- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2018

Faculty members and students at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville are crying foul over the recent appointment of former Trump administration official Marc Short, saying he threatens the progress the university has made since the deadly “Unite the Right” protest nearly one year ago.

The Charlottesville rally last year attended by white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members resulted in one man being charged with murder. He’s accused of driving through a crowd, fatally running over a 32-year-old female counterprotester. President Trump sparked an uproar in the aftermath of the tragedy when he referred to “very fine people on both sides” of the rally.

Mr. Short, Mr. Trump’s former director of legislative affairs, acknowledged at the time that the administration could have done a better job “expressing sympathy for the victims,” but that the president overall was “clear and outspoken” in his condemnation of the attack, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

Now, Mr. Short is appointed to a fellowship position at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, sparking a petition signed by more than 1,880 as of press time.

“The university should not serve as a waystation for high-level members of an administration that has directly harmed our community and to this day attacks the institutions vital to a free society — the very thing that the University of Virginia, as an institution of higher education, is meant to protect,” the petition states. “We are a community still in the process of healing, and someone who defended the president’s remarks after the violence here is a barrier to that process, a source of trauma in a still-traumatized community. We ask that the appointment of Marc Short to the Miller Center be revoked, and that a full review be held to understand how this appointment was made.”

Assistant Professor Nicole Hemmer, who signed the petition, slammed Mr. Short as an “illiberal” influence. It’s one thing to talk to people, she told The Chronicle, but “it’s quite another thing to hire them and have them through your university when they spent the last 18 months defending the forces of illiberalism.”

Professor Siva Vaidhyanathan, who also signed the petition, blasted Mr. Short for his views on immigration and defense of Mr. Trump’s zero-tolerance policy at the border, The Chronicle reported.

And Professor William Hitchcock, one of the first to sign the petition, said Mr. Short’s appointment was at odds with the nonpartisan mission of the institution.

“This very much is a community on edge,” he told The Chronicle. “And we’re anticipating a very difficult anniversary coming up. It’s a remarkable act of negligence to appoint such a prominent Trump spokesman who is on the record as having obfuscated the realities of August 12 at this very moment of anniversary reflection on these events.”

In a statement, The Miller Center defended its decision to appoint Mr. Short.

“The addition of Marc Short, a senior Trump Administration official with intimate knowledge of interactions between the White House and Congress, deepens our scholarly inquiries into the workings of the American presidency, and his presence reinforces our commitment to nonpartisan and bipartisan dialogue among scholars and practitioners of good will who may nevertheless hold strongly opposing personal political viewpoints,” the center said, Campus Reform reported.

“Moreover, Short can offer insights into the Trump Administration that are not currently available to our scholars or the public at large,” it added. “Short’s one-year appointment as a senior fellow builds on that rigorous commitment to both nonpartisanship and bipartisanship.”

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