Casteen: no more midnight calls

Speaking out for the first time about how the living wage sit-in affected him personally, UVA President John Casteen says he ran out of patience– he eventually had them arrested– only after protesters allegedly harassed him and his wife Betsy via his home phone number at Carr's Hill.

In a letter in the most recent edition of the UVA alumni magazine, Casteen wrote, "After some ten nights of obscene and threatening calls, and specifically after eight cell phone calls from the porch of Madison Hall between 1:30 and 3:30am, hours when the callers knew I was in the building because they saw me through windows, but when Betsy was at home, I gave up."

Casteen explained he has kept his home number published for the duration of his 16-year presidency so students and parents with emergencies could contact him directly. He added that the number is still listed, but after the night in question, calls now go to the University police.

The phone calls are the centerpiece of Casteen's argument that he was more than reasonable with the student protesters. After citing the ways he tried to work with the sitters-in, including offering to "assist with their arithmetic" in computing a living wage, he goes on to write that, "At least some students think that vandalizing Madison Hall's furniture (even kicking a leg off a couch), and resisting arrest are forms of peaceful protest." However, he must not have been in court when UVA police officer Melissa Fielding admitted that she was the one who damaged the couch during the course of the April 15 arrests.

Casteen does not fully blame the students for what happened, saying that "professional activists have made students their front line" and that "their adult coaches had misled them."

An email from the Hook to two of the student leaders requesting comment was not immediately answered. #

1 comment

Bob Gibson wrote about this letter some weeks back in the DP.