Youngkin appoints anti-critical race theory campaign staffer to VCU Board of Visitors The Commonwealth Times

The VCU Board of Visitors held their first meeting of the fall 2023 semester on Monday, Aug. 28. Photo by Andrew Kerley

Andrew Kerley, Audience Editor

Selna Shi, News Editor

Gov. Glenn Youngkin appointed three new members to VCU’s Board of Visitors at the end of June, according to a statement released by the governor’s Office.

The VCU Board of Visitors is a body of 16 public figures appointed by the governor of Virginia. The board makes the final decision regarding the university’s budget, policies and academic curriculum. 

Among the appointees were Rooz Dadabhoy, CEO of the IT consulting firm Data Concepts; Steven DeLuca, vice president and head of state and local government relations at Capital One bank; and Gurpreet “P2” Sandhu, president and CEO of investment company The Sandhu Group, according to the statement

The governor also reappointed Anthony Bedell, senior corporate and government relations director at the law firm Becker & Poliakoff, for a second four-year term. 

“We welcome the three new appointees to the Board of Visitors, and welcome Anthony Bedell’s reappointment. Along with Gov. Youngkin, we are grateful for their willingness to serve the state by providing thoughtful oversight to Virginia Commonwealth University,” associate vice president of public relations Michael Porter stated. 

Dadabhoy, one of the appointees, is also a founder and director of Rally Virginia, a conservative, women-led political organization that endorsed Youngkin in his run for governor. 

Dadabhoy was also a member of the committee that organized Youngkin’s transition into governorship.

Dadabhoy has received backlash on social media for tweets expressing her anti-critical race theory views, saying it has “no place in our schools.”

Lisa Winn Bryan, an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies, defined critical race theory as a movement that places conventional civil rights and ethnic studies in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, unconscious feelings and questions the foundations of liberal order. 

“I think [the term] is overused,” Winn Bryan said. “It’s not understood and people don’t know the origin of these things.”

Political science and criminal justice student Laila Barnes said she thinks Youngkin is pushing a false narrative in order to garner support from parents.

“I think a lot of parents are concerned with their kids being taught [critical race theory] like, ‘white kids are gonna feel bad about themselves,” Barnes said. “This is an advanced curriculum. Nobody’s forcing anybody to learn critical race theory.”

Barnes said having a course on racial history would be “incredibly beneficial” to her and her law career.

“As a young black woman, I didn’t really get the proper education on my history that I wanted,” Barnes said. “America is a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities and trying to erase the reality of American history is not healthy. We’re in 2023, these issues shouldn’t still be issues.”

Electrical engineering student Orion Scheuermann said that people in politics should not be appointing people to university settings, regardless of their political party. 

“You should be able to learn about everything, not just the things they [politicians] want you to hear about,” Scheuermann said. “There are people opposed to teaching critical race theory, queer history… If you limit the education that we can get, we’re bound to not make any progress.”

Exercise science student Avery Moore said she came to VCU because it was so diverse.

“Being on the Board of Visitors and having an opposing view, you could taint the VCU experience, why people choose to be here,” Moore said. “As somebody who essentially funds the university with my tuition, it’s not fair to me.”

Moore said that the ability to appoint Board of Visitors members should be reserved for students, staff and faculty. 

“Here in the United States, a democracy, we elect presidents,” Moore said. “How can you be for the people, for the students and faculty, if you were not elected by them?”

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