealth, including some of the state’s most prestigious and largest schools such as William and Mary, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and Washington and Lee University.

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Birx Visits Virginia Tech to Discuss COVID-19 Issues

On Wednesday, Dr. Deborah Birx – a key part of the Trump Administration’s vaulted Coronavirus task force – arrived in Blacksburg to meet  with state and local officials, faculty, students and health care professionals on the Virginia Tech campus to discuss Covid-19 and the response to reopening schools safely.

During a brief press conference, the White House coronavirus response coordinator had high praise for the school as she stated that a great amount of research had been done at the facility including animal and waste water testing to better understand the asymptomatic spread rate of the virus.

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Virginia Tech Punts on Opener, Postpones UVA Amidst COVID Scare

Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia (UVA) announced Saturday they are postponing the first game of the season because of COVID-19 issues at Virginia Tech.

The game, otherwise known as the Commonwealth Cup, was slated to be played September 19, in Blacksburg.

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Virginia Tech, Town of Blacksburg Prohibit Tailgating, Ask Fans to ‘Homegate’ Instead

Virginia Tech and the town of Blacksburg announced Tuesday that tailgating for football games is prohibited out of concerns the activity could increase the spread of COVID-19.

The announcement specifically prohibited tailgating on university or town parking lots as well as other public places, and instead asked Hokie fans to watch games while “homegating” with friends or family as a more safe alternative.

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